Christmas is usually that time of the year where we probably spend the most on buying people presents, wrapping them up and organising parties so we can let our hair down and switch off for few days.
Christmas is also a time when the environment feels our impact the most. During this festive period, we throw away 230,000 tonnes of food worth £275million. This is an 80% increase on the rest of the year. Moreover, the research indicates that a massive 90% of us are unaware we are throwing away so much.
Below we've taken those figures and put them into an infographic so you can see what they findings look like when we put them into perspective. We've also added little things each and everyone of us can do to try and make a difference. So lets celebrate with our loved ones, enjoy the parties and at the same time make a difference by implementing some of these simple but effective suggestions
Christmas Recycling Tips were kindly provided by Andy King of http://guaranteedleafletdistribution.co.uk/
It was the usual £1 fee on entry but no booking for this party was required. Tables and chairs were all laid with festive tablecloths ready for food later, there were plenty (but not all) toys out for playing. No grotto but there was a Christmas tree.
Parents had been asked over the previous couple of weeks to bring their child a gift with their name on up to the value of £5. The church provided the savoury food but parents were asked to bring sweet items.
Father Christmas arrived at approx 10.50 following a session of Christmas songs (i’m hoping my daughter doesn’t expect a present each time we sing Christmas songs!). He then sat down next to the Christmas tree and proceeded to call out the names written on the presents. Unfortunately although some parents kept well within the £5 budget some didn’t.
Food was a generous warm buffet, followed by the sweet items brought in. Children were catered for first and then parents were able to help themselves. Plenty of food for everyone J It was nice for the children to eat together.
The group as always, was busy but the mood was cheerful and festive. There were no quiet moments and children were happy and kept occupied.
After 2 hours though it was nice for some cool fresh air and homeward bound.
A thoroughly warm and inviting Christmas party for both parents and children.
Our third & final visit to see Santa this Christmas took us to a wintery wonderland of elves and magic located at Play Cafe in Torquay.
Today I decided on going for lunch with my son (16 months) at the Harmony Salad Bowl, at Torquays Indoor Market.
The spacious cafe is in a great central location and made for an easy stop during our Christmas shopping trip. We accessed it via the ramped entrance from inside the market but you can also get it via steps off Market Street.
After settling at a table I found there was no high chair available initially as they were all in use, so we went and ordered hoping one would come free in the mean time, which luckily it did.
The lady who served us was friendly and polite as she took our order and gave us the key needed to go and access the toilet / baby change which is located inside the ladies toilets.
The baby change facility is a changing mat inside the toilets. The changing mat I'm sad to say has to be by far the filthiest thing I have ever seen. It was truly disgusting. It was a normal wipe clean mat but it clearly never gets that wipe clean. Luckily my boy stands up when I change him, as I would never ever have laid him down on it, the toilet floor looked cleaner! I also couldn't find any hand soap in the toilets to wash my hand with afterwards.
The highchair that had come free didn't appear much better than the changing mat. I'd seen a waiter wipe it clean before I grabbed it and I always give them a quick wipe myself too, but sadly wipes can't do a lot for the filthy belt which had broken at some point and then been tied together and therefore no longer was adjustable so was very tight. The chair was a plastic one so could easily have been kept clean, but I've seen cleaner ones on the tip I'm afraid.
When we came out the food had already arrived which was a great prompt service. I'd opted for a true greasy spoon option of small breakfast for me and kids meal of sausages which was served with chips and beans (there were no healthy options on the menu) and my pet hate of the dreaded Fruit Shoot. I also had a latte. The meals and drink came to £7.95.
The kids meal of "Sausages" actually only had one sausage, but aside from that the meals were pretty much what we expected for the type of place and price. Greasy and uninspirng, but we weren't expecting fine dining. The coffee was nice enough but I would have liked a choice of sizes, small just doesn't cut it for me. I would of course have preferred a healthy drinks and food option on the childrens menu, I never do understand why some places can't at least offer some veg!
All in all a dissapointing lunch, that could perhaps have been forgiven if the place had been cleaner, but I left there feeling like perhaps I should go and shower. Friendly staff and a good location, but a lot of improvement needed before we'd ever go back.
Nice Mum Stars 1/5 *
Today myself, my lovely and heavilly pregnant friend Jane and our 16 month old boys took a trip to the North Pole courtesy of the Santa train at Trago Mills.
After parking up near the animal area we wandered around trying to find where to pay, there were a few signs but a couple more would have been nice. After a short walk we found the train station and were told the train runs hourly so we did a little Christmas shopping before returning for the 2pm train.
After queuing a short while we were told there may not be enough seats and that we wouldn't be able to fit our prams on the train (we had presumed we would have to leave them at the station anyway) but luckily we managed to squeeze, and I really do mean squeeze into a carriage, with another lady and her 10 month old. Knees touching, babies on laps and three changing bags in a pile we headed off on our journey.
Along the way there were a few sparsely spaced decorations but mainly uninspiring views of the woodland. After a short journey we pulled up in a tunnel full of Christmas lights and decorations (some complete with price tags!) and we climbed out (with relief) of our tiny carriage and into a small room off the tunnel where we were greeted by a very friendly and welcoming Santa.
Children were asked to come to the front to chat to Santa. We stayed towards the back and our boys enjoyed watching a little toy train going around a track. Being at the back we couldn't really see much of what was happening but when everyone started making their way back onto the train we were able to move forward and our boys were greeted by the big man who gave them a wrapped gift each, which turned out to be a lovely little Christmas stories book. I'll enjoy reading him that one this Christmas.
Back onto the sardine train and within minutes we were at the end stop and disembarking. We had to walk back to the starting station to collect our prams, which seemed a bit silly. We did think it was unfair some people were able to take their prams on the train taking up valuable space, when others had to leave theirs at the station and walk back to collect them. A round trip where everyone leaves their pram at the station would seem a more obvious option to free up some space and make things a bit fairer.
All in all I wasn't overly inspired by the trip, the decorations lacked imagination and they appeared to have missed a trick in not doing more with decorating the outside areas. We didn't get to take any pictures at all as there wasn't any space to take them (the ones I've used here have been given with permission from other Nice Mums members) and Santas costume was looking a little tired. Music would have been a simple but great addition both on the train and in the grotto to add to the atmosphere.
I do think the idea of a train ride to the North Pole to see Santa is a great one and perhaps slightly older children could really get into the "trip" with the help of enthusiastic family members. I know other members of Nice Mums Devon have been impressed by the trip so perhaps in another years time I will feel our boys would get more out of it, but for us today it seemed to lack the magic a little.
The trip did represent good value with children at £3 (including the gift) and adults £2. This also includes a free cup of tea, entrance to see their model railway and entrance to their animated Elves Toy Workshop which sadly we did not know about until I got home, that'll teach me to not read leaflets we're given until getting home! Perhaps some more signs would have informed us better.
Nice Mum Stars *** 3/5
Photo taken by Nice Mum Jo of her daughter Alexis
For the second year running our search for Santa took us to Jacks Patch Garden Centre in Bishopsteignton.
On arrival at the grotto entrance we were greeted by a friendly elf who walked us through a winter wonderland full of woodland creatures happily living alongside polar bears and penguins which my little boy (16 months old) loved greeting. When a loud bell rang we knew it was our turn to meet the big man himself. Through the grotto we went until we were greeted by Father and Mother Christmas, a very authentic looking couple full of smiles for my little Santa. After a little chat and a photo we were able to choose a gift from a great range of good quality toys, my little boy happily helping himself to a tool kit.
Entrance to the grotto was £6 and photos are £4.99, we got 2 photos for £8. the grotto raises money for a meningitis charity.
As our second year at this grotto I feel it represents good value for money and with having shops and a restaurant on site it can be made into a good day out, whilst helping raise money for a great cause. The only downside was that when we mentioned we would come each year the couple (Mr & Mrs Christmas) said they would not be returning to that location and explained they were not happy with how they got treated and no longer felt welcome there. Whilst this was sad to hear they would not be back it also put a bit of a dampener on the grotto experience as I did not feel it necessary to be telling visitors, but overall the experience was a good one and definitely a lovely start to our Christmas celebrations.
Nice Mum Stars: * * * *
(More Ho Ho Ho and a little less moan moan moan would have earned the 5th star)
Well ladies I cannot believe its been nearly 4 weeks since my last blog!
We have now officially hit December! December where did it come from??!! Its official, it's the time to get excited, it's almost CHRISTMAS!! I don't know about you but I LOVE Christmas. I love the whole family thing, we always did little traditions and family visited us, we visited them etc when we were growing up. I was the annoying kid who always wanted to play a board game and yes I always had one to hand (GEEK!) but my memories are full of laughter and cheer, this is what I would love to create for my daughter. This year she is just shy of 4 years old and the first year she is fully aware of the traditions and goings on, she already keeps asking if its Christmas yet, bless her.
As I live 250 miles from my family I have had to think about how I can involve them, create memories involving them and also how to include my in laws if they wish to be involved. Well I stressed my self out trying to come up with ideas and what with work and my own "self pressure" I create I was a ticking time bomb, wound so tight I was ready to pop! Luckily in my red mist I managed to finish my Christmas shopping and as I had booked a 10 day stint off work which happened to start the day before "pop" day it all fell nicely in the end, well so far .......
First day of the holiday consisted of wrapping presents (and buying the last 2) then realizing actually I have over brought not a bad thing as there are birthdays in December, January and February with 8 nieces and nephews on my hubbys side I have to be organised! So stress relief one completed! Stress relief two was switching off from work , completed end of first holiday day completed. I had my parents visiting on Friday for four days so the next day off was cleaning (visit preperations). Friday arrived and usually I would be stressed out trying to plan time and visits to create memories but I have realised the best memories are uncomplicated. With that in mind we visited a pet shop (left with more fish, that was Grandads fault), Saturday we went on an adventure walk with my parents and our dog, 2 hours later we got home, had lunch then went swimming! What a huge day for a 3 year old! We even went out for a bite to eat after swimming! Sunday hubby opted out and Alexis and I collected Nanny and Grandad and popped into Marldon Christmas tree farm (that was a mission just to get parked!) we saw reindeer, huskies and owls all for free! it was fab! we went to Trago Mills in Newton Abbot to visit Santa on the train for all of us it cost £9 and well worth every penny! What memories! We spent 4 hours at Trago which is unheard of for me! Usually no more than 30mins-1 hour if you are lucky! We went on the train stopped at santas grotto, got a present back on the train to the station. Called in the model railway, for free as it came with cost of santa train. Alexis was amazed and so were we! Then adult refreshment (free cup of tea with the ticket!) and into the store to visit the elves workshop once, twice, 3 times, 4, 5, 6............... she loved it, we spent around 30mins in the store (Grandads and fishing pfftt!) but it was fab and what a packed weekend full of memories!
We didn't start any traditions but we had fun and our memories should be full of fun and laughter. As mums we put pressure on ourselves to have the perfect Christmas but now I am toying with the idea of having easy buffet style food on christmas day so I can enjoy my daughter and play with her and her presents I don't want her having memories of me cooking/cleaning on Christmas day, its about being together and enjoying each other although I must say I want to go the beach as I have done that every Christmas day since I moved to Devon, it keeps me thankful for living so close to the beach.
Hope you Nice Mums are all well and try to enjoy this special time of year.
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Offer available until further notice.
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