Port Lympne – Wild Animal park

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Last weekend we went to Port Lympne Wild animal park. We were managing to get Matilda to say “To the Zoo” before we went.  In fact Port Lympne is not a traditional Zoo but a mini safari on our own door step in Kent. Jamie, and I, just about remember coming here as children….. however a lot has changed since then!

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Port Lympne is run by the Aspinall Foundation. John Aspinall started his famous animal collection in 1957 when he bought Howletts Wild Animal Park (Howletts being its sister park also in Kent). Now the Aspinall Foundation is an internationally renowned animal conservation charity that works in conjunction with the two parks.

Matilda’s Nan nan and Gan-dad came with us, collecting us by car early morning.Once inside Base Camp we decided to do the main Safari  first, before going anywhere else in the park. We piled onto a very big truck, strapped ourselves in  with daddy grasping hold of Matilda tightly in his lap. Off we went finding Daffs (Giraffes), Elles (Elephants) and Rhinos. It was a very bumpy ride but this was all part of the experience,even having to wait for a Giraffe to cross the road (there is a joke in there somewhere!).

We decided to walk around the rest of the Zoo, which was divided into zones. We saw Matilda’s favourite animals, Baboons along the “Primate Trail” and Lions in “Carnivore Territory”.There are plenty of shops for food and drink and toilets for all important wee stops. There is also a fun play area which is good for when your own little animals need to let off steam and monkey around…. The set up of the Zoo makes it easy to spend the whole day there!

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Port Lympne also now has a number of accommodation options. From a hotel, to glamping experiences overlooking the animals, and Pods..think of them as posh beach huts set in forest.

I think we all enjoyed this trip as much as Matilda, we hope to plan another visit in the future and to stay in one of the new accommodation experiences on site for the true Jungle VIP experience

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French Butterflies

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This week I won a competition with my French knitted Butterflies, I’m especially pleased as it was a voting competition and normally only the “cheats” wins. Instead this time my friends kindly all hit the like button for me and I won!

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I first started making these with a Children’s craft kit that Jamie brought me before Maternity leave from a company called M4. I can no longer knit or crotchet properly however these are so easy to make once you have mastered French knitting.

Knitting spools are very cheap to buy, or you can even make your own!. The butterflies are made with about 4cm of French Knitting for the body and another 2 X 10cm for the wings. Loop the 10cm length into a “B” shape and sew to the body, add another piece of wool for the antennae and done! Use different colours or add colours as you knit to make more colourful creations.

I suggest, a string of Butterflies to make some cute butting or add onto sticks to place with flowers in a vase.

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Childs Farm Brand Ambassador

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Today I received a box of goodies to try and a few samples to give out to my friends from the lovely people at Childs Farm who make Baby/Kids bath and toiletries.

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I came across Child Farm products because Jamie won a top-to-toesie kit in a competition, using a bath picture of Matilda. Childs Farm loved the picture so much they asked if they could use as a profile picture. I was pretty chuffed with that. So when a newsletter came asking for Brand Ambassadors I signed up.

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I have to say I have been more than impressed with the products. What will hit you first is the smell, with organic sweet orange and tangerine in many of the products the fragrance is smelt throughout the whole house. Although everyone loves that “baby smell” that you often get with bath / toiletries for little ones, these are refreshingly different. I guarantee you will want to use it on yourselves!

All products have undergone clinical trials and can make the following claims:
• Suitable for eczema prone skin
• Dermatologically tested and approved
• Paediatrician approved
• Suitable for newborns and upwards
Containing NO parabens, SLS’s, mineral oils or artificial colours.

Matilda does not have eczema as such, however does suffer from some dry patches and seems to have particularity sensitive skin therefore I have gone through a few different products. Childs Farm are my favourite, their products are so mild yet cleans and smells great. Matilda’s dry patches have all but gone since using the lotion and Hair & body wash for dirty rascals (fab name too) . 

The Child Farm packaging comes with their own brand of cartoon animals and characters, they even have there own cartoon on Cartoonito  (Sky 619, Virgin 706).

I cannot wait to hand out the samples to my friends and work more with the brand!

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Jamming – Blackberry and Apple Jam

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This was just a small batch to try it out so only makes a couple of jars. You can double up to make 4/5 Jars or more depending on how many blackberries you can find.

Ingredients

  • 400g Blackberries
  • 400g Apples (peeled, cored and diced)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 150ml Water
  • 750g Jam sugar

Kit

  • Big pan
  • Stirring spoon
  • Muslin
  • Jars
  • Wax seals / jam jar lids
  • Jam thermometer (optional)
  • Cook the blackberries and apples on a low heat until soft , this takes about 20 minutes. Add the sugar, then stir in until all dissolved.

Turn up the heat, so boiling. Stir now and then, for about 25 minutes.  If you have a jam or sugar thermometer, the ideal temperature should be around 105C.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO LICK THE SPOON!

Sieve the contents through muslin and remove the large pieces of apple, add the rest of the pulp (depending on how many lumps/pips you like).

Sterilise your jars in the oven –, about 10 minutes, fill to near the top with the jam. Cover with a wax seal / cellophane or the jam jar lid (either/or not both).

Decorate once cool!

Blackberries and apples were both foraged, therefore I only brought the lemon and jam sugar.

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Lady Marmalade – Apple and Orange Marmalade

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I love marmalade and none of this without shreds nonsense! So to try a slightly different marmalade I decided to make one with apple and orange.

There are lots of recipes for these. I combined my favorite bits from them all.DSCN0741

I definitely wanted one with lots and lots of shreds!

Ingredients

  • 4 Oranges
  • 1 Lemon
  • 400g Apples (once peeled and cored)
  • 900g Jam Sugar
  • 4 table spoons of soft brown sugar
  • Water


Kit   Makes about 4/5 Jars (depending on the size of your jar.

  • Big pan
  • Stirring spoon
  • Blender or food processor.
  • Scissors
  • Potato peeler
  • Small muslin square
  • Jars
  • Wax seals or jar lids
  • Jam thermometer (optional)

Peal the 4 oranges and cut the rinds into shreds, then cook in a pan with 600ml of water, for about 20 minutes.

TIP : use scissors instead of a knife. This bit can be quite time consuming and you’ll be there for a long time!

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Cut the oranges and lemons into wedges, any pips tie up in the muslin. Add all this to another pan with 800ml of water. Cook for about an hour. Top up with a little water and stir once in a while to stop it sticking to the bottom.

TIP : save a tiny squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl. This will help stop your apples going to brown for the next bit.

Cut up your apples into small cubes. Once the oranges have cooked for an hour, add the apples to the pan. Reduce to a low heat until soft , this takes about 20 minutes. Take out your muslin with the pips.

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Allow to cool a little, then in small batches whiz in a food processor or blender. Add a tiny bit of water to help loosen.

TIP : Watch out for escapee pips.

Return all this to the pan, with an additional 200ml of water, the rinds (including the cooking water), jam sugar and soft brown sugar. Put on a low heat then stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Turn up the heat, so boiling. Stir every now and then, for about 25 minutes.  If you have a jam or sugar thermometer (posh) , the ideal temperature should be around 105C.

DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO LICK THE SPOON!

Sterilise your jars in the oven for about 10 minutes, fill to near the top with the marmalade and cover with appropriate top.

Serve with toast and plenty of tea!

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