Instanatural Argan Oil Hair Mask & Elixir Review

I’m not one for pampering. It’s not that I don’t want to, or that I don’t like doing it, it’s just, well, you know how it goes. Once the babies are in bed you either have a hundred and one things to do or you are literally too tired to do anything but collapse in front of the TV. Pampering is often something that falls to the bottom of the to do list.

However, recently I’ve been trying to be a little bit kinder to myself. Since going to Ragdale Hall, I’ve been concious of how important it is to take care of yourself on a day to day basis, because the effect can be enormous. A bath here, a cheeky vino with friends there. I am trying to be nicer to me. So when I was asked if I would like to try some hair conditioning treatments, it fitted nicely with my small attempts at pampering. Plus since Ragdale, I have also noticed how dry my hair has been. Bethany and I spent an entire weekend in the pool and it was showing. My frizzed out locks told me I had to give it a whirl.

My hair is fine, but I have tonnes of it, making it heavy. It has been looking rather tired of late!

My hair looks thick, but it’s actually just a lot of fine hair, meaning it can be quite heavy. It has been looking rather tired of late!

I don’t usually use a conditioner. I have fine hair, but there’s a lot of it, meaning it can get greasy quickly and conditioners can, if I’m not careful, exacerbate this. So I didn’t have particularly high hopes of a product whose base ingredient was oil!

Instanatural, while sounding like an Instagram account, is actually an American beauty company that only use all natural ingredients in their products. As a devotee of companies like Lush and Burt’s Bees this appealed to me. I’ve never been interested in coating my hair in plastic just to get a good shine on it (which never really worked for me anyway). Instanatural kindly gave me two products to try, a hair mask and a hair elixir/serum, both of which had a basis in the natural beauty product du jour, Argan Oil.image

To begin with I couldn’t really understand how one was different from the other. The directions on the boxes were similar. The only thing I could see was that the Elixir could also be used in styling like a serum. However, to get the best idea of how each worked I decided to test them separately. I started with the mask.

The hair mask comes in a tub and and includes ingredients such as Argan Oil, Amino Acid Complex, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin B5, Jojoba Oil and Avocado Oil. Oh and it smells wonderful! I washed my hair, then applied the hair mask. It went on easily and the box says to leave it on for up to 15 minutes, so this was where the pampering started. The waiting means it’s definitely one I prefer to do when the boy isn’t around. So I sat in my dressing gown, checked my phone and generally whiled away 15 minutes, then got back in the shower and just rinsed (no need to wash again with this one). I assumed just rinsing it off would leave my hair feeling unclean, but seriously once I rinsed it, it still felt like I’d just washed it.


Instanatural Hair Mask

Instanatural Hair Mask


Masked hair

And then I dried it. I blow dry my hair every other day, just blasting it dry and hoping for the best. I don’t have time or ability to dry it like they would it a salon and usually it looks, well, dry. But drying hair that had just been masked was a revelation. Not only did it still smell great, it dried in half the time AND poker straight! I swear it looked like I’d run the straighteners over it and the shine? Well, I haven’t had shine like that on my hair since I was a child!

Check out that shine! First application of the Instanatural Argan Oil Hair Mask

Check out that shine! First application of the Instanatural Argan Oil Hair Mask

No straighteners were used in the making of this photo!

No straighteners were used in the making of this photo!

I was thrilled with the result and those results even lasted through two more washes! Yup, one application and a week later it was still drying straighter and looking shinier than usual.

It was then time to try the Elixir. I decided to try it as a treatment rather than as styling aid. The elixir comes in a dark glass bottle and is a thick blend of Argan Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Oil and Grapeseed Oil. This one goes on dry hair as it needs to be washed off. It doesn’t smell as nice as the mask, but then it doesn’t really smell of anything at all which is good. I was worried I’d smell of chip pan, with all that oil!

Instanatural Elixir. A rich blend of Argan Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Oil, & Grapeseed Oil.

Instanatural Elixir. A rich blend of Argan Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Jojoba Oil, Shea Butter, Sunflower Oil, & Grapeseed Oil.

I did the same as with the mask and left this on for 15 minutes, although it does say on the bottle that you could leave it on overnight if your hair is super dry. I then had to wash my hair. And this is where it got tricky. I use a really good Lush shampoo, designed for greasy hair and even that struggled with this. I had to shampoo my hair twice to get all the oil residue out. Then I dried it in exactly the same way. I knew before I even started it wasn’t going to look as shiny and I was right.

The shine from the elixir was more defuse.

The shine from the elixir was more defuse.

It didn’t look nearly as shiny or as straight as with the mask. However, it did feel incredibly soft. I think maybe this would be better on curly or super dry hair. It really did feel nourished, but I missed the sparkle shine I got from the mask.

The real test for me was how quickly my hair looked greasy afterwards. And I was surprised that neither product weighed my hair down and made it look greasy quicker that usual. In fact I was pleased with both products:


  • beautiful scent
  • diamond shine
  • sped up styling
  • effect lasted through subsequent washes


  • no scent
  • super soft hair
  • nourished feel
  • short ingredient list

The mask was definitely my favourite, just for the amazing silky feel and shine it gave my straight hair. I fully intend to incorporate the mask into my weekly pamper routine. The elixir I have yet to try as a styling serum, but if I did I know I’d only need a tiny amount. In fact you don’t need huge amounts of either product in order to get great results and because the mask is a weekly treatment, I’m hoping a tub will last me a good while. You can buy both products at Amazon. The Elixir currently costs £16.95 for 120ml bottle and the Mask £14.95 for a 240ml pot. The cost is higher than high street hair masks I’ve seen for sale, but the ingredient list is definitely better. I’d take organic natural oils over chemicals any day. And I think my hair would agree!


I would like to thank Instanatural for gifting me these products to try.

I was not paid to write this review and as always my opinions are my own.






Capri-Sun #PackedLunchLove Hack Workshop

Lunch. It seems to be on my mind a lot lately (but to fair when is food not? ?). I recently got Oscar a new lunch bag, when his existing one started causing concerns I’d never even envisaged, and a few weeks ago I was invited by the lovely people at Capri-Sun to join them for a lunch box hack workshop in London to celebrate the launch of their Fruit Crush all fruit juice drink. Until recently Oscar would only drink water, but once he found ‘juice boxes’ that was it, he was in love. So I was interested to find out more about an option that could also be counted as is 1 of your 5 a day. Capri-Sun Fruit Crush is made with 75% Fruit Juice and 25% Spring Water and is available in three flavours, so I was interested to see whether it could find a place in our lunch boxes.

Capri Sun Fruit Crush. Fruit Juice and Water, that's it!

Capri Sun Fruit Crush. Fruit Juice and Water, that’s it!

When I first got the invite, I immediately knew Oscar wasn’t ready for the craft and fun they were promising the little people. However, I also knew my friend’s daughter would love it, so invited Cecily and her mummy Bethany to come with me. And I still believe they would have loved it, however Bethany was so poorly that weekend, I ended up going alone. Hope you’re feeling better now Bethany!

The event was run at the London family members club Maggie and Rose in Kensington, and while the children were entertained in one space, we mummies and daddies sat in another. The set up immediately piqued my interest. I mean, what were we going to do with cookie cutters and dried spaghetti?

Thanks to Maggie and Rose in Earls Court for hosting

Thanks to Maggie and Rose in Earls Court for hosting

Seriously! What were we about to do?

Seriously! What were we about to do?

I’ve never been particularly creative when it comes to Oscar’s lunch. At the moment we mostly eat at home and that mostly involves sandwiches (cut into squares) made from gluten free bread and one of a number of fillings (his favourite du jour is Dairylea, but he’ll eat most things to be fair. As long as it’s not green!) Trimming the crusts off is my only nod to fancy (and I only do that because then he’ll weirdly eat more of the sandwich than when I don’t!). So, believe me when I say I was a leeeetle sceptical about making a ‘fun’ lunch. I mean who has time for that, right?

The workshop was run a blogger I’d not come across before, Grace from Eats Amazing. Grace’s hobby of getting her children to eat healthy food, has turned into an obsession. For Capri-Sun’s Fruit Crush #PackedLunchLove Project She had designed five bento style packed lunches and the first thing she did was show us how quick and easy the Dinosaur one was to make.

Grace under pressure!

Grace under pressure!

I literally timed the poor girl. And this is how long it took to create the dino lunch box

I literally timed the poor girl. And this is how long it took to create the dino lunch box. Impressive!

Grace's awesome 4 minute Dino Lunch!

Grace’s awesome 4 minute Dino Lunch!

What a great idea and so ridiculously simple it was almost embarrassing that I’d never thought to try something like it before. You can find the directions to create this fun but healthy dino themed lunchbox here.

So once we’d seen just how simple a fun lunch could be, it was our turn to have a go. Only Grace decided it would be fun for us to have a crack at a really special lunch, one she was at pains to explain she wouldn’t make every day. In fact she explained she would usually only play with one or two elements per box (as you can see in the Dino lunch). Doing that and adding a couple of eyes or character picks is usually enough to have even the most inscrutable child bowled over. But to give us some real practice on the bento lunch style, we were set the task of creating a ‘Woodland Themed’ lunch, complete with Owl sandwich, egg mouse, grape acorns and carrot leaves.

And I loved every minute of it!


Grace’s Woodland themed lunch

So that's what the dried spaghetti was for! The eyes are ebilble ink. I need one of these pens!

So that’s what the dried spaghetti was for! The eyes are ebilble ink. I need one of these pens!

Two slices of bread, one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some stick on eyes and you my friend have got yourself an Owl!

Two slices of bread, one slice of ham, one slice of cheese and some stick on eyes and you my friend have got yourself an Owl!

And here's my box, complete with mouse, owl along with leaves cut from slices of carrot and acorns made from frozen grapes dipped in melted chocolate.

And here’s my box, complete with mouse and owl along with leaves cut from slices of carrot and acorns made from frozen grapes dipped in melted chocolate.

It was too much fun and while I would never have time to do this kind of thing every day (sorry Grace, I just wouldn’t!) it was amazing to see what you could create with just a little bit of thought, and some awesome cutters.

I had such a great day, but what I really came away with was inspiration. Such as:

  1. If you’re cutting the crusts off bread, do it before you add the filling. Then bag up any crusts you have, in the freezer. When you next need breadcrumbs, whizz up the left overs and hey presto, breadcrumbs. I’ve already started doing this at home!
  2. The wax on Babybel cuts easily and sticks to itself, meaning you can make a boring cheese look super exciting!
  3. When cutting out shapes from vegetables, keep the left overs. These can be used in all sorts of ways later on (beak of an Owl sandwich anyone? Soup?)
  4. To keep it exciting, stock up on a few different types of breads (such as rolls, pittas, wraps, muffins etc) and keep them in the freezer. They last for ages and you can mix it up as you go along. Use it frozen and it will be thawed by lunch time – no defrosting needed!
  5. Although we don’t like it, I learnt hummus freezes really well. You can freeze it in all sorts of shaped ice cube trays and the frozen hummus will hold it shape, even when it defrosts. How cool is that?
  6. Once you start looking around you’ll be amazed what you can use to spruce up a packed lunch. Cocktail stirrers, cookie cutters, cake flags, the list is endless. And there is such a thing as an edible marker. Who knew?!

I was amazed. It had never occurred to me to cut pitta at an angle to make a dinosaur spike, or to dip frozen grapes in chocolate to make acorns. Heck, it had never occurred to me to theme his lunch full stop. But it really is that simple. With a few tweaks on a bog standard lunch and a few little additions (picks, eyes etc) Grace created something so cool, even I wanted to tuck in!

And that was the philosophy of the day I guess. Take the familiar, be that food or drink, look at it from a different angle and BOOM! you’ve got a whole box of healthy fun. I would never have thought to take a cookie cutter to a carrot and I would never have thought to give Oscar Capri-Sun Fruit Crush.

I do both now.


Thank you for so much fun!

Thank you for so much fun!


Thank you so much to everyone involved in the #PackedLunchLove workshop. Thank you to Capri-Sun for arranging such a wonderful day and to Grace for inspiring me to give it a go.

You can find all the picks, eyes and lunch accessories you could ever need at Grace’s Eats Amazing Shop

I was given a Yumbox to carry my creations home in and boy do we love it! Watertight and secure, Oscar wants to eat every meal out of it now! You can find out more about Yumbox here

I wasn’t paid for this post and as always all opinions are my own.


Bluestone Resort Wales – A Review

If you’re a regular reader or follow me on any social media, you’ll know that a couple of weeks ago, we were lucky enough to spend the week as a family in the beautiful countryside of Pembrokeshire, West Wales. I couldn’t believe it when Bluestone National Park Resort asked me if I’d like to bring the family to visit. Ben and I lived in Swansea from 2009-2011 and Wales (and the Welsh), hold a very special place in my heart. In fact I didn’t realise how special, until I blubbed going over the bridge. What am I like? I’ve wanted to take Oscar to Wales since he was born, and despite looking into it a couple of times, we’d just never found anywhere we thought could work for him and for us. I won’t lie to you when I say I was a little nervous. Oscar’s Autism means he can be unpredictable and Pembrokeshire was a long way to go for him to react badly (4.5 hours from our home in Surrey), but I can’t explain just how well everything went. It was as if Bluestone sprinkled a little bit of Welsh magic over all of us.

So we arrived on Monday after a straightforward journey, made all the easier by the iPad and a couple of Thomas and Friends films. Believe me when I say you get no badges for getting your children to their destination by singing and reading with them, when neither of these things work and a iPad strapped to the back of the headrest does. Check in starts at 4.30pm, which allowed Oscar to go to preschool in the morning and for us to arrive in time for check-in to be in full flow, which meant queuing in the car.

TOP TOP #1: If you can arrive earlier in the day, do. Although you can’t get in to your accommodation until 4.30, you can check in and use the park’s facilities, meaning you avoid the queues when everyone else arrives. This may be particularly useful if you have children who don’t deal well with queues.

Everyone arriving at the same time means some queing

Everyone arriving at the same time means some queuing to get into the park

Despite the short time queuing, the iPad did sterling work until we were able to get into our accommodation with no fuss and a warm welcome. And when we did we were so impressed. All accommodation at Bluestone is self catering lodges ranging from studios to those that sleep 14 people. As we had originally planned to go with friends, who then couldn’t join us, we had one of the gorgeous Grassholm Lodges, which sleep 8 people in three twin and one double room. This all came with three bathrooms, one of which was a wet room and one an ensuite. Having so much space was a luxury in itself, especially as we’re used to a two bedroom terrace cottage!


Just one of the twin bedrooms. The boy already making his mark!

I was probably most excited about having a decent size kitchen for a change!

I was probably most excited about having a decent size kitchen for a change!

The kitchen really was incredibly thoughtfully equipped (I cooked dinner for Oscar every night and for Ben and I twice with no bother) and we both noted how all the electronics were such good makes. It’s the little things no? It’s worth mentioning that the lodges do not come with washing machines and there’s no laundry on site, so be sure to bring enough clothes for the duration.

TOP TIP #2 Kitchens have everything you’d expect in a modern luxury lodge, including a dishwasher. Bluestone kindly provide a welcome pack of kitchen essentials including dishcloths, tea towels and 3 dishwasher tablets. You can also buy packets of three tablets in the park shop for 1. I really wish I’d realised this before, so I wouldn’t have fretted about taking cloths and washing up liquid and would have packed a few of my own dishwasher tabs.

A helpful welcome in the kitchen

A helpful welcome in the kitchen

The lodge was so light and airy and the temptation was to just stay in, enjoying the space, but there was so much else to do on the park. On the first night (and subsequent evenings) Oscar was thrilled to make great use of the park’s pub garden and adventure playground. As I’m sure Ben was!


So spacious and airy. Wonderful!

A quick evening tipple at the Knights Tafern

A quick evening tipple at the Knights Tafern

The Treehouse, withy all its bridge and tunnels was a great hit with Oscar. Not sure Ben enjoyed it quite as much!

The Treehouse, with all its bridges and tunnels was a great hit with Oscar. Not sure Ben enjoyed it quite as much!

The park is built around a central ‘village’, which has a grocery store, bakery/coffee shop, off license, gift shop, pub, various restaurants and a Spa. Ben and I are both big spa fans (hey, who isn’t?!) so we knew we wanted to try out Bluestone’s WellSpa, but we knew we wanted to go together. I’m sure the ability to share childcare was the reason we saw quite a few extended family groups around the park. Although we didn’t go in a group, Bluestone is totally set up for this kind of holiday, with large lodges and even interconnected ones! So because we were ‘sans grandma’, we booked Oscar into the Mini Adventure session. This was a three hour creche session for 0-3 year olds held in the Adventure Centre (they also run similar age appropriate activities for 4-7 year old and 8-12 year olds). I booked the session in advance and explained about Oscar’s Autism. The staff weren’t phased in the slightest, and assured me that they’d looked after autistic children before. I was also reassured to hear the creche was in a locked room, with a maximum of 6 children, with two members of staff. The worst that could happen is that he’d hate it and wouldn’t stay (or they’d have to call us to come get him, which they promised to do). Three hours and no call later, we picked up a very happy little boy, who’d done crafting, baking and played with trains. Best 24 I spent all holiday!

The Mini Adventure session was Space themed. Oscar had an amazing time!

The Mini Adventure session was Space themed. Oscar had an amazing time making his Alien!

While the boy was aliening it up, Ben and I made full use of the time to check out the Spa. The treatment list was extensive, but we chose to just relax together in the Thermal Suite. I loved the Brick Sauna and Ben liked the Herbal Steam Room and we both loved the heated outdoor plunge pool. What a treat!


I was rather taken with the changing rooms!

The chill out area had a very apt name. Pronounced cutch for those of you not down with the Welsh language.

The chill out area had a very apt name. Pronounced “kutch” for those not down with the Welsh language.

Time together as a couple can be rare, but we loved that Bluestone gave us the opportunity to make the most of it. We loved the creche and we also booked a babysitter for the Wednesday night, through the park’s very friendly and helpful customer service team. Oscar sleeps well anyway, but I’ve never seen him go down so easily as I did on holiday. This meant by the time the babysitter arrived, he was fast off and we could enjoy our meal out. We chose the recently updated Oak Tree Restaurant, which mixes Italian inspiration with Welsh produce. The sharing plate starter we had with baked Perl Wen Cheese was a revelation! So good in fact I forgot to get a picture of it!


So good it’s gone!

The Oak Tree was one of several places to eat on the park. The choice was appreciated and we ate in many of them over the week with prices being reasonable across the board (not something you always find when you’re a captive audience. This was also the case in the Village Stores with a great range of groceries available at everyday prices). Although we bought a lot of food with us, having done a shop the day before we arrived, we also ate out several times. The food we had all over the park was good and I particularly enjoy my flame roast mackerel, down in the woodland restaurant Camp Smokey. Such a unique venue, it’s nestled deep in the middle of the woods and all food is cooked over open fires, just like a real All American cookout! Had Oscar not had the only melt down of the week as we sat down to eat, we so would have be finishing our meal by toasting our own marshmallows! It was such a shame it didn’t work for him as the food was delicious. But one melt down all week? I’ll take that!

camp smokey

Camp Smokey, for the full outdoor camp fire eating experience

Our best eating experience of the week, had to be in the Wild Wood Cafe. We had been for a walk on the nature trail, after Oscar had woken that morning and still in his pyjamas declared he wanted to go for a walk by telling us ‘shoes’ and ‘buggy’. It was a beautiful day so we headed to the Nature Trail followed by a walk round the lake.

TOP TIP #3 The nature trail is beautiful and I highly recommend it. However be aware that it’s not a gentle stroll. Anyone with mobility issues would struggle and while we coped with our trusty 3 wheel Out n About 360, a lesser buggy (particularly the fold up umbrella style) would not make it. Slings or walking might be best.


On the trail


This was the easy bit!

After a super morning’s walk we headed over to the Adventure Centre, a building the size of a small leisure centre bursting at the seams with fun. We spent some time in the main room, playing on the bouncy castle, with the lego and in the soft play area but mainly having a good old explore. We also spent some time that afternoon in the Circus Room, an entire room devoted to the joy of Under 5s. They use the room for paid for Toddler Sensory sessions, but on the day we visited it was free to use all day. The boy found his new favourite toy in the ride on roller coaster – he’d have taken it home with him if he could!




Lego Zone. Cool wall, but its missing something…


Yeah that’s better

The AMAZING Circus Room. Soft Play and Sensory for the Under 5s. and we had the place to ourselves!

The AMAZING Circus Room. Soft Play and Sensory for the Under 5s. and we had the place to ourselves!

Oscar's favourite part of the week I think!

Oscar’s favourite part of the week I think!

When it came time to think about lunch we decided to try the Adventure Centre’s own restaurant, the Wild Wood Cafe. Oscar’s historically been good at eating out, but since he’s been too big for a high chair he struggles to sit and not want to get down for long enough. Add to the fact that this was all new to him, I had no high hopes for this lunch. However, I didn’t bargain on the wonderful atmosphere of the Wild Wood Cafe. As the name may suggest it’s made up to look like an enchanted wood. The lights are dimmed and the seating design really imaginative. Lunch in a bird’s nest anyone? We took Oscar in and let him have a run round exploring everything. As everyone else in there was also a parent of a small child no one batted an eyelid! The room was presided over by an enormous tree and Oscar was very taken with the throne. Yes they have a throne, which is used in the regular interactive dinner shows! They sound like awesome fun, just not for Oscar yet. Anyway after a look around he came and sat down, waited for his dinner and ate it whilst sitting the whole time! I make a big deal of this as it’s the first time he’s ever done this since outgrowing the highchair. The food was delicious (Ben was so impressed at how good his Steak Baguette was) and if you’re visiting with small children I urge you to take them at least once. It’s one of my favourite memories from the week 🙂

Have dinner in an Enchanted Forest

Have dinner in an Enchanted Forest

It sure enchanted my boy. Here he is, sitting and eating!

It sure enchanted my boy. Here he is, sitting and eating! Notice the throne in the background!

When I asked Ben what his favourite memory of the trip was, he said without a doubt the peace. Bluestone is set in 500 acres of beautiful Welsh National Park and the fact that cars are parked away from the lodges once they’re unloaded meant the pace of life on the park was a relaxed one. You can hire golf buggies to use during your stay. We decided not to this time, however if we’d been with a bigger group or anyone with mobility issues these would have been a life saver, as the park itself is rather hilly. The wildlife was everywhere and tame as you like, which thrilled Oscar as his new words that week were ‘bird’ and ‘animal’!


View from our bedroom window the day we arrived

Ducks on the lake

Ducks on the lake

Our love of the Welsh countryside meant that we couldn’t go all that way and not explore the surrounding area, just a little. There were so many things to see and do close to Bluestone, but living in a landlocked county meant I desperately wanted to go to the beach. On recommendation from a friend back home, we broke with tradition and eschewed the popular Tenby, heading instead for Barafundle Bay, 30 minutes drive away. Now I wouldn’t recommend this beach for everyone. It’s sheltered and quiet, yes, but that’s partly because it’s only accessible via a half mile walk across the cliff tops and then down a long steep stone stair case.

TOP TIP #4 The guides say this beach is not accessible by buggies and to some extent they are right. However, if you really, really wanted to you could take your buggy most of the way and stash it in the bushes at the top of the steps, as we saw one couple do that day.

Oscar’s never really been to the beach and choosing Barafundle Bay was something of a risk. Not being able to take the buggy, being half a mile of difficult terrain away from the car, we could absolutely have chosen another location. But we would absolutely have missed out on the most amazing experience. Oscar walked/ran excitedly just ahead of us almost the whole way there. I think he appreciated the freedom, but not once did he make a dash for it (to be fair we were on high alert and had he shown any signs of bolting we would have scooped him up and high tailed it back to the car.) We thoroughly enjoyed the walk there and when we arrived? Well! No wonder it’s been voted Best Picnic Spot in the UK and in the Top 12 Beaches in the World before now.

With the wind at his heels! And in his hair!

With the wind at his heels! And in his hair!


Me and my guy


The BEAUTIFUL Barafundle Bay


The steps down to the bay

No trip to the beach would be complete without a castle!

No trip to the beach would be complete without a castle!

What a day! And we totally chose the best day of the week for the weather too. The day we came to leave was dreary and reflected completely the way we were feeling. So sad to say goodbye to such a wonderful place. Although we had to check out at 10am, we were able to use the facilities until 3pm. This being the case we packed up the car with everything but our swim things and headed over to the Blue Lagoon. It’s everything you’d expect of a pleasure pool and had a great toddler/baby area. At least I thought it was great. Oscar enjoyed it but was tempted by the big pool soon enough. He’s quite confident in the water, but can’t swim and would not wear any kind of flotation device, which meant it was a very tiring experience for me. He LOVED the wave machine and the fountains and even went down the lazy river with me, but in the end I had to call time on the swimming. I just couldn’t keep up with him! I think if he’d been older he would have been in there every day. As it was I’m glad we tried it, but I’m not sorry we only went the once.

The Blue Lagoon Pool

The Blue Lagoon Pool

To be honest though there’s little we did more than once. The playground maybe, or getting ice creams from the Bakery. We were there Monday to Friday and we only got to sniff what Bluestone is about. But what we saw made us all happier than I could have imagined. The facilities were exactly what we needed as a family and the staff unremittingly helpful, friendly and good humoured (even the guy cutting the lawn on the ride on mower gave Oscar a big smile and a thumbs up when he saw him watching!) We couldn’t have asked for anything more. Would we go back. Yes. Definitely. Wales will always have a special place in my heart and Bluestone is a great place to visit what was once our adopted home.



We would like to say a massive thank you to Bluestone National Park Resort for generously providing us with accommodation in return for this review.

I was not paid to write this review and as always opinions are my own.

Please check out for more information.

You can also find Bluestone on Twitter and Facebook




Birthday Party at The Hen House, Haslemere

What a couple of weeks it’s been. We’ve had an awesome Easter, with fabulous weather, amazing days out, lots of fun and lots of love. The best thing by far about the Easter Holidays though has to be Oscar’s 3rd Birthday party. We chose The Hen House in Haslemere as the venue for his party months ago, and you can read about why here. I have to say in the run up to his birthday, I was much more excited than he was. I just knew how much fun he was going to have and that made me really happy.

On the day, I had my hair cut in the morning, leaving Oscar at home with Ben. Seriously you’d have thought it was me having the party, I was so excited (although that could have been the giddiness I always get when I spend time alone!) As we’d chosen exclusive use of The Hen House, we arrived at 2.30pm, just as they were closing to the public. We were immediately made to feel welcome as the staff busied around cleaning up, tidying the soft play and rearranging the tables. I was asked how I wanted the tables laid out and as I wanted as much floor space as possible, the tables were laid out in two long lines. This gave plenty of seating, but also tonnes of milling/running around (depending on your age I guess) space. We didn’t have to arrange any extra decoration, but as I’d decided on a loose Farmyard theme, I had ordered 20 cow print helium balloons, from a local party shop who delivered them to The Hen House for us. The most I had to do in terms of preparation of the venue on the day, was tie weights to the balloons, place them artfully strategically round the floor and fill some bowls with the M&Ms and Haribo I’d bought with me. Job done!

A very tidy Hen House, ready to party!

A very tidy Hen House, ready to party!

Oscar found the M&Ms

Oscar found the M&Ms

Guests started to arrive bang on 3pm. We’d decided to take full advantage of the Hen House’s licence and bought prosecco and larger for our adult guests. To be honest I wasn’t sure how this would go down. Would people be driving? Would people think it was weird to drink at a children’s party? Well, I can categorically tell you it went down a storm! I had people tell me this was definitely the way ahead in children’s parties and the prosecco went down so well, one of the staff had to run out and grab us some more bottles. All before anyone realised we were running low though! Smooth!

It was a prosecco and Haribo kinda party

It was a prosecco and Haribo kinda party

The kids had an absolute BLAST! I have never seen Oscar play for so long and so hard and sooooooo well with everyone there. He could run, he could throw himself down the slide, he laughed. Some of the dad’s got well and truly roped into playing with the children and Ben got adopted by our friend’s daughter, Charlotte, for the day. She wouldn’t let him leave her side. It was the sweetest thing.

Come with me Ben!

Come with me Ben!


Note the Daddy at the top of the slide. To be fair I did find a group of them hiding up there later on!


Oscar and his buddy Cecily playing and laughing

Oscar taking a rare moment of rest on the light up disco floor. I chose the "light up when you step on it" setting and the kids loved it!

Oscar taking a rare moment of rest on the light up disco floor. I chose the “light up when you step on it” setting and the kids loved it!

Because the number of children was a very manageable ten (plus two babies), there was plenty of space and fun to be had without a single altercation happening. Don’t get me wrong, we could have had more (up to 30 at an exclusive party), but I felt for Oscar (and for me to be fair) ten was plenty and I think I was right. It meant the adults (or at least those who weren’t being held prisoner at the top of the slide 😉 ) got to well and truly relax. It’s also a venue that really understands little people, meaning we were able to feel relaxed about their safety. This allowed us to have a good old catch up and it really did feel as much as a party for us as it was for them. The music was a playlist I’d put together myself and played through The Hen House computer (they did offer to make one for me, but I have a very specific taste in cheesy music and it was best for me to do it myself 😉 ). I got to talk to friends I hadn’t seen in weeks and introduce friends from different areas of my life to one another. This was fab and some great conversations were had. All while the children played happily and safely.

There were children at the party - honest!

There were children at the party – honest!

The children played until they were red in the face (or was that just my son?). The food was bought out around 4ish and the children all sat to a set table. I was a bit concerned whether Oscar would want to join in with this (who’d want to eat where there’s soft play to be throwing your little body down?) But sit he did! The party package comes with food included and we had all the usual suspects of freshly made sandwiches (for which I was able to chose three different fillings), sausage rolls, crisps and vegetable sticks. When we booked the party I’d explained to Henri, the owner, that Oscar is eating a gluten free diet at the moment. She wasn’t fazed in the slightest and couldn’t have been more accommodating. Some of the sandwiches were made using (good) gluten free bread and despite my suggestion that we swap sausage rolls for plain GF sausages, Henri insisted on making her own delicious GF sausage rolls for everyone! The crisps and snacks were all corn or potato based (as opposed to wheat based Cheddars or similar). The children took a break from wearing themselves out and tucked in happily. And there was plenty enough for the toddlers to eat their fill and for the parents to grab a bite too.

All the children sat and tucked in happily

All the children sat and tucked in happily

Yup thats my boy sitting with the other children and eating. Happy Mummy Moment!

Yup that’s my boy sitting with the other children and eating. Happy Mummy Moment!

Myred faced boy. I swear the wine is not his!

My red faced boy. I swear the wine is not his!

The absolute icing on the proverbial cake was in fact the cake. Or more to the point the cake/candle blowing moment. Instead of one large birthday cake, Hen had made Oscar a pile of his favourite GF Brownies (the ones he badgers me for every time we visit The Hen House). The staff asked if I would like to hold the cake, while every one sang Happy Birthday, which was a lovely touch. He’s not really done the whole blowing candles thing before and despite practising at home for days before (so he knew what to do), I was a little nervous as to how he’d react. So Ben held Oscar and I held the cake(s). Everyone sang to him and he took it all his stride, looking to me for assurance when the time came to blow. It was a perfect, perfect moment! We then handed round the gorgeous Brownies and every one was taken or devoured!


Look at those happy chops! Perfect.


The children started to leave around 5, happy and tired, with a cow print balloon in one hand and a farm themed party bag in the other. I had real fun putting the party bags together and although The Hen House did offer to do them for me, I’m glad I did my own. They had a Milky Bar Cow, a farm animal toy, a farmer’s neckerchief/bandana and a packet of seeds for them to plant and grow. This all came in a brown paper bag, with a farm animal mask to decorate. Putting the fun back into functional, that’s me!



Farm themed party bags

Farm themed party bags

We had so many compliments on the way out. The children all told us how much fun they’d had and the parents did the same. It was such an amazing feeling. We got to take the credit for the most amazing party, when really, we did so little towards it. The staff at The Hen House, did everything and made the whole day go without a single hitch. We didn’t even have to tidy up! We just packed up his pressies, grabbed the remaining balloons and left! Bliss.

We have had such a bumpy few months recently, what with Oscar’s ASD diagnosis and the stress that has put us under as a family. But we were able to give our special little guy the most amazing birthday party, exactly as he needed it, to have as much fun as is humanly possible for any three year old to have.

And for that, I can’t thank The Hen House enough.




We’d like to thank Henri and everyone at The Hen House for their amazing hospitality and generosity in hosting Oscar’s birthday for us. You can find out more about hiring the venue, either exclusively or non exclusively, on their website

I was not paid to write this review and as always all opinions are my own.

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