Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Rocking! Have you joined in the rock hunt craze?

I first heard about rocking in October 2017 via a BBC Three Counties Facebook post see original video here Have you taken part in a rock hunt yet?

The Kindness Rocks Project and Love on the Rocks appear to be among the first rocking communities but now there are hundreds of groups mostly on Facebook.

You basically decorate a rock with an image or positive message and hide it.  Someone then finds your rock, posts a picture on social media if able/wants to and then re hides for someone else to discover.  It is spreading some cheer and making someone smile.

I have recently decided to join in and have labelled my rocks with Life in the Mum's Lane as I thought it would be fantastic way to do a craft project with the kids (I'm not a crafty mum) spread some smiles and possibly find some Northamptonshire mums who might like my page as its all about local days out and parenting humour.

Some we decorated at the weekend
It's actually been more addictive than I thought decorating our little rocks.  My next batch will have some positive messages inspired by The Kindness Rocks Project.

Some we found & rehid 
If you want to join in all you need is some rocks, sharpies, acrylic paint or similar and varnish is optional but will mean your designs won't wash away.  I bought my rocks from Homebase a massive bag was £9.99 (we did find some at the beach but left them in a bucket with bacon from a failed crabbing trip so had to discard them!) my daughter already had sharpies and I bought some excellent pens called Posca. I only got 5 but already want more colours.

If you would like to join in and are looking for a Northampton group on Facebook Northampton Rocks has 800 members, Northamptonshire Rocks has 3300 and Love on the Rocks Duston has 700.  These were the biggest Northampton communities I found but there were loads including Hardingstone & Wooton, East Hunsbury, Hunsbury and Eastern District Rocks.

Why not join in and have some fun and make someone smile.

Emma xxx

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Castle Ashby Days Out

I LOVE Castle Ashby but haven't yet wrote a review.  I've been numerous times and it is a real favourite with my family.  It suits all ages and abilities.  They even allow you to borrow a wheelchair which means my Dad who has mobility issues can enjoy the surroundings too.

Castle Ashby consists of beautiful grounds to wander, a menagerie with the famous meerkats, children’s play area, plant centre, tea room and gift shop.

They have events throughout the year including the very popular Easter Egg Hunt, Pumpkin Hunt and Christmas Craft Fair.

On my first visit several years ago I was worried that it would be keep of the grass and do not touch but the gardens are welcoming and vast.  Children can run free and enjoy themselves.  The menagerie has grown over the years and as well as the meerkats is home to pigs, goats, rabbits, ducks and marmosets.

The play area too has expanded over the years and is great for pre schoolers and primary school age children.

Picnics are welcome in the gardens and there are benches and a few tables dotted about.

The gardens are open 1st April to 30th September: 10am – 5.30pm and 1st October to 31st March: 10am – 4.30pm.

During the spring summer admission is £7 per adult and £1 per child under 5's free.  In the Winter admission is free but you must pay for parking.  Facilities are closed such as tea rooms and toilets.

Below are two videos of our days out at Castle Ashby.  If you've never been and live locally I would 100% recommend.

For more information click on the link to go to Castle Ashby's website

Emma xx

For more brilliant days out ideas check out Days Out Now

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Easter Half Term ideas in Northamptonshire

Easter will soon be upon us Easter Sunday is 1st April 2018 and many schools break up on the 29th March as 30th is Good Friday.

If you are looking for days out with the kids in Northamptonshire at Easter, I've got lots of Easter events to inspire you.

With spring finally emerging from the frost and snow there's loads to do to get outside in the fresh air and hopefully get some much needed sunshine. Below is lots of things to do in Northamptonshire during the Easter half term.  There's a mixture of indoor and outdoor. 

Delapre Abbey, Northampton

Delapre Abbey

31st March to 2nd April 11am to 4pm.  Easter Egg hunt Decorate your own Easter lollipop,  Peter Rabbit trail around the Walled Garden, Listen to Beatrix Potter stories, Easter bonnet parade (Monday only), Decorate Peter Rabbit biscuits.  Free entry some activities have a charge.

Daventry Country Park

Daventry Country Park

Eggsplore Trail Friday 30th March 10am to 11.30am.  Find and meet the Country park’s Easter Bunny, Wiggles for a special Easter treat,  Plus Easter bonnet parade.

Abington Park Museum, Northampton

Easter Egg Trail  Friday 30 March – 12-4pm  Saturday 31 March – 12-4pm  Sunday 1 April – 1-5pm
Monday 2 April – 1-5pm.  A chocolate egg as a prize for every child. £1.50 per child Drop in – no booking required

Spring Crafts Thursday 5 April 1.10-2.10pm, 2.20-3.20pm, 3.30-4.30pm
Make a bird feeder and a bouquet of paper tulips to take home.  £3 per child.  Book online or ring 01604 838110

Minibeast Mania  Thursday 12 April 1.15-2.30pm, 2.45-4pm
Bug hunt in the park, starting at Abington Park Museum. Explore the park and the creatures that live there and create your very own minibeast. £3 per child Book online or ring 01604 838110

East Carlton Country Park, Corby, Northamptonshire

Sunday 1st April 11am to 3pm.  Best decorated Egg Competition, Easter Bonnet Parade and an Easter Egg Hunt.

Farms are always great with the kids and offer some indoor activities if the weather is a bit dodgy. Here's 3 to choose from.

West Lodge Rural Centre, Desborough, Northamptonshire

West Lodge

30th, 31st March, 1st and 2nd April
Easter Quiz, follow clues around the farm which will lead you to the Easter Bunny and receive an Easter egg, paint an egg, take part in the egg and spoon race and egg painting competition.
West Lodge also has lambs, the very popular barrel ride and pig racing plus an indoor play barn.

Mini Meadows Farm, Naseby, Northamptonshire

Mini Meadows

Feeding the gorgeous lambs.  £5 entry plus £1 per bottle. Mini Meadows also has a brilliant indoor sand pit and new indoor play barn.

Old Dairy Farm Craft Centre, nr Weedon, Northamptonshire

Old Dairy Farm

The lambing sheds will be open Saturdays and Sundays, between the 3rd of March and 1st of April between 10.00am & 4.30pm.  £2 charge per person.

Rushmere Country Park, LU7 0EB

Rushmere Country Park

Easter Egg Eye spy.  30th March to 2nd April.  Bookable event.  £3.50 per child.
Find the Rushmere chicks, answer the questions on sheet and return it to the Herons' Hatch to claim your reward. Expected to be busy so book up now.

Barnwell Country Park, Oundle, Northamptonshire

Barnwell Country Park

1st April Easter egg hunt 2pm to 3pm Start at the visitor centre £2 per child
2nd April Easter Xplorer 11am to 3pm Start at the visitor centre £1 donation

Sywell Country Park

10th April Spring into Easter Challenge 10.30am to 12.30pm £2 per child

Evenley Wood Garden, Northamptonshire, NN13 5SH

Evenley Wood Garden

28th March – 6th April – Easter Eggstravaganza
Egg hunt along with lots of other activities. Café open all week.

Evenley Snowdrops in February
National Trust, Multiple locations nationwide

National Trust Easter Egg Hunt Information

The National Trust are teamed up with Cadbury's for Easter Egg hunts.  Our nearest locations are Canons Ashby, Stowe, Lyveden and Waddesdon Manor

Stanwick Lakes, Wellingborough

Stanwick Lakes

Easter egg trail Friday 30th March to Monday 2nd April.  10am to 4pm.  2km trail suitable for all.  £2 per trail purchase tickets at the visitor centre. Normal car parking charges apply.

Castle Ashby, Northampton

Castle Ashby

1st to 3rd April.  Amazing Easter Egg hunt which gets very busy.  To combat this it is now ticket ONLY so make sure you book in.  £2.50 per child, normal adult admission prices apply. 10am to 12.30pm.

Wickstead Park, Kettering

Wicksteed Park

Wicky's Easter Trail.  Every Day from 29 March to 15 April.  Entry is £3 per child and every entry receives an Easter gift.
Easter Craft Activities.  Available on Tuesday 3rd & 10th April plus Thursday 5th & 12th April from 10am to 11.30am and 1pm to 2:30pm.  Cost is £3.00 per participant.

I know these Castles are not in Northamptonshire but they aren't far.

Rockingham Castle, LE16 8TH

Rockingham Castle

Sunday 1st & Monday 2nd April 2018 Easter Egg Hunt.  Find the brightly coloured eggs which have been hidden in the gardens. Each egg has a letter, which makes up an Easter word. Once you have found the word you can claim your chocolate egg.  Hunt and Castle Gate Adult £12, Child £8.50, Under 3's free, Family ticket £32.50.

Kenilworth Castle, Warwickshire CV8 1NG

Kenilworth Castle

30th March to 2nd April 11am to 5pm.  Easter Adventure Quest.  Set off on a quest to crack the clues, meeting characters from the past along the way, then claim your chocolate reward. £1 per child normal admission prices apply.

Warwick Castle, Warwick, CV34 4QU

Warwick Castle

30th March - 15th April 2018 950th Anniversary.  Special anniversary Easter offer of £9.50 per person.  Enjoy a fun-packed, full day out at Warwick Castle this Easter with our brand new Knight's School, our Horrible Histories Maze and Eagles.

Lings Forum Cinema, Northampton

Trilogy Cinema

Peter Rabbit will be showing at Lings Forum Cinema during half term for special kids screenings.  Times are usually 10.30am and 2pm but please check.  £4.70 adult and £3.90 child.  Discounts for leisure card members.

Beauty & the Beast Panto, The Castle, Wellingborough

Castle Theatre

13th April only.2pm and 6pm.  Starring comedy legend Bobby Davro and Dani Harmer from Tracy Beaker & Strictly Come Dancing

Alice in Wonderland, The Deco, Northampton

The Deco

11th April 7pm and 12th April 1pm and 5pm.  Starring Britain’s Got Talent winner Ashleigh Butler and her dog Sully alongside Children’s TV Legend Dave Benson Phillips.

*Please check all details before attending to avoid disappointment*

Oreo Cookie Quest Challenge

Oreo have launched The Great Oreo Cookie Quest and families can win great prizes with promotion packs.  You can win an amazing once in a lifetime trip to California with special packs.

We decided to join in and spread the word.  It was a rather damp and dull spring day but we got out to Rushden Lakes Nature Trail.  See if you can spot 10 Oreo Cookie's in my pictures.

Oreo's are a great snack especially after some fresh air and exercise for the whole family.  Why not pick up a packet next time you are in the supermarket and see if you can win?

This post is an entry for Britmums #OreoCookieQuest, sponsored by Oreo

Friday, 23 February 2018

Coton Manor in Northamptonshire

A friend recommended Coton Manor to me for the Bluebells and I'd never heard of it before.

Coton Manor is a 10 acre garden most famous for its bluebell wood in flower April and May.  It is truly magical and even the kids were amazed.


Coton Manor is a more grown up place but the owners are happy for children to roam free.  Most children are fascinated by the flamingos and chickens wandering around the gardens.

We've been three times and with the exception of a downpour on one visit have had a lovely time.  It is a little pricey just for wandering around a fancy garden but is beautiful.  I would 100% recommend for the bluebells but would maybe only suggest visiting at other times of the year if you are a keen gardener. 

The children rate it a 6 out 10 but an 8 out of 10 when the bluebells are out.

I've found its a good place to go for a mixed age group outing as the kids can roam free and grandparents can enjoy the gardens with a cake for everyone in the café at the end.

All the information you need to plan a visit -

The gardens are open from February until 29th September for 2018.  Open Tuesday to Saturday closed Sundays and Mondays with the exception of  Bank Holiday weekends. 12noon to 5pm. £7.50 per adult and £3 per child.

Coton Manor, Coton, Northamptonshire, NN6 8RQ. Telephone 01604 740219

Cafe Menu

Emma xxx

For more days out with kids ideas click on the link below

Days Out Now

BeanBoozled Jelly Belly

My children love Jelly Belly jelly beans and had wanted to try the BeanBoozled challenge.

Jelly beans are in delicious flavours or wild ones! Canned dog food or chocolate pudding.  Tutti-Fruitti or Sticky socks.  They will be the same colour and same size so the only way to find out is to try.

In the Minion edition Banana and Fart flavours have been introduced.  Everyone knows the Minions love Ba-an-nas and will remember Dr Nefario's fart gun invention.

The good flavours are Coconut, Strawberry Banana Smoothie, Buttered Popcorn, Caramel Corn, Peach, Chocolate Pudding, Juicy Pear, Banana, Tutti-Frutti and Green Apple.

And the bad are Spoiled milk, Dead fish, Rotten Egg, Mouldy Cheese, Barf, Dog food, Booger, Pencil Shavings, Sticky Socks and Fart!

Luke didn't have much luck and out of his first 5 only had 1 nice one.

Do you want to take the challenge?

Emma xxx

Disclaimer: We received a free 45g sample.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Why do we share on social media? & online safety

Why do we share on social media?

A personal outlet? Validation? To get encouragement? Agreement? Provoke a debate?

We all have that friend who writes a cryptic Facebook status and then multiple people comment "Are you ok?" "What's up?" "Text me."

Social media is part of our every day lives now.  We probably share things without even realising.  My own children are shocked that I grew up and existed without Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. I actually shudder at what images could be out there from my teenage years. I'm glad we didn't have smart phones with the ever ready camera setting.

I do worry that social media is making our children grow up prematurely and they see things that their young minds aren't ready for.  I have a few friends (very sensible nice people) who allow their children on Facebook etc underage (For information the age limit is 13).  Peer pressure is a huge issue but age limits are there for a reason.  Will I eventually cave? I hope not.  So far my daughter is not interested although is a huge YouTube addict.  I'm aware she can obviously view things on there that are not age appropriate but I do check.  I've made both children very aware never to share personal information, share pictures or join chat rooms and fortunately this has been discussed a couple of times at their school.

I'm a blogger so sharing is what I do and there's a balance.  I do feature my children in posts but they both know and so far don't mind.  I never include pictures I think they would be embarrassed off or that identify a school logo or name.  Of course if someone was desperate to find me they probably could but Northampton is a very big place.

Some bloggers/vloggers do daily updates and reveal many aspects of their lives.  Their audience connect and their platforms grow.  I always liked writing for its solitary existence and being known was never what I wanted but statistically a brand with a face sells.  I have considered if I need to put myself out there more but so far have decided not too. I'd love Life in the Mum's Lane to be known throughout Northamptonshire but not necessarily Emma Jones.

I do however love social media and can while away several hours scrolling through various platforms.  It's become a strange hobby. 

What do you think about social media? Do you overshare?  Or have concerns about your own children?

If you are concerned about child online safety here's a post a wrote a couple of years ago with some top tips.  This is primarily aimed at 5 to 7 year olds but has useful information for all ages.

Internet safety for children

Think U Know

Emma xxx

I'm tired! (humour)

Before you have kids you might say I'm tired, I'm bored, I need a break.

This may well be true but my god once kids arrive these statements go up to a whole other level!

I'm tired - You have no idea. Caffeine and the fact you have a little people to look after is all that is getting you through the day. Is it bedtime yet?

I'm bored - Having a baby/young child can be profoundly boring. It's ok you can admit it. They sleep, eat, can't talk. As they get older it's all Biff, Chip & Kipper books (shoot me now!) and soft play hell.  It's boring. Even when they get older boredom can set in.  Ever fancied being stuck in traffic daily on school runs, watching your 100th swimming lesson and 1000th episode of some good awful cartoon. Fun isn't it.  Good job we love our kids.

I need a break - After days/weeks/months of a little person attached to you yes you need a break! Remember that you can pass the child to their dad/mum/family/friend etc and chill the hell out! It's allowed just remember to relax and not check your phone 50 million times. 

On that note I'm tired. Is it bedtime yet?

Emma xxx

Saturday, 20 January 2018

February half term. Things to do in Northamptonshire

For us February half term is week commencing 12th February and includes Pancake Day and Valentine's.

I always find February half term is about chilling out a bit after the rude reality of returning to work/school after Christmas.  It's still gloomy and cold but the nights are getting lighter hoorah!  However if we stay in for too long cabin fever sets in and my son in particular starts climbing the walls.  So here are some ideas for what to do this half term.

Mini Meadow Farm NN6 6HZ.
Lambing season runs 12th February to 31st March.
I love this farm it is fairly small but has loads to do, feed the animals for a small extra charge, there's a new indoor play area, lovely café, huge indoor sand pit and if the weather is dry great outdoor play equipment. £4 per person.

West Lodge Rural Centre NN14 2SH.
A much bigger farm but this is reflected in the cost.  I've been several times for Halloween and loved it.  I've never actually visited in February but with lambing plus other babies being born I'm sure it will be a great day out. Per Person £6.50 online and £7.45 on the gate. Under 2's free and family tickets available.

Waddesdon Manor HP18 0JH - Super Hero week
Go on the trail and solve the clues and riddles to claim a reward.  11am to 3pm.  £3 per child and normal ground admission applies.

Stowe - Half term Women of Stowe trail
10am to 5pm.  Grab your coat and boots and take part in this self led trail. Booking not required.  Normal ground admission charges apply.  £12 per adult and £6 per child. Under 5's free.  National Trust Property. 

Half Term Fifa Soccer School at Northampton Town Football Club
Sessions run 14th, 15th and 16th February.  11.15 to 1 with half hour lunch break and then more activities 1.30 to 3pm.  For ages 8 to 15.  £15 per child with sibling discount.

Evenley Wood Garden NN13 5SH
Snow drop days.  3rd to 28th February.  9.30 to 4pm.  £5 per adult and children free.

Coton Manor NN6 8RQ
Snow drops.  17th to 4th March.  £7.50 adult and £3 child. 
I visited her for the Bluebells and it was gorgeous and I also went in the summer holidays but in typical British weather style in poured with rain so we had tea and cakes and cut our visit short.  Coton Manor is a lovely garden with flamingos, ducks and chickens roaming the grounds.

Wicksteed Park NN15 6NJ
10th to 18th February 10.30 to 6pm.  8 rides open £6 per person.
Astroslide & Dropslide, explore the Treetop Walk and Sycamore Circle, get dizzy on the Carousel and Sway Rider, get a hole in one on Crazy Golf,  and enjoy the Meerkat Burrows.
Wicksteed Park

Abington Park Museum
14th February Valentines Workshop time slots 1.15-2 .00 2.15-3 3.15-4 £3 per child suitable for 3+ years.
16th February Chinese New Year Workshop time slots 1.15-2 2.15-3 3.15-4 £2.50 per child suitable for all ages.
You can book online or call 01604 838110
Abington Park Musuem Booking

And finally of course an indoor play centre is a blessing and a curse during half term.  The kids can get rid of their energy and you can have a cup of tea/coffee but the noise can be horrific and I'm always mildly concerned about the ball pits!!!  For children (like my daughter) that have outgrown an indoor play centre Boost Trampoline Park is a great alternative.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Stanwick Lakes in Northamptonshire

Stanwick Lakes is one of our favourite places for some fresh air and exercise in Northamptonshire.  It suits both children (aged 7 and 10) and I love it too.

Stanwick Lakes is off the Stanwick roundabout on the A45 in Northamptonshire 8 miles from Wellingborough.  For Satnav purposes the postcode is NN9 6GY.  The site is open from 7am to 9pm (7pm in winter) and Visitor centre for information, snacks, toilets and indoor toddler play area is open 10am to 5pm. Car parking charges vary depending on time spent there and season.  Currently £2.50 in winter and between £3.50 and £5.50 in the summer. (Cash only parking)

The most impressive thing for the kids is the enormous central play area, with climbing frames, slides, swings, water play areas, sand and tunnels.  On either side is a walk/cycle track for you to explore.  One way takes you to the obstacle course for older children.  My 7 year old finds some parts challenging and its great fun.  The other way takes you on a nice loop and past a zip wire, tyre swings and rope bridge.  There are several bird hides too and lots of lakes.  The whole area is very popular with families, walkers, bird watchers, cyclists and horse riders (permit required).

In the summer months it can get very busy an I've often ended up in the overflow car park but in the winter it is quite quiet and a great way to blow away the cobwebs.  Do be prepared for mud though as in the Winter months (especially if we've had lots of rain) certain areas can get boggy especially the obstacle course area.  My kids love it though.  Mud and puddles equals fun.  Just remember a big bag to put all the muddy stuff in and maybe some spare clothes.

In the summer lots of families take picnics and the kids playing in the central area wear swimming costumes and run about for hours.  There's also a BBQ area next to this for super prepared families.  So take along a disposable BBQ, your sausages and enjoy!

Tyre swing

On a very muddy/hot water fun day!

The rope bridge

Zip wire fun

Beautiful views
The site also runs a holiday club which might be of benefit to some families.  It is run during Easter, May and Summer holidays providing activities for up to 23 children aged between 5 and 11 years. 3 time slots are available 9am – 3pm £22, 8.50am – 5.10pm £25 or 8.30am – 5.45pm £28.

Next time you are in the area I 100% recommend Stanwick Lakes.  Both children give Stanwick Lakes a 10 out of 10!  We really do love it you'll have a great time.

Emma xxx

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Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Breakfree/Daily Mail Holiday Offer

Every year I book a holiday through the Breakfree/Daily Mail promotion and squeeze in a cheaper holiday to break up the year.  We usually go away for Easter or October half term.

I'd like to share with you the hows and top tips for anybody new to this holiday promotion.

Daily Mail Campaign booked through Breakfree Holidays

Collect five different passwords from the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday.  The current promo started Saturday 30th December and booking online opened at Midnight Wednesday 3rd January.

The promotion will close on 26th February.

The booking codes you need for this current promotion are


BOOKING LINK https://www.mailholidayparks.co.uk/dailymail

You can also book for postal booking form which is in the Daily Mail.

Prices are from £15 per person and based on 4.  So the cheapest deal available is £60.  For peak holidays a supplement of £6 per person is added so the cheapest deal is £84.

Depending on the site you choose other supplements are added.  My advice is to always price up the holiday you are looking for direct with the holiday provider so you can see what savings are available.

An example of supplementary charges are £8.75 per unit per night for service charge, £12.50 per person per break for entertainment passes (under 5's free).  Most sites offer some dates with half price offers on these charges or even free but are always off peak.

If you have pre school children there are loads of dates and cheap deals available including Butlins Tots breaks.

Prices are higher than they used to be but you can still save money.  On the holiday I have just booked I have saved £133 and potentially £190.  I have booked a comfort van and from experience this means I will either receive a standard or deluxe van at Haven. 

There is an amazing closed Facebook group called Breakfreeholidays run by Jason Milner and Gillian Read.  They do a fantastic job of updating and running a huge page and its the best place to get codes and dates.

Here's a link to the Facebook group Breakfreeholidays

Breakfree also run a local paper promotion which starts today (3rd January)

Prices are from £10/£15.  Collect 6 passwords from your local paper.  Booking opens 6th January.  First code is CHUMS
Booking Link https://www.breakfreeholidays.co.uk/local

I have used this before but do not know as much about the supplementary charges so make sure you read all the information before booking.

Happy holiday searching and hope you get what you want.

I checked just before typing this and most of Easter has gone but there was availability for May Half Term and some for end of August.  For the pre schoolers lots of availability.

Emma xxx