Joyful January with Konditor and Cook

January 2017

According to some, the 16th of January is the most depressing day of the year, what with memories of Christmas fading, a long wait until pay day and the cold weather really starting to set in. I, for one is usually prone to winter depression, The extreme cold and shorter daylight hours can be unbearable at times. ūüė¶

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Look at these beautiful Red Velvet Mini Bakes!

On 16th January, Konditor and Cook will be giving away 5,000 free Red Velvet Mini Bakes via there six stores(click here to find out which is the closest to you!) and as a competition on their social media feeds. They have decided to run this giveaway Рa nice opportunity to thank their loyal customers, welcome new customers and generally spread some much needed joy!

So please, head down to any of their six stores and grab some these lovely delights with your family, friends and colleagues. You can even buy some of their cakes to bring home to share with your loved ones. My personal favourite would be the Carrot Passion Cake, definitely great with a cup of tea in the evening(or any time actually).

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PRIZE-DRAW!

¬†And if that’s not enough, Konditor and Cook also have 12 boxes of 9 Red Velvet Mini Bakes to give away on 16 January 2017, Monday in a prize draw. To enter, simply share any of their posts that contain #JoyfulJanuary on Facebook or Twitter. Winners will be contacted on 16th January.

Go! Go! Go!

Have a wonderful 16th January with the red velvet mini bakes! x

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2017

January 2017

I am officially two weeks late to having a closing post to my 2016 and an opening one for 2017. Not that I used to do such things, but most bloggers do spend some time reflecting on the past year and sharing the hopes for the new one.

On  resolutions- it is funny how I used to have New Year Resolutions written on my physical diaries and then blogs when I started one. As I grew older, I sort of gave up. New year resolutions make me feel that I am setting up the future-me for disappointments since resolutions are made, only to be broken later and then becomes evidence for my weak mental state.

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In 2001/2002, I celebrated the new year with my secondary school friends at Downtown East. One of them asked what do I want for myself in the new year, and I thought being happy would be good. The 16 year old me then thought it was a simple thing(in comparison to getting a scholarship or something along those lines) to work towards to. Apparently, it is not that easy to be happy.

One of my tutors in junior college mentioned during class that as we grow older, we will realise that life never gets easier. Then, I laughed at her cynicism. At 32, I see how maybe those were words of wisdom. With every new year, I feel thankful that the year is finally over but I also worry(unduly) about the challenges that the future brings. I am an over-thinker and natural worrier. Sometimes, these negative(and needless) thoughts paralyse me so much so that I am unable to function in my daily life.

As a mother of three kids, I know I cannot allow myself the be consumed by any negative thoughts. Every morning, there will always be chores that needs me to fulfill- to make the breakfast, the lunchboxes, the simple activities with the children, the ¬†household chores, the food preparation, the school runs… The work that I do are menial and and have little meaning. ūüė¶ Sometimes, I wonder why am I washing dishes for the n-th time in the day. The repetitiveness of the household chores is ridiculous and thankless. When I browse through Facebook, I inevitably compare myself with my good looking friends who are jet setting everywhere and here I am wiping food crumbs off the table and my tea is getting cold. *sigh* Does any fellow SAHMs feel like me?

The upside to my life is that I get paid in cuddles, in hugs, in words of encouragement and affection, adoring eyes, promises of loyalty and unconditional love. The little ones are young and I am their world now. There will be times of me, lamenting in soliloquy about my frumpiness. Immediately, Ryan and Gillian will say something along the lines of, ‘Mummy, you are the best’, ‘You are the prettiest, Mummy!’. Hahaha. Ohwells, at least the recipients of my hard work are my biggest fans! I dislike the ancillary work that comes with young children but I cannot deny how fortunate I am to have this opportunity to be there with them now. After all, they are only young once and they probably need me the most now?

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While 2016 has been a tricky year, there has been some lovely moments.

Baby Megan is quite cute and I do have some talent in getting her to pose for my Instagram. Because of her, we got to collaborate with some brands. Megan was featured on a Youtube video for Mustela SG (click here to watch it). It is just quite cool to be able to tell her all these when she is older. (Hopefully, she won’t find it embarrassing instead.) It is a shame¬†that I do not have enough time for it and maybe I am just not dedicated enough. My mother always call me half bucket of water. So true, not enough grit in me, I suppose. Boohoo!

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Compared to 2014 and 2015, we travelled lesser around UK. We only drove out to Nottingham and Birmingham. Our normal weekends were spent mostly in London and surrounding areas. Plenty of things to do, especially on warmer days. There were many firsts for them in London- first ‘clubbing’ session at Rave-A-Roo, first play at Unicorn Theatre, first musical experience at Unicorn Theatre. We also went for the usual strawberry picking, potato picking, pumpkin picking and enjoyed the beautiful smells and scenery of the lavender fields at The Hop Shop. The outings had to be cut down¬†when I realised that Ryan’s school work(i.e. reading) was lagging way behind. (-_-)”’It took us some time to get to a more suitable routine. I wonder how is 2017 is going to pan out.

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We¬†visited Amsterdam over the Easter holidays for the children’s birthday and spent our entire summer in Singapore!

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I managed to fly alone with 3 young children under 5. It was a feat but I got to thank the fantastic crew and the friendly faces on the flight. It is amazing how strangers would go out of their way to make things easier for me. (I can’t say the same for our return flight tho. But that’s a story for another day.)

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When we were in Singapore, Ryan had his tonsil and adenoids removal surgery. We were grateful¬†that everything was done smoothly. There was family support to care for¬†the younger siblings while I accompanied Ryan. In August, we got a family graduation photo done with my parents and siblings. It was nice to spend so much time with them. Interestingly enough, Ryan’s best friend from his school happened to be in Singapore for the entire 6 weeks of summer. We met up at least once a week and the boys had a great time at the play centers.

E and I got our food cravings sated.
‚úĒ Changi Village breakfast (at least thrice)
‚úĒ Salted egg crabs + Black Hokkien Mee at Big Eater
‚úĒ Tai Kwa Bak Chor Mee
‚úĒ Afternoon tea (The Queen’s Cat Cafe, Pollen)
‚úĒ Spize dinner (twice)
‚úĒ Nasi Briyani
‚úĒ Indian Rojak
‚úĒ Cze Char from Yam’s Kitchen
‚úĒ Japanese from Chikuwa Tei(shame that Chef Peter left.)
‚úĒ Supper from Blk 85 Bedok (twice at least)
‚úĒ Angmoh Chap Cai Png at some place where my fitmama friends recommended.

and loads of kueh kuehs, bubble teas, home-cooked delights. The kids enjoyed their daily swimming sessions with Er Jiu. E and I went for foot massages at Dong Lin and we had lovely meet ups with friends. However, we did not manage to go for as many date nights as we would like since Megan is/was very attached to me. By the end of the trip, a good 5kg were left on my hips. Ohwells. We will be heading back for a short trip during Easter this year and I hope to have some good yukiniku at Aburiya.

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In September, Gillian started her nursery! With proper navy blue pinafore and all. The initial days were hard but now, she is okay with school. Not really excited and raring to go everyday but she doesn’t mind attending school. No tears at least.¬†She also had her first ballet concert and did all right. She was more interested in the pre-performance portion- make-up and all.

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As a SAHM, I became more interested in baking and cooking. I think I started putting in more effort in Ryan’s lunchboxes(not just for taste, but also the presentation) and he, in turn had better appetite. Lunchboxes always came back wiped clean and he always sang praises of the food that I made for him.¬†For the initial weeks, I even spent time taking photos of the food I prepared for him to put in Instagram but as usual, I got lazy. Ha! Anyways, here are some photos of the lunch boxes that I made for him. Do follow me on Instagram if you want to catch snippets of my daily life(the better and curated parts of my daily life, of course!)

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If you want to know, I did spent some time in September/October trying to write a short story and submitting it for a contest which I did not win. Well, I was bummed but when I read the story again, I thought it was shallow and not authentic as I would like it to be. Maybe I should spend some time revising it and see how it goes. Ohwells.

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If you don’t already know, two of the best things that happen ind 2016 were my parents’ baptism in Singapore as well as our family’s baptism in London. When we came to London, we did not expect to attend a church(since we did not really attend on in Singapore), so baptism was something unexpected for our family. So many things happened to us in London and there was truly periods that are trying, doubting and dark. But, all I have to say is that God is faithful to me and my family. One of the things that I appreciate about our journey with Christ is how my children are able to tell me little things that I need to know about God during unexpected times. I feel proud of them but yet humbled as an adult(who is supposed to know better). Here’s one example:

During one of those car conversations with Ryan:

Me: Ryan, how was school today?

usually, he will go on and on about the same boys he play with. But that day,

Ryan: I played with my friends. But X(this boy whose parents I have an incident with) told me that he won’t be inviting me to his birthday party. (From some parents that I know, X goes around to tell fellow classmates that he won’t be inviting them to his parties for unknown reasons. If you ask me, I think it is just to emotionally hurt other party. I have no idea why X would want to even mention about his birthday since it would not take place till at least 6 months later.)

Me: Are you sad? Why are you sad? We are not even going to his party if he invited us. (At that point in time, I was actually getting mad with Ryan.) The next time when he says such nonsense to you, just say we are not going even if he asked. Just say, no, not going at all.

Ryan: Mummy, that is not a nice thing to say. I will just say no, thank you.

Me: Why are you thanking him? Just say no!

Ryan: Mummy, I am just going to say no, thank you. It is not nice to say no.

Me: …

I don’t mean that Ryan is this absolute sweetheart who is sensible and all. He is a typical 5 year old who is cheeky, can be lazy and playful. But he has these small moments that remind me that I can be nicer, I can be kinder. I cannot think of a better reason of this happening except of how God/the Holy Spirit is working in them. In some way or another. I can only pray that 3 of them will continue to grow in Christ’s way to want to listen to His Word and His Will.

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Okay, I am out for now. Look out for my blog post tomorrow! Hope you had a good start to 2017. If not, the best is yet to be.

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Baddies: the Musical- Unicorn Theatre

December 2016

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Watching a pantomime is thing to do during the Christmas season in the UK. Last Sunday, we were invited to watch Baddies, the Musical and it was such a amazing experience for the children. The story-line was intriguing, the singing was spectacular and I love how the theatre was filled with parents, carers and children! Definitely a place that families can head to for a relaxed musical afternoon.

This is the second year that Baddies is showing. Last Christmas, Baddies had a successful sell-out and were nominated for Offie Best Production for Young People. You can expect that the producers would make effort to tweak and make it even bigger and better. The protagonist of the story is The Big Bad Wolf. He is ripped from his story in Little Red Riding Hood, thrown into jail with a couple of of baddies- Captain Hook, The Ugly Stepsisters and what-the-name-of-that-small-guy-again?… Rumpelstilskin. These villains were finally being punished for their wicked ways as apparently the Board of Fairytales was intending to change the rule book. Or is that really so?

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When I brought 5.5 year old Ryan and 3.5 year old Gillian to the show, I had a few reservations:
– Were they able to sit through 2 hours?
– Will they be able to understand the storyline and appreciate a musical?
Thankfully, they were able to sit through, be kept riveted and enjoy the show! In fact, I was impressed that both of them could tell me who the true baddies of the show were and give me their reasoning. I liked how I could talk to Ryan, telling him that maybe people that we perceive to be ‘bad’ are not entirely ‘bad’ and vice versa.

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There was a short interval in between and the little ones could go use the toilets, stretch a little and perhaps indulge them with some lovely ice cream that they were selling a £3 each. Ryan and Gillian positively loved their sweet cold treat since they rarely have these on normal days.

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Post-Show/Informal event with Nigel Barrett

After the show, we went to the Baddies VIP Lounge where there was an informal event with The Big Bad Wolf, Nigel Barrett who shared on his experience playing the ultimate baddie on the show and his theatre/musical experience. The children were kept entertained with craft activities and yummy refreshment and drinks from the Unicorn Theatre.

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Ryan drew some pictures of his favourite characters from the show and presented it to The Big Bad Wolf.

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Planning for some light-hearted family theatre entertainment this Christmas? I would think Baddies would be a great show for adults and children alike. Here are more details of Baddies, the Musical. However, do click on this link should you need more information or would like to purchase the tickets.

Baddies: the Musical
Under 18s: £12 / £16 / £18
Adults: £ 18 / £22 / £24 (concessions £3 off)
Premier experience: ¬£30 Under 18s / ¬£36 Adults ‚Äď book for the very best seats in the house, access to the Baddies VIP Lounge and the chance to purchase exclusive signed merchandise.

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Disclaimer: We were given tickets to watch Baddies, the Musical at the Unicorn Theatre. Opinions are of my own and I have given honest feedback and review of our experience.

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Megan’s 1st year birthday dinner!

October 2016

And so our youngest turned one on the 12th of October. We had a birthday dinner celebration on the weekend before her birthday as Kimberly was in London. No better place than to have our dinner at Duck & Waffle! Duck & Waffle restaurant is located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate in the city of London. The views of bustling London City from where we sat were just stunning!

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I have heard so much about the restaurant but I did not expect the food to be so exceptional. The signature-Duck and Waffle was absolutely delish but everything else was comparably good! There was definitely nothing left on the plates! The service was nothing short of excellent!

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(Rosemary and Garlic bread)

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(Lamb Keema, Hara Bhara Sauce bread)

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(The famous Duck and Waffle! We had two of this!)

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(Angus Bone-in Rib-eye)

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(Whole Roasted Chicken)

Here are some photos that we took while waiting for our food to come! Not too many photos of our girls- Gillian and Megan slept through almost the end of dinner and only woke up just before the cake came out from the kitchen.It was a lovely evening, watching the sun set while dining. As the younger ones were asleep, we managed dinner without much fuss.

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 Our one year old Megan woke up for a taste of the chicken drumstick. According to old Chinese tradition, having a chicken drumstick on their first birthday symbolises good fortune of never worrying about food thereafter.

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A strawberry cheese birthday cake to complete the celebration!

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It was a fabulous evening and we are thankful to have the loving company of Mama, Gong Gong and Yiyi(who is now the children’s Godma). The past year has been nothing but beautiful- I feel blessed that I have been given this opportunity to care for Baby Megan since birth.

12 months whizzed past so quickly. Megan is becoming a young toddler- she has taken her first steps at 10 months, she is able to say a number of words, ‘Mama’, ‘Milk’, ‘Dada’, ‘Yiyi’, ‘Jie Jie’, ‘Gege’, ‘More’, she is able to understand a few of our instructions. She loves her siblings, music and dancing. I feel grateful for every moment that I am able to spend with her and thankful of how her hugs always make my worries melt away. ūüôā

Happy first year, Megan. May you grow up safely, healthily and always want to seek for Christ.

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Click on these links to read more about the first birthdays of Megan’s siblings.

Ryan

Gillian

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Harrods Christmas Grotto

November 2016

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I have heard so much about the Christmas Grotto at Harrods that I thought we should give it a visit. At a small fee of £10 per child(babies can enter for free), they get to see Father Christmas and get a small present. The booking fee is refunded into our Harrods Rewards card on the day of our visit. We only managed to book for the Pre-Schooler Visit(weekdays, only in November) as the Classic Visits were sold out as quickly as they were released. So, it was a pity that Ryan had to miss it as he had to be in school.

That morning, we were slightly late for our appointment but were fortunate that they allowed us through the Christmas Grotto. Once we entered, we were sort of transported into this magical Ice Kingdom with friendly elves all around to cheer our little ones up.

Meeting up with Father Christmas was quite cool- he was able to call them by their names, share with them a few achievements they had in 2016(prior to the day, parents had to fill up these information online so as to make the experience more personal and special) and they even received some nice little gifts from Father Christmas. Father Christmas was so pleasant and friendly. Initially, Gillian was a tad overwhelmed by everything and refused to even meet Father Christmas. After so much encouragement from the affable elves, she went into the frozen grotto only to leave reluctantly, asking to return the year after again!

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Making their wishes with Daddy!

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Sometimes I wonder if the children remember such things that we do for them or even places that we bring them to. However, what really makes it worth it for me is to see their happiness, their anticipation, their excitement for that moment.  #makeeverymomentcount

After the Christmas Grotto experience, we went shopping at Harrods. Harrods on a Monday morning is just fabulous! No crazy crowds, lots of space for the children to run without us missing them. Gillian definitely got some VIP treatment- curling her hair, getting her hand tattoos done and all!

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Someone’s loving the lift in Harrods!

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We had lunch at Kanada-Ya Ramen Bar and Gillian was slurping up ever single strand of noodle and soup! Yums! Got to say I really liked the effect of the curls on her head but Gillian did not like it at all. Boohoo! There’s goes my chance of convincing her to curl her hair. Ha!

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PYO Pumpkin!

October 2016

Visiting farms with the children is one of our favourite seasonal activities to do. The farms always allows a vast space for children to run around, the trip is usually educational as we could show where our food/fruits come from and the best thing of all, entrance is free! So far, we have gone for strawberry picking at Hewitts Farm(Post 1, Post 2) and Stanhill Farm, picked potatoes at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park as well as visited the lavender farms and went apple picking at The Hop Shop.

It was our last week with Gong Gong and Mama before they returned to Singapore. Thankfully, it coincided with the half-term and this meant that we were able to spend more family time. WE spent some time checking out the pumpkin patches at Foxes Farm Produce. It was about an hour drive from our place and the kids had a good time running around the glorious field full of orange gourds, jumping on haystacks and getting lost in the maize maze.

It was a lovely day out and definitely gonna be one of those things to do again the next year!

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Potato Picking at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park!

September 2016

When we returned on London, we were sort of expecting poor weather but it turned out that everything has been still holding up. Two weekends ago, we headed off to for potato picking at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park and the kids had a fabulous time!

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Look at the cheeky smiles of the little ones.

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One of the first pit stops that we went to was at the Bouncy Pillows. In all honesty, the children spent an inordinate amount of time bouncing and sliding with their fabulous Daddy. There are two bouncy pillows in that area- one for those above 5 and one of the the younger ones. So parents, we can be more assured that the younger ones get their share of play on these wonderful bouncing platforms. While they were having all the mad fun, I was taking pictures and chilling on the lovely seats provided in that area.

E and I always believe in bringing the children for as much outdoor play as possible because we see that these are the times when we can be more focused on them. Usually, when we are home, there is always the tendency to ‘let them play alone’, ‘turn on the television’ while we just go about doing ‘our things’ like surfing the net, replying to our Whatsapp chats or in my case, baking.

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We decided to have an early lunch and grab some drinks at the Play Barn and Restaurant. You can click here to check out what they serve at the Play Barn Restaurant. We were supposed to be having a picnic but of course, I woke up late and nothing was prepared. However, the family was pleased with the choices we had at the restaurant!

Personally, I love how they have two play areas(again one for the older kids and one for the younger ones) within the eating premises. While waiting for our orders, the children were properly entertained playing with the slides, tunnels, ball pit and more! Oh yes, just a note of reminder! Please remember to bring along/wear your sock in the soft play area!

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This is the Toddler Area for the younger children. So our little Megan also did go about exploring the grounds, much to her delight!

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Our food came! Yay! Look at Megan’s excited face! She must be hungry after all that crawling around.

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Our faithful Mustela Physiobebe for all our oudoor trips- an easier way to get the kids hands cleaned before their meals.

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After lunch, we explored more of the grounds at Marsh Farm Animal Adventures. It would be such a lovely treat for the children who loves their animals. Gillian got an up-close adventure in combing the hair of the pony! Super!

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Ryan and Gillian had a brilliant time at Tractor Town, where they went about pretending to be tractor drivers, washing their tractors, re-fueling their vehicles and going on pretend trips.

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There was this well-built and fun playground near the tractor area. We played there for a bit and both Ryan and Gillian enjoyed many aspects of it.

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The thing about Marsh Farm Animal Adventure is that they have endless of things to do throughout the day. We went for an amusing Magic and Mayhem Show at the Barn Theatre. I believe both adults and children found the in-house magician to be incredible entertaining and funny.

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We also went on the Tractor and Trailer Ride! The kids have never gone for such an experience before and they were thrilled to be on this bumpy ride! The day at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park gave us quite a number of cool experiences to be on the farm.

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Because we went to the farm during their Potato Picking Party season, we also had our maiden potato picking encounter. And so ta-dah, Ryan! Potato grows underground! 

The staff at Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park was also very considerate in helping to bag our potatoes and showing how to go about picking those vegetables.

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Maize Maze! Woohoo! First time for the family again! Initially, we were worried about entering the three acre maize maze with the children. The facilitator assuaged our worries by telling us that there would be helpers to save us should we get lost. All we needed to do was to raise our flags!

We did eventually got ourselves out safely within 30 minutes and we rewarded with bags of pop corns!

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By the time we finished the maze, it was half past four and the little ones wanted to go on the bouncy castle before heading home. Off they went to bounce(again) while I got myself a slice of cake from the Play Barn Restaurant.

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The last stop for us before home was the craft room, where the kids did some art work to wind down. They were so knackered by the end of the day. They slept so well that night! Hahaha!

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What I liked about Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park?

  • The entire adventure park is full of places for the little ones to run about, to have fun and explore. In fact, Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park keep everything fresh by having events over the year such as Potato Picking Party, Easter Eggstravganza and the upcoming Wizards and Witches for Halloween.
  • The staff were friendly and considerate. Our encounters with them at Maize Maze, Potato Picking Party and the Tractor Ride were good- they showed good knowledge of the activities that they were in charge of, safety protocols and were so smiley all the time.
  • Having an indoor playground, with two separate play areas for different age groups in the restaurant is ideal for wet weather.What I thought could be better?

There were Spotter Guides that could be picked up on various locations around the farms but we did not managed to find any. Children were suppose to collect stamps in the these booklets. However, I thought the locations where they were to get the stamps were inconspicuous.

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Remember to bring along your socks when visiting Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park. The softplay in the indoor playground required socks to be worn when playing.

To purchase tickets to visit Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park, please click on this link and it is much cheaper to purchase your tickets online! So why hesitate!

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Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to Marsh Farm Animal Adventure Park Opinions are of my own and I have given honest feedback and review of our experience.

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