Asda's Kitschest Cakes- From Giant Custard Creams to Dessert Burger & Fries

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Asda are probably have the best value party cakes of all the supermarkets, and definitely the most inventive!

We had the cute Gnorman the Gnome cake back at the start of the summer, for a birthday. This week Asda sent us the huge, indulgent Chocolate Drip Cake to share for Sunday lunch. 

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It's the novelty cakes that I love, and for pug admirers there's a whole range of pug cakes. There's the full size Pabs and Paloma celebration party sized cakes, plus pug cupcakes and a small gift cake which serves six. 

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The coolest cakes are the oversized biscuits and 'shaped like other food' designs. The massive Custard Cream is uber realistic, as is the Jammie Dodger. The Donut Cake looks like a Simpson's offering and the giant Rainbow Jazzie is positively mouth watering.

Theres also an oversized Ice Cream Sundae Cake, and Burger and Fries!

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A clever little offering I haven't seen anywhere else before is Asda's Afternoon Tea packs. They've profiteroles, cream doughnuts and custard slices, all in a little box for £3 each.

There are two varieties, Cream Tea and Summer Selection. 

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The prettiest cake in all the land has to be the Piñata Cake. A rainbow Wonder filled with a surprise in the centre. There are matching mini pinata cupcakes which also spill forth sweetie treasure. 

The Smash Cake is similar, with hidden bounty inside its dome. There's also a giant pink cupcake, and a strawberry ombré version of the drip cake. 

Lastly, watch out for the Asda Extra Special desserts, for posh after dinner delights. 

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Family Friendly London #6 - Ripley's Believe It Or Not- Tickets for just £11.50

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Ripley's Believe It or Not museums are my spiritual home. I've been to one in Florida, one in LA, another native offering of the Blackpool museum, and visited the Piccadilly one for the second time last Easter. It's a church of Kitsch.

Ripley's Believe It Or Not London is right on Piccadilly Circus.  It takes over the corner of a huge building and it's .hard to miss

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Ripley's is home to the weird and wonderful. Stories of amazing and unusual people. Crazy natural phenomenon recorded for the ages. Bizarre artwork, images made from toast or jelly beans. Tales of great feats, wacky achievements, world record breaking acts. 

It really is right up my street, including strange taxidermy. 

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If you love the weird and wonderful, it's definitely worth a visit. You'll spend a good 90 mins winding your way through the many floors and galleries, even if you don't read about every exhibit.  

Kids will love the museum more than perhaps a 'boring grown up' art gallery. There are exhibits you can interact with and play with along your journey, as well as top class photo opportunities. And unlike many London attractions you can take your own photos as you please; you don't have to pay £15 at the end to get a nice picture.

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There are a couple of ways to avoid paying full price for your Ripley's ticket. The first is a 2 for 1 deal via Days Out Guide. To claim you just need a valid train ticket for that day. That site is well worth bookmarking as they have handfuls of similar deals for London attractions, discounts on restaurants etc.

This site has a similar good deal for tickets at only £11.50 each, rather than the £27.99 price quoted online for an adult ticket.

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So it's really up to what's cheapest on the day. If you walk straight into Ripley's you can check the current ticket price, and see which deal is going to be best for you.  The latter deal doesn't even require printing, you can show them it on your phone to get the £11.50 tickets.

It really is worth paying for if you're like me and just love weird stuff. I think my most excited moment was seeing the 'blue & black or white & gold' dress, the internet famous frock right before my eyes. Now that's culture.

Retro Ulsterbus and Vintage Travel Advertising Spotted at the Ulster Transport Museum

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I think everyone in this neck of the woods has been to the Ulster Folk & Transport Museum at Cultra, just outside Holywood, but for non-NI-natives and tourists it's well worth visiting. We went along today especially to see the Flight part, but dandered through the other galleries we had seen before because the giant locomotives and engines are always impressive.

There are half a dozen galleries, including the absolutely HUGE train hanger. As well as the actual trains there is a wealth of reading exhibits and model dotted around each pavilion. 

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New since our last visit are the massive five or six story high photos at either end of the train hanger.  One end shows a vintage station (I forgot to check which, if it was Central or Great Victoria Street) with signs for trains for Bangor, and interestingly Castlewellan.

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The end below shows Portrush Train Station in its heyday.

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We had a cuppa in the cute tea rooms, then walked down to the flight part of the museum.

They had a mini version of the tearoom down there in the separate building for planes, carts and cars.

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The flight part is quite small, and hasn't really been updated in years and years. If you are Aviation mad like Smix it may be worth a trip from Belfast, but honestly if you only like planes be aware it's a very small part of the museum. 

The YouTube daredevil pranker idiots of the 1920s

The YouTube daredevil pranker idiots of the 1920s

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Whilst Smix loved the aircraft section, I loved all the vintage photos of Northern Ireland, and the old fashioned advertising. 

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Bonus snaps-

1. facts about the world's worst poet who was from Larne. Sounds about right. 

2. the derp-iest looking plane ever. Smix was able to tell me all about it. It's used to Transport bits of planes to different parts of the world. I think if I ever saw this at the airport I would die laughing.

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Family Friendly London #5 Guide to Cheap London Theatre Tickets- Including Kids Go Absolutely Free!

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For our summer London trip this year we really wanted to go to the theatre. We've been to the Grand Opera House in Belfast quite often, but never a big show in the west end. 

There are several options to bag tickets for less than up front price, so let's have a look at them. 

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We booked through  LastMinute.com and picked restricted view seats for The Garrick's production of Gangsta Granny. Check theatre layouts on TheatreMonkey.com as some seats, like the ones we picked, aren't too bad. We just had to lean forward a bit when the action moved to one side of the stage, but it saved us £10 a seat each compared to the people beside us.

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Another option to look into is Kids Week. Every year theatres release a bunch of kids go free tickets, which you can buy through the Kids Week website. Pay for an adult ticket and get a child's seat free. It's also more than a week so the name is misleading, so if you are visiting during the summer at all, be sure to check that website for the shows you might want to see.

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Lastly, you can always try the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. It may have half price seats for the show you want. Be careful about any other booths, as they may not be official and may not be accurate about offering you the best price.

Happy ticket hunting. 

The Puzzling French Colour-by-numbers Books That Are Fulfilling in Any Language

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I'm rather particular about the type of colouring book I like. They have to be colour by numbers, and be a picture where you don't know what you are colouring until you start to shade the shapes and the image appears.

I like the Colour Quest books, but whilst browsing Amazon I also found these French books, which obviously don't require translation to enjoy.

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I bought the pair of Vice Versa books, where the page is a mass of swirls with one bold image you initially can see, which is a clue to the finished coloured piece you are filling in. 

The publisher also has a massive range of Disney mystery colouring books, with Stars Wars, Manga and architecture filling other books. 

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I love the look of this one book especially, where you colour a smeared image which will appear when you put a reflective glass in the centre.

Let me know if you buy any of the Disney books, and let me see your creations! 

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For 11 More Hours Only- Get 35 Free Tiny Me Personalised Name Stickers for School- Just Pay Postage!

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Quick little offer which ends in 11 hours. 35 free personalised stickers, just pay £3 postage.  I featured TinyMe back in 2014. Their personalised party invitations are super cool. £3 for postage for some stickers may be a little steep, but what I'm going to do is think of it as I'm getting the stickers for £3 and postage free, while I buy some other bits for the year ahead.

They've personalised lunch boxes, P.E. bags, wall stickers, all sorts. Below you can see the labels I got for Smix one year. The circular ones are for inside shoes, and come with a special protective covering so they don't rub off.

There are dozens of themes for the stickers too, so you can choose fairies, woodland, Transport, dinosaurs, whatever your own child is into. Offer is UK only, and only the next 11 hours, so be quick! 

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Dapper Foxes, Sassy T-Rexes & Majestic Unicorns- Asda Duvets (For Adults!) Do It Again

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Asda have the best duvet covers. They corner a much neglected market- novelty duvets for double beds and larger. Their fun duvet covers come in all sizes, from single to king, and start at £10 with doubl sizes usually around £12.

Their autumn 2017 range does not disappoint, with heritage animals, sassy dinosaurs, wizarding cats, mermaids and more. 

Sets have matching cushions and soft fleece throws which are priced £5 or £6.

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Family Friendly London #4- Kidzania: The Educational Mini-Amusement Park That's 60 Days Out All At Once

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You may or may not know that Smix absolutely loves planes, commercial planes especially. So having already visited London Transport Museum & the Science Museum on previous trips to the capital, I had been Googling other aviation attractions before our most recent trip.  

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I came across Kidzania, an educational attraction located in the giant Westfield mall at Shepherd's Bush. It's tricky to describe what Kidzania is to those who haven't seen it. It's part education yes, but also like a mini amusement park. Kids can train and work at sixty different jobs and professions. Each activity is almost like a little day out by itself.  There are several Kidzanias around the world, including Dubai, which is a really good watermark for what this attraction is- it's the Dubai of kids' days out.

Its really best to just show you- so here is a video I put together that can help explain what Kidzania actually is.  There are clips from our visit plus footage from the Kidzania UK YouTube page.

So you can book tickets online, or at Westfield. Kids over 8 can enter by themselves, under 8 will need an adult with them. You have four hours of play. Tickets are around £24 for a child, £16 for an adult. This might sound steep, but considering an hour at a trampoline park cost £10 or more, and this is for four hours, it's pretty good, it's £5 an hour each.

And here's a little tip- you can get a buy one ticket get one free offer with a valid train ticket, or check online for a 20% off voucher code.

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So what can you do in Kidzania? Its incredibly impressive, and easily worth the ticket price in my opinion. The interior is a miniature city, sort of like Main Street Disney, with little shops, hotels, a police station, hospital etc. When we walked through into the city our mouths literally dropped open, much to the amusement of the attendant, who said, "You guys must not have been here before!". 

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There are sixty different jobs, and so sixty activities for kids to choose from. Most take 10-20 minutes each, so you would be able to visit Kidzania many times and still have a new adventure to discover. The whole area is the size of Leicester Square, and has two levels.

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There are lots of real world companies to work for within the city. Be a chef in the Cadbury and make chocolate bars. Make a snack at Mission Deli Wrap and a fruit bar at the Natural Food Company Factory. Cook up a storm in the Gourmet Burger Kitchen.

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Work as a fire fighter and ride the fire engine round the city, or be a surgeon and ride the ambulance.

Try your hand as Renault F1 pit crew, learn about being an Estate Agent with Hamptons. Get arty in the Pokemon Animation Studio, Painting Studio or Face Painting Pod. All these activities are included in entrance.

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Kids can earn KidZos for doing certain jobs, like window washing, medical courier and hotel receptionist. When they have  75 KidZos they can open a bank account and get a debit card. Then when they get paid for other jobs they can have their salary paid straight onto their card. They can spend their KidZos in Kidzania's Department Store, or save them for the next visit.

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Does your kid love performing? They can audition for a puppeteer or actor then put on a show for the parents in the Kidzania Theatre. The Dance Club has jobs like dancer, DJ and singer. There's a full TV studio to do various jobs in, and a Capital FM studio to broadcast from. 

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If you love animals you can train as a vet. Keep the city safe as a Policeman or Policewoman. Design clothes in H&M, or sell them in their store. Be a hair stylist in Expression Beauty Salon.

It's impossible to show you everything, but you can explore yourself with the interactive tour which works like Streetview. 

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 For Smix, it was always going to be all about the British Airways Aviation Academy. Located on the upper level it has two activities. You can train as a pilot and fly a real flight simulator, and then work as cabin crew. If you watch the video I made up above, you'll see Smix taking part in the safety demonstration.  

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With most Kidzania activities, kids queue and wait their turn, then adults can watch from outside while they try out each job. With some professions, the adults get to join in. If your child is acting as cabin crew you get to come on board the plane interior and get served an inflight meal by your little ones. 

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There are wonderful souvenir photos to buy at the end of your visit. Smix had the little pilot license card printed, which is £15 and includes a digital copy of the pilot photo. He was absolutely delighted with his pilot pass and bought a lanyard to wear it. I don't think he's ever going to take it off! 

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We loved Kidzania, and with so much to do I'm sure we will have a return visit on another of our London trips. Thanks to Kidzania for letting us come along to review our visit. There really isn't anywhere like this in Northern Ireland, so if you get the chance to visit with your children, you'll be sure to love it too.

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