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It’s the Autumn Holidays for us so once again the challenge has arisen to entertain the kids but at the same time not get too cold! Today the temperature was pretty ‘crisp’ (aka baltic) so I was really glad to have planned something indoors.

Although I’m a big fan of the mantra ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes’ - I do sometimes want to eat my words and just be inside with a big mug of coffee!

October is a month of celebrations for us - both of my nephews and godson have birthdays within weeks of each other. In fact, they overlap so much I managed to completely miss my eldest nephew’s birthday this year after becoming mixed up with party dates! Not wanting to qualify as the world’s worst aunt - a visit to The Centre was definitely on the cards.

There’s so many great shops at The Centre for kids gifts but the most obvious has to be ‘The Entertainer’ which is packed from floor to ceiling with so many things kids want. My nephew adores animals and often has his class hamster for the weekend, so I couldn’t resist buying him a massive play set with battery operated ones. I think his parents are fairly unlikely to get him a live version so I’m hoping that he’ll love it!

Whilst we were there I also spied some great options for my daughter’s classmates. She has been lucky enough to be invited to a few parties over the next few weeks and it can be tricky to think of a gift that won’t be a repeat of something they already have. To that end, I was really impressed by the vast array of science kits on offer - from slime making through to rockets! They all sounded great fun and wouldn’t be the sort of thing a child would think to choose for themselves. 

On the ‘slime’ theme, we headed across to Lush to stock up on bath bombs - several of which leave a layer of slime (actually seaweed) on the water’s surface. My kids adore these and they make such great gifts! Lush also have a whole array of reusable gift wrap - and will wrap for you - so it really ticks a lot of boxes for me! With Halloween on the horizon I also couldn’t resist adding a bar of ‘glow-in-the-dark’ ghost soap!

We also couldn’t miss ‘Build-A-Bear’ for the ultimate half term treat - particularly as my daughter still had some birthday money to spend. She could spend hours browsing all the different outfits and loves to look at all the accessories. But it struck me today that both Build-A-Bear and Lush have staff that are just superb with kids - directing questions straight to them and telling them about all the different options. Whilst we were only there to buy a simple outfit, the staff still made the shopping experience special for my daughter - asking about her existing Build-A-Bear and questioning what the new outfit was for - it really is like the ultimate customer experience for 6 year-olds!

Next on the agenda was obviously food. My daughter and I both really feel the cold easily and the grey skies were not doing much to help today! The Centre has so many great options for food and today felt like a perfect day to head to Wagamama. I really just wanted something that felt a bit more wholesome and I knew they would have something to warm us up!

I had heard great things about some of the new dishes on the menu - such as the tantanmen beef brisket raman - but instead tried something new to me. I wasn’t in the mood for something with heat but instead opted for the tonkatsu - pork belly coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs and drizzled with a sweet soy. The salad perfectly balanced the weight of the pork and rice contributing to a very happy lunch!

Wagamama really have a brilliant kids menu with so many great options - although my daughter can always be relied upon to choose mini grilled chicken katsu with amai sauce. Whilst I’d love to encourage her to try new foods I know that she’ll be happy and there will be very little left on her plate. The food is always freshly made but still comes quickly and I’ve noticed they particularly prioritise cooking the kids food first. Whilst this means food arrives at different times - the kids generally take longer to eat anyway!

After lunch, we headed back into the mall to try out some of the October break activities on offer. With HiRide looming overhead it seemed quite fitting that there are superhero themed activities available everyday this week. Today we took some time to sit and colour in a ‘superhero’ cuff before choosing a mask and cape to dress up in and play for a wee while! We also could’ve spent some time chilling with a superhero book but it was great to see the big bean bags already occupied by the cutest selection of toddler superheroes!

Instead we headed off for a bit more shopping for my youngest nephews birthday. He generally lives in hand me down clothes as the youngest of three boys in the family - so it was nice to be able to choose him something new from Marks & Spencer. It was also a treat for me as my kids are too big for the smallest range now and there’s some beautiful clothes in the baby range this Autumn!

My daughter recently received pyjamas for her birthday from a classmate and it really struck me as the perfect gift. No one can have too many PJs and there’s so many fun sets available. We spied a great ‘space’ range in Debenhams and we couldn’t resist adding a firetruck set into our shopping bag too. 

It was lovely to spend some time with my daughter today - dodging the cold and finding a little something for everyone! A perfect day to #shopeatplay

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