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  1. Father Christmas is back in his twinkly woodland cabin and he’s ready to welcome all the children big and small.

    We were invited to a late afternoon preview and arrived early so we could enjoy the park for a few hours beforehand.   Our children always love running into each zone to see all the different fish and sea creatures but it didn’t take them long to remember the amazing Caribbean Cove play area so we grabbed a cuppa and went in so they could have a good play.

    BeFunky Sealife Christmas

    Before I knew it, it was almost our time to visit Father Christmas and so we trotted off to the Reindeer Stable waiting area which has hay bales to rest your feet, blankets to keep warm and pretty fairy lights up in the rafters.  The kids loved feeding the birds at the Wetlands whilst looking over to the cabin on the other side for signs of any movement. 

    Sealife Christmas 2018 15

    All of a sudden 2 jolly elves started walking towards us and our son Sam was ecstatic.  Watching one of the elves duck down to hide from him was adorable and by the time they got to us he was bouncing around with excitement. 

    Sealife Christmas 2018 12

    The lovely elves greeted us and asked if we had our golden ticket which was given when we came in and then stopped to ask Sam and little Lucy who they had come to see.  We went with them down the path, stopping for a festive family picture with reindeer and a sleigh behind us and then went onto the cabin.

    Sealife Christmas 2018 8

    Before going in, the elves took Sam (Lucy was being too shy and clung to Daddy) over to a large lantern which was set between lots of tall Christmas trees.  They asked Sam what he wanted for Christmas and then the elves told him that they would make a magic wish together.  Sam was completely caught up in the moment and when the magic was complete it started to snow over his head!

    Sealife Christmas 2018 9B

    Sam was then invited to knock on the door and Father Christmas called for him to come in.  I was very pleased to see it was the same Father Christmas as last time as he looks incredibly genuine with his kind manner and real snowy beard.  Sam sat next to Father Christmas whereas Lucy still wasn’t sure so an elf pulled a rocker near and she happily sat there listing to the conversation about presents, chimneys and mince pies.

    Sealife Christmas 2018 10

    We had a nice family photo taken by an elf which we could of purchased from the gift shop if we wished and then the children were given a SEA LIFE present which the kids played with non stop when we left.

    Father Christmas will be at the Weymouth SEA LIFE from Saturday 8 December up until Sunday 23 December.  In addition to the Grotto visit, children will be able to enjoy the Christmas Craft Zone where they can colour in their own Christmas tree decoration, make reindeer food or write to Father Christmas.  For more information, please visit the SEA LIFE Weymouth Website.

  2. This is my second attempt at making slow cooker fudge and it’s sooo good!  I want to make some bags up for Christmas presents so I thought I’d make some beforehand to test the flavours and share with anyone else who wants to have a go.
    The chocolate you use is quite important.  First time round I bought Dairymilk thinking I had to get the best but actually it’s better to buy cheap supermarket chocolate.  For this recipe I used Lidl’s own which was much cheaper and in my opinion tasted better.  The idea for a simple recipe is to have 500g of chocolate so I used 4 bars of milk chocolate and then one bar of the finest dark chocolate.

    Slow Cooker temperatures vary greatly so unfortunately it’s not possible to give an exact time but you’ll be looking at approximately 90 minutes from start to finish. 

    400g milk chocolate
    100g dark chocolate
    Can of Carnation condensed milk
    20g unsalted butter cubed
    70g raisins
    60g glace cherries chopped
    50g blanched almonds chopped
    1 teaspoon mixed spice
    40ml Brandy (optional)
    Christmas Fudge Recipe 1
    Start by getting the slow cooker on high and leave the lid off the whole way through.  I didn’t do this the first time and the condensation made my chocolate seize up.  Luckily it was saved by a good beating but I was honestly close to throwing it all in the bin. 

    Break up the chocolate and throw it in, add the butter and whole can of Carnation condensed milk.  You’ll need to stir it quite often until it all melts.  Use a metal spoon or plastic spatula as wooden spoons can absorb moisture.  Once it has all melted you need to turn the slow cooker down to low and go to stirring it every 10 - 15 minutes.  It was at this point that I added the brandy but you could add any other flavouring if you wish.
    The fudge will at some point develop a ‘crust’ and you need this to happen twice before it’s done.  The definition of the crust is when it looks a bit wrinkly on top and comes away from the edge slightly.  When you see it the first time, stir like a crazy person to make it all lovely and smooth and then keep stirring every 10 - 15 minutes until you see it the second time.  Once this has happened you just need to stir in your fruit, nuts and spice and get it in your tray asap.

    I used a long tray and lined it with cling film so it’s easy to get out and decorated the top with gold sugar sprinkles to make it look more Christmassy.  Get it in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight and then it’ll be perfect for cutting.

    I like to make my pieces bite sized and got about 80 pieces out of my batch.  A good 10 pieces fell in my mouth and the rest was put into bags for family and friends to taste test for me.  So far, the reports back have been very positive.
    Christmas Fudge Recipe 2

    The possibilities of flavourings are endless!  I’ll be making more of this for Christmas gifts and after that I want to have a go at chocolate orange, rocky road and mint chocolate.  Other ideas include ginger, Turkish delight, coconut, salted caramel, crunchie and brightly coloured unicorn fudge.

    Please don’t for one minute think I am an expert on this.  There will be a lot of trial and error I’m sure but the things I have learnt is that too much liquid will affect the density, if the chocolate seizes up it can be saved and sprinkles on top look fab.

    Silicone trays and moulds are great fun too and I’m sure they’d make a perfect gift for Christmas and Birthdays.

    The ingredients above are what I used and give the fudge a slight brandy and spice taste but you can add more if you want it to have a stronger flavour.

    My total cooking time was about 100 minutes but slow cookers run at different tempurates so it’s advisable for you to keep a note pad and pen nearby so you’ll know your timings for next time.
    Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks in a fridge (if you don’t eat it all) and up to 3 months in the freezer.
    Have fun!