Every now and then I have a real pinch me moment when I realise that, through my blog, I am giving my children adventures and experiences which money cannot buy. And earlier this month, during our weekend at the Sprirt Stable Sleepover, I’d go as far to say that in those two short days, all of my little girls dreams came true.
Spirit Riding Free
Dreamworks Spirit Riding Free, shown at 3.30pm on weekends on Pop, centres around a group of three friends who together experience coming of age and the power of friendship. Lucky, a gutsy 12 year old girl, befriends a wild mustang she names Spirit and, along with her two best friends Abigail and Pru, with their horses by their sides, they experience a world filled with endless rides and never ending fun. Together they’ll push their own limits and discover what it truly means to be free.
As a Mummy, I genuinely adore this show and all that it teaches my children. It is age appropriate, beautifully animated, and each episode has so many wonderful and inspiring lessons to learn. It’s safe to say that it’s not just my girls who are fans of Spirit, but me too.
Over the Summer Pop ran the most amazing competition where you could win a place at the Spirit Stable Sleepover and, along with the lucky winners, we were invited along for what turned out to be one of the most amazing weekends of my girls lives.
And so early on a Saturday morning Eva, Megan and I took the train up to Newcastle, completely oblivious to what lay ahead, and to say the girls were excited is a real understatement!
After arriving in Newcastle and being met by the team we boarded the minibus to our first activity – horse riding! My girls have never done horse riding before, I think the closest they’ve ever got is a donkey on Blackpool beach, and yet as we arrived at the indoor riding school, Stepney Bank, they couldn’t wait to get started.
Having got their boots and hats on the children mounted their horses and began the first session. Watching from the gallery I was worried how the girls would cope as not only are they painfully shy, but they can be quite nervous in certain situations. I couldn’t believe it when I saw Eva smiling away, trotting around the track and looking as though she had been riding horses her whole life!
Megan was a little more timid during the horse riding but the staff were so good at helping the children with any worries they had and by the end of the session Megan was trotting along and beaming away on her horse Digby.
When the riding lesson finished my girls were bursting with excitement. “My horse was the bounciest!” Eva whispered proudly. “My horse was the cutest!” Megan told us.
After the riding lesson the girls all got to go into the stables to do some grooming which was very exciting for them. They loved getting up close to the horses, brushing their mane and most of all putting glitter on their hooves.
It was such a lovely experience for all of us and as we left I promised the girls that we would look into riding lessons when we returned home, and we have!
Back in the minibus we all set off to our home for the weekend, the National Trust Gibside Stables Bunkhouse. You could feel the anticipation in the minibus as we turned down the long winding drive way and drove through the clearing amongst the trees. And as we approached the Stables I think all of us felt incredibly lucky to be staying somewhere so utterly beautiful, straight out of a fairy tale.
The Stables has two large dormitory rooms with one for the girls and one for us Mums, and yet before the girls were let loose on their surprises it was time for a quick snack. It was at this point when the team allowed us a sneak peek in the girls dormitory and, honestly, I felt so emotional at all of the hard work the team had put in and also how happy each of the girls would be when they discovered what lay in store.
The Grand Unveiling
As the girls raced into their dormitory I’m not ashamed to admit I shed a few happy tears at all of their little faces. The look of surprise and excitement is something I will never forget, and it was such a magical moment for all of us.
The room has been decorated with Spirit bunting and balloons, and each bed had a Spirit duvet cover and huge pillow.
Each of the girls received the most amazing bundle of Spirit toys and when they realised that they were really theirs to keep my heart literally exploded. It felt like Christmas morning come early and even now, sat here writing this, I can’t help but swallow a lump in my throat at the memory of those big eyes and happy faces.
Spirit Stable Sleepover
After the most delicious meal of fish and chips (literally the best chips I’ve had in my whole life!), the girls were excited to sing along to some karaoke, starting off with Spirit Riding Free!
Eva and Megan weren’t overly keen to join in the singing and instead took the opportunity to play with some of the Spirit toys and were completely lost in a world of imagination.
After karaoke, and a very exciting pillow fight where the camera man took the brunt of the hysteria, the girls got their duvets and pillows and settled down in the bedroom to watch the first episode of Spirit Riding Free on the big screen.
While the girls enjoyed their ‘midnight feast’ we enjoyed a sneaky glass of Prosecco and toasted the most amazing day, planned to perfection and above and beyond all of our expectations.
As you can imagine with 11 excited children, it was quite late when they finally got into bed and yet if you can’t have a late night on your first ever sleepover, when can you?
Crafts, games and a picnic
As predicted, the girls were up at the crack of dawn and I think we were all a little tired! After a leisurely breakfast the girls had the opportunity to do some crafting and enjoyed decorating horse shoes, picture frames, and getting creative with glue and glitter.
Before lunch the girls played outside and I have to mention here that Dale, the cameraman, deserved a medal. He was so good with the children, never tiring of their need to chase and torment him, and had all of the children playing games, laughing and joking, and completely entertained them while the rest of us helped to prepare the picnic for lunch.
After a gorgeous lunch it was time to pack and I think at this point all of us realised that we had to return home with ten times as much as we had arrived with! It definitely took a little creativity in the packing department but despite the teams offer of posting out the toys to us when we returned home, there was no way on earth my girls were parting with their Spirit Riding Free goodies for even a moment!
The Dreamworks Spirit Riding Free toys have only just been released in the UK and have the most amazing range ever. Each girl at the sleepover received the Spirit Barn Playset which is incredible! Inspired by the show, it comes with a Lucky doll and a Spirit horse and the barn itself has lots of fun features and 24 piece to re-enact all of their favourite Spirit moments.
The girls also received a collection of characters and horses to add to their collection, and I just know that these are toys they will play with for year to come. The Spirit Riding Free toys are available in Smyths stores as of today!
Making Dreams Come True
Weekends like this one don’t come around very often, if ever, and I honestly can’t tell you how grateful we are to have been a part of it. I have nothing but praise for the team who made the whole weekend run like clockwork and gave us the most wonderful memories to treasure forever.
And for all of us Mums, Grandma’s, children, and the team, it was a real bonding experience and as we hugged goodbye at the end of the weekend it felt as though we had shared something so special together, and we will remember that for always.
** We were invited to the Spirit Stable Sleepover and compensated for our coverage. All words and opinions are my own **