Tag Archives: travel

The Diono Traverze Stroller Review

With our Summer holidays coming up I had been on the look out for a light weight travel friendly stroller with a good recline for when Archie needs to have a nap on holiday and also a stroller with a large basket. He always naps after lunch when we are away and having a good recline on a small stroller was harder to find than I imagined. When we received the Diono Traverze to review about a month ago I was excited to try it out as I had done my research and it ticked all of the boxes I was looking for.

Image result for the diono traverze

When it arrived I got it out of the box and ours is in the Summery ‘Yellow Sulphar Linear’ colour which I love! There are 6 lovely colours to choose from. There was no putting together involved and once out of the box I followed the easy instructions and had the stroller unfolded and was up in seconds. The instant fold is so easy and quick to use, one-handed and the stroller itself folds so small. (Height 60cm, Width 41.5cm and Depth 23.5cm.) It is also so light to carry too at only 12.3lbs.

Our first trip using the Traverze was to Cardiff. We took the boys to the Principality stadium to watch Monster Jam. It was easy to steer through the busy streets of the city and once inside I folded the stroller which was small enough for me to carry through security and to our seats and fitted neatly under my seat not blocking the walk way at all. I found this so easy and much less stressful than travelling with a larger fold stroller as I would have then had to drop it into a designated area and then would have had to queue to go and retrieve it afterwards. Also carrying it up the steep stairs to our seats was easy too as its so light! We also had to park quite far away from the stadium and Archie was tired afterwards and jumped straight in, instead of us having to carry him on the 20 minute walk back to our car at 7pm. On our first trip using the Traverze I was totally sold and could really appreciate having a smaller, light weight stroller. The basket is also huge underneath, which fitted Archie’s carry potty, spare clothes and a few other bits easily.

A couple of weeks ago Oscar went out for the day with his Godfather and his sons to watch the rugby so Greg and I decided to take Archie into London for the day. To be honest I always drive into London as I always get so anxious about getting to a station and it having no lifts and having to carry Archie and a folded stroller on the very steep escalators. Now we have the Traverze we decided to take the train instead. When we got to Knightsbridge there was an escalator and stairs up to the main road, Greg carried Archie and I carried the stroller with no problems at all. The small compact fold also came in useful when we stopped for lunch as I just put the folded stroller under the table out of the way. Again pushing the Traverze through the busy streets of London was a breeze with the smooth rolling, never flat wheels, with shock absorbers and all-wheel suspension. It turns so easy with one hand with the swivel wheels making steering super easy.

The stroller also has a very secure 5-point harness with removable plush pads. The straps are easy to adjust to fit your child and when we were on the train and when getting on and off the trains having Archie comfortable and secure made me less anxiousabout travellin g on the train with him. I will defiantly travel on the trains into London more now that I know it’s so much easier using the Traverze.

During half term we ventured down to Devon for a couple of days. Packing the Traverze in the boot with our bags wasn’t an issue as it takes up only a quarter of my boot. It really is the perfect travel stroller. We went to Durdle Door on the Monday and had a really long walk from the car park to the beach. Once we got to the beach there were around 150 steps down to the beach which was easy with the folded stroller. On the way back up the hill to the car it was so far and we were so glad we took it with us for Archie’s tired little legs.

The long break bar at the back makes it really easy to use in any shoes, even bare feet. The handle is the perfect height as well, I am short at 5ft 2 and it was fine for me and equally Greg is 6ft and found the height fine as well.

The Traverze comes with a rain cover and waterproof travel bag. Once the stroller is in the travel bag it has a telescopic extendable luggage style handle to make pulling it through an airport even easier. It also fits in most overhead cabins on the plane. We go away next month and can’t wait to see how we get on travelling abroad with it! Especially as we have a late flight on the way home so Archie can sleep in the Traverze right up until we board the plane. Don’t worry I will post another review once we have been on holiday.

I absolutely love the Diono Traverze and it has made travelling and days out so much easier! It gets 10 out of 10 from us! The Diono Traverze has an RRP of £250. Mothercare have two exclusive colours, black facet and orange.

 

Disclaimer: We were gifted the Diono Traverze for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own.

Our Amazing Day With Yellow Zebra Safari’s

Today we drove into London to a really special event hosted by Yellow Zebra Safari’s. If you haven’t heard of Yellow Zebra Safari’s before they are an award-winning luxury and adventure travel company specialising in African Safari’s. Taking Oscar and Archie on Safari has always been on our bucket list and as I have never been on one myself I just can’t wait to go! Taking your family on Safari is a trip of a life time with memories that are made that will last forever. Both our boys absolutely love animals and wherever we go a bag of Schleich animals comes along too. Oscar has said for a couple of years now that he would love to be a Zoo Keeper. So when we were invited to a fun-filled Safari day out I knew the boys would be so excited!

‘The opportunity to see animals in their natural habitat, to watch a herd of elephant walk past their vehicle, to spot a cheetah with its cubs, or listen to a pride of lions roaring at night. It is a magical experience that they will never forget.’

When we arrived the Safari themed room looked amazing. We had been told before hand that we would have a chance to meet some animals today. We met Safari Pete who Oscar and Greg couldn’t stop asking him questions. He knows everything you need to know about animals and safari’s and is a fountain of knowledge. Safari Pete is a wildlife adventurer and conservationist and works closely with the Yellow Zebra Safari team. His stories of his adventures are amazing and his knowledge of animals is amazing.

We were fortunate enough to meet several of Pete’s animals; Gumbo the Toad, Pinchy the Scorpion, Juliet the Barn Owl, two lizards, Boo-Boo the Monitor Lizard, Jay-Z the Crocodile, a snake, Lady Gaga the Tarantula and Steve and Baby Bear the Meerkat’s. Oscar was so lucky and got called up to hold the crocodile. We also got to see the lizards, snake and crocodile catch and eat their prey, which was really amazing. I had never seen this up close before. It’s incredible how quick the crocodile reacts to his prey and how the snake is able to swallow his meal whole.

We then sat down to our Safari themed lunch which was very yummy!

When booking a Family Safari with Yellow Zebra Safari’s you know you are getting the very best of everything. They will recommend to you based on the ages of your children where is best to travel too. Their team is made up entirely of professional safari guides, camp managers and people who were born and raised in Africa so you are getting the best knowledge and advice when designing your perfect trip. For example if you go on to thier website, we are a family of four with Oscar who is 8 and Archie who is 3. Archie being Under 6 they advise to stay somewhere that is malaria free. For us at this time a Safari in South Africa would be perfect for us. The Kruger National Park and Sabi Sands offer epic ‘Big Five’ viewing, while the malaria-free safari reserves of ‘SA’ cater well for families. The accommodation choices all look out of this World, from lodges to hotels there is the perfect stay to choose from for everyone.

When Archie is 6 we can then all go to Kenya which is home to Maasai Mara National Reserve which is the place to visit if you are looking for a safari, super size. In Kenya is a hotel in particular that has been on my bucket list for a few years now and I know the boys will love it. It is called Giraffe Manor,  most of the hotel grounds incorporates the Giraffe Centre of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife and a group of giraffes lives in the Manor’s grounds, they even put their heads through the windows to say hello.

Image result for giraffe manor

 ‘EUROPE’S LEADING SAFARI TOUR OPERATOR’ IN 2015, 2016 & 2017′

After lunch we got to meet the Meerkat’s again and Oscar and I had one of them on our shoulder. They are Grandad’s favourite animal so he will be very jealous!

Oscar and Archie then got to choose a ceramic animal to paint which was great fun and now has pride of place in the playroom.

We had such a lovely day with Yellow Zebra Safari’s and can’t thank them enough for the wonderful experience the boys had meeting all of the animals and a big thank you to Safari Pete too. I am definitely booking one of his animal parties for Oscar’s next birthday! It was also lovely to catch up with Ruth and her family from Rock ‘N’ Roller Baby Blog.

*This post is in collaboration with Yellow Zebra Safari’s

Our Trip To Alton Towers & Stay At The Enchanted Village

Last Sunday after Oscar’s football match we got in the car and drove the two and a half hour drive to Alton Towers. The boys had no idea where we were going, we just told them we were going somewhere and staying away for the night. They were so constantly asking where we were going the whole way there and when we finally drove into the park and noticed the ‘Alton Towers’ sign they were so excited! We followed the signs to the Enchanted Village parking and headed to the reception to check in. Check in was really quick and then we walked to our Woodland Lodge.

The Woodland Lodges are really cute and the Enchanted Village really does look magical. Our Lodge had two bedrooms and a bathroom and everything you needed for a comfortable nights stay. We chucked our bags in to the lodge and headed to the Extraordinary mini golf course and played 9 holes. Oscar managed to get a hole in one on the first hole! It was great fun. We then walked to the monorail station and took the short ride to the theme park.

As it was already around 3pm we decided to head straight to CBeebies Land. Archie’s face was a picture when he saw the rides with all his favourite TV programmes on. We went on the Postman Pat ride, the In The Night Garden Magical Boat Ride and on the Get Set Go Tree Top Adventure. It started to rain so we walked back to the Monorail to head back to our lodge. As it was 5pm and the monorail is also used to get back to the car parks as well as the hotels the queue was massive. We had to wait around 45 minutes to catch the monorail. By the time we got to the other end it was tipping down, we ran the usual 5 minute walk back to the lodge and got absolutely soaked.

Back at the lodge we showered and got ready to go to dinner. I booked the Secret Garden restaurant a few days before our stay as the restaurants get booked up really quickly. We walked to the Alton Towers Main Hotel where the restaurant was. The food was really nice and the staff were really friendly. Oscar and Archie loved the ice cream factory where they got to make their own ice creams covered in sauce and sweets. Dinner for the four of us with drinks was around £50.

If you are staying on the resort there is entertainment in the evenings (check the entertainment board and your hotel reception for details). After dinner we caught ten minutes of the entertainment before getting an early night ready for a full day in the park the next day.

Day 2

We headed to the Crooked Spoon for breakfast at 8.45am, again I booked our breakfast before we arrived. The breakfast was really good and then we checked out and out the bags in the car and then walked to the monorail station as with our stay we have early access into the park. We got the monorail at 9.30am and again the queue was absolutely huge so we decided to walk to the park instead of wait. The walk took about 15 minutes. When we got to the park we headed to CBeebies land to finish off the rides. We went on the Go Jetters ride and the Octonauts rollercoaster. We found that as Archie is 0.9m he could go on a lot of rides in the park throughout the day.

We then walked to the Katanga Canyon and went on the Runaway Mine Train and the Congo River Rapids. Both of these Archie could go on too. He loved the the Runaway Mine Train it was really fast, I was so surprised as I thought he wouldn’t like it. Oscar loved the fast rides and was even tall enough to go on the Wicker Man but when he saw how big it was decided to save it until next time (phew!) We headed into the Haunted House instead which was an interactive game where you have to shoot the Zombies.

We headed to the Rollercoaster Restaurant for lunch as I left it too late to book it for dinner for the night before. It is an absolute must, the experience is great fun. You order your meal and drinks and they get delivered to your table on the rollercoaster. The boys loved it, it really is a great restaurant. For the four of us to eat it was about £60 but worth it just for the experience.

We took the Cable Car ride back to Mutiny Bay and went on the rides there and got soaked on the Battle Galleons. Then we went to Cloud Cuckoo Land. After grabbing a drink at one of the many Costa’s at about 3pm we got the monorail back to the car park and started our journey home.

We had a great stay at Alton Towers and would really recommend it. The Woodland Lodges are lovely and the restaurants were great too.

A stay at one of the Woodland Lodges which includes breakfast, 2 days in the Theme park, early access into the park on Day 2, free car parking, evening entertainment and 9 holes of the Extraordinary Golf costs around £277. You can also add a waterpark ticket at the Splash Landings hotel for a day who around £50 for four people.

Below our two videos I made of our days at Alton Towers…..

My Top Toys & Games To Take On Your Travels

With the holidays in full swing and only a couple of months until the Summer holidays I thought I wad write about the top toys and games that the boys love to take on our travels. From a long car journey in the UK for a few nights away or a flight abroad, when you have children keeping them entertained is crucial to a peaceful journey.

Archie is three so keeping him entertained is obviously a little harder at the moment then Oscar who is eight. So here are my top 10 toys and games to take on your travels……

Both the boys love arts and crafts and the Crayola Colour Wonder colouring books are great. They are completely mess free so great for in the car or on an aeroplane so they don’t accidentally get any pen anywhere. I also take them into restaurants on holiday for entertaining them at the table whilst waiting for our meals. Smyths Toys stock the books that come complete with the ‘magic’ pens and have an RRP of £6.49. I always keep a few of the books in the cupboard so I always have one when needed.

An obvious one is Lego. I always buy a couple of little boxes of Lego and Duplo before we go away. They are great for getting the boys to sit quietly in the shade for half an hour and build something.

Great-Nanny brought Archie a Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition Tablet which is fantastic. The tablet is £129.99 and comes with a 2-year worry-free guarantee, 1 year of Fire For Kids Unlimited app download and a Kid-Proof Case, available in Blue, Pink and Yellow. For the money its a great deal and we have downloaded so many different apps. On my profile on it I have also downloaded Netfilx and some movies for Archie on Amazon Video. He loves it and plays little educational games on it, watches episodes of his favourite programmes and he likes having something like that of his own when Oscar is playing on his Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch is a great gaming console. We got it for Oscar for Christmas. It can be used at home in the playroom TV using the docking/charging station or as a handheld when out and about. The controls also detach from the device and using the inbuilt stand you can play against a friend using the device as a screen. He absolutely loves it and as he has never been into using an Ipad or a tablet likes to use his ‘screen’ time playing games like Mario Kart and Super Mario. The Switch is £279.99 and the games are around £40 each.

For an Easter gift Archie got the Masha and the Bear playhouse playset. He loves the programme and watches it on Netflix and we saw a TV advert for the playhouse and Archie really wanted it. He never asks for anything so we got it for him. Why it is on this list is because its nice and small and all fits inside it self and closes so you can take it on your travels. I didn’t know this when I ordered it but its brilliant and fits in my handbag!

Last year I brought some fantastic car road tape from We Are Kidly and stuck some on the aeroplane tray so Archie could play with his cars. I also used it on the sun lounger and on our hotel room floor. It comes off easily leaving no marks behind and the air hostess on the plane couldn’t believe how long it kept Archie entertained and what a genius idea it was. It is £11 for a roll and as well as road they also do a train track tape.

We love Orchard Toys and have tons of their games but they also sell different mini travel games for toddlers which are great. Archie loves playing games and doing puzzles so have mini versions to take away with you is a great idea. Oscar will join in too even if it is a bit easy/young for him.

Orchard Toys Animal Match Mini/Travel Game Orchard Toys Llamas in Pyjamas Mini / Travel GameOrchard Toys Little Bug Bingo Mini / Travel Game

When it comes to games Oscar loves Cluedo and Monopoly and games like that. But recently he has fallen in love with Top Trumps. We have a few sets of cards now, sports cars, predators and dinosaurs. They are the perfect size to fit in your bag and we take them to Nanny and Grandad’s on the weekend so they can play too. It is the perfect family travel game.

I hope you have found this useful and it’s given you a few ideas of how to keep your children entertained whilst traveling! Happy holidays!

Our Holiday To The Sensatori Resort In Ibiza

Sensatori Ibiza

When I started looking for our Summer holiday a few months ago as Archie is two and a half and won’t sit still we thought it was a better option to pick somewhere with a shorter flight like we did last year. I went onto the Thomson website and as we have stayed at two of their 5* Sensatori resorts before in Crete and Tenerife I thought the Sensatori Ibiza one would be great location wise and the only thing that worried me was the size of the rooms in the photos. The rooms/suites we had before at the Tenerife and Crete hotels were lovely, spacious and what a proper 5* room should be like. I rang the Thomson help line and they reassured me that a double/family room would be big enough.

So on Saturday the 8th of July, the day after Oscar broke up from school we flew from Luton to Ibiza. Prior to our flights I had booked the Luton Priority Lane which I couldn’t recommended higher especially if you are travelling with children. For only £3 per person you can use the Priority Lane dedicated to getting you to Security and into Departures faster. It literally took us five minutes to go through with no queues at all. I will be using this every time we fly from Luton from now on without a doubt! You don’t have to pre book you can pay £5 per person on the day to use the priority lane.

Our flight was at 7am so we arrived at the Sensatori Ibiza resort at about midday. The transfer from the airport was only 20 minutes which was great! Our rooms weren’t ready until 3pm so I grabbed the swimming stuff out of one of the cases and we headed to the main buffet restaurant for lunch. As it is an all-inclusive resort you can eat and drink as much as you want and there are a couple of extra payable restaurants on the resort if you wanted to book. There are also …. other restaurants that are included in your package which you can book at the kiosk in reception. We went to the main pool and had a swim and some drinks and then walked down to the beach to see what it was like.


One thing we picked up on immediately is that there are hills everywhere! Anywhere you want to walk to on the resort involves walking up a hill. When we got to the beach it is beautiful, the sea is crystal clear, you can hire jet skis and book water sports and there are some lovely restaurants in the cliffs and on the beach.


Once our room was ready we headed to our room which was in block 9 furthest from everything except the retreat which was only up the hill which we used for the whole holiday instead of the main pool anyway. More about that in a minute. There are also no lifts in the blocks, luckily we had a ground floor room so everyone with rooms upstairs had to leave their pushchairs outside the blocks.

So we got to our room and I was genuinely shocked at how small it was and then on further inspection how filthy it was. I complained at reception and asked to change rooms but as it is peak season they had no rooms to move us too. A few days into the holiday we were offered a family room with a sliding door for an extra 800 euros, we went to look at the room at it was no bigger just configured differently with a sliding door so the boys would be separate. How they can justify asking 800 euros for literally a sliding partition door is a joke and we turned it down. To be honest after a few days we got used to it but as Oscar is at private school we can get our holidays cheaper as its outside of state school holidays and when I did a comparison and it would have been almost £6000 for the identical holiday in August I would not have been happy with the room at all if we had paid that sort of money. Even for us paying a bit less than that is too much in my opinion for the standard of the hotel compared to Tenerife and Crete!

Now on a positive note just up the hill is the retreat. You can also get a free shuttle bus from reception if you don’t want to walk anymore hills. The retreat is fantastic! It has two normal swimming pools, a children’s splash pool, tennis courts, archery, football pitch, kids playgrounds and a spa. Also at the retreat is a buffet restaurant so if your there all day you can get lunch there too. The lunch is the same most days so if you want to change it up a bit you can go to the main buffet which has loads of choice. Also by the children’s splash pool is a big freezer full of ice creams and the kids can just help themselves (obviously after asking us first) to an ice cream. The retreat also do water orb sessions that you can book on to and we also booked the tennis courts for an hour as well which is all included. The prestige spa is amazing and I had a Swedish massage and it was one of the best I’ve ever had. Massages are around 90 euros.


They have a nursery and kids club on site but I can’t give you a review as we didn’t use them. There is also a kids sleepover club once a week and a movie club in the evenings. If you children like kids club then there were a lot of activities on offer.


Opposite the retreat is a supermarket that sells inflatable toys, gifts, clothes, snacks and drinks which is great and about half a mile down the road is a pharmacy if you need it. There is also a doctor on site that is 90 euros a visit, I got an ear infection after diving in the pool and you can claim the money back once your home on your travel insurance.

In the evenings there is a play house live show which is indoors for the younger children but Oscar who is 7 didn’t want to go as it was a bit young for him. The evening show then didn’t start until 9.45pm and really they could do with putting on a little show/disco for children aged 5 upwards to enjoy as there is nothing really to entertain that age group in the evening without putting them into a club. The main shows in the evening are hit and miss, when they bring in tribute acts; we had Robbie Williams and Jesse J they were great but the Sensatori shows weren’t great. We often left half way through. ​


We booked one of the extra restaurants included in our package, the Trattoria La Torre restaurant which is an Italian, the food was lovely. The food in the main buffet and the retreat was always good and tons of choice in the main restaurant as well. Other restaurants on the resort are the Sunset Mediterranean restaurant, the Pan-American restaurant which in total are the four restaurants included in the all-inclusive package and at an extra cost you can book the T-Beach restaurant and the Le Souk restaurant. You can look on the Thomson website as to what restaurant serves what type of food.


On one evening we booked the Cotton Club restaurant which is on the cliff by the beach. It is a beautiful restaurant and is famous for having the best sunset on the Island. The food was amazing and the sunset was fantastic. If you go to the reception in the hotel they will book it for you. It is a bit on the expensive side for a family of four with no alcohol it was around 200 euros. It was a lovely treat!

On three occasions after dinner we got a taxi from reception to Ibiza town which is 80 euros there and back and takes 25 minutes to get to, but well worth the trip. There is a beautiful port with some fantastic super yachts docked in it. There is also a beautiful square in the town with lovely shops and places to get a coffee. On all three occasions we went and sat outside of the Cafe Montesol Ibiza where we had ice cream and coffees. It’s a beautiful hotel! On the way back the taxi driver showed us a few of the gigantic night clubs that we drove past. We couldn’t get over the size of the club called privilege that can hold over 10,000 people at any one time! Crazy!


Overall we had a lovely holiday and the boys loved the water slides at the retreat and spent all day long in the pool. The hotel rooms in my opinion were not up to scratch and I am surprised that they claim they are a 5* hotel. The food was great, the staff were lovely especially in the restaurants, they were so friendly. The cleanliness of the rooms is awful, in fact after a few days we only let the maid change the sheets and towels and we cleaned the floor with floor wipes (the floors were black with dirt) and cleaned the rest of the room ourselves. Location wise it was good and the beach is beautiful. I would defiantly go back to Ibiza as the island is beautiful and we loved the town but I wouldn’t stay at the Sensatori resort again unfortunately. Next time when I book a Sensatori holiday I will do more research on the rooms etc as after going to the other resorts in Crete and Tenerife we expected the same level of luxury and room size which Ibiza doesn’t offer.

Graco Nimble Nook Travel Cot Review

Two weeks ago we went away for the week to Wales. We stayed in a lovely lodge and I took our new Nimble Nook travel cot for Archie to sleep in. I always use my own travel cot whenever we go away even if there is one available to use, I always prefer to use my own. I saw the Nimble Nook in the flesh when we were at the Generation Graco event last month at London Zoo and couldn’t believe how many features it had.

The Nimble Nook is a compact travel cot that grows with your baby. When you travel with your newborn you can use the cot in bassinet mode which is higher up so is easy for you not to have to bend right into the travel cot to get your little baby out to feed during the night and also if your in bed you can keep the cot right next to you and lean over and get your baby out. The bassinet also has a two speed vibration unit to help your baby relax and drift off to sleep. You simply plug the unit in and pick the speed. There is also a mobile bar that goes across the bassinet with two detachable grey stars on it. I also love the pattern on the outside of the cot, it makes it look very smart.

Obviously as you can see we used the travel cot in ‘cot’ mode as Archie is 21 months old. The cot was really easy to pop up and literally took about 30 seconds to put up and put the padded cot base in. I then added some sheets and Archie’s bed looked comfy and warm. When bedtime came I put him into the cot and went off to sleep quite quickly. The cot dimensions are slightly smaller than a normal travel cot (69cm x 68cm) which was great as it fits through door frames which we needed to do in the middle of the night as Archie kept waking Oscar up. Archie is an awful sleeper! I also noticed the height of the cot is really good. The sides weren’t to high that it was hard for me to bend into and high enough that Archie couldn’t climb out.

After five days we were off home and I folded up the Nimble Nook easily using the Signature Graco® push-button fold that makes closing the travel cot quick and hassle-free. Also the instructions are so easy to follow. The cot slips easily into the carry bag and when folded takes up minimal space in the car boot, (69cm x 20cm). Obviously being so compact and light weight it would make it easy to take on holiday abroad too.

I absolutely love the Nimble Nook it ticks all the boxes.

  • You can use it from newborn.
  • It is easy to use and light weight.
  • The dimensions make it easy to move through doorways.
  • Converts into a bassinet for newborn and smaller babies.
  • The quality like all Graco products is fantastic.
  • The price is great too!

It gets 10 out of 10 from us!

The Nimble Nook travel cot has an RRP of £109.99 but I have found it online at Mothercare for £89.99 and £83.59 on Amazon.

Technical Specifications:

Weight Length Width Height Folded Length Folded Height
7.5 kg 69 cm 68 cm 98 cm 20 cm 69 cm
From To
Age 0 years 3 years
Weight 0 kg 6.5 kg

 

Disclaimer: We were sent the Graco Nimble Nook Travel Cot for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are honest and my own and I really love the Nimble Nook.

Generation Graco Badge FINAL

Bluestone National Park Resort, Wales Review

Last month the most exciting email landed in my inbox, inviting us to come to the 5*Bluestone National Park Resort for a Monday to Friday mid week break. As Oscar broke up for half term last Friday it was perfect timing. The boys were so excited and it is their first ‘outdoors’ holiday that involved being outdoors, activities and getting muddy! Normally we go abroad and I am ashamed to see that I have only even been to Wales once before which was only last month for the opening of our trampoline park in Newport. So needless to say I was really looking forward to a different type of holiday for us in a totally new place!

Day 1

So on Monday we arrived at the Bluestone National Park Resort in Wales. We left at about 11am from home as Greg had some work to do first and it took us around 5 hours to get here which included a stop off for lunch and a quick coffee break further on. We arrived at about 3.30pm and we drove up to the check in kiosk and the whole process only took a few minutes. With our key cards and welcome pack in hand we headed to the car park as we couldn’t go to our lodge until 4.30pm. We walked over to the adventure centre and Oscar and Archie played on the soft play and bouncy castle. At half 4 we went back to the car and drove around to our lodge to unload and unpack. When we arrived at our ‘Ramsey’ lodge Oscar was so excited and as soon as we opened the door he was running around to explore his new home for the week. Our lodge consisted of two bedrooms, one with a doubled bed and one with two singles and a travel cot, two en suite bathrooms and upstairs an open planned kitchen, living room and diner. I actually brought my own travel cot but a travel cot is included. All bedding and towels are included too (not bedding for the travel cot) but I would use my own anyway. On first impressions the lodge was lovely and clean and we had everything we needed.

I unpacked quickly and then we had to return the car to the car park as it is a car free zone. We walked to the buggy and bike hire station where I had pre booked buggy hire for the week and two bikes and a trailer. We picked up the buggy first which Greg and Oscar were very excited about and drove around the park to get our bearings. We drove to the village and grabbed some bits for breakfast from Newton’s Store and as we were shattered from the long drive went straight into the Farmhouse Grill for an early dinner. The food came really quickly and was very nice. I had liver and bacon, one of my childhood favourites. The only grumble was for Archie’s age (1, or 21 months to be precise) there wasn’t a great deal for him to choose from. Afterwards we headed back to the lodge and bathed and we were all in bed by 9pm.


Day 2 – Tuesday

Today was our first full day at Bluestone. Archie and Oscar were awake at 6.30am so we watched Cbebbies upstairs in the lounge and waited for Daddy to get up. Archie slept in with Oscar last night and woke up 9 times, he has a bit of a cold but it was a huge milestone as up until now Archie had never not slept in a room with us. I then cooked us all breakfast and Oscar had been begging since we arrived to go to the blue lagoon swimming pool so we got ready and drove the buggy up to the pool.

We got ready in one of the family changing cubicles which was really clean and as we walked in a member of staff was cleaning the floors. The lockers are £1 but when you open them you get your money back which was great as you know with children your always going back again to grab goggles or nappies/wipes. Inside the blue lagoon is a main pool with a wave machine, baby pool, pirate pool, jacuzzi, lazy river and water slides. I took Archie into the baby pool whilst Greg and Oscar went on the water slides, we then switched so I could go on the slides too. The lazy river is amazing, it takes you outside which was a bit cold to start with but is so refreshing. I got out with Archie after an hour as he was a bit cold and with the £1 from the locker we went in the drying machine. You get 3 minutes for a £1 and its amazing, my hair was dried and Archie was lovely and warm. Greg and Oscar stayed in the pool for another half hour and then we met in the cafe for lunch upstairs whilst Archie had a nap. They serve jacket potatoes, sandwiches and chips.

We then drove the buggy back to our lodge and then went back to the buggy and bike hire to pick up the bikes. The boys thought being in the trailer was very funny and we headed on to one of the bike paths and ended up deep in the woods by the high ropes and the Camp Smokey restaurant. The scenery is absolutely stunning, trickling streams and some of the tallest trees I have ever seen. It is simply breathtaking.

We rode back to the village and had a cup of tea whilst Oscar and Archie played in the play area then headed back to the lodge for showers before going out for dinner. We booked the Oak Tree restaurant and the food was absolutely amazing. I had the lamb, Oscar and Greg had the cod pasta and Archie had pizza. All the food was freshly cooked to order and tasted fantastic. Topped off with a chocolate brownie we headed home full and tired from an action packed day. Again we were in bed by 9.30pm!

Day 3 – Wednesday

I was up at 6am with Archie who coughed pretty much all night. We had a cooked breakfast at the lodge again and Oscar really wanted to go swimming so Greg and Oscar went off to the blue lagoon pool for a couple of hours on their own as Archie wasn’t 100% we stayed at the lodge so he could have a two hour nap instead. When the boys got back we put on our coats and wellies and drove to the village for a quick coffee then to Camp Smokey’s as we had a lunch reservation at 2pm. As we were a bit early we walked through the woods and the boys walked in the stream and jumped in puddles.


At 2pm we walked back to Camp Smokey’s for lunch. Camp Smokey’s is outside in the woods and served barbecued food. The setting is fantastic. I had chicken fajitas and the boys had pulled pork baps. The food was great. Pudding was what Oscar was super excited for, we had smores and marshmallows and roasted them on the fire. Afterwards we walked back to the buggy and drove to the village where one of the nature trails started and walked the 2.5km trail. Oscar took his creepy crawly I spy book that he brought in the village shop and ticked them off as we walked round. After the walk we were shattered, Archie with his little legs impressively walked most of the way. We wanted to go and Pan for Gold but it was fully booked from now until we go home so we have put ourselves on a waiting list at the booking office.

We went to the Knights Tafern at 6.45pm for dinner, you can’t book this restaurant but we turned up and got a table straight away. The menu is pub food. Oscar had sausage and chips which he loved, Archie had fish fingers and Greg had BBQ chicken and I had fish and chips. To be honest the food wasn’t great and I left most of it, compared to the other three restaurants we went to where the food has been of such a high standard I wouldn’t eat here again. I tried to book the Oak Tree for the Thursday night but it was fully booked so booked the Farmhouse Grill instead. Looking back now I would recommend booking all your restaurants on the first day as they all get booked up really quickly! We drove the buggy back to the lodge and watched some TV then went to bed.

Day 4 – Thursday

We got up at 7.30am and we had breakfast at home again and then drove our buggy up to the car park and drove the short 5 mile drive to Folly Farm. We had read loads of great reviews about Folly Farm and decided it was a must do day out. Folly Farm has a farm, zoo, fairground and play area and we couldn’t believe how cheap it was to get in. Only £13.95 for adults and £11.95 for children aged 3-15 and senior citizens. So for the four of us to get in as Archie was free it was only £39.85 which is great value for the amount on offer inside. The only optional extras are the the Vintage Fairground, The Pembrokeshire Wheel, Follystone racetrack and The Big Dig which you can buy 50p tokens for. I looked at the daily timetable online the night before so we knew what was on and at what time so we didn’t miss anything we wanted to see.

We arrived at 11am and went around the farm and the zoo and stopped for some lunch. There is so much to do at Folly Farm and it is well worth a trip if you are staying at Bluestone. The boys had a great day and the amount of different animals they have there is amazing! The lions were my favourite and we got so close to them.

We left Folly Farm at 2.45pm and drove pack to Bluestone. We rode our bikes back to the buggy and bike hire so we didn’t have to worry about doing it in the morning. Oscar was desperate to go swimming again so we went back to the Blue Lagoon for an hour for our final swim of the holiday.

We had booked dinner for 7.15pm at the Farmhouse Grill so headed back to the lodge at about 5.30pm to shower before dinner. Dinner at the Farmhouse Grill was great again. I had the steak this time, Oscar and Greg had the beef burger again and Archie shared mine. In the Farmhouse Grill is a small children’s play area where the boys played why we waited for our meals. After dinner Oscar had the build your own ice cream which is great fun for the kids with four different sweet toppings to build his own sundae. I was a piggy and had the biggest ice cream sundae which came in a huge bath dish. It was delicious. We headed back to the lodge on the buggy and I packed our bags before we went to bed. We are sad that we are going home in the morning.

Day 5 – Friday

We are going home today 🙁 You have to check out of your lodge by 10am (but you can use the facilities until 3pm( so we had breakfast and then Greg went and got the car so we could load all of the bags into the boot.

We then went to the village for a coffee then returned our buggy to the buggy and bike hire station. Hiring the buggy has been well worth it, we have used it to go everywhere and it is big enough to fit Archie’s pushchair folded on to it as well so if he fell asleep after dinner it wasn’t a problem. To hire the buggy for the week it is £85 and I would completely recommend hiring one, especially if you have young children. To hire the bikes and the trailer for the week was £65. On reflection I should of just hired them for the day as we only went on one long bike ride and didn’t use them to get around the park as we had the buggy. I used the Bluestone website to add on all our extras and the booking system is so easy to use to book in your activities, restaurant reservations and bikes/buggys.

We left for home at 11.00am as we had a five hour drive home. We have had the most amazing week at Bluestone and as you can see we have had an action packed week of fun. I asked Oscar what his favourite bits where and he said the Blue Lagoon pool, lunch at Camp Smokey, the golf buggy and walking in the outdoors. We will defiantly be coming back again soon and have loved every minute of our holiday.

Here our some top tips for your Bluestone holiday:

  • Hire a buggy, the park is quite hilly and with small children having the buggy has made getting around so much quicker and easier.
  • In the lodge towels and bedding are included. Bring some extra towels to take to the pool with you. I hung ours in the inside of the airing cupboard along with our trunks/bikini so they dried over night.
  • A small paper bag with a few kitchen cleaning essentials are included but bring a few black sacks, dishwasher tablets and surface cleanser. Also bring kitchen roll and toilet rolls.
  • I brought with us tea bags and sugar and a few other snacks.
  • The kitchen is fully equipped for you to cook a breakfast/meal. We had breakfast in the lodge everyday and picked up fresh bread and eggs for the store in the village.
  • Book your activities and restaurants in advance. Some activities like the panning for gold that Oscar really wanted to do was only on one day during the week and when I went to book it on the Tuesday it was already fully booked.
  • Go for lunch at Camp Smokey. The lunch is lovely and roasting marshmallows over the fire in the middle of the forest is great fun!
  • If your not serious bike riders like us then hire your bikes for the day as we hired them for the week and didn’t use them as much as we thought.
  • Have loads of fun!

Disclaimer: We stayed at Bluestone free of charge for the purpose of this review. However we paid for all activities, food, buggy and bikes. All opinions are completely honest and my own! We love Bluestone!

Our Summer Holiday Round Up 2016

With Oscar returning to school on Thursday 🙁 I thought it would be nice to put together a Summer 2016 round up post of all that we have been up to. We have had a very long Summer as Oscar had nine weeks off as he broke up on the 8th of July. I absolutely love him being at home and we have had so much fun.

Week 1

We started off the holidays going straight from school at 12 o’clock to a hotel near us with Oscar’s school friends and went in the walled garden where they swam all day had hot dogs for tea and had a fantastic time! As the weather was nice we spent the rest of the week in the garden and got ready to go on holiday. We also went into London to a Finding Nemo event with Epson which was great fun! Archie had his first hair cut at Sharkey’s and he was so good sitting in the Lightning Mcqueen car.


Week 2 and 3

We flew to sunny Mallorca on the Saturday. We had an amazing time and the flight being only 2 hours was perfect for Archie who was a right fidget. We met up with one of Oscar’s school friends who was also in Mallorca which was lovely and went to see some close friends of ours that moved out there a few years ago. Our hotel was on the east of the island, the Protur Biomar Gran Hotel and Spa and it was really lovely. We went on an excursion to see the Pirates show which if you have kids is a must. The show is absolutely amazing, I have never seen anything like it. It was fantastic!


Oscar made lots of friends around the pool and both the boys loved the kids disco in the evening. We also hired a quad bike for Oscar which was so funny as Greg had to run behind him to make sure he didn’t bang in to anyone and we took a horse and carriage ride where the boys waved to everybody we went past.

Week 4

When we got home Oscar’s friend from outside his school had finished for the Summer so we went swimming with them and for a picnic. We went for our weekly fish and chips on a Tuesday with Great-Nanny which was lovely for Oscar as he is usually at school. It was great to go and check on our house build to see the progress. It was amazing to see what they had done in just 2 weeks! We had some lovely weather so I put the pool up in the garden and we also went to the local park a few times. Oscar also went to the cinema with Daddy.

Week 5

Daddy went on a stag do for a few days so I booked a few days in Norfolk with my best friend and her two children which was so amazing! Norfolk is home from home for me as as a child we went there 3 or 4 times a year staying in Brancaster. This time we stayed a few miles from there at a hotel called Briarfields and the kids loved being on the beach, building sand castles, eating ice cream and running around. We had such a fantastic time and we will try and do it every year now! We missed Daddy loads though!


Week 6

We met up with Oscar’s school friends at the walled garden for the day and the weather was amazing! I looked after my friends son for a couple of days and we went to the opening event of Gravity Force in St Albans that the boys loved. We went to visit Great-Nanny, went to the local aquadrome and went to see Scooby Doo Live at the London Palladium which was great. Even Archie sat in his own seat the whole time as he was transfixed on the singing and dancing.

Week 7

Daddy took a day off and we went bowling and for lunch with my Mum and Dad. The weather was amazing so we spent quite a lot of the time in the pool in the garden with Oscar’s friends over to play. We went to the Crayola Bus Tour event and Oscar got to do lots of art and crafts. On the weekend we went to Oxford for my Auntie’s 60th birthday and I got to see all my cousins and we even retook a photo that was taken 27 years ago!


Week 8

One of Oscar’s best friends had been away the whole Summer so we got to catch up with him and go for lunches and to the park and they played in the river. Oscar was so pleased to see him.

Week 9

This week has been a really special week! On Saturday Oscar and Archie were page boys at Greg’s best friends wedding. Greg was best man and I was asked to do a reading in the church. I won’t bore you to much but Steve has become one of my closest friends, hes more like a brother to me than a friend and we were so happy for him and Cheryl and it was an extremely emotional but amazing day. I almost crumbled in the church when I had to do my reading, I had never been so nervous! So congratulations Steve and Cheryl and thank you for a truly amazing day!


On the Sunday Greg was a little worse for ware and I was totally exhausted. We went to bed at 2am and Archie woke up at 6.30! Oscar stayed awake until 1am and partied all night long so he was a bit of a grump on the Sunday. So we decided to get some fresh air and went to the hills in Northolt, had a picnic and walked to the top of the hills and looked at the view of London.


We also went bowling with friends, went to see Great-Nanny and now we are ready for Oscar’s first day back tomorrow! Year 2 he we come….

Dreaming Of Dubai………….

Dubai is somewhere that I have always wanted to go to. A few of my friends live there and I always see their amazing photos on my Facebook and Instagram feed and as I sit here writing this post and its pouring with rain outside in May I am extremely jealous! Blazing hot, super glamorous and loads to explore and do, what more could you want?

The internet is full of amazing things to do when holidaying in Dubai and when I saw on Twitter that Tots 100 had an amazing competition for bloggers to win a holiday to Dubai with Dubai Tourism I had to enter! Dubai is the perfect location for a family holiday with amazing hotels and beaches and loads to see and do. I have looked at lots of the fantastic things you can do in Dubai for here are my top 5 if we were lucky enough to ever go!

  1. I would soak up some rays on the gorgeous beaches and swim in the crystal clear sea. Oscar loves playing on the beach and building sand castles and I have always preferred swimming in the sea to a swimming pool. Photos on Instagram of the beaches in Dubai look amazing and hot hot hot!

2. Something I have always wanted to do is swim with Dolphins, wherever we have been on holiday in Europe before we have been to watch Dolphin shows but have never been able to swim with them. Oscar always asks to see if he can swim with them so I know it would be an amazing surprise for him if he could swim with them.  Dolphin Bay In-Water Experiences & Aquaventure Waterpark is based at the back of the Atlantis on the Palm which is a hotel I would love to visit in itself. For £159 each you can visit the waterpark and then have a  personal and truly unforgettable shallow-water dolphin interaction. You get your own little show as the Dolphin’s swim and show off some of their favourite skills, then come truly close to them and touch, hug, kiss or even play ball with your new dolphin friend. You get to have an up-close experience which is appropriate for all ages which is great as Archie is only 17 months old but can still join in too instead of either Greg or myself missing out we get to do it as a family. This would be an unforgettable experience and would tick swimming with Dolphin’s off my bucket list.

four people in large pool with dolphin in Dubai

3. Obviously outside the hustle and bustle of the city you are in the middle of the desert. You can go on a excursion and one that really caught my eye is where you go for the day and not only get to ride a camel but also get to drive a quad bike and try sandboarding which all sound great fun! For around £75 each I think that’s a bargain for the amount of activities you get to try out. It sounds like a great day out, having tons of fun and we would get to try lots of new things and after all that’s what holidays are all about, making memories and trying something new!

two camels on sand dune in Dubai

4. So the Dubai Mall is the World’s largest shopping mall and is probably somewhere Greg will try and keep me away from with its array of gorgeous shops and boutiques! Obviously I would love to have a day of shopping here as I have been told that most things are quite a bit cheaper in the shops in Dubai. I will most probably need an extra suitcase to bring my new purchases home! 🙂 The Mall even has its own aquarium which is just mind blowing!

Dubai Mall (6)Dubai Mall (2)

5. Last but no means least, I would love to take Greg and the boys to Ferrari World. It is £ 49 per adult to get in and £40 for a child. Greg loves cars and Oscar has his own electric ferrari at home that Archie now uses. We recently went to something similar for Mercedes in the UK which is much smaller and we had a great time. It is the World’s largest indoor park (and only Ferrari-branded theme park) offering more than 20 Ferrari-inspired rides and attractions for visitors of all ages. Being indoors is good and in the midday sun would be a cool break for a few hours inside. For kids they can play in the waterless car wash, pilot remote-control cars, peddle their own Ferraris, and play with a Formula 1 car made entirely from kid-friendly foam and for adults you can go behind the scenes at the Grand Prix. Get up close and personal with the ultimate display of Ferrari cars, take a tour the historic Ferrari factory as you experience what was previously a privilege for only Ferrari owners plus so much more! This would be an amazing day out and one my boys would really enjoy!

So there you have it, my top 5 things I would love to do in Dubai. Obviously there are a few more I could add as there is so much to do there! If you are taking a trip to Dubai check out the Dubai Tourism website for more great ideas on how to make your holiday extra special!

This post is an entry in to the Tots100/Dubai Dreams blogger challenge, and be sure to share your own Dubai Dreams for a chance to win a holiday to Dubai yourself!

My Perfect Holiday With My Family #MarkWarnerMum

My perfect holiday has changed only slightly over the last ten years. Before we had children when Greg and I booked a holiday I would always pick somewhere that was hot where I could return with a glowing sun tan. It also had to be somewhere where we could relax and grab a few spa treatments but also somewhere we could explore too as Greg gets bored laying around a pool for two weeks where as I love it, laying on a sun lounger reading a book.

Paris 2008

Before we had children we would take short breaks to explore amazing cities like Paris, have beach holidays but one of my most memorable was when Greg took me to San Francisco. It was my first trip to America and exploring such an amazing city was unforgettable.

  

San Francisco 2007 , Excuse the awful yellow cargos

When we had children I thought that my idea of the perfect holiday would be somewhat different but it hasn’t changed at all. The boys have travelled abroad since they were babies and are used to it now and we have been blessed with dream little travellers. Last year when we flew to Toronto other people around us commented on how well behaved Oscar and Archie were, which made me feel every proud.

  

My perfect holiday now is still somewhere warm that Oscar and Archie can have fun in the pool, somewhere that has attractions to visit and sights to see as I love Oscar to see and learn about different cultures. My favourite thing about being on holiday is being together and watching the boys in their element as they have Daddy with them 24/7 and making memories as a family is just amazing. It is somewhere that has amazing local food and a gorgeous veranda that looks over the sea and we can sit and eat dinner together and watch the sun go down. It is somewhere where we feel at home and that the staff are friendly and welcoming.

I love watching Oscar make friends around the pool and us then making friends with their parents and having lunches together. Seeing his excitement when we leave the pool after a long day of splashing to shower and get ready for the children’s entertainment before dinner is always so special, then watching him growing in confidence and playing with his friends is unforgettable as this is something we don’t get to see when he makes his friends in school.

  

Taking walks down the beach, walking along the shore, searching for pretty stones and shells. Feeling the sand between your toes and writing the year and where we are in the sand for our yearly photo.

  

Looking back through our holiday photos, we as a family have made so many amazing memories so far and I cannot wait to keep making even more. Roll on Summer!

Disclosure: This is my entry into the Mark Warner Holidays’ Family Ambassador search for 2016 in the Fab Photographer category. Find out more here. #MarkWarnerMum