My Post For Baby Loss Awareness Week

Every year, thousands of people in the UK are affected by the death of a baby or experience pregnancy loss, in fact statistically 1 in 4 pregnancies end in a miscarriage and 1 in 100 have 3 or more miscarriages in a row. I am one of the “1 in 4”. I have written about it a few times on my blog before, but I always like to write something fresh for baby loss awareness week as I really believe with so many women/men/couples talking about and sharing their stories we can help to break the silence and we can come together and help each other.

 

I had Oscar in 2010, my pregnancy with him was easy, my waters broke at 36 weeks and 5 days and after 48 hours he was born by emergency Caesarean section. We always knew we wanted to have two children and had always planned in our heads to roughly have a three year gap. In April 2012 we found out I was pregnant again, we were so excited and decided not to tell anyone until I was 12 weeks. We got to the scan date and took Oscar along with us so he could see too. I lay on the bed, the midwife was lovely chatting away and after a few seconds her face changed, she feel silent, I knew something was wrong. She went to get another doctor and then asked me to get myself up and took me into an office. They told us the baby had no heartbeat and I had had a missed miscarriage. Holding back the tears was so hard, I didn’t want to see dad in front of Oscar but inside I felt sick. After months of hell, with bleeding on and off I eventually had an ERPC.

 

I left it a couple of cycles and then we started trying again. We fell pregnant using a Clearblue fertility monitor and it worked the first month of trying. I got to 6 weeks and I was visiting my Nan when I started to bleed. I went to the early pregnant unit at Hillingdon Hospital and I was told I had twins, one without a heartbeat and one with. Obviously I was upset but a part of me thought at least one was ok. Two weeks later at a follow up scan I was told that I had miscarried both. I just couldn’t believe it! I naively thought this time it wouldn’t happen again. I booked in for an ERPC the next day so not to have all the problems I had last time. 

 

I went to see my GP afterwards who was lovely and told me all about the recurrent miscarriage clinic in London at St Mary’s Hospital. She referred me and I had about a four month wait. After a rough 18 months with all the problems it was nice to relax, stop trying for a baby and wait for our appointment. So in June 2013 I had various tests done and a hysteroscopy in the August to remove any adhesions or scar tissue from my caesarean. A blood test came back saying I had a clotting problem and I was told to go away and get pregnant, as soon as I had a positive test take 150mg of aspirin a day and contact the unit. They scanned me every couple of weeks up until 10 weeks and then passed me back over to Hillingdon. Greg and I excitedly went to the 12 week scan and again the doctors went silent. Back into the side office we went.

 

It was explained to us that our baby had a larger amount of fluid on the back of the neck than normal which is a cause for concern and is often an indication for Down’s syndrome. To be honest this didn’t phase me to much but I was told to go and have a amniotic fluid test. At 14 weeks I went to Queen Charlotte’s hospital for the procedure. It was terrible, in short they inserted a huge needle through my stomach into the amniotic sac to extract some fluid to get the baby’s chromosomes to see what the abnormality was. It was so painful and let me bruised for a few weeks. We were told the results would take around two weeks. They were the longest two weeks of my life. I held onto hope that it would all be fine and it was just a mistake.

 

The trouble is from the moment you get two blue lines on that pregnancy test, your already working out the due date, planning in your head for a baby that will never get it’s due date. That’s hard.

 

Christmas Eve 2013 I got the phone call that our baby had something called Ring 13, which is a rare chromosome disorder. In our case the baby had it severely with a lot of missing genes which meant he wouldn’t have lived very long. I went into see the specialist midwife at Hillingdon hospital who was amazing and she went through our options with us. Christmas was a blur, I made it as special for Oscar as possible but I was dying inside. Looking back on photos of Christmas that year, I look vacant and I hate those photos. New Years Eve was worse for me, in my brain I knew I had to go back to the hospital on the 2nd to start the process of delivering the baby and had almost boxed it off like that’s next year it’s fine. The New Year came, I took myself out of the room and sat sobbing on the stairs with my friend, it was awful. 

 

On the 2nd I had to take a tablet to stop the babies heartbeat as if I delivered him alive there would be nothing the midwives could do to save him and it would have been to distressing for us as I was only 18 weeks. I went home expecting to come back in the next day but that night around 8pm I started bleeding so we went back. I was taken into labour ward and felt so sorry for the midwife who started her shift expecting to deliver a healthy baby. I had to share a bathroom with a lady I could hear was having a baby which was so hard. I feel asleep and at 5am got up to go to the toilet, my waters broke and I delivered the baby. The midwives were amazing, he was put wrapped in a blanket and had a little hat and was put in a little wicker crib. They took photos for me and gave me a memory box. I was on autopilot I showed little emotion, I was exhausted and felt terrible for Greg. It wasn’t until a few hours later when I was ready to go home and it dawned on me that I was leaving my baby behind and had to walk out of the same door as everybody else who had their perfect babies in their car seats ready to go home. I felt sick. I broke down. 

 

When we got home my parents were looking after Oscar. I had to get myself together, as I didn’t want Oscar to know I was upset or that anything was wrong. Greg and I went to bed for a few hours as we were shattered and I put all my emotions in a little box in my head, walked downstairs and was Mummy to Oscar. 

 

We had genetic testing afterwards which came back clear. We were just bloody unlucky to have this happen after having the miscarriages before too. Hillingdon Hospital were amazing, honestly I couldn’t have paid for better care. They arranged the church service a week later that only Greg and I went too and the cremation as well. His ashes were than scattered at the Peter Pan children’s remembrance garden at a crematorium near us. 

 

A few months later I fell pregnant again, took my aspirin daily and I was so anxious. I had a specialist midwife on call and had scans from 7 weeks. Getting to 12 weeks and being told that everything was ok was a huge relief, I cried. We kept it a secret until 20 weeks as I didn’t want Oscar to know and then something go wrong. At this time he was 4 with much more understanding and always asked for a baby brother or sister. Up until now I felt I was failing him, the one thing most of his friends had and what he kept asking him and I couldn’t for sure know that we would give it to him. 

We flew past our 20 week scan. We told everyone, everyone was over the moon for us it was lovely. Every day I was anxious that something was going to go wrong and at my 20 week appointment I was given my elective caesarean date as I couldn’t bare to go back on the labour ward. We were told the 29th December 2014 although as the time got closer my anxiety mellowed a bit and I thought if I went into labour before that date I would try to have the baby naturally. We didn’t pick baby names as we didn’t want to jinx anything, until that baby was in our arms I wasn’t going to relax. Our little Archie came into the world on the elective section date and competed our family. 

 

 

I’m not going to lie it was a tough journey getting there but we are so grateful for the amazing care we received on the NHS. We are so grateful to have two beautiful healthy boys and it’s only brought us all closer together as a family.

There were moments where I felt so down but Oscar kept me going and occupied. I genuinely have no problems taking about it or sharing my story as if I can help one person then it’s all been worth sharing. 

 

Tommy’s charity is a great source of information and advice and if you need someone to talk to they are there. They have community groups and you can chat to other people going through the same experience so you can talk and not feel alone.

Let’s share our stories, support each other and make a difference. Let’s come together for change. #Miscourage 

 

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Our Review Of The TUI Sensatori Atlantica Rhodes Resort

Back In July we stayed at the TUI Sensatori Atlantica Rhodes Resort for two weeks. We booked it back in February and at the time the hotel itself was still being developed. It was due to open in May but ended up opening in June. To be honest I was worried as a new hotel can come with teething problems, but on the upside everything would be brand new! The photos I had seen posted online looked amazing and we couldn’t wait to get there.

Before I get into everything about our holiday on our return my iCloud had a glitch and lost over 2000 photos which about 400 of them were of our holiday. I have a few so will share those but am gutted that I can’t share with you the videos I made.

This was our fourth Sensatori resort, we had been to Crete, Tenerife and Ibiza previously and know when booking a Sensatori hotel you are getting a 5* hotel with ultimate luxury with lots for the children to do as well.

We flew out to Rhodes from Luton which was fairly easy. I booked the priority lane as always which is £3 a person if you pre book and slightly more expensive if you purchase on the day. It allowed us to fly through security and into the shops! We were lucky to be the first on the plane and the pilot invited the boys into the cockpit. Archie refused but Oscar couldn’t believe it! We arrived in Rhodes quite late and the transfer to the hotel was about 45 minutes. Once we arrived, we had welcome drinks and were offered to go to the restaurant but as the boys were tired we were taken to our room by golf buggy where our luggage was waiting for us, along with a fruit platter and dessert tray.

We booked a family suite with a swim up pool and when we got to our room it looked amazing! A large main bedroom for us with a TV, mini bar which is stocked up everyday and is included in your all-inclusive, a second bedroom for the boys with another TV, desk and wardrobe inside. Hidden between the wardrobes in our room was the entrance to the bathroom which had a large bath/shower, two sinks and a separate toilet cubicle. The sliding doors then opened out on to out terrace and swim up pool. The boys loved having this and we used it everyday. There is tons of storage in the room, two wardrobes in the main and one in the kids room which was great to keep everything organised and room nice and tidy.

Within the resort there is the main buffet restaurant ‘Mesogios’ where you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner. They have different themed nights and the food was really good. I especially loved the fresh honeycomb at breakfast, that was so yummy! The other five restaurants you need to book for either using the screens in the hotel lobby or using the TUI Sensatori app. Caprice is a lovely Italian restaurant, Gaia is a healthy option restaurant, Kuzina is a greek restaurant and Liberty is an American restaurant. The last restaurant, Citrus is an adults only restaurant. Other than Citrus we ate at all of the other restaurants and the food was lovely. You can also eat lunch at Liberty or Kokumi cafe without booking. We were on an all inclusive package so you can eat and drink as much as you like. This is great with kids as they can eat and drink as much as they like and throughout the day waiters/waitresses came around to our sunbeds and took our drink orders and brought it to us.

In the evening there is a entertainment programme which you can view on the app two weeks in advance. For children they have Playhouse Live, movie nights and fun sleepovers. On the boardwalk each night there are different shows either from the Sensatori show team or acts that have been flown in to perform for you. During our stay we also had the World Cup and they showed the England games on the huge screen in the boardwalk, had a BBQ and brought beers around to everyone. The atmosphere was amazing and the Sensatori team made it really special and great fun!

During the day there are so many pools to choose from; the adult only pool (obviously not for us), the splash park and spray ground which was absolutely amazing for the boys with so many great flumes, the indoor pool, the ‘quiet pool’ which wasn’t that at all it was more like another family pool and this is where we spent most of our time, the main pool by the family rooms and the activity pool where they had lots of activities in that ran throughout the day. There was also the beach which is shingle but the sea was lovely and warm and there is also water sports you can do. Oscar and Greg went on the jet skis and Greg learnt to Water Ski, which was rather funny.

There is also a full activity programme for adults and children that run throughout the day as well. There is a kids club and stay and play sessions over in the nursery. I didn’t use this myself as the boys have never been in a club on holiday but other parent’s we spoke to said it was really good. Oscar did go with Greg to the sports hub to take part in a Nintendo DS racing competition which they loved.

An activity which Oscar wanted to do was learn to Scuba Dive. You can do this in the dive school which is located in the indoor pool. He had a lesson in the indoor pool for about 70 euros and then a few days later he got to do it in the sea which was amazing, this was about 100 euros for the hour. He absolutely loved it and can’t wait to do it again, he was a real natural and the instructors were lovely.

When they were building the hotel they came across ancient ruins from 5AD. They excavated it and have built a glass bridge above it so you can walk above and look at the archeological site. The main part was the village that had a church, two live presses and around 80 houses. You can even look down one of the wells. It is an amazing thing to see and we walked across it each night, its beautiful.

On site there is also a car hire office where we hired a car for the day, I think it was 140 euros and we drove to Rhodes Old Town. It was free to park and then you walk inside the medieval walls and there are so many lovely shops and restaurants. We spent the whole day here and also dove to see the Acropolis. I brought lots of bits in the town for the unique shops and we also had a man in the main square draw a picture of Oscar and Archie which he delivered to our hotel the next day. It’s absolutely amazing!

We also ventured to Lindos on one of the days. We got a taxi from the hotel as it’s not to far away. It’s a beautiful town full of little quaint streets, hidden away churches and at the top of the hill an ancient castle. Oscar and Archie had a donkey ride to the castle and back down again.

The rest of the time we spent at the hotel which was lovely and with so much to do you can you won’t get bored.

One thing the TUI reps sold to us was the VIP Lounge at Rhodes airport as it is a nightmare. It was around £150 for the four of us and yes it did get us through check-in much quicker but after that it’s a waste of money. The VIP lounge was small and cramped, the food was terrible and then it was so disorganised getting from the lounge to your boarding gate, at one point the stewardess just pushed us into the queue and everyone behind started moaning and it was a bit embarrassing to be honest. One man even missed his flight. I wouldn’t bother purchasing this if it’s offered to you, it’s a waste of money.

Overall apart from the journey home (Rhodes is famous for being a terrible airport) we had an amazing holiday and would go back and stay again. With all the Sensatori resorts you know you are getting luxury. It’s a beautiful hotel and obviously as it was brand new everything was sparkling clean. We had a fantastic holiday!

*This is a honest review of our holiday and I was not compensated in anyway for this post.

My Top Christmas Advent Calendars For Kids 2018

With less than one hundred days until Christmas (95 to be precise) and the shops filling up with all their Christmas decorations, I have already started my planning for the festive season. Next week I can book our annual trip to Harrod’s Christmas Grotto and slots are already open with Pines and Needles to book your Christmas Tree delivery, so the planning starts now!

I have been looking at Advent Calendars for both Oscar and Archie. They both get a chocolate calendar and a toy advent calendar. Last year they had a Playmobil one and a Lego one, which they loved!

This year there are so many great advent calendars on the market to choose from but here are my favourites;

This one we will be getting for Oscar as he is Smiggle obsessed. It is £25 and has £40+ worth of goodies inside. If you find one of the 25 lucky tickets hidden inside the Calendars you can win a £500 Smiggle shopping spree! These flew off the shelves last year so your best to buy it now and hide it away.

For Archie this Christmas we have got the Schleich 97702 – Wild Life Advent Calendar 2018. He loves animals and whenever we go to the toy shop he always chooses another Schleich animal to add to his growing collection. It is £24.99 And features 24 compartments containing gifts of Schleich Wildlife toys and accessories. He will love it!

LEGO 60155 City Advent Calendar 2017 Construction Toy. Lego sell a variety of different advent calendars all with 24 gifts inside. We had a Lego one last Christmas and Oscar loved it! They start at around £20.

For the creative children Play-Doh and Crayola have a fantastic advent calendar this year. The Crayola 04-6808-U-000 Christmas Advent Calendar Kit is Packed with craft projects, homemade gifts, finger puppets, and colouring activities, this set helps kids get into the spirit of Christmas. It is £19.99. The  Play-Doh Advent Calendar is £15 and features 24 hidden surprises. The calendar comes with several small pots of Play-Doh including two glittering colours for a festive touch, with a new addition/accessory to discover every day.

Playmobil Advent Calendar Santas Workshop. Playmobil also sell a variety of advent calendars.Oscar has had this one before and over the 24 days you build up a Santa’s workshop play scene. It’s a really lovely calendar! It is £19.99 and has 106 pieces inside.

This advent calendar would have been my dream as a child! The Barbie advent calendar is £35.00. In the Barbie Advent Calendar as well as Barbie herself over the 24 days it includes everything she needs to be a ballerina, baker, ice skater, pet vet and professional skier. It helps kids to understand different careers while living the magic of opening a present each day! I love this one!

This is the perfect advent calendar for your little car lover! It is around £19.99 and Contains 8 different Hot Wheels vehicles, plus stickers and surprise accessories.  Hot Wheels Advent Calendar with Mini Cars Toy Mattel

The Happyland advent calendar is perfect for the younger children from 18 months. It is £25 and as you can see comes with lots of toys inside to make up the Christmas play set. It’s very cute!

So these are my advent favourites for Christmas 2018! I hope you enjoyed the post and maybe have got some inspiration for your little one’s calendar this year. Expect lot’s of Christmas posts coming your way soon!

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Sea Life London Aquarium Review

Yesterday we got the train into London up to Westminster to go to the Sea Life London Aquarium on the South Bank with my parents. It’s in a great location surrounded by other attractions such as The London Eye, Shrek’s Adventure and The London Dungeon plus loads of lovely restaurants. The South Bank is always such a fun place to visit with amazing street entertainers and musicians.

We arrived at around 11am and had we were booked in on one of their new ‘Behind The Scenes Tours’ at 11.30am so we made our way to -2 in the left and started our Sea Life adventure. Oscar and Archie also had a Mission Pack each on a lanyard (don’t forget to get your Sea Life pop badge) and contains all you need to be Junior Ranger. It includes Ranger accessories, a pencil, magnifying glass, Shark height chart, Activity book and Ranger Cards. Within the explorer book are different missions to complete on your way around the aquarium, these are also marked around the aquarium so you don’t miss them. The Mission Packs are a great way of getting children to really engage with the fishes and read all the information and learn as much as possible. Also with the rest of the bits in the pack, learning can continue at home. Each Mission Pack is £4.

The aquarium is so well laid out with plenty of space to manoeuvre a pushchair or a wheelchair. Each tank has information for the respective animals inside. Oscar was fascinated by the sea urchins and how they move and the newborn tank had the cutest smallest starfish I have ever seen. One of my favourite exhibits has always been the Ray pool, I just love how elegant they are gliding around the pool. The tank is huge and you can get a great view of them beneath the water too.

We then met our Behind The Scenes guide Dom at the big sign located by the Ray Pool and then were taken through a staff door into the workings behind the aquarium. In one huge room there are so many different species. Some that can’t be exhibited as they are so sensitive to light and sound, some that are in breeding programmes and some that have been rescued. Listening to Dom it was unbelievable to hear that in the last 30 years we have lost half of the World’s Coral and seeing what organisations like Sea Life are doing to help the situation is marvellous. The Behind The Scenes tour is a really informative way of seeing just how much hard work goes on at aquariums like this and how much they are doing to save our planet! My favourite thing I learned on the tour was how dangerous two of the smallest animals were; The Mantis shrimp has such a punch on it it’s like being shot. They move up to 23 metres per second and accelerate faster than a bullet! The other was a Scorpion Fish, these are found in the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean. They blend in with their natural surroundings and if you stepped on one the venomous spines would likely kill you. To go on the Behind The Scenes tour it is £8 each or £7.20 if you book online beforehand.

Afterwards we visited the rock pool where you can touch a few of the animals. As the boys had their Mission Packs on they were also given game cards to take home. Opposite the rock pools is the huge central tank that can be seen from all three floors with the sharks in it, amongst other fishes and turtles. The turtle in the tank is absolutely huge! You can then walk through the tank tunnel to get really up close to the animals.

We then went through the Rainforest Adventure, which has everything from piranhas to poisonous dart frogs. If you dare you can even put your hand in a ‘Piranhas’ mouth! We found out on our behind the scenes tour that in the rain forest there is a type of Piranha that is vegetarian and has human like teeth so they can eat nuts and fruit that fall into the water from the trees.

Next up was the penguins. They are just so adorable, some huddling together others were diving in and out of the water. There is a viewing globe where you can go in and be amongst the penguins.

On the top floor there is a shark cage that you can get a great view of the sharks in. Sea Life also now offer an amazing experience from £130 where you can swim with the sharks. You get to have a 15 minute snorkel with magnificent sharks including Sand Tiger Sharks, Grey Reef Sharks and Black Tip Reef Sharks. Oscar is desperate to this so we will bring him back so he can have ago. All participants have to be 1.3 metres tall or above. If your feeling really brave you can even propose under the sea!

We then went through the Jelly Fish section. They are so amazing to watch. I found it fascinating that Jelly Fish have no brain or heart. The biggest ever recorded Jelly Fish was a whopping 37 metres! I don’t fancy being stung by one of those!

We had such a lovely day at the Sea Life London Aquarium. There is so much to see and do and more importantly so much to learn about. Oscar and Archie absolutely loved it and its a fantastic day out for the whole family.

Admission ticket prices are £26 but if you purchase online before they are from £21. There are fantastic deals that you can purchase so you can visit Sea Life and other Merlin attractions at a discounted price. For instance you can book Sea Life plus one other attraction, you can choose from The London Dungeon, Madame Tussauds London, Shrek’s Adventure! London and The Coca-Cola London Eye and you then have 90 days to visit again and use your voucher. You can also purchase an annual Merlin Pass from £139 per person which gives you unlimited visits and access to 32 major attractions such as Thorpe Park, Lego Land and many more. You can make a huge saving!

Image result for list of merlin attractions

 

We were gifted entry into the Sea Life London Aquarium but all opinions are honest and my own and we loved it and had a fantastic day!

Fearne By Fearne Cotton For Boots Mini Club Autumn/Winter 2018

Yesterday we drove into London as we were invited by Boots Mini Club to come and see their new Autumn/Winter 2018 collection and the Fearne by Fearne Cotton collection exclusively designed by the gorgeous Fearne herself.

When we arrived there was a huge art and craft station for the kids to get creative at and add their own artwork on a lovely jute bag. Whilst Archie and Oscar were decorating their bags I walked around and looked at the new collection of clothes.

I started off in the baby room which was full of warm and cosy items ready to keep you little ones warm as the weather gets colder. So much extra detail has gone into the baby clothes; everything is 100% cotton for extra softness on delicate skin, everything also has nickle-free poppers to prevent any irritation and inside so you never miss a popper out again one is coloured copper, so you know to ‘always start with the copper popper’. So clever! I can’t tell you the amount of times I did poppers up wrong on sleep suits when changing the boys when I was so tired. One collection has little penguins on it which is so cute and the elephant cuddle robe is just adorable and super soft. For baby girls there are pretty dresses and tights sets and for boys lovely dungarees sets. My favourite is the knit dungarees set its so cute. There is also a Mickey and Minnie collection which is 0-24 months, A Wild World collection full of warm, soft hooded jumpers, bright prints and cosy knits. As well as all of your newborn essentials coming soon to Boots Mini Club is a super delicate premature baby range. I couldn’t believe how tiny the clothes were. I spoke to a lady who was representing Bliss Baby Charity about the importance of soft fabrics and velcro fastenings on premature baby clothes. The clothes open fully flat so you can dress your baby carefully. This will be in stores from the 17th of November.

The Toddler range (18 months to 6 years) again is full of beautiful brightly coloured clothes with bold prints and designs. There are lots of hoodies, cardigans, dress and tights combos, cool tshirts, jeans and jeggings. Everything you need to keep your little one layered up and warm over the colder months. Archie loved the water resistant puddle jumpsuits that neatly fold into itself to make a backpack.

Dare I mention it, Christmas! The Christmas collection and occasional wear is gorgeous. Lovely Christmas jumpers, Christmas pyjamas and party wear for the big day. The Christmas Moments collection also has the cutest bits for babies first Christmas; Mr and Mrs Claus all in ones, my first Christmas sets and Christmas jumpers. Everything you need to dress your little ones up over the festive period.

Ok, I have saved the best until last! The Fearne by Fearne Cotton Autumn/Winter 18 collection. I just love it! You can really see Fearne’s cool, quirky and bold personality in her designs and I am very jealous that she has adult versions of some of the pieces, especially the leopard print tracksuit!

Her baby range goes from 0-12 months and everything has bold prints and slogans on it. When she introduced her collection to us she said she wanted to get across creativity in children, fun and positivity. You can see just how much thought has been put into the designs and the way in which Fearne spoke about her pieces you could see how proud she is of her collection.

For boys and girls aged 12-7 years the creativity focus comes across in a cute pencil design dress, cool tshirt designs and slogan tees such as ‘Make Create, Ta-Da.’ The collection just oozes ‘cool’ with double denim combos, gender neutral jeans, leopard prints, animal prints and the most gorgeous girls party dresses and fur coats. It’s super trendy!

The collections are available online and instore now. Everything is reasonably priced and so well made. Head to Boots Mini Club now to get everything you need for your little one’s Autumn/Winter wardrobe now. A word of warning though…. Your kids will be way trendier than you!

Peppa Pig World And Paulton’s Park Review

Yesterday we spent the bank holiday at Paultons Park. We have visited the park before four years ago when Oscar was four and now that Archie who is three loves everything Peppa Pig we knew it would be a fantastic day out for all of us to enjoy! Plus Paultons Park and Peppa Pig had new rides and experiences which weren’t there when we last visited.

Our Trip To Peppa Pig World In 2014. On our last trip we stayed at The Pig Hotel.

Paultons Park really has the best of both World’s for a family like ours with a five-year age gap between the boys. Obviously Peppa Pig World was amazing for Archie but there are also other areas in the park with bigger rides for Oscar to enjoy as well.

We made a weekend of it and travelled down to the New Forest on Sunday and went to Lyndhurst as Oscar wanted to look at the Ferrari garage. We then drove to our hotel in Southampton, ‘The Grand Harbour Hotel’ which is 20 minutes from Paultons. You can book a Paultons break and stay in this hotel and book your tickets and get a second day in the park free. You can book this on the Paultons Breaks website. Our hotel was lovely, we had a huge family suite and took a swim in the indoor pool. Our stay included breakfast which was lovely and we also ate at the hotel for dinner as well. We would definitely stay there again.

We arrived at Paultons Park at 9.45am to get our tickets and then went inside. The park itself doesn’t open until 10am so we waited for a bit until it was open. Whilst I was waiting I logged onto the free wifi and downloaded the Paulton’s Park app which makes it easier to navigate your way around the park. We headed straight to Peppa Pig World and went on The Windy Castle Ride which is where you sit in a cloud and go around and around. You get a great view of Peppa Pig World from up here!

We then went into Madame Gazelle’s school house and had a photo taken. Before we arrived we purchased a photo pass online which allows you to pick four photos around the park for £25 rather than £10 a single photo. You can also purchase a nice Peppa Pig World frame which Archie loves and now has pride of place in the playroom. When you purchase any photo/photo gift you get a code so you can download the photo as well.

We then played in Mr Potato’s playground and then queued up to meet Peppa and George. You can meet them at certain times during the day, by checking the app you can see easily what time you need to go to the ‘Meet and Greet’ area. Archie was so excited and couldn’t believe he was meeting the ‘real’ Peppa and George.

We then went on Grandpa Pig’s Boat Trip which was fun and then grabbed a drink from Daddy Pig’s Big Tummy Cafe. Inside the same building is the George’s Spaceship Play Zone which is a giant soft play area. There are several play areas within Peppa Pig World as well as the soft play, Mr Potato’s playground and muddy puddles which is a mini splash park where you can jump up and down in muddy puddles. As the weather wasn’t great we didn’t go in muddy puddles but when we visited last it was a lovely day and Oscar jumped around the playground in the sun.

We then went on George’s Dinosaur adventure. Oscar was big enough now (over 1.1m) to go on on his own so I watched and Archie went on with Daddy as he is less than 1.1m. Archie liked riding through all of Peppa’s friends. I was impressed at how quickly the queues go down as the staff are quick and efficient at getting everyone on and off the rides.

We then walked through ‘Little Africa’. This is a relatively new exhibit and certainly wasn’t here when we visited before. We walked through and saw Meerkats, Giant Pouched Rats, snakes, Fennec Foxes, Millipedes, Hedgehogs, exotic birds and bugs. Its a really lovely animal exhibit to walk around and is set out really nicely. We really enjoyed this and spent quite a bit of time in here looking at the animals and birds.

We grabbed some lunch at the Queen’s Kitchen which was hot dogs and pizza and then decided to head out of Peppa Pig World as it was really busy and return a bit later on. We went on the Victorian Carousel and the Viking boat ride then took a walk through the woods on the nature trail and saw the birds of prey, hornbills and the tropical birds.

We came out buy the little explorer playground in the Lost Kingdom. We went on the Dino Chase roller coaster which Archie could go on too and both the boys loved it. It was pretty fast!

Just outside the Lost Kingdom is the Water Kingdom which is a huge splash park and play area and we stopped here for a coffee and a play. It’s a shame it wasn’t a brighter day as the splash park is fantastic. Next time I am packing swim shorts and towels for the boys.

We then headed back to Peppa Pig World but on the way stopped off at the Wave Runner water slide. Oscar went on with Daddy and I think the photo says it all…….

We grabbed an ice cream from Miss Rabbit’s Ice Cream Parlour to eat in the queue of the next ride. We went on the Queen’s Flying Coach ride. This is one of two new rides that have opened this Summer in Peppa Pig World. It was very popular and we had to queue for about 30 minutes. You sit in individual coaches as a family and take a tour up above the park and it starts in the Queen’s castle.

By this point it was quarter to five and our feet were killing us, so we decided to pick one more ride which was the other new ride, Grampy Rabbit’s sailing club. You go in a little boat underneath the Queen’s flying coach ride circuit passing Peppa and her friends. It is a lovely ride and a perfect way to end our day out at Paultons Park!

We had such a lovely couple of days and Peppa Pig World was really magical for Archie, just like it was for Oscar when we came when he was younger. You could see when walking around the park how excited all the children were. Oscar really enjoyed it too and loved the Lost Kingdom and Little Africa. It’s a fantastic day out for the whole family and we can’t wait to go back again. It’s a really special day out with so much to see and do!

*This post is in collaboration with Peppa Pig World. We were gifted entry to the park but all opinions are honest and my own. Its a fantastic day out and we loved it!

Cassiobury Farm & Fishery Open Day

Yesterday we went to Cassiobury Farm and Fishery as they were running an open day event. Cassiobury farm is a beautiful place set in the heart of the woods of Cassiobury park in Watford, next to the canal and has a private collection of exotic animals and birds and has its very own rare breeds farm. I saw the Summer open days advertised on Facebook and booked tickets for the four of us and it came to only £26! £8 an adult and £5 a child over 3. Under 3’s are free. I had wanted to book last Summer but we were away when they were on.

So I made the mistake of putting the actual farm address in google maps and ended up down a single track to the farm where there is no parking. It does tell you this on the website but I didn’t read it beforehand. The best place to park is in the Cassiobury park car park which is free with a ticket for six hours. You then just walk through the woods which is sign posted to the farm, it literally took five minutes. Disabled Parking is available on-site, but you must call the Farm to reserve a bay in advance.

An arrival I couldn’t believe the farm and fishery was, I think it’s around 15 acres. For years it wasn’t open to the public at all but now they have several open days a year. It first opened to the public in 2015 and when we went yesterday I couldn’t believe we hadn’t brought the boys here before. Firstly we saw the Pelicans which were huge! You can walk around in their enclosure with them and they are very friendly.

They had little boats on one of the old watercress beds and we paid £3 for Oscar to have a go for ten minutes. They were great fun! There is no age limit, your child just needs to be able to swim if they tip out. It is so shallow though and the supervisor is walking in the water by the boats.

We then saw different monkeys, wallabies, love birds, cockatoos and macaws. It was lovely to see them so close up. It was hard to believe we were in the middle of Cassiobury park and behind these gates are so many amazing animals.

I absolutely loved the Black Swans that were on the water, the look so elegant gliding over the water. I don’t think I had ever seen one before.

We then walked to the rare breeds farm which have Gayal, Hungrian Steppe Cows, Soay Sheep, Gloucester Old Spot Pigs, Pygmy Goats, Red Deer, Fallow Deer, Miniature Horses & Donkeys, Turkeys, Pheasants, giant rabbits and many more animals. The miniature horses were my favourite and the miniature pigs.

The private collection of exotics includes Binturong, Flamingos, Meerkats, Marmosets, Wallabys, Crested Cranes, Pelicans, Macaws, Raccoon Dogs, Arctic Foxes, Civets, Gents, Squirrel Monkeys, Reindeer, Capybara, Tortoises and more. Oscar loved the Silver Fox which was absolutely beautiful! It was lovely to see an Arctic Fox up close too!

After exploring the whole farm we sat down on the large meadow area and had our lunch. In the central area there is a bouncy castle, face painting, fishing, crazy golf, mini-tractor rides, climbing frame, stalls and animal encounters. There is also a hot food counter that serves lovely food.

We then walked through the giant tortoise enclosure, I absolutely love them and am trying to talk Greg around to getting one for a pet. There was also a bug enclosure where two people were teaching the children all about the different bugs.

Last but not least we saw the flamingos which was lovely and then we headed back to the car. We were at the farm for about three hours and had such a wonderful time. All the animals were so well kept and the whole farm was lovely and clean. You can see all of the love and attention that has gone into it.

There is only one Summer Open Day left this season which is on Saturday the 1st of September, 10am until 5pm. So if you like local, do not miss it! You can book online or pay on the door, the price is exactly the same. It really is a great day out for all the family!

What We Did, Where We Ate & Where We Stayed In Jersey

Last Summer at the end of the holidays we took Greg’s parents to Jersey for five days. I had never been to Jersey before and couldn’t wait to go as so many people had told me what a beautiful island it is. I went online and researched hotels and restaurants so I thought I would put together a post so if you go to Jersey you can see all of the  wonderful places we went too and I might give yous some ideas.

Firstly I booked our flights with EasyJet from Luton which were around £150 each return and the flight itself is only an hour long so perfect when travelling with kids.

I then booked our hotel which was called The Grand Jersey Hotel and Spa which is right on the seafront looking over St Aubin’s Bay in St Helier and has a view of Elizabeth Castle which is beautiful. We booked the St Brelade suite which was huge. It had our main room, the boys room, two bathrooms and a living area with a sea view. On our first night we ate in the restaurant in the hotel and the food was really good. We had breakfast each morning at the hotel, with some much to choose from there was something for everyone. The staff throughout our stay were lovely and friendly and couldn’t do enough for you. The boys especially loved the pool which was indoors and the changing facilities, gym and spa downstairs were all lovely and clean and we used them everyday.

I booked all our restaurants prior to our arrival after looking on the internet at other people’s reviews and some our friend’s recommendations. Our friend’s told us to go to the Crab Shack which is in St Brelade which is the most amazing fresh seafood restaurant right on the beach. I had the Oysters here which were the best I have ever tasted and the restaurant was quite reasonably priced too.

We also went to Doran’s Courtyard Bistro which was in the street next to our hotel in St Helier. It is the most beautiful, quaint restaurant with the most amazing food. The restaurant was just so unexpected when you walk past and then you go inside and the courtyard and decor of the inside of the restaurant made you feel like you were in a french farmhouse.

I booked Mark Jordan At The Beach a few weeks before we went as its such a popular restaurant. It is in St Peter and again has stunning views. We sat outside meters from the beach. It has a  Michelin Bib Gourmand for good food as well as two AA Rosettes and an entry in the Tatler Restaurant Guide 2014. I was really excited to go here as all the reviews I read were so positive. The menu was great and had great food for children too. This restaurant was by far the most expensive of the other four we ate at but was a lovely treat.

St Helier itself is a beautiful town full of lovely shops, coffee bars and restaurants. There is also a lovely park which is directly behind the hotel where we took the boys a couple of times. In the middle of the town is a beautiful clock that plays different songs and I am so please we stumbled across it.

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During our days in Jersey we went to St Brelade and played on the beach and strolled along the beachfront. We visited the famous ‘Jersey Zoo’ which was amazing. You can absolutely not go to Jersey without visiting the Zoo. We spent the whole day here and the boys loved it!

We also got the sea bus over to Elizabeth Castle. We spent a couple of hours here and when we walked around the top of the castle the views were amazing. We then headed back for some lunch. It was lovely to explore and be a ‘tourist’ after being in Ibiza a few weeks before where we just relaxed.

When we visited the zoo and other beaches we took the bus which was so easy to do as the bus station in St Helier is huge with frequently running buses going everywhere on the island. It’s so easy to get around.

We also went to St Martin which is beautiful as my Mother In Law wanted to go to the Jersey Pearl shop. I ended up coming out with a beautiful necklace and a ring. When in Rome and all that!

We absolutely loved Jersey and can’t wait to go back. It’s so quick and easy to get too even for a short break it’s the perfect place. Everything is so beautiful, people are so relaxed and everywhere we ate the service was amazing.

Admittedly it’s not the cheapest of places to go too but it’s definitely worth it! We love Jersey!

Dinosaur World Live Stage Show Review

Yesterday we got the train into London and took a short walk to Regents Park to the Open Air Theatre to watch Dinosaur World Live. We hadn’t told Oscar and Archie where we were going, so it was a huge surprise when we arrived at the theatre and they saw the huge Dinosaur poster.

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I had never been to the Open Air Theatre before and as we walked inside I was surprised that hidden in Regent’s Park is this really cool theatre with a restaurant and a bar covered in natural foliage and pretty plants to stay in keeping with the park itself. As we took our seats in the open air theatre it instantly felt more of a chilled out and relaxed environment which you want really when at the theatre with children.

The stage set looked great, it was an old American city that had been destroyed and taken over by the Dinosaurs. As soon as the show started we were introduced to Miranda who moved to the deserted Dinosaur inhabited island as a child with her parents her were both Paleontologist’s and their team. She then grew up around the Dinosaurs and raised and trained them so that she could introduce us to some of them on the stage.

Throughout the whole show Miranda kept the audience captivated with her energy, humour and passion for Dinosaurs. Firstly she introduced us to Juliet, a Segnosaurus which is a herbivore Dinosaur and she invited a little girl on to the stage to help her feed her. Then we met Orlando, the cheeky Microrapter that flew around the stage. Once again a little boy was invited on to the stage to brush his feathers. The way Miranda got all the children involved was lovely.

Next up came baby Beatrice a Triceratops who was fast asleep and after the whole audience shouting ‘Wake up Beatrice it’s Christmas’ she woke up to say hello. Shortly after we were joined by Brutus, the adult Triceratops. Archie’s little face lit up as this is his favourite Dinosaur. He even has a huge version in his bedroom that he rides and calls his pet. He loves them! Brutus was huge! 12 tons to be exact, which is the same weight as three hippos!

Next we met baby Tamora the little sister T-Rex of the almighty Titus. She was cheeky and maybe needs a little more training as she didn’t like taking commands off of Miranda. Although she was very well behaved when a little boy from the audience put her on her lead and took her for a walk.

Miranda was hesitant to unleash the almighty Titus on us. After all he is a 9 ton Tyrannosaurus Rex with a bit of a temper. Smoke pumped on to the stage, followed by the biggest roar I have ever heard and out came Titus. He is huge! Oscar couldn’t believe how big an adult T-Rex actually was.

Throughout the show we had been keeping an eye on a Dinosaur egg that kept making movements and then suddenly, Crack! A tiny Giraffatitan baby popped his head out of the egg. His Mother Gertrude then appeared and they went off to bond.

Now I know what your thinking, she’s gone mad! They are puppets! But how I have written it to you is exactly how the children saw it. All around the theatre the children were transfixed on the stage in sheer amazement as each Dinosaur came out. Next to me was a very sweet little boy, I guess only about four and is reactions were adorable. He knew every type of dinosaur and obviously was Dinosaur mad. This is the reaction this show has on the children, it’s absolutely magic!

After the show every child can meet a few of the dinosaurs and give them a stroke with was lovely. Obviously the Dinosaurs are puppets, but they look absolutely brilliant and the actors and actresses that make the noises of each dinosaur were so accurate and life-like.

Dinosaur World Live is every Dinosaur Lovers dream show. It is not to be missed! It is currently at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre until the 9th of September. You can find out more information and book tickets HERE. The show is for all the family, but recommends for children age 3 and upwards. All tickets are £16.50 and there are two shows, one at 10.30am and one in the afternoon at 1pm. Do not miss it!

We were gifted the tickets to watch Dinosaur World Live but all opinions are honest and my own.