AD. Our Couples Spa Day At The Spa Experience, Welwyn Garden City

A few weeks ago I was kindly asked if we would like to review The Spa Experience in Welwyn Garden City. With Oscar and Archie both in full time school now and after almost ten years of always having one of the boys at home with me during the day, Greg and I have been making the most of doing things together as a couple whilst the boys are at school. We even managed furniture shopping and lunch last week and it was actually stress free and enjoyable. So when I received the invitation to The Spa Experience for a couples experience, I knew it would be a lovely day out for the two of us.

We drove to the The Spa Experience in Welwyn Garden City which is only just over 20 miles from us and as our massage appointments were at midday we arrived at 11am to use the thermal spa. There is 3 hours free parking on site but don’t forget to display a ticket from the machine, 3-4 hours is only £2.

On arrival we were given a spa pack each which is really well presented in a Spa Experience tote, with branded flip flops, robe and a towel inside. We were each shown to the changing rooms and given a combination lock to use on our locker which saved hunting around my bag for change. The changing area is huge, with separate changing rooms, showers, hairdryers, make up stations to get ready again afterwards and a machine to dry your swimwear in. I got into my swimwear and met Greg on poolside in the Thermal Spa.

The pool area has relaxation beds around it where we left our robes and flip flops. Firstly we went into the Indian Blossom aroma steam room which smelt absolutely amazing, then into the Laconium which is a dry sweating room. The heat radiates evenly from the stone walls, floors, seats and benches. I really loved the Laconium as the heat isn’t as intense as a steam room or sauna but still has great results. We then sat in the sauna, Greg’s favourite! I could only handle 5 minutes so went back out and laid my the pool and waited for Greg. Using the thermal spa has huge health and well-being benefits. The combination of heat followed by cold can help to destress, relieve pain, relax muscles, detox your skin and aid respiration and blood flow. As I am sitting here writing this evening after our visit today I can already see and feel the results on my skin.

The hydrotherapy pool is lovely! With multiple jets, jacuzzi’s and seating in the pool it was so relaxing. The jets in the pool work on different muscle types and help to relieve tension and fatigue.  You can book just to use the hydrotherapy pool and thermal spa area for 3 hours and different spa locations have different therapies to choose from. Some locations have Hammam, Plunge Pools, Monsoon Showers, Ice Fountains, Turkish Baths and Saunas. You can check which locations have which facilities HERE. The Spa Experience have nine locations across London, in Hertfordshire, Surrey and Northern Ireland.

About 15 minutes before our massage treatment time we dried off and then headed to the relaxation room. The relaxation room had comfortable loungers, magazines and refreshments and we relaxed until we were collected by our therapists. Both Greg and I had chosen a 50 minute well-being full body massage. My therapist was Amber and Greg’s was Gabbie who were really lovely girls and made sure every part of our treatment was perfect. The treatment rooms themselves were lovely and warm and smelt lovely. My massage was amazing, it was so relaxing and beforehand Amber asked me if there was a specific area that needed treating and as I started my marathon training last month my calves have been playing me up, so she added more focus on that area. They feel ten times better now!

After the massage we were given a glass of water and shown back to the relaxation room. You can go back into the hydrotherapy pool and thermal spa afterwards but we both laid down on the loungers in the relaxation room and woke up 40 minutes later!!

We had such a lovely day at The Spa Experience doing something nice as a couple and its highlighted to me how important it is to have time like this and make sure we make it a regular thing. Feeling the benefits this evening from taking some time out to relax and unwind proves how important it is to have some ‘me’ time and how great the benefits are on your health and well-being! We will definitely be visiting again soon!

Disclaimer: We were gifted our couples spa experience at The Spa Experience. We had an amazing time and all opinions are honest and my own.

 

 

Our Holiday To Mexico & Stay At The Sensatori Resort Riviera Maya

I always get so excited when booking our Summer holiday, I love the Sun and exploring a new country! We have stayed at five Sensatori hotels now and on the whole have always been really happy and the rooms/service and food are always great. Last year we went to the one in Rhode’s which was my favourite so far. Instead of staying in Europe we wanted to go a bit further afield and explore somewhere new. I searched lots of destinations but we chose Mexico and luckily Oscar and Archie are great on flights, so the ten-hour flight time didn’t put us off. The only down side was you are advised to have Hepatitis A, Tetanus and Typhiod which cost around £380 for a family of four and you will need a booster in 6 months so they last for 10 years.

When picking a destination we always look at what there is to do locally as Greg goes mad sitting around a pool for two weeks. Also when flying across the World its nice to explore what different countries have to offer.

Hotel

So we booked the 5* TUI Sensatori Resort Riviera Maya which is situated only 25 minutes from Cancun airport and after a long flight a short transfer was great. The TUI Dreamliner also made the flight even easier, huge seats, plenty of leg room (even enough for Archie to stand up and play) 100’s of films to watch, games to play, activity packs and headphones for the kids and the meals were great too. The boys liked how the cabin had lights that changed different colours which apparently helps your body react to the time difference better. We flew from London Gatwick and I pre booked the Premium security lane which is only £5 each. You go to the designated area and we were through security in literally five minutes.

We booked a Luxury Suite with Limited Sea View, Balcony and Whirlpool Bath on an all-inclusive package. Our room was huge with two double beds in it, a Whirlpool Bath looking over the balcony and pool, large open planned bathroom and plenty of wardrobe space. Your mini bar in your room is included in your all-inclusive package so gets replenished every day when your room is cleaned. In an ideal World we would have opted for a room with a separate sleeping space for the boys but as we booked only 8 weeks before departure there wasn’t any Family Suites left. Also at this particular hotel they won’t let you book a swim up room if you have a child under 12 in your room. In Rhode’s last year we had a swim up room and the boys really enjoyed having it and if available I would recommend one of these rooms.

The staff at the hotel were amazing! They are super friendly and very attentive but be prepared and have Peso’s at the ready to tip everyone! Around the pools, there are four lagoon-like swimming pool and a small pool and sprayground for children. The children’s pool had sweet little miniature sunbeds for the kids, which was a nice touch. The hotel is also on a beach and to be honest the stretch right outside the hotel had a lot of seaweed in the sea and workers cleared what was on the beach throughout the day. We hired a Kayak on the beach which is again included in your package, you just have to pay $4 per adult for the whole of your holiday for sea tax. There are no jet skis or water sports near the hotel which was a bit disappointing as Oscar and Greg love to go on a jet ski. We walked further along the beach, about 100 metres and there are rock pools and the sea is clear and fish swim all around you. The beaches are the whitest sand I have ever seen.

One of the boys favourite things about the hotel is that there are Iguanas every where. After breakfast every morning whilst their sun cream was drying in we went on a lizard walk and would feed them bananas.

There are six restaurants within the hotel; Spoons which is your usual buffet style restaurant. We had breakfast there each morning and some lunches and dinner there when we didn’t have reservations at the other restaurants. The range of food was great for us and Oscar and Archie and they have themed evenings too. Tapaz is a Spanish restaurant that offers lite bites and tapas style food. We didn’t get to eat in here but people that did that we spoke to really loved it. Siena the Italian restaurant was our favourite and we ate there twice, the food was absolutely amazing and decorated beautifully.

We went to the Zocolo Mexican restaurant which is great fun. Lot’s of singing, dancing, sombrero hats and traditional Mexican food. We had a great evening here.

The BBQ Grill was our favourite lunch spot, tables on the beach looking over the sea and gorgeous salads and barbecued food. This only runs from 11-3. You can also get a fresh coconut to drink out of here too, this is $5 dollars. You can also get lunch at Pizza Dude’s, we didn’t actually eat there as it didn’t have any air conditioning and we didn’t fancy it in the heat.

Zavaz the Caribbean restaurant was also lovely and had lots to choose from on the menu as well as a fresh salad bar. You can also have breakfast in this restaurant too.

Le Chique is an adult only restaurant. You can book this and send children to an evening movie and book the 14 course taster meal which is included in your stay. You can pay extra for 22 courses. Each course is weird and wonderful and very creative. We didn’t book this as the boys have never been to a kids club on holiday.

There are other bars around the hotel and three swim up ones. There is also a Starbucks which you have to pay for.

There is a kids club that runs each day in the TUI Sensatori Playhouse. Our friend used the kids club and said it wasn’t very good. They had booked this hotel as they had been before and the kids club and children’s evening entertainment was fantastic. They had the Nickelodeon licence complete with all of the characters for the kids to meet. The evening entertainment compared to the other Sensatori’s is shockingly bad and after watching one ‘clown’ show didn’t bother going back. There are no kids disco’s or entertainment each night for them like the other hotels other leaving them to sit in front of a movie. What they had for children was pretty poor. The one glimmer was their fortnightly Beach Party which was fun with games, a disco and smores.

On our pool days we headed to the family lagoon pool as it had a shallower bit for Archie as well as a deeper part for Oscar. Oscar and Archie made lots of friends and played in the pool with then all day. Like I said above the pool had a swim up bar as well as waitress service who brought us drinks and snacks throughout the day.

There is a spa on site that offer a range of massages and treatments and a lovely air conditioned gym that Greg used. A 50 minute massage was around $140.

Each part of the hotel had its own concierge block and anything I asked for was always done immediately. You also book your dinner reservations here too which was simple and we always got the time and booking we wanted. I also used their laundry service to have some of our clothes cleaned as we extended our trip and flew to America instead of going home so I needed a few bits freshened up. The clothes were back hanging in our wardrobes the next morning. It wasn’t the cheapest and cost about £50 for 10 items and a few pairs of kids socks.

On one evening Archie felt unwell and I needed a specific medication. I went to the concierge and asked them if they could get it for me. It was 10pm at night so I expected to have to wait until the morning but for $60 it was delivered to our room within the hour. Such amazing service!

Overall we really enjoyed our stay here 5* TUI Sensatori Resort Riviera Maya and had an amazing holiday. The rooms are not as well decorated as some of the other Sensatori’s but are room was huge. The food at every restaurant was amazing and customer service top notch.

Excursions

Dolphin Discovery’s

Like I said before we didn’t want to travel 10 hours and not explore. I did a lot of research before we left and one thing I really wanted to do was swim with the Dolphin’s. With Archie being only four I had to look at which ones had age restrictions. One company that had a lot of great reviews online is Dolphin Discovery’s. Dolphin Discovery’s have locations in Italy, Argentina, America, The Caribbean and in Mexico and are rated the #1 Dolphin Company in the World. When I looked at their website it had a live chat option so I told the agent what package I wanted, location, date and time and it was all booked in ten minutes and they didn’t charge for Archie. For $250 we all swam with the Dolphins for 50 minutes, had lunch included, access to a beautiful beach club and were given all of our photos digitally and one each as a print. I paid $30 dollars on the day for a return transfer and $40 for all of Archie’s photos.

We had a really lovely experience and Oscar and Archie absolutely loved it. There are lockers on site to store your belongings whilst you are meeting the Dolphins, you will have to give a $5 deposit which you get back. I was really impressed with Dolphin Discovery’s and would definitely book with them again. Booking beforehand directly with Dolphin Discovery’s is absolutely worth it as another family that were there when we were had booked the same experience through an agent at their hotel and paid almost double what we did.

Coba Ruins

Through our Sensatori rep on site we booked a day trip to the Coba Ruins. It meant being picked up at 7am visiting the Coba Ruins in the Jungle, visiting a traditional Mayan Village having lunch then swimming in a cenote in the middle of the Jungle. It cost £322 for the four of us. When we arrived in the Jungle it is quite a walk to the main Coba Ruins but there are plenty of Tuc Tuc’s which cost $10 to go there and back and hold two people. Once we got to the ruins and saw it in the flesh it looks so unsafe to climb, especially for children. To be honest we couldn’t believe our rep had sold us this trip on the basis he knew the children are 4 and 9. I took the climb to the top and came back down on my bottom. We then looked around the rest of the ruins and learnt about their history.

The coach drove us to the traditional Mayan Village which was great to see. We then had a quick buffet style lunch and stopped at a gift shop with lots of Mayan souvenirs. We got into our swim wear and headed to the cenote.

We walked through the Jungle and when we got to the cenote I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. There are life jackets to use as it is quite deep and it actually made it easier to bob around. There are fishes swimming around you in the crystal clear waters. After being annoyed about the non child friendly Coba Ruins being at the cenote made me pleased we had come on this day trip.

Crococun Zoo

We drove past Crococun Zoo on the way to Coba and it is literally 5km from our hotel. Our friends had also told us about the zoo before we left as they had visited it on their trip to Mexico in May. It costs about $80 for the four of us and you get given a bag of animal feed and your own personal guide. He took us around all of the animals and we got to hold and feed parrots, snakes, crocodiles, hairless Mexican dogs, Monkeys and so much more.

Oscar and Archie were brave and held and fed all the animals and we also walked through an enclosure where the adult crocodiles are. Talk about adrenaline rush!

Swimming With Turtles

We booked this excursion ‘Underwater World’ with our Sensatori rep. This trip is only a half day trip and leaves at 7.45am. We were picked up in a mini bus by our guide for the day Valentin who was amazing. Firstly we went to the famous Akumal Beach and we snorkelled along the Caribbean reef. We were so unlucky that we didn’t get to see any of the giant turtles as the sea was quite choppy but Oscar saw a stingray and we saw hundreds of beautiful fishes during our 40 minute swim. Archie enjoyed it too and had a special ring he was in attached to the guide so was happy bobbing along in the water, using his snorkel to see beneath him. Afterwards we showered off, had a snack and drove into the Jungle to a cenote in an open cave.

To be honest I had no intention of going in the cave but when I saw that it was open above us I decided to give it a go and was so pleased that I did. The cave was beautiful with Cat fish swimming all around. Inside the cave you could see the roots from the trees above hanging from the roof. The water was super chilly and I am glad I made the boys wear their slip free water shoes which made it easier for them to stand on the sharp rocks. I loved this trip and it cost £248 for the four of us for the half day trip but we got 50% back as we didn’t see a turtle.

We absolutely loved our holiday in Mexico and it is such a beautiful country with so much history. We can’t wait to take the boys back when they are bit older as there are so many fantastic excursions for families with older children. Mexico is one of the best countries I have ever been to and in terns if exploring, the best yet!

 

 

 

AD. ‘Playmobil The Movie’ UK Premiere

Yesterday we were lucky enough to be invited to the UK Premiere of ‘Playmobil The Movie’ at the VUE cinema in Leicester Square. We hadn’t told Oscar and Archie so it would be a huge surprise but on the way into London we drove past a bus with the Playmobil The Movie poster on it and Oscar asked when we could go and see it. We told him he would have to wait until the 9th August when it is released into the cinemas.

As we walked through Leicester Square and approached the cinema which had Rex Dasher, the secret agents white Porche Mission E parked outside, Oscar started to twig. We told them why we were here and they were so excited. Archie absolutely loved the Porche as it’s his favourite type of car. We already have the red and blue Playmobil Porche’s at home.

We went inside the cinema and had our photo taken on the red carpet and with Rex Dasher himself. We went upstairs where Studio Canal had put on an amazing event for the children and Oscar and Archie had photos on a green screen, made arts and crafts, had balloon swords made for them and had lots of yummy food and drinks.

We were then called into Screen 5 and took our seats. The boys eyes lit up when they saw the popcorn, drink and Playmobil The Movie figure bag. There are 12 to collect. Oscar and Archie both absolutely love Playmobil, we have tons of it. From the Police station, Dinosaurs, The Wild West, Pirate Ship, Zoo, Watering hole, Ghostbusters, Porche’s, Ice Cream Truck, Wild Life Range, How To Train A Dragon and so much more. For me I love them playing with Playmobil as I grew up playing with it. For my third birthday I got the Playmobil Doll’s House and from there on out my collection grew and grew. My Brother had loads too and hours of our childhood were spent together playing, using our imaginations and having fantastic adventures.

The movie starts with Marla and Charlie who are Brother and Sister who love playing with their Playmobil and dream of travelling the World to have loads of adventures together. Their dreams are shattered when their parent’s die in a car accident and Marla has to put her travel plans on hold to raise Charlie. Her sense of fun and adventure disappeared.

Charlie rebels and runs out in the night to meet his friends but comes across a toy exhibition which is full of Playmobil. Marla tracks him down and finds him amongst all of the Playmobil collections. Charlie is astonished when he sees the displays set up exactly how they used to play, with one character missing which is on his Viking key chain. He puts him in place and suddenly Marla and Charlie are transported into the animated Playmobil World.

Charlie turns out to be a heroic Viking warrior and gets captured by the evil Emperor Maximus to be thrown into his gladiator arena to fight a T-Rex.

Marla goes on a search for her Brother meeting Del the food truck owner, Rex Dasher the secret agent, a Fairy Godmother and Robotitron. They all help her in her search which leads her to the Collosseum where she rescues Charlie and her and her friends defeat Emperor Maximus.

Marla and Charlie have had the most amazing adventures but fly back to the lighthouse and transport back to the toy exhibition. Marla realises that life had got in the way of her and Charlie having fun and adventures like they used too. Her imagination and sense of adventure was back!

Oscar and Archie really enjoyed the film and already have a wish list of the new play sets that go with the film. I really loved the film too as as well as being really fun its underlying message is really important. Don’t let life get in the way of your imagination, fun and sense of adventure!

Playmobil The Movie is in cinemas on Friday the 9th of August and it really is a great film for all the family to enjoy and a perfect Summer holiday treat! You can book tickets HERE.

We were gifted tickets to the UK Premiere of Playmobil The Movie In Return For Social Media Coverage,

AD: Oscar & Archie’s Alex And Alexa Holiday Wardrobe & 25% off Sale VIP Code

Today as I sit in my garden it’s 32 degrees, it is lovely to come home from our holiday to such lovely weather. It definitely lessens the blow. We spent two weeks in Mexico which is such a beautiful country and then flew to Washington DC and then stopped off in Philadelphia on the way to New York. Packing for the boys is always great fun and organising lovely outfits for them to wear in the evenings as well as swimwear and day wear. Oscar being nine now likes to choose his bits off of the Alex And Alexa website himself and when I can I try and get the boys matching pieces too.

I have shopped with Alex And Alexa for years and throughout the year when the seasons change their website is my go to shop to update the boys wardrobes and find really lovely pieces for special occasions. Often as sizing on most items is very generous plus the quality is amazing some bits last for two years and all of Oscar’s bits gets passed down to Archie. Some of the items in this post we kindly gifted to us, Any gifted pieces will be written under the photos, the rest I purchased myself.

Alex And Alexa have a huge sale running at the moment with thousands of gorgeous pieces at discounted pieces with more being added daily! They have kindly offered my readers a VIP code which will get you 25% of all sale items with an £80 spend! Please read full terms and conditions at the bottom of this post. Valid from 00.01 GMT 25th July 2019 through to 23.59 GMT 29th July 2019

Code: LAURAVIP25

Here are some of my favourite pieces in their sale. I will be grabbing lots of bits for the boys!

For both Oscar and Archie’s holiday/Summer wardrobes I always get polo shirts, t shirts, swim shorts, flip flops or slides, trainers and shorts.

One of my favourite matching outfits for the boys was this one. Tan coloured GANT chino shorts (£45)  which are a staple piece as they go with so many t shirts and polo shirts that they have. Teamed with this gorgeous Burberry Navy and Check Jeff Polo shirt (£85), Oscar and Archie looked very smart. In the evening they tended to wear their Tom’s slip on espadrilles (with socks, much to my dismay) which are great for holidays and again go with everything.

Polo shirts – Gifted

During the days the boys lived in swim shorts as other than breakfast, lunch and dinner they spent the rest of the time in the pool. Oscar choose these Moncler navy logo swim shorts (£100) himself as he loves the brand and along with his Winter coat has a few bits from this brand. He loves wearing slides during the Summer and last Summer he had a lovely Moschino pair which are now only £39.90 in the sale but this year choose a pair of Burberry Black Furley Slides instead. These are £120. Yes that’s a black Iguana on the grass behind him, they were all around our resort.

Swim shorts & Slides – Gifted

A more casual evening style was this one. A lovely Gucci Charcoal Tiger Logo Print T-Shirt (£135) teamed with Ralph Lauren mid washed Denim shorts. (These are in the sale for £48.30). On his feet he has a pair of Black Nike Huarache’s. (£65) Archie has the same shorts on, with this cute Moschino Grey Selfie Bear Print T-Shirt which is £43.40 in the sale. I always buy on size bigger in Moschino.

Moschino t-shirt – gifted

Here’s another evening outfit with Oscar and Archie wearing the same Tan coloured GANT chino shorts (£45). Oscar is wearing a Fendi Black Roma Stamp Pique Polo which was £190 but is in the sale for £133. He choose this polo himself as he liked the yellow Fendi stamp. Archie is wearing a Burberry Claret Hammond Polo with Dropped Back Check Hem (£85) which I love. I love the Burberry check detailing on the back hem of the shirt.

Polo Shirts – Gifted

I love the Gucci polo shirts and t shirts for boys this season. There are lots of different designs as well to choose from. My favourite polo shirt is the Gucci Pale Blue Logo Collar Polo Shirt (£145). The collar detailing is lovely! Matched with their  Ralph Lauren mid washed Denim shorts I think it’s a lovely outfit! Excuse Archie’s Ukulele as he had just brought it with his holiday money from his grandparents and hasn’t stopped playing it since.

I also got the Gucci White Branded Collar Pique Polo (£145) which he is wearing here with a pair of blue chino shorts from GAP (£18) Again these chino shorts go with everything and fit really well. I opted against getting the same shirt for Archie just in case he spilt something down it! Instead I chose this lovely BOSS Navy Contrast Hugo Boss Sleeve Logo Polo (£65) which he wore with his Ralph Lauren mid washed Denim shorts.

Polo Shirts & Navy Chino Shorts – Gifted

You can never have enough swimwear on holiday and I always take at least three or four pairs each. Oscar has a couple of pairs of these BOSS Navy Logo Swim Trunks which are in the sale for £31.50. He finds them really comfortable and they wash really well. In fact the pair in this photo were brought last Summer and have lasted really well. Archie has on Moschino striped Bear swim shorts and a Land’s End Rash vest which are also from last year.

Another pair of Oscar’s swim shorts are these from Dolce and Gabbana (£95) I love their bold and colourful designs and always pick a pair each year. You can often get matching      t shirts too that go with the swim shorts which look great together. Another of Oscar’s swim shorts are these Burberry ones from a past season but there are still other styles available.

When we were in America the boys mostly wore t-shirts and shorts as it was so hot as they had a heat wave and in the evenings they wore their smarter polo shirts and chinos. In this photo Oscar and Archie are in the larger than life World famous FAO Schwarz toy store. Oscar has a BOSS t-shirt on from a previous season but there are a huge variety of others online and Archie is wearing a Gucci Grey Retro Logo T-Shirt (£120).

Terms & Conditions
Use code   LAURAVIP25  
Extra 25% off all sale items with an £80 spend
Valid from 00.01 GMT 25th July 2019 through to 23.59 GMT 29th July 2019
Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer or promotion
Only valid on sale items and min spend of £80
Excludes home, toys, Gucci, Hugo Loves Tiki and New Season collections  
Please contact customerservice@alexandalexa.com if you are having any issues 

Our Stay At Port Lympne Hotel & Animal Reserve

On Friday we drove to Kent to the Port Lympne hotel and animal reserve. It is somewhere we have wanted to go to for a while and booked it about six weeks ago but kept it a surprise for Oscar and Archie until we arrived. On arrival when they saw the signs they were so excited but couldn’t believe it when we told them we would be staying there and have the zoo to ourselves in the evening!

We arrived at midday, it took us and hour and a half to drive there and I had packed a picnic so as we couldn’t check in until 3pm we headed to one of the picnic table areas to have lunch. There are a few places to grab meals around the park during the day like the Meerkat shack and a burger place outside Baby Doll’s. We started walking around the reserve which is absolutely huge (600 acres to be precise) and very hilly, but don’t worry if the little ones get tired there are complimentary pushchairs dotted around the reserve to use.

There are two different areas to the reserve one which you can walk around and the other which is the safari route. There are complimentary safaris running all day from Base Camp but the queues are huge. There are other safaris you can book and we booked a Ranger Safari at 3.30pm so took the walking route to start with.

Firstly we walked along the primate trail past all sorts of Monkeys and the Palace of the Apes where the Gorillas are. With every enclosure around the reserve they are absolutely huge, some of the biggest in Europe so sometimes you can’t spot the animals at all. This is why it is great to stay over night as you get two days within the reserve and also once the park is closed to the day visitors you can still go around the reserve and see all of the animals. The evening time was amazing we got to see so many more animals as a lot of them come out more at night.

We then walked past all of the small cats, Cheetah’s and Painting Dogs. Around the reserve there are plenty of toilets and places to grab a drink and a snack which is great especially when the walk around is so long. Both still snack shacks have a children’s play area too. There is also a Dinosaur trail near the small cats which is great with lots of different types of dinosaurs hidden within the trees.

We carried on past the Byson, Lynx, deer and Red Panda’s and passed ‘Hog Deer Creek’ where our Shepherd’s hut was located where we were staying for the night. It looked beautiful, I couldn’t wait to check in!

Further up was the Rhino Walk where you can walk right past the Rhino, sometimes them only being a matter of metres away from you. They are such lovely animals. WE walked up past the baboons and back to guest services. We checked in and then waited for our Ranger Safari which was booked for 3.30pm. The Ranger safari costs £45 each but you get a discount code to use when booking if you are staying at the reserve.

We got on to the safari truck with another family and our Ranger Charlie and set off. We passed the Wolves and Wolf Lodge where you can stay and have your own window into their enclosure and tree top walk way to look down and watch them. There is also a Rhino lodge here too that looks over the huge fields they are in. We then entered into the safari only route and our first stop was by Rosie the Rhino. Charlie told us all about her and about the Black Rhino, he was great with the kids too as Oscar asked him so many questions throughout the safari and he was so patient and answered them all. Rosie the Rhino came right up to the truck, I had never seen one so close up before.

We went passed the bear enclosure but could only spot one from a distance. They are an old elephant enclosure which is ginormous. At Port Lympne they make the enclosures as fun as possible and hide the bears food and treats for them to find and are always installing new equipment to keep the animals stimulated and entertained. There are also Capybara here running around and Vicugna which are cousins of the Alpaca’s.

We carried on past the camels, deer and the Przewalski’s horses which is a really rare breed of horse. The African experience was my favourite part of the safari we firstly went past the Wildebeest, Ostrich, Zebra and the African Painting Dogs. My favourite part was seeing the Giraffe. They came right up to the safari truck within touching distance. There is Giraffe Lodge here too which are a few safari tents where you can stay with a view of the Giraffes. There is also a Giraffe Cottage. For prices, availability and to see the different types of accommodation online click HERE.

We then checked in and was driven to Hog Deer Creek back past a few of the animals on the safari route. The shepherds huts on Hog Deer Creek start at £409 a night and vary in price depending on what day you stay and what time of year. The nightly cost includes a golf buggy from your 3pm check in until 1pm the next day and the two day entry to Port Lympne and its sister park Howlett’s which is 15 miles down the road.

The Shepherds hut was beautiful inside with a lounge area, tea and coffee facilities, a mini bar, shower and toilet and sleeps 4 with a double bed and 2 single beds made into a bunk bed. My first and only criticism of our entire stay is that having the two boys in bunks above us wasn’t great as the wooden beds creaked every time they moved and we were constantly woken up and I kept jumping up to check that Archie wasn’t about to roll off the bunk. In the end at about 2am, I ended up sleeping on the top bunk with Archie and Oscar slept below with Greg. If we stay again I will be booking a treehouse instead to get a better nights sleep! The shepherds hut was lovely and clean and the shower was lovely! The treehouses start from £409 to £859 per suite, per night.

Before dinner we drove round to the treehouse hotel where you can a drink and roast marshmallows whilst looking over the fields where the Rhino’s are. It is a beautiful view with the sea a few miles away and you can even see France in the distance.

I booked our dinner and breakfast sittings a few weeks before as they get booked up quickly. We went to Babydoll’s for dinner which is wood fired pizza restaurant. The food was lovely, Greg and the boys had Pizza’s and I had a steak with Pollenta chips. For a meal with dessert and drinks for the four of us it was about £70.

If you are staying at the park once the day guests have left you have free reign. I would absolutely recommend staying as if you come for a day visit you may not get to see all of the animals as the enclosures are massive and the animals are well hidden. Being able to drive around at night and early on the way to breakfast we got to see so much more than during the day as a lot of the animals come out more at night. We drove around until about 10pm then went to bed.

We woke up to breath taking views and water buffalo grazing by the watering hole in front of Hog Deer creek. It was a beautiful start to the day.

I booked breakfast in the main hotel which is the most beautiful mansion-house with the dining rooms walls painted with different animal murals on them. In the centre of the hotel there is a Moroccan courtyard which is out of this World and the perfect spot for a cup of tea or a coffee. Outside there is a terrace looking over the manicured gardens, maze and pond. There were weddings on both days we were there, it would be a beautiful place to have your special day at!

After breakfast we drove our luggage back to the car by guest services and grabbed the listings for the day of animal feeds and talks. At 10am we went to the Tiger talk and got to see both of the Tigers, we had seen them in the evening but asleep. We also got to see the male Lion in the enclosure next door but not the lioness and she was in the hut with their two new cubs that are only a few weeks old.

We then headed to Gorilla Gardens to see the Gorillas and they were relaxing and eating. One of them gave us a real treat and climbed up the side of the enclosure and slid down the slide. The boys loved it and were so lucky to see it!

At midday we went to the Palace of the Apes to watch the Gorilla feed and talk. It was absolutely amazing! They all came outside to be fed and we even got to see a baby Gorilla clinging onto its Mother’s back less than a few metres in front of us.

We dropped our golf buggy back to Hog Deer Creek at 1pm (you have to check out of the hut by 11am) and on of the staff can either drive you back to the car park and guest services or you can walk around the reserve. We walked back to the Dinosaur Forest and it takes about 15 minutes to go around, went back for a last look at the Gorillas and then headed home.

Our stay at Port Lympne was absolutely amazing and we will definitely being going back. I would recommend staying in a accommodation that comes with a golf buggy as the reserve is huge (600 acres) and very hilly and just makes it easier to get around to the different enclosures and make the most of your time at Port Lympne.

There are different types of accommodation to suit all budgets;

Pinewood camping pods and one Shepherds hut – Pod prices start from £129 to £229 per night. Shepherds hut starts from £199 to £279 per night

Forest Hideaway (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £249 to £399 per night

Hog Deer Creek Shepherd’s hut (includes a golf buggy)  – From £269 to £479 per night

Treehouse (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 to £859 per suite, per night

Tiger Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – From £1000 per night

Lion Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – From £1000 per night

Wolf Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 per night to £859 per night

Rhino Lodge (includes a golf buggy) – Start from £409 per night to £859 per night

The Bubble (includes a golf buggy) –  Start from £359 to £699 per night

Giraffe Lodge glamping – From £455 to £595 per night. Based on 2 people sharing including dining

Bear Lodge glamping – From £350 to £475 per night

Giraffe Cottage (sleeps 8) – Prices start from £879 to £1,459

And in late 2020 there will be the opening of Giraffe Hall where you can stay in this gorgeous house with Giraffe’s walking freely in the grounds. I can’t wait to stay here!

You will be able to get closer than ever before and make friends with your giraffe neighbours, as the resident herd peer into the lofty ceilinged drawing room or amble up to the bedroom windows, where you can feed them.

AD: Pizza Making With Pizza Express To Celebrate The Launch Of The Create Your Own Pizza Competition

Last Wednesday we were invited into London for a special Pizza making party with Pizza Express at their global innovation centre. Both Oscar and Archie love Pizza and were excited to make one of their own. When we arrived the boys got to decorate their very own Chef’s hat before we got cooking.

Making Pizza is a fun, quick and easy cooking activity to do with children, the boys love making them at home for dinner. Pizza Express have now launched the perfect competition for budding pizzaiolos (pizza chefs) where they can design their very own Pizza and one lucky winner’s pizza will  appear on the Piccolo menu in all of the 470 pizzerias across the UK. Imagine that creating something yummy that will be enjoyed by so many other children!

The Piccolo menu has all the instructions inside on how to cook your own Pizza dough and a list of lots of yummy toppings that you can add to make your perfect Pizza. To enter you need to fill in your details and your recipe idea and pick four ingredients from a selection of 20 possibilities on the entry form online on the Pizza Express website, don’t forget to give it a groovy name too! Full terms and conditions are online too. There will be 10 semi-finalists selected from across the country and then one final winner will be chosen by a panel of experts, headed up by Jane Treasure, Food & Beverage Director at Pizza Express. The competition will run until Monday, 17 June 2019 and is open to all children under 13 years old.

Also if you cook your Pizza don’t forget to share a photo of your yummy creation on social media using the tag @PizzaExpress and the hashtag #PizzaExpress #PizzaExpresscyo for everyone to see!

The Pizza Express team were super friendly and all the children had so much fun stretching the dough into their Pizza shape, adding the Passata and then choosing from lots of toppings before popping them in the oven.

The children then played a game of stick the moustache on Paolo whilst their food cooked and the tables were laid. All of the Pizza’s looked amazing and were followed by ice-cream for dessert. All of the children had so much and I will defiantly be having a Pizza Express party in the future for one of the boys as the staff made it a really special afternoon.

As a family we visit Pizza Express often as their Piccolo menu is great. For only £7.25 you get a starter of dough balls, houmous and salad, a main with 8 yummy dishes to choose from, a dessert with 4 to choose from, a drink and a bambinoccino and an activity pack to keep the little ones busy whilst they wait. It is great value and the food is always great and its such a child friendly restaurant.

At the end of the afternoon each child was given a certificate and I was kindly given a goodie bag with colouring sheets and crayons which kept the boys entertained on the way home in the car. Thank you Pizza Express for a lovely afternoon!

AD. Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels Review

We were so excited when we were invited to the premiere of  Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels last week at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Beaconsfield. The venue is where Aardman’s Nick Park created his Academy Award® nominated graduation film Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out at the film school 30 years ago! The location was great for us as we only live 15 minutes from Beaconsfield and was set to be such a fun after school treat!

Unfortunately on the day of the premiere Oscar was sent home from school ill (typical!) but one of his school friends Hugo loves Wallace and Gromit so went in our place with his Mum Leone and his Sister.

On arrival at the National Film and Television School there is a big statue of Gromit outside and once inside they got to meet Nick Park himself. Leone said what a lovely man he is and how much time he took to chat and have photos with them. There was also lots of yummy Wallace and Gromit cake!

The setting was intimate with a large screen where the episode of The Wrong Trousers  played and the wonderful orchestra in front. The show started with Wallace and Gromit playing their live debut with a new musical masterpiece, ‘My Concerto in Ee Lad’. Then the Academy Award® winning ‘Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers’ accompanied by The Picture House Orchestra. The conductor/presenter Matthew Sharp is full of energy and makes the whole show such a energetic and fun experience to watch.

Everyone within the orchestra was dressed up in true Wallace fashion; from cheese hats, sheep and even Wendolene. The whole environment from staging to costume just oozed fun! The orchestra also played ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ which Leone said was outstanding!

I grew up watching Wallace and Gromit and love that Oscar and Archie and their friends now love and watch it too. Its such an iconic programme and the chance to see it on stage with a large orchestra is amazing and an experience not to be missed.

There are still 12 tour dates remaining to catch this awesome show! You can get your tickets HERE.

  • 31/05/2019 2:00pm – Bath The Forum
  • 31/05/2019 6:30pm – Bath The Forum
  • 01/06/2019 1:30pm – Cardiff St. David’s Hall
  • 01/06/2019 6:00pm – Cardiff St. David’s Hall
  • 02/06/2019 1:00pm – Reading The Hexagon
  • 02/06/2019 4:00pm – Reading The Hexagon
  • 06/06/2019 1:30pm – Gateshead Sage
  • 06/06/2019 6:30pm – Gateshead Sage
  • 08/06/2019 2:00pm – Edinburgh Usher Hall
  • 08/06/2019 6:00pm – Edinburgh Usher Hall
  • 09/06/2019 2:00pm – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
  • 09/06/2019 6:00pm – Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Hugo, Tabitha and Leone absolutely loved the show and we are so gutted we missed it but glad they enjoyed it so much! Thank you so much for standing in for us guys!

Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted the tickets to Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels.

How To Design & Organise The Perfect Utility Room

My utility room without a doubt is one of the most used rooms in our house. When we built our house two years ago I loved designing the utility room as I had never had one before. Our utility room is directly off of our kitchen and leads to a door out to the side of the house and a door to the garage as well.

With every room in our house, storage was important! So in our utility we added a large cupboard for shoes, coats and also a store for bottled water and toilet rolls. Having this cupboard keeps everything neat and tidy and out of sight. We also added a motion activated light in here which is handy.

In our old house we had a Butler sink and I loved it. I chose a different sink in the kitchen so opted for a Butler sink in the utility. I chose quite a big one as its perfect for rinsing of football kits and cleaning muddy boots in.

We have a NEFF washing machine and tumble dryer in here, one on each side of the sink. When purchasing I opted for machines which held large loads so I could get as much as I could washed and dried in one load. I love these machines and they are so easy to use and keep clean.

Under the sink Is a secure cupboard where my main cleaning products are kept. I stock a few of each bottle at a time so I never run out. I purchased lots of Curver storage baskets which I love and have in every cupboard of this room. Under the sink I have one with all my cleaning clothes, rubber gloves and spare Vileda mop cloths in. Having everything organised like this means whatever I need I can grab quickly.

I have used the Curver baskets to organise everything. I have separate ones for medicines, sun creams, hoover bags, shoe cleaning, washing products, dishwasher products, toilet Bloo, candles, Zoflora, cleaning wipes, Minky’s and sponges, light bulbs, batteries, charging wires and USB’s and lint rollers. Everything has a place making it neat and tidy! I love this washing tablet tin that I picked up in Tiger, its so cute!

I have a craft cupboard with all the boys paints, playdough etc in here too which is all organised in boxes too. So when they want to do a craft activity they know where everything is kept.

I made sure I had a long cupboard that would easily fit in my ironing board and Vileda spray mop and there was even room left to add a shelf at the top to store my vases on.

At the end if the utility room near the side door I have a boot room area with a bench for the boys to sit at when they take their dirty shoes off. This is also storage and keeps our wellies inside. Above the seat is where my Pulleymaid beadboard drying rack is. This is one of my favourite things in this room. It folds flat against the wall to store easily but comes forward as a drying rack which is great for me as with the boys swimming 3 or 4 times a week, Oscar having two dirty football kits on the weekend and the dirty kit bag coming home with Oscar on Friday with a swimming kit, a PE kit and a very muddy games kit inside I have plenty of space to dry the things that can’t go in the tumble dryer. Before I had the Pulleymaid I would hang it off cupboard handles and it would drive me mad, this keeps the utility looking neat and tidy all of the time and from the kitchen you cannot see the drying clothes. Win!

On the work surface on one side of the sink I have some pasta jars that we have had for years and my lovely Enesco Beatrix Potter Miss Tiggywinkle biscuit jar and on the other side is my trusty slow cooker, my Shark handheld vacuum which is perfect for hoovering up crumbs and cleaning your skirting boards with along with a recipe book stand where I keep any important forms etc on. I also have a weekly notice board which was from Next that has our yearly calender, letters and all of the boys clubs on the daily blackboards. I find it really useful.

I absolutely love my utility room and it so functional and makes all the household chores so much easier as everything you need is easy to find. I hope you can pick up some useful organisational tips from this post.

If you need any help with organising your home my lovely friend Leone has just started a new business called Cluttercation.  If you haven’t got time to get everything in order or just don’t know where to start, Leone can help you to achieve an organised and clutter free home! Quote SPRINGCLEAN1 to get your 10% discount before the 31st May 2019.

Image result for cluttercation

 

AD. The Tiger Who Came To Tea Live On Stage

The Tiger Who Came To Tea

Last week we were kindly invited to the Radlett Centre to watch ‘The Tiger Who Came To Tea‘ Live On stage. Archie absolutely loves the story written by Judith Kerr in 1968 and we often read it to him at bedtime, so he was very excited!

The Tiger Who Came To Tea show is perfect for younger children as it runs for only 55 minutes and Archie was captivated throughout. The show was a smash hit in the West End and is now touring the rest of the UK for everyone to enjoy. Click HERE for all of the tour dates and locations and to book your tickets online. The prices of the tickets vary depending on which theatre you are booking at.

When we arrived at the Radlett Centre we grabbed a drink and some popcorn and then looked at the lovely official Tiger Who Came To Tea merchandise. Archie chose a lovely cuddly Tiger which he takes everywhere with him now. He took it into nursery for show and tell and told all of his friends and his teacher all about the show.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea is a lovely story of a little girl called Sophie who lives with her Mother and Father and whilst her Father is out at work there is a series of knocks on the front door. Firstly its Daddy who has forgotten his keys, then a parcel is delivered from her Uncle which is a lovely cuddly Tiger and then the Milkman delivers the milk. Finally Sophie and her Mother sit down to enjoy their afternoon tea when the doorbell rings… Who could it possibly be?

Sophie answers the door to nobody there and then suddenly there is a big furry, stripy Tiger standing at the front door. The Tiger comes inside and joins them for tea. He ate all the buns, all of the sandwiches, all of the cakes, drinks all of the juice and all of Daddy’s beer! He then drinks all of the water out of the tap, all of the food in the fridge, Daddy’s dinner which was cooking on the hob and all of the food in the pantry. There was no food or drink left in the house at all!

Finally the Tiger said goodbye and went on his way, only for Daddy to return from work to no dinner or anything to eat or drink in the house. So Sophie her Mother and Father went out for dinner at a cafe for a lovely treat of Sausages and Chips. Yum!

Archie was fascinated at the magic used in the show too when the Tiger made all of the food and drink disappear. It was very clever! There was also a song at the end about Sausages and Chips that all the children joined in with and sung and danced along and had lots of fun!

We had such a lovely afternoon watching the show and I would highly recommend going to see it as it is a lovely story, acted wonderfully and all of the children (and adults) had a wonderful time and loved joining in throughout the performance. Children’s theatre really brings our little ones favourite story books to life, its fantastic!

You can see the official trailer for the show here and see for yourself just how fantastic it is.

 

Disclaimer: We were kindly gifted the tickets to watch The Tiger Who Came To Tea. Official Production photos taken by Robert Day.

AD. Our Trip Down Regents Canal With GoBoat London

Last Thursday we took the train into London to Paddington to go on our first ever GoBoat London self drive, powered boating experience. In Central London is Paddington Basin which is a beautiful place we had never visited before with lots of nice restaurants all on the canal. We picked the perfect day for it and the sun was shining, the boys even splashed around in the fountains on the canal side.

When we were kindly asked by GoBoat London to come along and set sail I knew the boys would absolutely love it! Crazy as it sounds I have obviously seen and walked down the Regent’s Canal lots of times before but never knew you could take a trip down it yourself without having a canal boat.

The GoBoat London experience is very easy to find and you are asked to arrive 15 minutes before your sail time so you can go through the safety briefing and the children can get their life jackets, balloon, sticker and Captain hats. The adult life jackets are on board under the seats if you need one and you are given a map to take along with you with all of the points of interest so you don’t miss anything on route. The staff were so lovely and friendly and showed us our route and then we were taken aboard our boat for a test run.

The boats themselves are lovely and clean and each have a picnic table in the middle with seating all around the boat. Each boat takes up to 8 passengers comfortably. The boats are really sturdy and I loved that 80% of the volume of the boat is made from recycled plastic and they are completely electric to ensure no noise or environmental pollution. It really is such a lovely, clean way of travelling through London.

We started off from the base location at Merchant Square and headed down the canal past Paddington Station, along the way searching for giant Easter Eggs that had been placed along the route. The boys loved spotting these and each one we found we had to take a photo of to claim a prize on our return. We sailed through Little Venice and then joined the Regent’s Canal which has so many beautiful canal boats all the way down it. Everyone is so friendly on their boats waving to everyone that sails by.

We got to Maida Hill Tunnel which is only big enough for one boat width so you have to wait if someone is coming the other way. The tunnel was very dark and cold and is 250 metres long and Oscar and Archie loved going through it and hearing their voices echo. Archie loved it and said it was like being in the film ‘Flushed Away’ which he loves!

We sailed on and then you go through a much shorter 48 metre tunnel called Eyre’s Tunnel which brings you out to a beautiful spot where lots of house boats are moored up and lots of Moorhens had their nests. Along the whole boat trip its amazing how much wildlife you see and just how peaceful everything is.

You then sail past nine breath taking villas in Regents Park that back onto the canal. They are ginormous houses with the most beautiful kept gardens, some of them are worth a eye watering £120 million pounds! You then continue through Regents Park and past the zoo where you can see the African Hunting Dogs and the giant bird aviary.

We then reached Cumberland Basin where the famous Chinese Restaurant boat is moored and then head up the canal towards Camden Lock. This area of the canal was much busier with lots of canal boats and people in canoes. There were lots of birds nest as well along the sides of the canal and we saw so many eggs and baby birds. When we got to Camden Lock we turned around and headed back on route we came on. Our boat ride this far took around an hour.

We had booked a 11.30-1.30 slot so that we could have a picnic lunch on board. You can’t stop the boat to eat lunch but we slowed the boat right down and enjoyed our lunch whilst sailing through Regent’s Park and The Villas. Oscar and Archie really enjoyed being able to steer the boat themselves with Greg’s assistance and I sat back and enjoyed the ride.

GoBoat is honestly one of my favourite days out in London. Normally we are in town in the midst of the hustle and bustle but on the boat it was so relaxing and such a beautiful way to travel through and see London in a completely different way. We spent two hours on the boat but to be honest I could have sailed up and down the canal all day. The whole journey from start to finish is so picturesque and full of wildlife.

For a boat which can hold 8 people for 2 hours costs £109 (weekends and bank holidays) and £89 during the week. I think this is great value for such a lovely experience and if you have the full 8 passengers on board it only works out just over £13 each on a weekend or £11 during the week. You can book the boats for 1-3 hours at a time.

The GoBoat base location in Merchant Square is well situated as it is a 5 minute walk to Paddington Station, there are coffee shops and restaurants right next door and also a M&S if you need to pick up any last minute picnic essentials. There are also toilets in the coffee shop to use before you set sail as you cannot stop the boat and get off of the boat throughout the duration of the boat ride.

Overall as you can probably tell we absolutely loved our GoBoat experience and we had one of the best family days out we’ve had in long time! It was lovely to have fun with the boys whilst relaxing in the sun taking in some of the most beautiful sights of London. To be honest when your on the boat sailing down the canal you feel a million miles away from the busy city that is all around you. We will definitely be back again soon! You can book your trip HERE! You can even buy a trip as a gift, which would be such a special present to give.

Disclaimer: We were gifted our two hour trip thanks to GoBoat London in exchange for a review. All opinions are honest and my own and we absolutely loved it!