Category Archives: Activities

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.

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!

 

 

AD. Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza

On Friday the boys ans I along with their Great-Auntie went along to Willows Activity Farm in London Colney, near St Albans. If you have read my blog before you will know that we absolutely love our trips to Willows as we live locally to it. For the Easter holidays, well on all school holidays really,Willows always put on amazing events to keep your little ones entertained. This Easter is no different with their exciting Easter Eggstravaganza!

From the 6th until the 22nd of April the Easter Eggstravaganza programme is running and is jam packed full of family fun. All day long there are arts and crafts running along with the usual farmyard, indoor and outdoor play areas, pat a pet, panning for gold, woodland trails and the Peter Rabbit attractions.

On entry you are given the programme so you know where to be and what is on at various times during the day so you don’t miss out on anything. You are also given a hunt challenge where you have to find the answers to the given questions around the farm. At the end in the shop you hand in the completed form in exchange for chocolate. We arrived at 11.30 and it was perfect timing as we went straight to meet Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. The children can cuddle their favourite bunny’s and have a photo taken with them.

We then headed straight to the farmyard to feed all of the animals. There are lots of baby lambs and goats and a baby calf too. The boys we fascinated by ‘Milktray’ the cow who is due her baby calf any day. The staff and vet were checking on her as she was showing signs her baby could be born soon. Oscar so wanted to see the calf being born and we literally had to come back and keep checking on her every half an hour or so. By the time we left the baby calf still hadn’t been born, but we keep checking daily on Willow’s social media to see if it has been born yet. This is one of the amazing things about Willows, you get to see everything and last year the boys got to see lambs being born. It’s an amazing experience for them.

We then went on a ride on Tristan The Tractor who drives you through the animals out in the fields and the trees are decorated in Easter decorations and for the duration of the ride the children can sing along to their favourite farm songs.

We then headed back to the farmyard to check on Milktray and watched the baby lambs being bottle fed. Oscar and Archie each held a guinea pig in the Pat A Pet section in the farmyard and Auntie Liz loved cuddling the guinea pig too, she didn’t want to give him back.

The boys were feeling peckish so we walked up to the light bites cafe as the main Peter Rabbit burrow cafe is closed for its refurbishment. In the light bites cafe you can get sandwiches, baguette’s, panini’s, pizza and jacket potatoes along with drinks and crisps. Oscar and Archie had a kids deal where you can pick 5 items and a drink and Liz and I had a sandwich. The food was really nice and good value too.

We walked across the farm to where the Easter egg hunt is located. of course checking on Milktray on the way. Each child is given a basket and then there are five different coloured eggs hidden in the activity acre. They always decorate it so nicely and all the children have great fun racing around trying to find the eggs. When you have found one of each colour you take your basket to the egg exchange and each child gets five chocolate eggs.

By the activity acre is the fantastic Peter Rabbit adventure playground. Every time we come here I am always amazed and how great this is. For the children it must be like being in an episode of Peter Rabbit. You can play in Peter’s tree house, Mrs Tiggywinkle’s house, Mr McGregor’s garden and Mr Tod’s Lair which is near to the bouncy castles and outdoor adventure play area.

A few people have said to me that Willow’s Activity Farm is a bit on the pricey side but when I explain that absolutely everything apart from food inside the farm is included in your entry ticket price, they then see what good value it is. Willow’s is a full day out with so much to do and see. We had such a lovely day out on Friday and it was great fun doing something Easter themed.

You can save money by purchasing your tickets online before your visit. On the day an adult ticket for the Easter Eggstravaganza is £22, children over 2 are £23, adults over 60 £21 and a disabled adult or child is £13. You book tickets HERE.

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary tickets to attend the Willows Activity Farm Easter Eggstravaganza in exchange for a review.

 

AD. The New Captain Marvel At Madame Tussauds, London

Last weekend we were kindly invited to Madame Tussauds, London to see the brand new Captain Marvel figure and interactive experience. We had never visited Madame Tussauds before and were really excited to see what it has to offer. We got the train to Baker Street which is a one minute walk from the attraction itself.

We had a lovely breakfast that was put on for us and then got to see Captain Marvel herself. Both Oscar and Archie love superheroes and were so excited seeing their favourite ones and having photos taken with them. The Captain Marvel figure is so life-like and the experience was great fun on the interactive screen.

We then started the main tour in the Party Zone and I had seriously underestimated how many figures there would be. From movie stars, World leaders, sports people, musicians to the Royal Family, they have figures of everyone! We started by having a photo with Harry and Megan. You can buy a photo pass or keep your tickets and purchase at various points around the attraction. There is also a new Dua Lipa, Glow Room experience where you can perform with your favourite singer, Archie enjoyed the dancing!

We then walked through the film zone which Oscar loved as he had his photo taken with James Bond. Archie liked ET and Shrek.

Next was the sport zone and Oscar got to hold the ‘World Cup’, posed with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt. Greg’s favourite was definitely Mohammed Ali. The fashion zone is by the sport and has a fun catwalk you can strut your stuff down for London Fashion week and the famous model Kendall Jenner.

My favourite was the Royal Family where you can pay for a photo with them and there are also Historical royals like Queen Victoria and Henry VIII.

There is a section for World Leaders/Politicians and the culture zone. Oscar has just been learning about Vincent Van Gogh in art so had a photo with him to take into school after the Easter break.

In the Music Zone there are famous musicians from all over. The Beatles, Elvis Presley, Kanye West, Michael Jackson, Will-I-am, Lady Gaga, One Direction and Amy Winehouse and many more.

Also in this zone is the Royal Afternoon tea experience which looks great. You can sit at a garden party and have a delicious afternoon tea with her Majesty the Queen. If you book your Standard Ticket entry ticket with full “Royal Tea” afternoon tea you can save 20%, (adults £44, children £39.50).

We then took part in the Sherlock Holmes Experience where we all turned into London’s finest detectives to help Dr Watson solve the mystery to find Sherlock himself. Oscar really loved participating and answering questions and found the whole experience really exciting.

In the ‘behind the scenes zone’ I found it fascinating to see how each wax figure was made and how much work goes into each one. Developing and making each figure is a long process.

The ‘Spirit of London’ ride was really good. In pairs you sit in a London Taxi and go on an  exciting journey through the London’s history. You will journey through all the historical and cultural events that have shaped London into one of the greatest cities in the world. It is very educational and a fantastic ride. Over lunch later on Oscar had lots of questions about London, he had done a project on the Fire of London a couple of years ago and visited St Paul’s and now we are going to make our way around all of the historical landmarks over the Summer so he can learn all the history of London.

We made our way back into the Marvel Zone which all the children love! Children around us were so excited to see their favourite Super Heroes. You can have a photo with the brand new Captain Marvel and have ago on her interactive experience, Spiderman, Hulk, Nick Fury, Wolverine, Iron Man, Hawkeye and Captain America. On the way out of the Marvel Zone is the Marvel 4D cinema. The cinema is a huge 360 degrees screen and throughout the short film based right here in London, there are amazing special effects.

You exit the 4D cinema into the Star Wars Zone. My Brother was a huge fan if Star Wars when we were children and watched the films over and over again. Oscar has only just started watching the films but knows who all the characters are from his Star Wars Lego sets.

As you exit Madame Tussauds they have a huge shop with lots of London, Marvel, Star Wars and other goodies to purchase. The new Captain Marvel section seemed very popular!

We had a fantastic day out at Madame Tussauds and its a perfect day out for a family. Greg and I enjoyed looking at the figures just as much as the boys! I cannot believe we haven’t been before but will definitely be going back soon.

 

Disclaimer: We were given complimentary entry to the Madame Tussauds attraction.

 

 

AD. Wallace And Gromit’s Musical Marvel’s Premiere & UK Tour

Wallace and Gromit is always one of those programmes that I watch and it instantly takes me back to my childhood. My Brother and I used to love it and watch episode after episode. Oscar is now 9 and really loves it too. I have downloaded every possible episode so he can watch them whenever he wants and its nice to watch something with him that we both can enjoy!

When I saw the Wallace And Gromit’s Musical Marvel’s UK Tour advertised a few weeks ago I knew Oscar would just love it, so when we were asked to attend the Premiere which will take place at the National Film and Television School (NFTS) in Beaconsfield on the 15th of May at 7.30pm we jumped at the chance! It is a special 30th anniversary performance where Aardman’s Nick Park created his Academy Award® nominated graduation film Wallace & Gromit: A Grand Day Out at the film school. It is going to be such a special night out for us and we cannot wait, what an experience for Oscar!

For any Wallace and Gromit fan this is a once in a lifetime opportunity not only to see the films accompanied by an orchestra in a completely new way and Nick Park and composer of the Wallace & Gromit scores Julian Nott will also take part in a question and answer session as part of the event. So get your questions ready!

The tickets for this event are strictly limited, so snap them up quick before they are sold out! You can get your tickets HERE starting at £44.

The full UK Tour will then continue around the UK until the 9th of June 2019 with 38 show dates.

It will be a great experience for Oscar and other younger audience members experiencing classical music along side hid favourite animations for the first time. For us parents we can reminisce with a screening in the second half of the all-time classic Aardman animation, The Wrong Trousers, again with live orchestral accompaniment – a world first.

Something that sounds amazing for the children and adults alike is that some venues there will be a chance to join a model making workshop before or after the show, giving fans the opportunity to learn from Aardman’s expert model builders and take home their very own Gromit. I mean how amazing is that!

Wallace & Gromit’s Musical Marvels features Wallace preparing to perform his musical masterpiece My Concerto in Ee Lad with help from his faithful companion Gromit. This interactive experience features specially created animations as well as live orchestral accompaniment and escapades from the Picture House Orchestra and presenter Matthew Sharp. This really is a never been seen before, World first.

We are so looking forward to the show and will get a review up for you to read the very next day.

Disclaimer: We have been gifted the tickets to attend the Wallace And Gromit’s Musical Marvel’s 30th anniversary Premiere.

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How To Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World

Yesterday we were so lucky to be invited into Islington, London to watch a special immersive screening of  How To Train Your Dragon – The Hidden World which is in cinemas next Friday, the 1st of February 2019.

Oscar and Archie were both really excited when I told them last week that we had been invited and recapped by watching the first and second films back to back. Rewinding back to 2015, Oscar was five years old and absolutely obsessed with How To Train Your Dragon. He had all of the toys, dress up costume and his 5th Birthday was themed around it complete with his very own Toothless cake. I even remember when he was 4 and I was pregnant with Archie, Oscar wanted to call the baby Hiccup.

So yesterday morning we drove into Islington, to the most amazing venue, Collins Music Hall which had been completely transformed into the Isle Of Berk. Firstly Oscar and Archie had to complete their Dragon training which they found great fun! Afterwards they were awarded with their certificates graduating them from the Dragon Training Academy. (They now now officially own a Dragon!)

We then continued on our adventure through Berk where Oscar had his face painted and both the boys had a go at the Sheep Dunk game where they had to throw the Sheep through the Dragon holes to win their very on Viking hat and poster.

We got out snacks and drinks ready for the film and then the Viking horn sounded and we made our way down the stairs to the Hidden World. When we reached the bottom and took our seats the whole room was decorated as the Hidden World. The film was introduced by the Film’s Director, Dean DeBlois and the producer Brad Lewis who have been a part of all three of the movies.

In the film The Hidden World, Hiccup and his fellow Vikings are under great threat of loosing their Dragons as their enemies task Grimmel the infamous Dragon killer and killer of all other Night Fury’s to capture Toothless, the Dragon’s Alpha and then all the other Dragons would follow him to their land so they can have them as their own Dragon army. Grimmel uses the Light Fury to distract Toothless.

Hiccup decides to follow his Father’s dream of finding the Hidden World, which is the place at the end of the World where Dragon’s can live in peace. After Berk is attacked by Grimmel and his men everyone from Berk decides to go off on a quest to find The Hidden World. They stop off on an island to rest and set up camp but Grimmel is not far behind them.

Toothless falls in love with the Light Fury and follows her to the Hidden World. Hiccup follows and can’t believe that the place that his Father dreamed of not only really existed but they had finally found it, a place where their beloved Dragon’s would be safe. Toothless brings Hiccup and Astrid back from The Hidden World as they were in danger but on their return Toothless and the Light Fury are captured by Grimmel and all of the other Dragons follow them. With only Viking power left, Hiccup feels defeated but Astrid reminds him of what a great leader he is and using their gliding suits they rescue all of the Dragon’s and defeat Grimmel.

Eventually Hiccup can see that it is best for the Dragons to go and live in The Hidden World. It is a heart wrenching moment when your see the Vikings say goodbye to all of their Dragon’s as they fly off into the distance. It teaches Hiccup he can be just as strong as a leader with or without his Dragon and his best friend.

The film ends on a lovely moment where Hiccup and Astrid get married to rule the Isle of Berk together and go onto have children of their own. A few years later you see them on a longboat as a family and they see Toothless, the light fury and their children and all fly together. Its a lovely end to the film and the story of Hiccup and Toothless and their journey together.

It is another fantastic 5* DreamWorks Animation from Universal Pictures and we are so grateful for the invite to this amazing Immersive film experience. We had such a fantastic time!

Oscar and Archie were also given a lovely gift bag each with a book, DVD’s and one of the new Mystery Dragon toys which are available at Smyths Toys Superstores. Smyths have a huge range of How To Train Your Dragon Toys and computer games available. Oscar’s birthday list has now got most of it on it!

 

This post is in collaboration with Universal Pictures UK.

Our Magical Trip To Lapland, Rovaniemi With Thomas Cook

Last Christmas we had looked into taking Oscar and Archie on a Family Trip To Lapland, Rovaniemi in Finland as we had read so many amazing reviews but were advised as Archie would have only been two at the time (two weeks off three) to leave it another year as A. He would enjoy it so much more and B. He would hold his heat better in the very cold temperatures. There are lots of companies that sell Lapland experiences whether it be a day trip or a slightly longer break.

After looking at several different websites we decided to book and travel with Thomas Cook. The booking process was quick and easy online and at the time they even had an online discount code like they do at the moment which gives you £150 off any booking over £1500. If you can use the code BOOKIT at the checkout you can claim this saving. Thomas Cook offer three different Lapland packages; The Santa Sleigh Day, The Sleigh Bell Sleepover which is for one night and Santa’s Festive Adventure which is for three nights.

After speaking with friends who had either been for the day or for a few days we picked The Santa Sleigh Day. For a family of four (two adults and two children) the total cost of the trip is £2,134. It works out to be £533 per person. This includes

  • Meet Santa (each child aged 2-12yrs receives a gift)
  • Meet Rudolph and friends
  • Sled dog/husky sled ride
  • Explore Santa’s Village and cross the Arctic Circle
  • Free time for family fun and sledging
  • Lunch with soft drinks, plus inflight meals
  • Thermal suits and boots

After the trip being booked back in January we managed to keep the secret from Oscar and Archie until the night before. I had packed in secret and then when we arrived at Gatwick Oscar did start to wonder where we were going. Once we got to our hotel room we gave the boys each a special ticket and a beautiful card that we had made by The Fox & The Paintbox with all the details inside. They were both so excited as was I!

The next morning we got up at 4.30am and went over to the terminal, checked in and got something to eat. At the check-in we were greeted by two Thomas Cook reps who were then with us throughout the whole trip. When we got on the plane everyone on board was excited and in a festive mood and throughout the flight the reps put on a Christmas quiz, we sang Christmas songs and watched the Snowman.

When we arrived at Rovaniemi airport which is tiny we were greeted by lots of elves who directed us to our coach. (I also asked the customs officer to stamp Oscar & Archie’s passport which they kindly did.) Once on board we drove to the changing area where you are given your thermal suit and boots. We brought our own coats, boots, thermal socks and under layer thermals, ski gloves and hats with us and got all the boys essentials from AlexAndAlexa.com who have a vast range of amazing ski wear. You are also given a bag with your family name labelled on it to put anything you don’t need to carry around with you and this stays under the coach as you stay with the same coach for the entirety on the trip. This was really handy and meant I just carried around the essentials in my backpack for the rest of the day.

We then drove on to the activity place where we were each given a lanyard with the four activities on them to get marked off as we did them so we didn’t miss anything out. As we walked in to the woodland area I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. Snow everywhere, a dimly lit sky and trees everywhere, it was breathtaking. Firstly we went inside Father Christmas’ house and he looked absolutely fantastic. He chatted to the boys and then gave them each a present (for children aged 2-12 years) which was a lovely plush husky dog. We then had a photo taken with him.

We then explored and wherever you walked were little teepee tents where you could sit inside next to a warm fire. There was also an area where you could get a cup of warm berry juice and some gingerbread biscuits. There is nowhere to purchase food and drink here so I could recommend bringing lots of snacks and water as it is quite a long time between breakfast on the plane until you go for your lunch.

We were then greeted by the Reindeer. Here you could meet and stroke them as well as go on an amazing Reindeer ride. Each family has a sleigh to themselves and we were pulled through what looked like Narnia, it was so beautiful. The boys absolutely loved the ride and stroked the Reindeer afterwards. I am sure it is something they will remember forever.

We then spent some time having snow ball fights and sledging which was great fun and the Thomas Cook reps also put on games and kept the children entertained.

We walked to where the Husky rides were and every family has an individual ride. I underestimated how fast the Husky ran. It was a great ride and the boys loved being pulled through the snow at such speed! By this time it was about 4.30pm and was already dark here in Finland. The sky is beautiful but sadly it wasn’t cold enough to see the Northern Lights. We were told that the best time to see them is in October so that’s a trip we definitely want to take Oscar and Archie on.

We had some more free time and enjoyed a warm berry juice around the fire and then went back on the coach on a short ride to where we were having lunch. Lunch was at a traditional Finish restaurant and I had a lovely soup and warm bread and Greg had a chicken and rice dish. To be honest the boys weren’t to impressed with the food options, they tried the soup but mostly ate the bread. There could have been a couple of simpler options for the kids I thought. But the food we did have was delicious.

We then took a two-minute drive on the coach to Santa’s Village. This is a much more touristy place with more people around as at the activity place it wasn’t busy at all which felt nice and relaxed. Firstly as a group we all crossed the Arctic Circle together which was a fun experience.

I took about €200 with us and in Santa’s Village there are shops, places to eat and other things to spend money on. I went to Santa’s official post office and sent the boys a hard each back home as you get a Santa’s official post office and Arctic circle stamp on the card when it reaches home. I also brought a couple of souvenirs and Greg and the boys brought bags of chocolate in the chocolate shop. There are also mini snowmobiles for the kids to ride on which Oscar went on which was €20 each for ten laps. He really enjoyed this.

Once we had explored the village we headed back to the coach which took us back to the changing village where we got back into our coats and gave the thermal suits back and then headed back to the airport. The airport is tiny but had a little cafe and a shop and the Thomas Cook reps also gave all the kids a Snowman activity pack as we got off the coach which kept them entertained whilst we waited for our flight home.

The flight home included dinner and the boys slept most of the way back as they were exhausted from such a fun filled magical day.

We had the most amazing trip and if we do it again in a couple of years I would book the Santa’s Festive Adventure three night trip so we have more time to relax in Finland and explore a bit more and hopefully see the Northern Lights. If you are looking to book a similar trip I hope you have found this post useful. Also a big thank you to Thomas Cook who made our trip really special.