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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. 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.

A Trip To Bruges At Christmas With The Kids

A few months ago it was Greg’s birthday and I just had no idea what to get him so in the end I ended up booking a hotel in Bruges and the Eurotunnel for us to go over to see all the Christmassy bits and the market. Booking the Eurotunnel was so easy and such a cheap way of getting there. As I booked a few months in advance it was only £130 return for the car. Before your journey you enter your API information and your number plate and that’s it. We turned up at the Folkestone Eurotunnel terminal 50 minutes before the time slot I had picked when booking, drove up to the booth which picked up my pre booked number plate, printed us out a ticket to hang on the mirror in the car. We stopped off quickly for a toilet break and a cup of tea and then drove through customs and straight on to the train. I honestly couldn’t believe how quick and easy the whole process was. Within 35 minutes we were in Calais.

When we arrived in Calais you literally drive straight off of the train onto the A16 which we then stayed on all the way through the Belgium border to Bruges. It only took one and a half hours (it is 74 miles). I had booked the Radisson Blu hotel in Bruges which is a beautiful new hotel and only a ten minute walk into the city. It also has a car park out of the front of the hotel which is only €3.50 a day. We parked the car and checked in and took our luggage to the room then headed into the town.

Bruges is just such a beautiful city. Straight away when you walk into the city it is full of small cobbled streets, beautiful buildings and the canals. Instantly the smell of chocolate and beer hits you when you are walking down the main streets. There are so many chocolate shops with the most amazing Belgium chocolates everywhere. When we got to the main market square we took a horse and carriage ride which was a lovely way to see the city and learn all about its history, it was a bit pricey, €50 for about 20 minutes and then you had to tip the man and his horse as well. Afterwards we looked around the market and headed back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

The Radisson Blu Hotel is brand new and the family rooms (for 4 people) are lovely. We had two double beds, a lounge area and lovely bathroom. We had already booked Ellis Gourmet burger during the day so we went there for dinner. I would highly recommend as the burgers were great. It was roughly €70 for 2 adults and 2 children. It is lovely to walk around Bruges in the evenings at Christmas time as all the buildings are lit up and look so festive.

Breakfast at the hotel the next morning was lovely and then we walked back into the city. I didn’t rate the Christmas market, there wasn’t many stalls but there are some lovely Christmas shops around the city which sell beautiful decorations. We ended up buying a nativity scene as it is something we can keep forever.

Oscar and Archie really wanted to go on a boat ride around the canals which we found near to the Church of our Lady. We also went into the church which was beautiful! The boat ride cost €20 for the four of us and lasted half an hour and I am so pleased we did at as its a beautiful way to see the city.

We then had lunch at Otomat heavenly pizza which was really nice and again about €70 for four of us to eat and then we walked around the shops one last time and then headed back to our hotel to get the car. I had booked the 5.50pm slot back from Calais on the Eurotunnel but we were a bit early so they let us go on the train before for no extra charge.

I absolutely loved our couple of days in Bruges, we all really enjoyed ourselves and it is very Christmassy. It is such an easy city to travel to and with the kids as well was smooth and easy. It has defiantly made me think that travelling to different cities in the World for mini breaks is a lovely way for us and the boys to see some amazing places. Where next?

Get Ski Season Ready At AlexAndAlexa.com

Last week we took Oscar and Archie on a surprise trip to Rovaniemi in Finland to visit Father Christmas in Lapland. The trip had been booked for about 9 months but we managed to keep it a secret and then told them the night before at the hotel at Gatwick before we flew. I had seen from my weather app that it was going to be about -5 and could go as low as -12 so made sure we had everything we needed to stay warm. And with so many people going off skiing after Christmas and in the February half term AlexAndAlexa.com have everything you need to keep your children warm and stylish on the slopes. Thanks to AlexAndAlexa.com it was so easy to pick the perfect pieces for the boys, so we didn’t have to worry about them feeling the cold.

Firstly I picked their base layers, which without a doubt for any cold trip is a number one priority for any outfit. I picked them matching pairs from Tenson who sell a huge range of fantastic ski wear at affordable prices. Oscar and Archie’s came as a set and the Tenson base layers are currently in the AlexAndAlexa sale and you can use the code SHOP20 for an extra 20% off all sale items! I also chose Oscar some Tenson Moss Boots which come in either black or blue and they kept his feet lovely and warm. The boots are made from a warm and water-resistant material, which was perfect in the deep snow and the velcro closure made it easy to get them on and off. I was advised to get a size up to make sure they fitted in thick socks and this was great advice as they fitted perfectly!

For Archie I picked the Adidas Performance Blue Terrex Snow Boots. I loved the way they looked and knew Archie would love them as he loves anything blue. The boots have a waterproof climaproof® protection, PrimaLoft® insulation for maximum warmth for little feet and the adjustable strap over the laces gives a secure fit, while the grippy outsole offers added traction on snowy trails or sidewalks. Archie played in the snow for hours and the boots kept his feet warm the whole time. Under his boots he wore some Bart’s Snake Merino ski socks which not only looked great, kept the cold anyway and kept his little feet lovely and snug. AlexAndAlexa have a great range of ski socks in lots of fun designs.

When playing in the snow or skiing your hands can get so cold. When I put my hands in the snow last week stupidly without gloves on to make a snowball my lands literally throbbed, they were frozen. The last thing as a parent with your children in cold climates is them to get upset because they are cold. I knew we would be sledging and that Oscar and Archie would want to play in the snow so I picked some fantastic gloves for them from Molo. Oscar has the Molo Very Black Mackenzie Pro Gloves. Inside the gloves the lining is super soft and keeps your hands lovely and warm and on the outside there is a PU leather non-slip palm. They were easy for Oscar to put on and off on his own and I had packed hand warmers to use but we didn’t need them as these gloves are so good. I also picked a Molo pair for Archie, the Black Active Mack Gloves which again like Oscar’s were perfect and kept Archie’s hands warm whilst he played in the snow. Archie also wore his Molo Evening Blue Kate Hat which kept him so warm when we had to wear the snowsuits that were provided in Lapland.

On top of his base layers Oscar wore a long-sleeved t-shirt and then his AI Riders On The Storm Navy tracksuit. Oscar gets so many comments on how cool he looks when he wears this tracksuit, it is his absolute favourite. The AI Riders range is just so cool and with the goggles in the hood which are protective eye patches everyone asked where it was from. The tracksuit comes as two separate pieces; the sweatpants and the hooded sweatshirt. The tracksuit is super soft and is made from soft cotton and kept Oscar warm the whole trip. The top has added details as well as the goggles, a yellow pom-pom on the top and breathable hole designs for when your hood is fully zipped up. The sweatshirt is £119 and the sweatpants are £89. Loving the AI Riders range as much as I do I also got Archie a Winter coat too. We picked the AI Riders On The Storm Blue Down Navy Lining Goggle Hood Coat. Archie absolutely loves it and finds it so funny when we are out to zip it right up and show everybody. Again it has the removable protective goggles and the yellow pom-pom and has two zip up pockets as well. All of the AI Riders items come with a protective bag to store your goggles in when they are not in use. The coat is lovely and padded and wherever Archie wears it whether its in the snow or watching Oscar play football in the wind in the rain he is always kept warm and protects himself from the wind and rain with his zip up hood.

Under his coat, on top of his base layers, Archie wore the most adorable long sleeved top and jumper from the Moschino Christmas collection. These are all in the AlexAndAlexa sale at the moment and I have even brought it in the next size up all ready for next Christmas. The jumper and top are so festive and he has worn them to see Father Christmas at Harrods and to the panto and will be wearing them tomorrow on Christmas Day. He loves them!

Oscar wanted to chose his own coat so sat on their website for ages and in the end decided to be matching with me and picked a Moncler Black Bady Down Hooded Coat. It is SO warm with thick, cosy padding and a detachable hood. It looks great with a tracksuit underneath or when your off out smart in jeans or chinos. On the arm it has the Moncler badge on top of a small pocket and has two zip up pockets as well. This seasons Moncler ski range is to die for. I love the new Abeville coats and matching Salopettes, they will look great on the slopes! Oscar also has the Moncler Grey Maglia Lupetto Fleece which he wears all the time with Jeans and it is a smart jumper but keeps him lovely and warm too.

If you are going Skiing or venturing off to somewhere cold AlexAndAlexa.com will make kitting your kids out so easy. With their amazing sale on at the moment you can pick up some stylish steals! And don’t forget to use the code SALE20 to get an extra 20% off all sale pieces, but be quick before the sale ends!

 

This post is in collaboration with AlexandAlexa.com