Category Archives: Lifestyle

Ponies, Pub friends and Peppa Pig – A New Forest Holiday.

We have recently returned from a 4 night holiday to the New Forest. If I were to summarise our experience in short then ponies, pub friends and Peppa Pig are just a few of the things that made our stay there wonderful.

I’m sure some of you are thinking, “Oh great! Another mummy review about a holiday I couldn’t give a shit about!” But after regularly updating my personal Facebook page and also posting photos on instagram, I had lots of questions coming from people. They wanted to know what I thought of places we visited, where we were, so even if there is a small minority want to read this crap, then my possibly arthritic fingers have ached for nothing. (Big cheesy grin and a thumbs up from me.)

Our decision to book a break in the New Forest stemmed from a desire to take George (now 2 and half years) to Peppa Pig world before he completely lost interest in it altogether. If I’m honest I was feeling pretty hyperactive about it myself.

The New Forest really doesn’t describe itself very well. It’s actually a really, really old forest, decades in fact. But what it isn’t telling you is that it is one of the largest unenclosed pasture lands in the south east. Largest what what of a where now? Well basically it means that once you cross that cattle grid, it’s hello free roaming animals! Nothing can prepare you for the surreal beauty of this place!

Being my typical research freak self, I began looking for places to stay late last year and stumbled across an adventure packed holiday camp called Sandyballs. I checked that this wasn’t some sort of swingers camp, (have I ever told you about the time my 18 year old self and hubs accidentally found ourselves on the nudist beach at Brighton!)After confirming that everyone would be fully clothed and no car keys would be swapped, I subscribed to their mailing list.

Sidenote: I have no problem with swinging if that’s your chocolate cake. Each to their own. I just wouldn’t book that type of resort for a toddler friendly holiday. Let’s still be friends yeah.

new forest ponies

Just before New Years, they had a flash sale offering 15% off of the booking price. As a result, I managed to book us a comfort caravan on the site for £207 for 4 nights. When looking at hotels in the local area that offer 2 nights at Peppa Pig world (Paultons Park) and one night in their hotel, it equated to almost the same price and you would still be 18-30 miles away from the theme park!

Although the Sandyballs booking didn’t include the Peppa Pig tickets, these are £27.25 if purchased in advance online. Saving £4.50 per person the day and once purchased the ticket is open ended so can be used once on almost any date until the end of October 2017.

Our booking included a 4 night stay in a two bed caravan, sleeping 4 people. The caravan came equipped with central heating in all rooms, microwave and a decent size lounge television with built in DVD player.  It had other things but these are the things that are important to me and the night time milk monster. For a full inventory, check the Sandyballs website. (Link further down, cheeky way to force you to keep reading methinks).

In my own opinion and with relatively high expectations I found the accommodation clean and comfortable, aside from the mattresses on the beds! These were very soft if i’m being polite, completely knackered and in need of an update if I’m being honest. On one of the singles you had to fight not to roll off one side.  Outside you have a single parking space directly next to your caravan, some were a very short walk to a small parking area. If you have ever been to Centreparcs though then this is a luxury you will possibly appreciate. You also have a picnic table and barbeque. All service charges and linen are included in the price. As well as use of the leisure facilities. I’m not going to waffle on about everything in lots of detail because their website does that all for me.

All you need to know is, I loved it, hubs loved it, George said he loved it. Although at the time he was going through some weird “I can’t believe you’ve driven me 2 hours up the road and called it a holiday anxiety”. He spent the week insisting hubs carried him everywhere like some sort of Egyptian ruler and told me to “go away, I don’t want you”. To be fair though, when we took a walk through the forest it had random strange headstones and felt eerie. So perhaps it was haunted and George was in fact possessed for the week.

new forest comfort caravan

My overall opinion is that is was clean, friendly, welcoming and somewhere we would most definitely recommend.

Onsite you have a convenience store. The prices are relatively reasonable and not massively increased. Genuinely! I’d say everything was marked up by about 50p more than the supermarkets but that’s to be expected. There are a few local supermarkets such as Tesco express and Waitrose just a short drive away though.

There is an amusements arcade with a good selection of old and new style arcade games and penny drop machines. Next door to this is an unsupervised soft play area for younger children and toddlers. We didn’t get around to trying this unfortunately, but it looked pretty cool. As did the huge park play area which again we sadly didn’t get around to trying. But there wouldn’t be a reason to go back if we had exhausted everything so every cloud and all that.

sandyballs amusement arcade

Across the road from our caravan we had an access path to the forest. This was an active walk up and down hills and with access to the river. A toddler could manage it though. Sandyballs appear to own this part of the forest as there are many signs for their activities such as clay shooting and pond dipping. They have such a huge array of activities. We didn’t actually book any except cycle hire. There really is so much to do for every age. Checkout their website here, Sandyballs to see all they have to offer. It has our seal of approval.

Anyone that knows me, knows I believe that life is too short and the world is too vast to return to the same place twice. But on  rare occasions I will. I believe Sandyballs has so much to offer that we would both love to return for maybe a 7 day stay and hire a lodge with a hot tub.

It’s also worth noting that we went just out of season in the last week of March so there is more on offer during peak times. There wasn’t much in the way of evening entertainment. Onsite there is a restaurant, The Forest table, offering Italian cuisine. We had a fry up breakfast here one morning and it was delicious. This restaurant appeared calmer of an evening and less suitable for the likes of a noisy toddler and his Blaze and the Monster machines car tearing it up and down the table.

We chose to dine at the Woodside Inn one night and stopped by a second night for dessert and drinks. The Woodside Inn is both dog and child friendly. This reminded me of the scene in the film Titanic. Whilst the more refined classes were enjoying fine dining in the upper decks or in this case The Forest Table. We were herded together, dogs and rowdy children into the pub the Woodside Inn, to do some irish dancing on the tables. Clearly this is just a figment of my imagination but it did make me chuckle.

We absolutely loved it at the Woodside inn. The food was lush and portion sizes were sufficient. We attended the pub quiz curry night on the wednesday and there was a good mix of pensioners, 50 somethings and thirty something families in attendance. The banter was good and the quiz was very well organised. Needless to say our confidence wasn’t much help as we came close to bottom.

The staff everywhere were very friendly and always made an effort to interact with George, who was at times struggling to adjust to the excitement of being on holiday and was being very clingy and temperamental.

The swimming pool area was nice but it wasn’t all singing and dancing, no slides or alike. There are two small triangular splash pools for toddlers, either side of the steps to the main pool. As it was March, we couldn’t try the outside pool as it is closed off peak. I absolutely loved having some much needed chill time in the Jacuzzi and Spa, pummelling my sore muscles after a crazy bike ride. Whilst still being able to seeing hibs and little one play together in the splash pool.

new forest mountain biking

Ah yes, the bike ride. Hubs and I haven’t ridden bikes in just over two years. Having hired from  the onsite cycle centre, who provided us with a route map of varying difficulties, we set off. It was George’s first time on the back of a bike in a special childs seat. We were apprehensive as to whether he would enjoy it, but he really did.

Our chosen cycle route took us down the road before entering the forest. Once in the forest, we encountered many ponies. You are advised not to approach or touch them, but they approached us so it seemed rude not to. They simply wanted a little scratch and then they were on their way again, munching through the forest. At one point a grey pony crossed the path ahead, specifically to stand in my way. I asked him if he was trying to tell me not to continue that route and he simply looked at me and walked off. Leaving me dumbfounded. Needless to say he wasn’t wasn’t warning me about any dangers ahead. Maybe about the small stream we had to ride across that I ended up getting a sodden foot in, but I’m here to tell the tale.

The ponies were just totally surreal. As soon as you cross the cattle grid there are ponies galore, with the odd cow and donkey. It was just awe-inspiring.

Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Flying With A Baby

A tubthumping Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day in our household was seeming like an ordinary day. Hubs was having a lie in and I was going about my normal motherly , housewife duties when this just hit me.

Seeing fellow mummies share posts of breakfast in bed and showered with gifts (shame on me for having my birthday 6 days prior) I felt compelled to start writing.

And so a tubthumping Mother’s Day was born. Read this to the tune of Tubthumping by Chumbawamba. A hit with anyone old enough to remember the 90’s. Even better, pop the tune on in the background whilst you read my ‘alternative’ lyrics. I hope it brings a smile to your face.

Tubthumping – Chumbawamba

 A Tubthumping Mother’s Day


We’ll be singing, coz we’re women, we’ll be singing.

I get no sleep, I get up in the night, I’ve got a toddler who’s screaming “Milk!”
I get no sleep, but I get up at dawn, I ain’t never gonna lie in late!
I get him milk, but he won’t go to sleep, he wants to come and sleep in my bed.
I bring him in, but he won’t go to sleep, he wants the television on instead!

Wishing my life away…..tomorrows another day.

I change a wet nappy
I change a pooey nappy
I feed the toddler
I feed the pussy cats
I check my Facebook reminds me of the good times
I check my Instagram reminds me of the better times.

Ohhh…mummy I…mummy I..want my Paw Patrolllllll!!!!!!

I get back up and I sit down again….you won’t ever let me stay sat down!
I get your yoghurt….and then I get your drink
I’m feeling like some sort of waitress now
I get no tips
I get more whining
And Daddy is god knows where right now!
I’m thinking tea and something nice to eat
But I’ll just have to make my own in this house!

Putting the toys awayyyy
Putting the toys awayyyy

I clean the litter tray
I clean the bottles
I put the laundry on
I get the hoover out
I check my Facebook reminds me of the good times
I check my Instagram reminds me of the better times.

Don’t cry for me, it will soon be Fathers Day 😜

I get back up, and I sit down again….you won’t ever let me stay sat down.
I get some food
The cats done a poo
Will I ever get to finish my mouth
I sip my drink
And it’s gone cold again
I may just as well be nil by mouth
I get no break and then I hear hubs say,
Wish Mummy Happy Mothers Day!

Until next time…..

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

A review of Everyman cinema – Beauty and the Beast 2017 #KCACOLS

This post is a review of  Everyman cinema, detailing the experience we had watching Beauty and the Beast, 2017. Please note there will be NO spoilers from the film, so please feel free to read on without hesitation.

Visiting the cinema is something I haven’t done in several years.  To celebrate my birthday, (I totally believe in Birthdays by the way!) I thought it was ideal to try out our new Everyman cinema. I know so many people who claim birthdays are ” just another day”. Not so in my books! Each birthday is a celebration of making it through another year. So many people don’t make it through no choice of their own. To my mind, life is a gift to be celebrated. So I asked my darling mum to have George for several hours. Allowing myself and hubs to have some quality time together.

Our local area has recently received the marvellous addition of an Everyman cinema. If you haven’t heard of Everyman , they are a cinema chain offering a luxury cinema experience. For our film of choice I decided a romantic rendezvous with the hubs wouldn’t be complete without a romantic fairytale ala Beauty and the Beast.

On arrival we approached the desk and informed the lone girl at the counter that we had booked to see the 13:45 viewing online. After determining we were there to see Beauty and the Beast, her interaction with us ceased. I had to ask her for guidance, explaining that we hadn’t been before. It would have been helpful to have been asked if we had visited before and explain how things work.

As we made our way to the main atrium, a selection of boutique styled seating and tables confronted us, along with a bar and several people sitting eating. A quick stop off at the loo revealed all the soap dispensers had ran out. The member of staff I informed was very apologetic and this was rectified when I visited the loos again before we left the cinema. We took a seat in the atrium and began to peruse the menu.

Having done my research, (I’m a stickler for research!) I knew you could order food to have brought to your seat in the screening. Again though, being a total newbie I didn’t know how you went about arranging this.

The barman simply asked for our order so I asked how we arrange for the food to be delivered to our seats. He said he would give us our drinks now and the food would be delivered to our seats. (The film wasn’t due to start for half an hour so in hindsight we should’ve asked for the food there and then). The menu has a choice of pizza, garlic bread, nachos, chips, burgers and hotdogs. With sundaes, brownies and then typical sweets and popcorn for afters. Drinks were varied with upmarket soft drinks, wines, beers, cocktails, coke floats and milkshakes.

We ordered an orange and ginger fentimans for hubs and a chambord royale cocktail for me. We ordered fries with cheese each. Then I ordered a sundae and hubs ordered a brownie. After moseying about for a while with our drinks, we saw ourself to the screening room. You don’t need your tickets checking, unless you want assistance to your seat.

everyman cinema review

After settling down in our comfy, spacious two seater sofa, complete with cuddle cushions, we waited for our food. As we waited for the the trailers to begin, a waitress appeared with my ice cream sun

The Friday Bruce Almighty helped me out – That Friday Linky

Friday has arrived. The first thing to recognise about today is that it is my eldest sister’s birthday so shout out to her. She really is the most kind and caring person there is and has always mothered me. Yesterday also marked the birthday of my step sister who is the same age as me. We are 18 days apart. I feel more like we are non biological, Irish twins rather than step sisters. Hate the term step. She’s my sister.
So today has been one of those Fridays where you feel like some kind of superhero. Do you have those days? I think it’s really important to recognise days when you exceed expectations of yourself.
This particular Friday morning I had rather foolishly booked a fringe trim for 9am. George is 2 years old and an only child, whilst I’m a stay at home mum.  So I’m not used to early starts and being out of the door before 9. The person in charge of my
Book of life also decided this morning that my alarm would fail and that I would wake at 7:57am!
With under an hour to get myself and a procrastinating toddler ready, I saw he was a sweaty sticky mess and realised it was my hair washing day and the dry shampoo was something I’d foolishly left off the shopping list. (In truth I read a article a while back about it causing bald patches and I’ve not bought it since, despite loving the magic of the stuff!).
Despite all this. I somehow managed to wash and blow dry my hair. Slap on some minimalist make up. Dress and shower both myself and George. Layer us both up, with a quick kiss sending hubby on his way to work, also unblocking  the driveway for my car to leave.
I’m not sure if some Jim Carrey God type, ala Bruce Almighty, froze time for us this morning but somehow we made it on time. George even forgot to throw his routine tantrum over something ridiculous on the way out of the door.
Arriving at the hairdressers at 9.05am with a dinosaur dangled in front of George’s face to encourage him to run faster, I began to explain my morning. The staff there congratulated me on my achievement.
Big fucking deal I hear you say. Well as I explained at the start, for me, it is. So I subconsciously gave myself a little “you’re fabulous” award before settling down for a quick fringe trim.
Feeling tidy and perfected, I headed to McDonald’s for a breakfast of champions. George got some rather satisfying puddle jumping in and we enjoyed a naughty breakfast treat together. Looking at the clock I realised we had a Hartbeeps class scheduled for 10am.
Pulling up at the village hall for our regular Friday Hartbeeps sesh, I was perfecting my reverse parking manoeuvre when I heard a loud crunch. Those vertical paving slabs that were at the back of the parking bay were closer than I had realised. Again, upon looking, I found no damage. Bruce Almighty must have been at work again.
Hartbeeps was its usual crazy dancing and singing self and we got to spend time with some friends. It’s a franchise that offers classes nationwide. I can fully recommend you try it. It starts as young as a babe in arms.
We finished our crazy morning with a play session at a friends house. I had crazily decided to make some avocado chocolate brownies the night before for us mummies to enjoy. The recipe was in the free Asda magazine. They contain a lot of peanut butter and to be honest it’s hard to taste much else. My friend seemed to enjoy them. I don’t like avocado but I know it has great health benefits so this is a great way for me to sneak it into my diet.
I’m don’t practice any religion or believe in a particular holy being. I actually read an article yesterday that suggests I might be a humanist. The jury is still out on that one. But I can’t help feeling like everything was on our side this Friday morning. It may sound ridiculous but if I do have a guardian angel, they definitely gave me a helping hand this morning.
Wishing you all a fabulous Friday and a wonderful weekend. Achieve what you can and give yourself credit where credit is due.
Until next time……
 This post was taking part in #ThatFridayLinky . Organised by Twin Mummy and Daddy
Twin Mummy and Daddy
Friday, Bruce Almighty, Breakfast, Brownies and Hartbeeps.

The Natural History Museum – London. A toddler’s experience

Here’s a little run down of our day out at The Natural History Museum in London and our first experience there with a toddler in tow.

A physio appointment for myself brought us all to London for the day. Making the most of our train ticket we thought we would introduce a two year old George to the wonders of the Natural History museum. The museum is easy to get to by tube by most tube stations in this area are not pushchair or wheelchair friendly as they are steps and escalators.

natural history museum

Having refused to nap all day, George wasn’t feeling overly energetic and spent a lot of time at the natural history museum just chilling on Daddy’s shoulders or in the pushchair. Nonetheless he seemed thoroughly fascinated by a lot of what he was seeing. You could see his little mind drinking it all in.

natural history museum

The mammals section of the museum was particularly popular with an abundance of different size stuffed animals and birds. There’s also a human biology section where there were plenty of levers and buttons for George to press and pull to make himself feel useful with. I don’t think he understood what most of them were for. In the creepy crawlies section there were lots of older children using magnifying glasses to inspect insects and arachnids encased in small Perspex cubes. There was also a very large moving scorpion to scare the wotsits out of any passing child.

natural history museum

The most interesting of sections for us was the hall displaying various complete dinosaur skeletons. As well as the centrepiece being focused on various mammals and the late blue whale. It was round a very noisy corner of this hall that we discovered a huge crowd drawn to a life size animatronic Tyrannosaurus Rex. We spent some time admiring him and watching him move on the spot and roar at various intervals. George was very dubious of the T-Rex but remained tear free thanks to some reassurance from Mummy that the dinosaur was just saying ‘Hello’.

natural history museum

There was plenty more that we didn’t see as we wanted a leisurely day and reason to return in the future. We did enquire where the large hall was containing a huge diplodocus skeleton. Something I remembered from my childhood. The museum worker informed me that at present the great hall is having a redevelopment and when it reopens it will contain the great blue whale. More information here Hintze Hall redevelopment.

Meanwhile Dippy the diplodocus is due to start a 3 year tour at the start of 2018. This was slightly disappointing as I think George would have been in awe of the scale. Plus it’s his favourite dinosaur. It’s something I could’ve found out if I had checked in advance. We are looking forward to returning once the redeveloped Hintze Hall is complete.

Dippy the Diplodocus Tour Dates and Locations

Now let’s get to food. My favourite part. There was a fab range of shopping and eating facilities within the building. We chose to eat in The Kitchen. Special kids lunch packs were on offer hut George is particularly fussy so snacked on a selection we too with us. We had the choice of lovely fresh cooked pies and alike. The also did lovely crusted sole fillets if your kiddie wanted a cooked meal. We opted for amazingly delicious wraps which were £7.95 but came with your choice of two side salads. Now when I say salad, I’m not talking some chopped iceberg and a bit of cucumber. I chose the delicious cherry tomato and mozzarella ball salad tossed in pesto. As well as the roasted sweet potato salad and was served 4 large wedges. The food was amazingly good quality and the wrapped was stuffed to busting point. With two salads included in the price, £7.95 is very reasonable. Drinks included wine, prosecco, cordials and San pellegrino. My fav! Although it’s worth noting they have a free water drinks dispenser at the cutlery station. For dessert hubby had a honey and yoghurt cheesecake which he was raving about for hours. I had a scrumptious crispy road. A slab of rocky road style treat with maltesers, rice crispies and smarties. It was utterly delectable. We later found a restaurant called the jungle grill which did burgers, pizza and steak. With two arguing animatronic dinosaurs at the entrance to the restaurant they were definitely a crowd puller. The restaurant appeared colourful and great for kids.

Natural history museum

Overall we had a fun filled day with plenty of exercise. I may not have included everything in this review but I have given my verdict on the areas I experienced.

Until next time……..

A romantic evening for three – Valentines with a toddler part two

Hubs arrival home from work is the start of a lovely romantic evening for three. Valentine’s Day with a toddler, part two.
Valentines, romantic
We’ve evaluated the dinner situation over the phone whilst he drives home,and Chinese takeaway is settled on. I was going to struggle to cook with George insisting I sat on the sofa and held his hand. Not objecting just stating it makes cooking difficult. I know these days are numbered.

Ou romantic takeaway unpacked and laid out on our laps, whilst George’s body decides now is the best time to have a poo in front of us. Hubs tries to put something grown up on the tele whilst George screams if we try to turn Iggle Piggle off. Meanwhile I eat with just as clingy a cat propped under my arm. Can cats get colds too?

Dinner done. Iggle Piggle has finally finished, hubby declares “yayyy, we can watch whatever we want!” I insist on more CBeebies as Tom Hardy is just about to grace our screens with the ever popular  and much publicised “Bedtime story”. Everyone is told to be quiet whilst I sit, mouth open (yes really), just analysing every inch of this hunk of gorgeousness whilst he attempts to read a kids bedtime story. I declare that Tom and hubs have exactly the same style beard and on that note, bedtime story is over.

Queue hubs getting up to change the pooey nappy, (my best effort at a valentines present) and I suddenly realise I actually haven’t changed George’s  nappy since I got him dressed that morning. The tantrums and the neediness due to Geo having a cold have distracted me. Hubs is astounded by my lack of carrying out my motherly duties.

Queue me giving hubs his card that tells him just how much I love his willy.

Back in the good books methinks. Who says romance is dead!

Valentines, romantic
Hope your evenings were just as adventurous………

Until the next time……

Box set addiction guide

You wanna get yourself a box set addiction, I’m your gal. Ok I may not watch all the current trending shows but when it comes to a boxset I am one committed lady! I honestly feel like you haven’t lived until you’ve got yourself a box set addiction. Here’s my list of recommendations.

Years back, we’re talking VHS here, myself and childhood sweetheart hubster used to spend hours in my bedroom as late teens. Probably worrying our mothers sick with their overactive imaginations, we actually spent a good majority watching box sets.

television box set addiction

Only fools and horses

A classic! I really don’t need to say too much about this do I? I mean where have you been if you haven’t watched this! And it never gets old. Ok, me and hubs can point out a lot of things that aren’t so politically correct these days but aside from that, this is classic British comedy. Please may it continue.

Vicar of Dibley

Should I be embarrassed of this one? The friendly female vicar who has to convince her parish she is worthy of the position. I own them all and hubs and I in our younger days used to watch them on repeat during dinner times. They never failed to make us laugh. Dawn French as the vicar plays the type of person I hope I have become. Forgiving, patient, and able to see the good in all.

Men Behaving Badly

Late nights spent in tears of laughter watching this together. Two guys, two gals living in the flat above and below each other. It’s obnoxious, hilarious and you so wouldn’t want it to be your life but it’s great comedy.

Friends

We still watch these on repeat now. Non offensive they even provide a great background when guests are visiting. 6 friends sharing life together. Although again, if you needed to read what it is about then you truly have been living like a recluse. I used to love having chats about which “friend” we felt we was. FYI I’m mostly phoebe but with a hint of Monica but only hubs see the Monica side of me.

Peep Show
My maternity leave was the start of this particular obsession. A hard going pregnancy and a strenuous job left me starting maternity leave at 7 months pregnant. Enter Peep Show box set addiction. I convinced myself that the baby couldn’t come until I had finished every last hilariously weird episode. Suitably apt for my mind.

Peaky Blinders

Skip to May 2016, and Peaky Blinders. Seeing series three was starting and featuring Tom Hardy (my newest person to swoon over after years of Leonardo-Di-Caprio addiction), anyway, I digress. So with series three’s imminent arrival on BBC one, and my mum having raved about it, I was desperate to get in on the action. I visited my local library and requested to have the DVD sent from another library for me to loan. Both series were on a waiting list.
Queue the moment when hubby made me love him even more by subscribing to Netflix. In less than a few weeks we had watched two full series of Peaky Blinders. I was starting to develop a brummie accent and even threatening to ‘cut’ anyone that upset me or mine (laughs madly). The box set addiction had begun. But as series 3 drew to a close, I quickly found I needed something to fill my time. After all, it’s not like I have a toddler is it! (Winks slyly, gosh I’m struggling to write these days without featured emojis).

The Walking Dead

Seeing that Season 7 was due to start in around 6 weeks of The Walking Dead, I felt compelled to jump on the bandwagon. Luckily Sky had all the series box sets 1-6. With sixteen episodes per season, the house fell into disarray. Every nap time and bedtime I crammed in as much as I could. Nothing else mattered! As Season 7 began on Sky, I was up to speed and happily joined in with everyone else. A bonus to this was my zombie phobia was pretty much cured and I was safe to browse social media without seeing spoilers.

The Crown

So here we here. 2017. My newest and highly recommended boxset (as are all of the above) has to be The Crown. Matt smith is easy on the eye and Clare Foy is just perfection at playing her royal highness The Queen. It certainly gives you a wonderful insight into the little known life of the Royal Family. They have always fascinated me and I’ve always said I would love to be a fly on the wall of Buckingham Palace.

television box set addiction

So there we have it! What are your favourites? I need recommendations to line up as my next addiction. I really don’t think I’m a Game of Thrones sort of girl and as much as I’d love to watch American Horror Story, I really can’t deal with the supernatural. Answers on a….comments box please. Although you can pretend it’s a virtual postcard.

For more in depth info on all the box sets mentioned I would recommend IMDb .

Until next time………

Our first family holiday – Butlins Bognor Regis October 2016

So our first family holiday to Butlins has now happened! We’ve taken George on several holidays since his birth. However, these have all included other members of mine or hubbies family. Mums, dads, nans, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts and uncles.

I have found since having George that group holidays are hard work. You would expect that they would be easier and more relaxed as the babysitting duties can be shared. This hasn’t ever happened though and to be perfectly honest I’ve never wanted it to.

I’ve just spent 30 years holidaying by myself and 16 of those with hubby and I as a couple. I love the notion of having child friendly holidays now that we are parents. Doing all the silly activities we haven’t done since we ourself were children.  Overall, since I became a mum I find myself becoming exasperated with trying to fit in with everyone else’s requirements.Butlins

Imagine my extreme excitement when myself and hubby booked a tots week to Butlins, Bognor Regis. Our first holiday as just the three of us, just a few weeks shy of George’s second birthday. It also included Thomas and Friends as the live show, which I knew he would love. (One of the reasons I booked this specific week.)

Butlins

We arrived at Butlins on a Monday and was greeted with a friendly reception team. They directed us towards our children’s themed hotel room. The corridor leading to the room was carpeted with fish pools and life saving rings printed onto the carpet. Your entrance and exit to the elevator was via a ‘walk the plank’ effect vinyl flooring. Each room had a pirate ship steering wheel and navigation board as well as a large octopus cushion and octopus feet sofa.

George’s bedroom was a double bunk room complete with porthole effect lights as well as a soothing soft coloured night light built into the shelf above the wardrobe. The room also had a small flat screen TV. The ship/sea theme continued throughout the room with smart captions on the drawers and a fishy poem with pictures printed on the the bath area wall. We were impressed. It was clean, comfortable for us and exciting and novel for George.

Butlins

After unpacking our luggage we decided to go on a quick walk around the Butlins site to check out the facilities. We had been previously but not for three years and hadn’t stayed during a tots week before. As we walked around we made a note of all the shows and activity timings that we would be interested in throughout the week. George was running around at high speed in complete awe of everything on offer, including the huge expanse of amusement arcades.

We did note however that there were quite a few older people without children, as well as a very large group of adults with carers. Many had a mental disability or cognitive disorder or down syndrome and it was apparent they needed an intense level of care. Their family didn’t appear to be with them, they all had a minimum of one to one care. I thought it strange they was on a tots week but mentally and emotionally many of them were behaving as children do so thought this may be why. We also couldn’t find anywhere advertising the live Thomas show.

Butlins
Arriving back at our hotel reception we were informed that it wasn’t Just For Tots week and it wasn’t the Thomas live show week. Feeling deflated, we got the reception staff to check for us. One call to the manager later and we were informed that it wasn’t our mistake. The website clearly had sold us a Just for Tots weeks but it wasn’t in fact on until the end of the month.

The manager gave us complimentary tickets to a 3D Dino babies cinema experience to the value of £10 but given we had spent £262 on a break that was meant to be specifically aimed at toddlers we were less than impressed but felt helpless as really there was nothing anyone could do. Seeing George’s excitement continuing to build and the amazing  smile he had on his face helped us to realise that in the grand scheme of things it didn’t matter. He was completely oblivious to what could have been.

We chose to plough head on into our week of fun, despite the fact I couldn’t shake the feeling of disappointment. Having informed all our friends and family of our plans to commemorate George turning two, I felt a bit foolish realising it wasn’t going to fully be the experience we had hoped. A quick Facebook update to friends and family helped alleviate this. I also sent a tweet to Butlins to vent my disappointment, along with a screenshot of the misleading website booking.

Butlins

Hubby, aware of how easily my mood shifts (we suspect I’m suffering a mild bout of depression) tried to boost my spirits by pointing out continually how happy and unaware George was. We threw ourselves into making it as memorable week as possible for us all. Clapping, singing, dancing and just generally being as silly and enthusiastic as the entertainment team on site as we went.

George fell absolutely head over heels with the two star characters featured at Butlins, Billy Bear and his girlfriend Bonnie Bear. We watched and got involved in so many shows, we really did have a blast and the shows are really high quality.

Unlike other holiday camps there are regular children’s shows and activities from 10am through to late at night including puppet shows, putting Billy Bear to bed, and live shows of their favourite TV characters. This week features angelina ballerina, bob the builder and fireman sam.

Butlins

The biggest negative of the week was the overall customer service we experienced at some of the onsite food establishments and bowling alley. In the first day alone we walked out from the Papa Johns after being seated but no service. Three places couldn’t make the cocktails I requested from the menu. This was due to lack of ingredients or “technical difficulties” as I was told.

One restaurant charged us £22 per adult for an all you can eat buffet. They failed to tell us they were closing no more than 10 minutes after we arrived. Realising they were clearing the food away whilst we were eating our dinner, we quickly grabbed deserts mid way through our dinner. The waitresses also didn’t ask if you were finished before they cleared your plate. They made George cry when we visited for breakfast as they removed his food before he had finished. After complaining to management they couldn’t offer any compensation or refund.

We also visited the bike hire to enquire if we George was suitable to sit on the front of a family bike, which he was. We left saying we would return the following day as we had a show scheduled. Returning the following day we found they only had two bikes which wasn’t available. They recommended booking these in advance but had failed to mention this the previous day. This is probably common sense to some, but we didn’t realise and wasn’t informed.

When we visited the bowling alley it appeared to be un-manned for quite a period of time. It was a huge effort just to try to track someone down to enable us to book a game. Overall though we had a fabulous week. George fell in love with the place and we are considering returning next year.
Butlins

I would recommend it as a concept but I’m eager to try one of their other resorts.  And I can’t reiterate enough that the shoreline hotel staff and all the entertainment crew were incredibly friendly and welcoming. I will say that had we not frequented any of the restaurants then this may have been a rave review.

I’ve now tried a mid week break, and an adults only weekend. I am eager to try a just for tots week. This would be something I’d have ticked off my list by now had the booking website been clearer. I would recommend booking over the telephone as the website is quite evidently poor.
The week couldn’t have ended better than with George vomiting on the way home. All over the car. Something I wasn’t expecting as it’s only the third time in his life he’s ever been sick. I hadn’t experienced the previous two times as they happened at nursery. Thankfully we had a car full of spare clothes and towels. But I have a car seat to deep clean now! Oh the joys of going on holiday! (She’s says gleefully)

Until next time……..

Edit: April 2017 – and we have had contact with Butlins and all issues explained and resolved.

  • Butlins believe their website booking system to be clear and easy to navigate. I however must have had difficulty understanding it and actually booked a mid week break. I never booked a Just for Tots week so this was as much my error as theirs. As for the hotel staff corroborating this. The guest solutions team have stated it’s unlikely they understood it as they don’t regularly use it.

My screenshot above is supposedly inaccurate and this one gives a better impression of how to guarantee you are selecting a “Just for Tots” break.

Butlins

  • The Butlins guest solutions team are unable to help with the disappointing restaurant establishment experience. This is due to the fact our holiday was over 6 months ago. The staff now will have undoubtedly changed. I have been assured all staff receive training and Butlins have received positive feedback since my time there.
  • As for why my query wasn’t resolved sooner. I was sent a feedback survey and tweeted an guest solutions email back in October when I raised my concerns. Returning the feedback survey, I didn’t realise it states that Butlins will not respond. Believing I had sent my concerns, I didn’t respond to the guest services email. I was oblivious to the fact that had I contact the email instead then this would have been resolved sooner.
  • To summarise, Butlins have kindly offered me a price drop guarantee and the best discounts for rebooking. I am in liaison with them for some dates for a Just for Tots week. This is a kind goodwill gesture and one I am happy with.
  • I can recommend Butlins and will return myself. My contact with guest services has alleviated some of my worries about returning and experiencing the same issues. I am not a complaining type so I was genuinely disappointed at the time.

Butlins

Plutonium Sox

Bringing up baby : Unwelcome advice

We’ve all experienced unwelcome advice at some point in our lives. It’s only when I really sit and think about it, I realise we are surrounded by apparent ‘ experts’ in every subject.  And these experts love nothing more than sharing their unwelcome, expert advice.

Having became a Mum to gorgeous George, I have increasingly felt under pressure from almost everyone around me to be the type of mum they think I should be or to mould George to be like the other babies or like their babies were.
When I think about it though, this is nothing new! People have forced their unwelcome advice on me all my life! Any big event in my life, be it getting a job, buying a car, buying a house or planning our wedding, there they were, the orderly queue of advice givers, opinion makers and critiques. Many well-meaning, many not having a clue what they were talking about but liking to think they did. Many advising you on what you should do because that’s what they did, completely irrespective of whether that’s what will be good for me or not. Despite the fact when they last did what I was trying to do it was ten, twenty, fifty years ago! And some I sadly suspect were ill advising me as they didn’t want me to succeed at pulling off something they themselves couldn’t, wouldn’t, or hadn’t.

Now the good soul that I am, and not wishing to offend anyone, I’ve always taken each and every person’s advice on board. Added a pinch of salt to some, a splash of cynicism to others and just let some fly right over my head without so much as a thought. Because I knew how unsuited the advice was for me.

unwelcome advice

The problem is that each of these past life events were in the planning stage, then they happened, then there were over. I got a job, I bought a car, a house and we got married. But with George it’s different. George is an ongoing event. Not including milestones, George will always be a work in progress which I love. He can be anything he wants and develop at his own pace.

But what plays on my mind and makes my heart sink is that the advice giving and opinion making will never end. And as much as I feel confident now that I know I’m doing the best I can with George, I can’t help feeling guilty that I should be doing something else because that’s how so and so did it or that’s what so and so’s child does so why doesn’t George. I hear myself continuously and repetitively justifying the decisions I’ve made with George.
It’s a mentally exhausting battle. Like sifting through a large bag of slightly unwelcome fan mail sorting them into three piles of “ignore completely”, “take pieces and discard the rest” and finally “take wholeheartedly on board” wondering why I hadn’t thought of that myself.

unwelcome advice

So next time you are telling somebody all about what you did with yours, or giving your unwelcome advice that really wasn’t asked for, please realise that person is potentially going to think about your words for a lot longer than you did before you opened your mouth to say them.

Until next time……..

This was written when George was 16 months old (he’s now 27 months). At that point I was experiencing, its safe to say, undiagnosed postnatal depression. I over thought everything and had little confidence in my parenting abilities. I really now that I have always been an amazing mother to George and this unwelcome advice was really not helping the way I felt. I’m glad I spoke out about how I felt and with the help of family, friends and medical professionals, became myself again. If you are feeling emotionally unable to cope with life at any point, talk to the right people about the right stuff and help can be found. Love and strength. x 

Holiday to Loch Ness, Scotland.

This post will make you think twice about rushing around in a hurry. Our lives are so busy these days, but trust me, you can make your life so much more difficult in just a few seconds. Read more to find out how a holiday to Scotland became memorable for all the wrong reasons.

So it all started with a memorable (maybe for all the wrong reasons) but  lovely family holiday to Scotland to celebrate my mums 70th birthday. She’s not an old dear mind you, so do not by any means start conjuring up images of a decrepit old lady. Oh no! My mum has been likened to giving Helen Mirren a run for her money. Faux leather waterfall jacket and denim jeans and all.

The week had a few surprises, most of them nice and most of them for my mum. However, unfortunately, the last surprise of the week was going to be for me. To cut a rather long and painful story short I’ll break it down into one word descriptions. Packing, spillage, slipped, fell, arm, numb, crying, A&E, X-ray, pain, bruising and then we arrived back in England.

On the advice of the A&E department in Scotland, I kept my arm moving over the course of the next week, possibly too much. 8 days later the elbow began, rather unpleasantly, popping in and out of the socket. One trip to the GP surgery, one referral to my local A&E, one more set of X-Rays, one week with my arm in a sling and one follow up appointment at fracture clinic later and I found myself as an inpatient on an orthopaedic ward awaiting a place in theatre!

sad, arm, sling, home
This was now 18 days after my fall. One overnight stay and a 9 hour fast later, the consultant decided he couldn’t fit me in that day and sent me home to return two days later.  hospital, cannula, procedure

Finally, 21 days after my fall, I was anaesthetised and wheeled into theatre where the consultant and his happy team were able to manipulate my elbow back into place and send me on my merry way with no more than a few cannula bruises and a feeling that I need to not rush about in future.  Bruising, Arm

Until hopefully NOT next time….