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June 2017

Days Out, Holidays, Unusual

A Fairy Princess Makeover

fairy princess makeover

A Fairy Princess Makeover

During our last visit to Butlins at Bognor, which you can read our review here, Eden enjoyed a Fairy Princess Makeover at ‘Cute Like Candi’ Salon. This is actually situated within the Butlins resort.

fairy princess makeover cute as candi salon

What’s included?

It was such good value! Each Makeover included, the child’s hair braided, nails painted, face painting, tiara, wand and tutu (which you get to keep!) all for £20. It too around 20-30 minutes in total and we were able to do it right away without prebooking. Although I would probably advise prebooking to avoid disappointment.

The makeover

What a magical experience! Eden was truly treated like a princess by the lovely Fairy Godmother that did her transformation. To begin with Eden got seated in front of a mirror at a pretty pink station in the salon. The Fairy Godmother introduced herself and Eden happily chatted away to her. First off Eden’s hair was braided into two Dutch braids, they were so neat and were finished off with some glitter hairspray. The plaits stayed in so well she kept them for the following day even after sleeping in them!fairy princess makeover eden hair brushed

fairy princess makeover waiting for makeover

fairy princess makeover Hair braided

fairy princess makeover hair braided
Next up Eden chose from a selection of nail varnishes, she chose a pink glittery one and had her nails painted. She sat very still for the Fairy Godmother and kept her hands on the table to dry whilst she had her face painted. The face painting was finished off with more sparkly glitter and then Eden was ready to choose her tiara, wand and tutu.fairy princess makeover edens makeover

fairy princess makeover nails painted

fairy princess makeover edens nail painted

fairy princess makeover hair reveal
fairy princess makeover Eden's face painted

fairy princess makeover glitter facepaint

fairy princess makeover Eden's face painted

fairy princess makeover testing her wings
Eden selected a white sparkly tutu and a pretty tiara and wand. She then tested her magic and her fairy wings and was awarded her very own certificate! Eden was so pleased, afterwards she skipped round the resort casting spells on everything! She truly felt like a magical fairy princess and she looked simply adorable.

fairy princess makeover finished makeover

fairy princess makeover eden with certificate
It was such a lovely experience both for Eden and I. I would totally recommend booking in if you are visiting Butlins in the near future. Absolutely worth the £20!!!

Thank you for reading ‘A Fairy Princess Makeover’.

Crafts, Family Life, Home, Lifestyle, Memories

How to – Scrapbooking for kids

scrapbooking for kids

Why Scrapbook?

I absolutely love taking photos of my daughter. I’m the first to admit that I do go a little mad taking hundreds of photos, I just don’t want to miss a thing. I want to capture every milestone, every trip, day out or funny moment. It’s surprising how much you do actually forget. This is why I want to talk about Scrapbooking for kids. It’s not only a great way to document your adventures but it is a brilliant way of getting your little ones involved too.

Photos

So once the photos have been taken, they are no good to anyone stuck on your phone or a portable hard drive! I actually want my daughter to see and look back on all those wonderful moments too. So each month I go through my photos and print a bunch of my favourites. I use two mobile apps that print your pics for free and you just pay for delivery. Each month you get a renewable allowance. I’m sure there are others on the market but these are the ones I use:

FreePrints – you get 45 free 6×4 free prints to use each month. Delivery is £3.99.

Snapfish –  you get 50 free 6×4 free prints each month. Delivery is £2.99.

Using your prints

So once you’ve got packets of photos arriving through the door, what next? I really wanted to involve my daughter so thought Scrapbooking would be perfect. Rather than display them in a boring photo album, I thought a scrapbook decorated by her own fair hand would be so much more personal.

Where to buy

I used to scrap book myself years ago and if there’s one thing I remember, it was super ‘expensive’! We didn’t really have many options to purchase decorations and supplies so it meant the majority of the products were from the USA making it an expensive hobby to have. The shops that stocked Scrapbooking products were also few and far between. Great news is, it’s now cheap as chips to scrapbook! We have an abundance of shops that stock really cheap craft items. Most supermarkets have a craft aisle now and pound shops have a great range of craft and Scrapbooking products. Every time I pop into a pound shop I buy a couple of packs of stickers or embellishments. That means I can add to our ‘stash’ without paying out huge amounts in one go.

Scrapbooking for kids stickers
What you need

Well, when you’re Scrapbooking for kids it’s best not to make it too complicated for the younger ones. We started Eden’s scrapbook when she was just two years old. We kept to using just stickers so she could stick them in by herself quite easily, rather than making a gluey mess!

First off you need a scrapbook album, anything between 8 to 12 inches is perfect. Thicker card pages are recommend rather than paper, but it’s your scrap book so your choice. The one we use was £1 from a pound shop and about 10 inches square. It also has a nice ribbon to tie the book close.

You’ll also need a pen to write what the page is about, a glue stick to glue in your photos and then some packs of stickers or embellishments to decorate the pages. I often save tickets and stickers from our days out and stick them in too.

Scrapbooking for kids what you need
Decorating your pages

Initially the control freak in me wanted to step in, takeover and make it ‘perfect’, especially when Eden was so small! I had to fight against my instincts and just let Eden be creative, in the end this is what makes them perfect. On each page, Eden selects which photos she wants to use, sticks them in and chooses her decorations. I normally just help out with writing the labels for her page, but I’m sure she will be doing this herself very soon.

Scrapbooking for kids Eden sticking

Scrapbooking for kids Eden creating page

Scrapbooking for kids

Scrapbooking for kids Eden with finished page

Some pages are of course more beautiful than others but each one is created with love. I treasure Eden’s scrapbooks and it’s something that Eden loves to do, she regularly asks ‘Mummy can we do some Scrapbooking today?’. I’m only too happy to oblige, I look forward to looking through them all in years to come and treasuring every captured moment together.

Here are some of Eden’s wonderful creations:

Scrapbooking for kids selection of pages
Scrapbooking for kids scrapbook page

Thank you for reading ‘How to – Scrapbooking for kids’.

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How to -Scrapbooking for kids
Em x

Days Out, Farms, Indoor Play, Outdoors, Parks

Farm in Essex – White Elm Petting Farm

Farm in essex white elm petting farm

White Elm Petting Farm

I am always looking for new days out. As Eden is such an animal lover, we particularly love finding a new farm in Essex to visit. One of our favourite all rounders is White Elm Petting Farm in Bicknacre, Essex. The farm is still relatively new and they are continually improving and working on it.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm entrance
The farm is based within the grounds of White Elm Garden Centre. It’s not just a garden centre offering the usual plants and shrubs on sale. It’s more than that, there is also a selection of log cabin shops with a whole host of individual businesses selling Baby clothes to Soaps. There is also a Deli, Florist and antique furniture shop.

The Farm

White Elm Petting Farm is a family run farm with over a 100 animals including Pygmy Goats, Alpacas, Sheep, Rheas, Pigs, Goats, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, Ducks, Minature Pony, Chickens, Geese & Wallabies. Our favourites are a Breed of sheep that are so sweet and their faces look just like teddy bears!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm teddy bear sheep
Entrance fees are reasonable £4.95 adults, £3.95 kids and under 2’s free. This also includes access to the Play Barn, Outdoor Playground, Digger Pit and Tractor Track..

You have the option of buying a bucket of feed when you enter. Eden absolutely loves getting hands on and feeding the animals. You can feed pretty much all the animals there, apart from a couple that have signs up to say otherwise. It’s a lovely relaxed farm and they encourage you to interact with the animals and pet them if you wish. There are plenty of hand washing stations as you walk round to clean up afterwards.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm animals

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding goats

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm feeding animals Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm
Food

White Elm Garden centre has a lovely tearoom. There is always a huge selection of delicious handmade cakes on offer to tempt you. There is also an extensive menu, from panini’s to fully cooked meals. They also offer a great roast dinner on a Sunday! Be warned don’t get there too late as they have been known to sell out!

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm tea room

There is also a snack bar in the Play Barn.

Play Barn

There is a great indoor Play Barn which is included in the cost of entry to the farm. A large spacious area with seating and a snack bar. It’s a great play area for the kids with a small separate area for younger ones.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm play Barn

Outdoors

Outside they have a children’s playground, tractor track and digger pit to keep the kids entertained. This area is gated off.

Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm playgroundFarms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm outdoor play area
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Farms in Essex - White Elm Petting Farm

Days Out, Holidays

Dont miss our Butlins Bognor highlights!

Butlins Bognor

Our visit to Butlins Bognor

We visited Butlins Bognor Regis for a 4 night stay during term time. Eden is absolutely mad on Butlins. For her it’s the mix of the shows and rides that makes it such a magical place. We have been a couple of times previously and have had such a great time. Whenever there’s a Butlins advert on the telly, she begs me to go again!

The thing that can put me off Butlins is staying in the usual room and apartment accommodation. I find it can often be noisy and the decor and facilities quite basic. Occasionally there are special offers available so we took advantage of this. We decided to treat ourselves to a stay in the Ocean Hotel. We opted for a non dining package.

Butlins Bognor view of resort
Our Arrival

On arrival we were greeted at the gates and directed to our hotel. We were able to park right outside. Anyone that has visited Butlins before would know that it can be quite a walk from the car park to your accommodation usually. So this was a really handy perk.

The hotel was modern and sleek in design, with the added benefit of a Spa! We checked in at reception with no queue. We went straight up to our rooms to dump off our bags before exploring the resort.

Butlins Bognor The Ocean Hotel
I was immediately impressed by the room, it was clean, modern and spacious. Decorated in gorgeously bright vivid colours. It had a separate room along the hallway with two twin beds. The main room had another set of twin beds. There was also a small vanity area, comfy chairs and a table. We had a balcony with brilliant views over the resort. The bathroom had a shower over the bath, was of a good size and clean. There was also the added bonus of air conditioning which you would be thankful for in the warmer months.

The other perk of staying in the hotel is that house keeping and wifi were included! It’s the little things that really make a difference to your holiday.

Butlins Bognor The ocean hotel roomButlins Bognor The Ocean Hotel room view
The Entertainment

One of the good thing about Butlins is all the entertainment and activities that are included in the price of your stay.

The fairground has a really good retro vibe with traditional fairground rides and playing hits from the 50’s and 60’s. There is plenty to keep the kids happy, from the Helter Skelter, Carousel, Trampolines and Dodgems to the fun fairground games and arcades.

Butlins Bognor Helter Skelter Fairground
There is a great swimming pool with flumes, rapids, waves and splash area for the little ones. It’s one of Eden’s favourite things to do on our visit to Butlins. It seems to be busier in the mornings so my advice would be to wait until later in the day.

There is plenty of outdoor activities too, adventure golf, football, volleyball, archery to name but a few.

Inside the Skyline Pavilion there is a whole host of things to do. With shops, soft play area, arcades, tots fairground, bear factory and bowling. There is so much to keep your little ones busy during your stay. It is no wonder that Eden loves her visits to Butlins.

The Shows

We always check the itinerary for show times at the start of the holiday. I then used the Butlins App to add the shows we didn’t want to miss, to the calendar on my phone.

Eden is the biggest Skyline Gang fan, for those not in the ‘know’, they are well known Butlins characters! A fun and colourful group that sing and dance and just make the kids so happy…adults too!

Butlins Bognor Skyline Gang

There is often a main show that plays once or twice throughout the week, like a pantomime. This time round it was Whittington Rocks, it was  brilliant, the comedy was so funny and it had great music throughout. The shows are always of such a high standard, they rival any pantomime we seen locally.
There are also lots of other shows during the week, many repeated so you don’t miss any. The Skyline Gang have 3 shows, along with Billie & Bonnie Bear (popular Butlins Characters). There were Teletubbies, Mr Men and Dangermouse as the character shows and various puppet shows on. There are photo opportunities so kids get to meet some of their favourite characters in real life!

We went along to the Playdoh Show which was very clever, a black light show with glow in the dark Playdoh characters. Eden was amazed by it.

The entertainment crew at Butlins literally work their socks off all week. The Redcoats are so good with the children, playing games and dancing with the kids while they wait for shows to start throughout the day.

Butlins Bognor Puppet showButlins Bognor Teletubbies showButlins Bognor whittington rocks pantomime

Dining

Our first morning we struggled to find somewhere for breakfast. There didn’t seem to be many options available. It was either the dining plan buffets or a coffee shop that only had cakes. One of the pubs did offer a full English cooked breakfast but we just wanted something simple. Finally after asking around the resort we found the best little coffee shop in the Wave Hotel reception. It was lovely and quiet in there and had great breakfast and lunch options. Every morning we went along for our sausage sandwich and latte! It was a little bit of heaven. A perfect little pit stop away from the main hustle and bustle of Butlins. This was Eden’s favourite place to eat, sausages with toast each morning, she was one happy lady!

During the course of the day we found we weren’t too hungry so would stop for just a snack, ice cream or pancake. We had our main meal around 5pm when there was a break from shows.

If you’re not on a dining plan then there are some really good restaurants to choose from.

Our favourite was Turner’s, excellent service and the food is of a really high standard but still good value for money. Good options for the kids too. It was delicious!

We also ate at The Diner and Papa Johns, but Turners was our favourite so we visited there twice. Bognor has also added a new Traditional Fish and Chips restaurant too. There are pub and fast food options also available.

Location

Butlins Bognor is situated right next to a beautiful stony beach. We took a stroll along the seafront, bought ice creams and sat and watched the world go by. If you follow the seafront further along it leads into town which is handy if you need a pharmacy or need to stock up on any forgotten toiletries.

Butlins Bognor beach

Extras

As a special treat, Eden got a fairy makeover whilst at Butlins in the ‘Cute as Candi’ beauty salon. She was made to feel extra special and was transformed into a fairy princess for the day! You can read more about it here. It was fantastic and absolutely worth the money.

Butlins Bognor fairy makeoverButlins Bognor Fairy Makeover Cute as Candi
Thank you for reading ‘Our Butlins Bognor Highlights’

Memories, My Sunday Photo

My Sunday Photo – A Father’s love

I thought for My Sunday Photo this week I would honour Father’s Day and theme it ‘A Father’s Love’.

This is my favourite photo of Eden with her daddy. I think this photo truly depicts A Father’s Love. The look of joy on both their faces melts my heart every time I see it.

My Sunday Photo a father's love, Eden as a baby with her daddy

From a tiny baby until 4 years on, Eden and her Daddy still share an incredible bond. Sharing smiles, tickles and giggles aplenty.  They are both forever making each other laugh.

My Sunday Photo, a father's love. Eden and her daddy
Happy Father’s Day to a wonderful Daddy to our little girl Eden.  Thank you for everything you do for us both.

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Days Out, Eating Out, Farms, Food, Outdoors, Parks, Unusual

Strawberry Picking in Essex

Strawberry Picking In Essex

What a glorious sunny day spent strawberry picking in Essex. We visited Cammas Hall Farm. Set in the Essex countryside, just outside Bishops Stortford.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm
I haven’t been strawberry picking since I were a young girl. I can remember spending sunny days picking strawberries with my family. Crouched  in a field filling my basket with just as many strawberries as I ate! I’ve been meaning to take Eden for some time now and thought Cammas Hall Farm looked like fun.

The venue

There was plenty of parking, a well stocked farm shop, fruit picking, tea barn, play area and a nature trail onsite. It was free entry too which was brilliant and makes this a cheap day out!

We visited on a Saturday lunch time and although it was busy, it was big enough that it wasn’t a problem.

We enjoyed a ploughmans in the tea barn before setting off to pick our strawberries.

There were plenty of ripe strawberries for picking. A huge field full of rows and rows of raised planters full of strawberry plants. No back breaking bending over here, the plants are brought to you! They also have gooseberries, raspberries, blackberries, etc throughout the year.  Just check their website first.

Strawberry picking in Essex rows strawberry plants

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberries

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking
Eden loved searching through all the strawberries to find the bright red shiny ripe ones. We filled a punnet quite quickly and were very surprised it only cost around £3.50! We thought this was a bargain. The strawberries were delicious and so sweet.

Play Area

We popped to the play area afterwards so Eden could blow off some steam. There were plenty of picnic benches outside over looking the play area. They also had a separate gated play area for the little ones under 3.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm play area
Nature Trail

After Eden had made herself dizzy spinning on the tyre swing, we took a walk along the nature trail. It was a short walk that went through a small forest and along the edge of their crop fields. A nice walk that wasn’t too long. It was even fairly buggy friendly.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm

Strawberry picking in Essex nature trail

Strawberry picking in Essex field crops
The Tea Barn & Shop

After the nature trail, we treated ourselves to strawberries and cream in the Tea Barn. Eden had an ice cream! Perfect! The tea barn is quite small inside but has plenty of extra seating outside and in a covered marquee.

Strawberry picking in Essex Cammas Hall Farm shop

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberry latte

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberries and cream
Eden had one last play in the park and we bought some goodies in the farm shop before returning home. They had a really good selection of pickles and sauces, unusual flavour crisps, jams and other treats. The most important purchase was the ‘Extra Thick Jersey Double Cream’ for our strawberries.

We were there for about 4 hours and Eden had a fabulous time. From picking the strawberries to playing in the park and exploring the nature trail. Lots of fun was had.

Strawberry picking in Essex strawberry fields forever
I would definitely recommend a visit there. It’s best to check their website or Facebook page first before going to find out whether they have strawberries ready for picking.’

We will be trying other ‘pick your own’ venues for Strawberry Picking in Essex and will reporting our findings soon!

Strawberry picking in Essex Eden picking strawberries

Thank you for reading ‘Strawberry Picking in Essex’. Please enjoy our short film of our trip!

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Strawberry picking in Essex

Real Mum Reviews
Eating Out, Food, Lifestyle

My Favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

My favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex

Anyone that knows me, knows I adore a good afternoon tea! Whether it’s celebrating a birthday, Mother’s Day or baby shower, it seems to always fit the bill. It’s the combination of delicious neat little sandwiches, freshly baked scones smothered in clotted cream and dollops of jam, the dainty patterned china and all served in gorgeously pretty surroundings! I am always looking for new Afternoon Teas in Essex to try and am often asked to recommend one. So here are just a few of my favs!

The Chichester Hotel

The Chichester Hotel one gets my vote for the food itself, absolutely tonnes of it. It’s such good value for money. We paid £14.95 per head.

The Chichester Hotel ‘a charming and historic boutique venue’ is a renovated 13th century farmhouse in Wickford, Essex. The afternoon tea is served in their restaurant.

Afternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester
The Afternoon Tea

We were pleasantly surprised by the sandwiches, we received a huge tray (for 4 persons) which was followed by a second tray shortly after. That’s often my complaint at afternoon teas, never enough sandwiches, but not in this case. Sandwiches were plentiful, fresh and a good varied selection of fillings.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Sandwiches at The ChichesterAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester SconesAfternoon Teas in Essex The Chichester cakes
We were really impressed with all the cakes and scones, there were so many we had to take some home with us. We found the staff really polite and very helpful.
I honestly couldn’t fault our afternoon tea at The Chichester. It’s up there with the best of them and I always recommend it to friends and family. We are looking forward to trying one of their Sunday Roasts very soon.

Orsett Hall Hotel

The Orsett Hall Hotel gets my vote for its beautiful surroundings and decor. The Garden Brasserie is a gorgeously decorated restaurant with floral wallpaper, matching curtains and multicoloured chandeliers to die for!

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden BrasserieAfternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Garden Brasserie

The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was £19.95 per head at the time and was very nice. The menu does vary but you often get a sausage roll or another savoury treat along with the sandwiches which is a nice touch. I would say I do need extra sandwiches when I attend Orsett Hall. I think an extra round should be offered as standard. It comes beautifully presented on a traditional 3 tier cake stand. The cakes often have a quirky edge to them, whether it’s a pipette of caramel sauce to squeeze into your cake or a cake on a stick, it’s something to look forward to.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Orsett Hall Afternoon Tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Afternoon Tea Orsett hall

Rowhill Grange Hotel

Ok so just over the border from Essex in Kent is Rowhill Grange Hotel. A silver star luxury boutique hotel that gets my vote as they treat you like royalty. The 19th century Manor House is set in impressive grounds, nice to wander through and burn off some of that cake afterwards.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange
The Afternoon Tea

This was actually booked as a gift, but on checking their website, the afternoon tea is £21.95 to £23.95. We were able to add on a children’s Afternoon Tea for Eden for just £10.

The service at the Rowhill Grange Hotel was impeccable. We were made to feel like royalty and it made it feel like a really special occasion.

The Afternoon Tea itself was delicious and Eden had her own cake stand all to herself. We were really impressed and would definitely go back.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Rowhill Grange afternoon tea
Afternoon Teas in Essex Close up of cakes Rowhill cakes
Camelia Hotel

The Camelia Hotel is a Boutique Hotel situated on the seafront just outside of Southend. If you can get the window table in their restaurant, it is a real treat. It gets my vote for their relaxed and welcoming environment. It is £16.95 per head.

The Afternoon Tea

Their afternoon tea comes with a delicious selection of sandwiches and wraps. The cake stand is filled with cakes, scones, sweets and chocolate dipped strawberries. A real treat, especially for the little ones.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Camelia Hotel SandwichesAfternoon Teas in Essex Scones camelia hotelAfternoon Teas in Essex camelia hotel cakes
Temperleys

Temperleys gets my vote for its historic charm. It is an ‘oasis of calm’ in the bustling town of Colchester. Set in a courtyard within a large walled garden, the historic building is very quaint.  You would just walk right by if you didn’t know it was there. The afternoon tea is £20 per person.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys colchesterAfternoon Teas in Essex Eden standing in front of wooden door at TemperleysAfternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys walled garden
The Afternoon Tea

The Afternoon Tea was served on a traditional 3 tier cake stand with the addition of blue macaroons. They matched them to our blue baby shower theme. They were very accommodating.

Afternoon Teas in Essex Temperleys afternoon tea
These are just a few of my favourite afternoon teas in Essex (and surrounding areas). There are so many more I have on my bucket list to try very soon. I will be shortly blogging about my favourite little tearooms in Essex where I love to pop in for a cake and coffee!

Thank you for reading ‘My Favourite Afternoon Teas in Essex’.

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Afternoon teas in essex

Days Out, Home, Outdoors, Theme Parks

Making the most of our Annual Merlin Passes!

Merlin Passes - Eden on a ride

The Merlin Passes

So this year I’ve saved up all of my Tesco clubcard points to get Annual Merlin Passes. We also paid the £50 extra to upgrade them to premium passes! You can also purchase them direct from their website and occasionally have discounts throughout the year. This means we can visit 32 attractions in the UK free for a year!

These include:

Alton Towers Resort

Chessington World of Adventures Resort

LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort

THORPE PARK Resort

The London Eye

Dream world Tours – Shrek Adventure London to name but a few!

Perks

You also get 20% off food and purchases at the parks and 50% off friends and family tickets! Which is a brilliant saving in itself. With the premium pass we can also use them across all dates in the six weeks holidays and we get free parking at some of the attractions!

I feel like I am now on a mission to make the most from the passes and pack in as much as we can.

Legoland

Our first trip using our Merlin Passes was to Legoland! I’ve always wanted to take Eden. Every time it’s advertised on the telly Eden has asked to go, so this was our priority.

We went on a weekend so did expect it to be busy. It was also a Star Wars themed day so I imagine busier than usual. This didn’t seem to be much of a problem though. Many of the queues had Lego to play with while you waited, so even though there were queues, Eden was entertained. If she wasn’t playing with Lego she was meeting new friends to play with.

Merlin Passes - Eden with lego family characters
By far our favourite rides were The Dragon, a super fun (but not too scary) roller coaster and Fairy Tale Brook. A lovely little river ride with Lego characters bringing the fairytales to life. Eden loved spotting all the characters she recognised.

Merlin Passes eden on boat ride with seven dwarves

Merlin Passes eden on boat ride with seven dwarves

Merlin Passes Eden on a ride
We also really enjoyed walking around seeing the Lego model village, exploring all of the different countries. It was a nice relaxing downtime, rather than going on ride after ride.

Merlin Passes view Lego model villageMerlin Passes  Lego model villageMerlin Passes Model of London in Lego
We found plenty of options to eat and snack around the park. Most importantly a good Costa coffee to keep our energy supplies up! In all we had a great day at Legoland and are actually going back again this weekend.

Merlin Passes  Lego book What Secrets awaitMerlin Passes  Eden and Lego friends
Chessington World of Adventures

Next we popped along to Chessington World of Adventures at the end of the kids half term. I was so excited to introduce Eden to the Vampire Ride. I prayed that she would be tall enough to go on it! She is quite a dare devil and doesn’t seem to be the least bit afraid of any rides.

Unfortunately due to an accident en route we arrived a bit later than expected around 11.45am. We were hoping that as the majority of schools had returned to school that day that it would be quiet. Sadly not! Queue times for the more popular rides were 65-75mins.

It’s a real shame they don’t offer time based tickets like they do at somewhere like Disneyland Paris. You go take a ticket and return when it’s your time slot and enter via fastrack queue. In the end we decided to bite the bullet and purchase fastrack passes. It cost an additional £36 for 3 of us to go on just two rides. If you had already paid park entry, it can work out quite expensive.

Fast Track Passes

We bought a fast track pass for the new Gruffalo ride which worked really well and we passed the 60 minute queue and were on the ride within about 10-15 mins, absolutely worth it. Unfortunately even with the fastrack pass we still queued for 30mins for the Vampire ride. Totally worth the wait though. Eden absolutely loved it. It was actually so much faster than I remembered it being, although it was maybe 15 years ago!

Merlin Passes Gruffalo river ride

Merlin Passes Gruffalo river ride

Merlin Passes Vampire ride at ChessingtonMerlin Passes Chessington world of adventures vampire ride
We did find that some of the queue times estimated were a little way off and were longer than anticipated. So we didn’t get to go on as many rides as we would have liked. Those we did go on, we enjoyed tremendously.

Food

We ate a great restaurant in the park, a BBQ Smokehouse. The food was BBQ meats and they even had Sweet Potato fries as a side. So eating Low carb wasn’t a problem here. I normally struggle to find LCHF friendly foods on days out. The meal was amazing, served in a basket but tasted delicious! We all really enjoyed it!

Merlin Passes BBQ food

Merlin Passes chessington snake
The park has really changed over the years and it is really well themed throughout. We did find the map really confusing and quite difficult to read but we loved the app that gave you directions and up to the minute queue times!

We also enjoyed visiting all the animals, especially at the petting farm and seeing them on Zafari!

Merlin Passes rhino on zafari
The next adventure

Next up on our Merlin Pass adventure will be Shrek Adventure in London, a blog post will follow. We also have a hotel booked for the Summer holidays so we can visit Alton Towers. Very exciting and so far the Merlin Passes have been a great investment!

Eden is wearing at Legoland a Zigzag coat by Mimpi, yellow top and cardigan from Mothercare, jean dress from Primark and Teal sparkle Converse trainers.

Eden is wearing at Chessington Mini ZZZ rainbow anorak from TK Maxx, top and leggings from Next and Teal Sparkle Trainers from Converse.

Thank you for reading ‘Making the most of our Annual Merlin Passes!’.

Em x

Castles/Houses, Days Out, Outdoors

Leeds Castle – The Loveliest Castle in the World

Leeds Castle Eden looking at Castle

Leeds Castle

Considered ‘The Loveliest Castle in the World’, Leeds Castle is simply stunning. One of my most favourite places to go.  I would never get tired of this stunning landscape.

Leeds Castle view across moat
There are so many reasons to love Leeds Castle in Kent. The Castle is set within 500 acres of the most beautiful and picturesque grounds. At the centre a picture perfect castle surrounded by a moat. It’s the perfect place to take children, there is so much there to inspire them and ignite their imaginations.

A nice added bonus is that you only pay to enter once, you can then return as many times as you like within the year. Basically an annual pass for the price of 1 days entry. There aren’t many places that offer that so it’s great value.

The Woodland Walk

Your journey starts with a woodland walk along paths that run alongside babbling brooks and waterfalls. There is an abundance of wildlife to spot along the route. Plenty of wildfowl, woodland birds and insects. We saw so many cute baby swans on our visit! Leeds Castle is famous for its black Swans.

Leeds Castle WaterfallLeeds Castle Eden sitting on a bridge
Leeds Castle Eden looking at Geese and their young
The Castle

I think one of the most interesting facts about the Castle is that it was once the palace used by Henry VIII and his first wife Catherine of Aragon. I love the story of Henry VIII and his wives.

The Castle is steeped in history and as you walk around the grand rooms you can see how it has changed over the years with rooms from different eras. There are gorgeous antiques to view and paintings adorning the walls. The Castle is as pretty inside as it is outside!

Leeds Castle front of castleLeeds Castle side viewLeeds Castle inside dining tableLeeds Castle library
There is plenty of information within the Castle with the option of an audio guide. They also have activity sheets for the kids, so Eden was kept busy looking for things as we walked round.

Leeds Castle eden with activity sheets
Facilities

The facilities are really good, plenty of places to stop for food and drinks, snacks and ice cream. Toilets are clean and tidy. If you bring your own food there are plenty of gorgeous spots for a picnic.

The Maze & Grotto

There is a large maze to solve and if you are lucky enough to find the centre, it leads to an enchanting grotto underground. The air is cool down there, with mythical creatures made from shells and a water feature. It is very atmospheric, a fascinating place. It is quite dark and noisy down there so could be a little frightening for younger members!

Leeds Castle maze
Boat & Train Rides

Should you wish you can take in the view by boat, there is punting available on the moat, or a ferry ride across the lake for a small extra charge.

You can also ride Elsie their train to and from the car park if you wanted for a small extra fee. We often choose to walk through the gardens into the Castle but return on the train. Eden loves it.

Leeds Castle view of the moatLeeds Castle Black swan Ferry
Play Areas

There are two wooden play areas at Leeds Castle to keep the little people happy. Squire’s Court for younger kids up to the age of 6 and Knight’s Realm for slighter older kids 7-14 years. Both of them are well put together with exciting tunnels, turrets, slides and zip lines. Plenty to keep the kids busy. There is seating available in and around the play areas for the adults.

Leeds Castle Play area towerLeeds Castle play area
Falconary

There are free flying bird of prey presentations  running daily, with Hawks, Vulture, Falcons and Owls. You can also see them in their aviaries.

Dark skies exhibition

There is a temporary exhibition running until 31st October 2017, the Battle of the Skies. A surround sound display depicting The Battle of Britain that took part in the skies above Kent. There are two planes there as part of the exhibition.

Leeds Castle planeLeeds Castle plane
The Grounds

There is so much to explore at Leeds Castle, the gardens are beautiful. Culpeper garden has the most pretty flowers and box hedges, a typical quaint English country garden.

Leeds Castle Culpeper GardenLeeds Castle GardensLeeds Castle Eden with Lavender
Every time we visit Leeds Castle we find something new. I would absolutely recommend it and would have to say it’s in my top 5! Eden loves it as much as I do!

Leeds Castle Eden looking at the castle
Thank you for reading ‘Leeds Castle – The Loveliest Castle in the World’.

Eden is wearing Top – Tu Clothing at Sainsburys, Jean shorts from F&F Tesco and Converse trainers.

Em.

Leeds Castle Kids Day out
Linking up with:

CulturedKids
Days Out, Family Life, Memories, My Sunday Photo, Outdoors

My Sunday Photo – Enjoying our beautiful city London!

Well it’s a sad ‘My Sunday Photo’ day today, waking up and realising it wasn’t all just a bad dream. It was real, our beautiful city London, that we love and enjoy has come under attack. Scarier still when we were there ourselves just yesterday.

What an amazing day we had in London, travelling on the tube to see 42nd Street. A dazzling show we enjoyed every second of it. We meandered around Covent Garden and strolled through the stalls at the Jubilee Market. We people watched, we drank in the sights, smells and tastes of London, truly indulging in and enjoying our city.

Those people that seek to attack us and bring us down are cowards. They cannot stop us from living, loving and appreciating our beautiful city London.

My Sunday Photo is of a gorgeous family day we spent enjoying London. We had walked for miles soaking in the sights, followed the trail of the Dream Jars last August, celebrating the launch of The BFG. We had walked along the Southbank that day. It was bustling with people young and old. It was exciting and new for Eden, we showed her the sights and we hunted for dream jars and what a glorious day that was.

Dream Jar – Ship of Dreams

My Sunday Photo, dream jar at Tower bridge London You will never stop us from living our lives, there are those that will try and break us but we will overcome them, for they are the weak. The cowards that hide and plan in the shadows and then prey on our innocent and vulnerable. You are cowards, you are nothing.

I am linking up with Darren @Photalife for My Sunday Photo.

Photalife