Day Out With Thomas The Tank Engine At Mid Hants Railway – Watercress Line

We have visited the Watercress Line a couple of times already as both daddy and son are big train enthusiasts. However, we never attended a Meet Thomas Day.


For those whose never been there, the Watercress Line is located in Alresford, Hampshire. It’s a heritage railway which was saved by enthusiastic volunteers in 1973, and Watercress Line was re-open as a tourist attraction four years later. A 10 mile line is operating currently with steam locomotives between Alresford and Alton. They regularly do Meet Thomas The Tank Engine days, in every few months.

Visiting the Watercress Line is great fun every time, we especially like stopping at Ropley, where all the engineering works are being done, and can be watched too. Fascinating for train enthusiasts. There’s a playground for small children (I’d say from 3 years up) and picnic area. Snacks and drinks are also available in the station gift shop. The King’s Cross bridge from one of the Harry Potter episode is moved down to Ropley, so even Harry Potter fans will find something exciting.

Visiting the restored ticket office and the station masters lounge makes you feel, that you stepped back in time. Even the toilets are made to look vintage. Another times we also stop at Medstead and go for a picturesque walk to Alton, visiting the Jane Austen House in Chawton village.

This April we booked tickets (£18 for adults and £12 for children) to see Bobcat’s favourite character Thomas The Tank Engine. We arrived early to make the most of the day, as you’re entitled to unlimited travel on the day, so we stopped at every station, marvelled the engineering works, watched the character trains pulling into Ropley station. The trains were running up and down between the stations in every half an hour.

We went for a few rides on the miniature train, which was one of the top favourites of the day. We packed lunch and had picnic, whilst the little guy spent some time on the playground and went for teacup rides – he was way too excited to eat. Outside of the station we even met with Bertie the bus, his second favourite character from the show. Apart from Thomas, some other tank engines are present (don’t ask me names, all I know that, they all have a name and a number) and running between the stations. He also shook the Fat Controller’s hand – the organisers really paid attention to the smallest details.

There was a tent with story corner where they did daily story time and DVD shows. Also some tables and chairs with Thomas themed coloring sheets and play sets. Bobcat received a certificate and some Thomas stickers too. The only thing we didn’t try was the big bouncy slide, it said from 3 years+, but Bobcat was too small for that, we thought. But he didn’t mind, he was perfectly happy with all the other fun things. Naturally, fell asleep on the way home and had an unusual long nap which resulted him bouncing around till 11pm that night. Oh well.

 

Real Mum Reviews
Bridie By The Sea

15 Fun Things To Do In Vienna With Small Children

I love Vienna. It has been voted to the most liveable city of the world for a reason. I’ve visited plenty of times, however, never with my children until a few weeks ago. Naturally, this time it was a completely different experience, just as we did expect it to be. Not so much of Aperol-Spritzing and Museum Quartier visiting. You can’t just drag your young children along whilst visiting galleries, markets and trendy restaurants. If you plan ahead though, everyone can get something of what they wanted. City tripping with a toddler and a baby sounds challenging but it it’s not impossible!

Start with booking the right accommodation. We stayed in serviced apartments this time, because we knew that we won’t be able to eat out in the evenings. That is one thing we needed to give up. Keeping their usual bedtime routine meant, that they were able to cope a lot better, it’s something they are both (all of us, in fact) heavily rely on. We also needed space, which an average hotel room just doesn’t provides. (The hotelier inside me is gasping in horror now.) So we booked Anyna Apartments, which was OK (price-wise and staff -wise good, but with some small security and other issues) and close to transport links, near a big park with playgrounds and supermarkets.

When the weather is nice, then of course there’s plenty to do. But when it’s raining or it’s too cold outside it can be a bit tricky to entertain small children. So, my list contains a mix of indoor and outdoor activities. However, avoid traveling in winter, as lots of outdoor attractions are closed. Also better to avoid places like Nashmarkt. Whilst it’s one of Vienna’s famous attractions and it’s great fun as a grown up, it’s most definitely no fun as as a parent of small children. It’s very busy, there are a lot of hot food stations, smokers and things to grab from the stalls. (Yes, the experience is talking.)

1. Prater

One if the oldest amusement parks in the world offers a lot of fun small rides for the minis. If they can’t ride on their own, because they are too young, parents can accompany them. There’s no entry fee to the Prater, you just need to pay for the rides (cash only). Plenty of options for food, from small kiosk-type street food to a proper restaurant. Open from March till October. The mini rides are relatively cheap: cost between EUR 2-4 each.

2. Playgrounds 

Vienna has lots of playgrounds, they are all very clean and well maintained, most of them has small swings, slides and sand pits for the littlest.

3. Zoom Children’s Museum

Zoom is quite big, suitable for children of all age. For the minis (8 months to 6 years) particularly, it has a play and adventure area called The Ocean, with a glittering water grotto, a mirror tunnel and a coral reel with tickly anemones. They can explore a ship deck and play role games, untie knots, turn the ship’s wheel or communicate with the lighthouse. Entry fee: EUR 3 for a child (free admission for one adult per child); extra adults pay EUR 5.

4. Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

Sitting on the top deck of the bus when the weather is sunny and pointing to all the exciting things to see is great fun for small children. (They are also prepared for the bad weather with a cover.) There are 6 routes and 50 stops. From EUR 22.50 per person.

5. Cake Time!

No Vienna experience is complete without a cafe house visit. And that means: it’s time for a cake! The traditional cafe houses are not exactly children friendly and booking is always required. Also, at some places  smoking is still allowed (Austrians love their cigarettes.) and normally a separate room is dedicated to that, but obviously you can smell the smoke all over the cafe. However, places like Aida and Oberlaa are more relaxed and welcoming towards children. (No smoking is allowed at all, either.)

6. Schoenbrunn Zoo

Schoenbrunn Zoo is considered one of the best zoos in the world. The animal compounds have a decent sized living area and designed to imitate their natural habitat as much as possible. More than 700 kinds of animal live in the zoo. It’s a fun place for small and big children. There’s also a huge nature trail and an educational forest trail, which I really liked. Unfortunately, not too many options for buying food and drink once inside the zoo in April when we visited, more in summertime. The little train wasn’t operating either, which was a shame as my little boy is a huge fan of trains. Entry fee is EUR 18.50 for adults, free for children under 6.

7. Schoenbrunn Maze And Labyrinthikon Playground

Bobcat really liked both the maze and the playground. And watching the fantastic water fountain. We enjoyed a lovely walk in the palace park. The playground is really cool and it has unusual elements as well as classic toys: climbing poles with sounds, jumping station, puzzles and water gargoyles. He especially liked the water features and marvelled the huge eagle-shaped climbing frame, but he was too small to climb that. But there was plenty of other things for smaller children, so we spent a few hours there. Open from April till November. Entry fee: EUR 5.50 for adults and EUR 3.20 for children.

8. Family Fun

It’s a huge amusement park for children, with a section called Kiddyworld, where even the smallest kids can enjoy themselves too. There’s trampolines, ball pools, a magic climbing tree, and some more. I’d say it’s probably from 1 year up, depending on the child’s capabilities. The toddlers will love it. Entry fees: under 1’s go free, 1-3 year olds EUR 3.90, 3-16 year olds EUR 8.90, adults EUR 3.50

9. Riding An Old Tram 

Simply 🙂 Very old, vintage trams are still in every day use in Vienna. Some of them are more than 50-60 years old with wooden benches. They are one of the coolest things to see, so don’t miss our on a Ring-ride, especially if you have a transport and vehicle maniac 3 years old, like us. Just buy a ticket and complete a whole Ring loop, it’s really good fun.

10. Bogi Park

It’s a huge indoor playground for children aged between 1 and 12. Again, I’m sure even some active babies can enjoy it, and recently they started to do Baby Mondays. For very small children, they have  bouncy castles, slides, ball pools, small climbing installations. Entry fees: under 1’s go free, 1-3 year olds EUR 3.50, 3-16 year olds EUR 8.90, adults EUR 4

11. Donau Insel

The Danube Island is very popular amongst the locals, there’s so much to see and do for the whole family! There’s a family beach, which is protected by a number of small islands surrounding the beach and the water no more than one meter deep. Absolutely fantastic in summertime. There’s also a free water playground with a separate splashing area for under 3’s and a trampoline center. Free entry.

12. Horse carriege ride (fiaker)

One of the tourists favourites, an absolute must do. The children loved it, it’s a leisurely ride (really slow, very safe with being small children on board) around the historic inner city area. You can find them parking all around the old town, just hop on one. It’s normally a half an hour and prices vary, around EUR 50.

13. Cobenzl City Farm

Meet and get to know the farm animals at a working farm producing organic goods. You’ve got pony rides, a nature trail and yummy cakes to buy. Entry fee: EUR 18 for kids and EUR 28 for adults.

14. Danube Boat Tour

The shortest tour takes around 1.5 hours, it’s a lovely, cultured thing to sit on the top deck in the sunshine. Waiving to the other boats and to people strolling at the river bank, it’s a relaxing cruise on the river. It’s operating from April till October (with the heating on when needed). There’s also a restaurant or bar on all the cruise ships. Prices vary.

15. Inner City Parks

When everything fails, just let them run around in a lovely, well manicured, safe park. There are plenty of them: the Stadtpark, the Volksgarten, the Burggarten, the Sigmund Freud Park and more.

One Messy Mama

 

 

 

Real Mum Reviews

Why Holiday Prices Are Higher During School Holidays?

I’m now trying to reflect on Kate’s Post I’ve read the other day from a hoteliers’ point of view.

School holidays can be a nightmare to manage. In families, where both parents work, one of them HAS to take days off, unless you have other baby sitting solutions arranged. So now that you’ve got the kids for a whole week, realise that almost all your regular soft plays and drop in classes are closed for half term. (Why?!)

I completely understand and now I’m even in the same shoes as Kate and other fellow parents: booking a holiday in half term or in summer can get very expensive. Not only that, but it’s hard to find decent family friendly places, which are not rammed or booked out.

I realise, that the doubled or even tripled rates seem like that the whole travel industry tries to take advantage of school holidays. However, you can’t enforce “fairer” prices by calling for government action. It would be an economical disaster for the whole industry.

I’ve worked for a number of hotels throughout my career (before having children). Started as a receptionist, then switched to sales and operation. Lately, responsible for the revenue. My role was basically to set the rates according to the budget. I’ve dealt with the contracts for travel agencies and online booking sites and set the daily, seasonal and packaged rates for the rooms.

Most hotels and travel providers work with seasonal rates. They depend depending on the actual seasons, and some other highlighted periods of the year, like winter months in the Alps, the Chelsea Flower Show in London, the Carnival in Rio, or the Australian Open in Melbourne. Another factor in hotel pricing is the top ranking sending countries or nations. People tend to travel during long weekends, national holidays or indeed, school holidays.

Now, like every company, travel businesses too, depend on the demand and it will have a direct effect on the price. When not so much people want to travel, prices will drop. When not enough rooms are booked, price will drop. Other times, when the demand is high, the prices will rise too. The fluctuating prices allow the hotel or airline to meet with their budgeted revenue requirements and produce profit. When you urgently need a shirt – you go and buy it on full price. When not, then you wait until it’s (at a predictable time, like after Christmas) is on sale. 

Hotels can never charge you more for a room as their rack rate for that particular room. But then you buy often buy your holiday in a package (directly from the hotel or booking with a travel agency) so you never actually see the price breakdown. When it seams, that the price has been doubled or more, that is actually correct. It did so. Low season means prices barely make a break even, and high season means selling on rack rates. The difference can be even 4x or 5x of the low season’s rate.

A hotel operating successfully can pay better wages, can hire more and better trained staff, provide valuable training for their staff. Hotels also employ mostly local people, so they play a key role in creating jobs for the local communities. If you want to see really bad examples of a holiday destination managed badly and local communities suffering because of it, take a good look at the Isle Of Wight. It used to be a famous holiday island. Now almost all the hotels are for sale, because they went or near bankrupt. A fantastically beautiful island with lots of potential. Heartbreaking. Why? Because in summertime everyone flies to classic holiday destinations. So the island misses out on that crowd. Prices are also high in summer, because they naturally try to make their whole year’s profit. Because no one goes there in autumn or winter. Some people might do, like we did it as a couple, and enjoyed the walks on the beautiful, empty beaches. But now we can’t, because we can only travel during the school holiday, and that’s for the years to come!

As I said I’m equally effected by the soaring holiday rates at half term and in August. However, having some time spent on the other side as a hotelier, I can tell you: the problem doesn’t lie with the travel industry, as I tried to explain this above.

I can see the solution in schools given more flexibility to allow family holidays during term time, provided that there is no general issue with a children’s attendance. Brighton and Hove is leading the way: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-36806773 but I think there’s more can be done!

One Messy Mama

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Family Dayout Series: Drusillas Park East Sussex Review

Drusillas Park is located in East Sussex, short drive from the lovely coast. Our first time visit left me with ambivalent feelings. Some parts of it are really nice, but others are just run-down or just random. It has no apparent concept either: bit of a mix of everything, but not too original or exciting. The park tries really hard though: there are loads of extra summer activities, adopting options, be a keeper for a day and even birthday parties available. They definitely bring the best out of it.

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The zoo

It’s a decent size zoo with a lot of monkeys and must-have meerkats and lemurs. Unfortunately, a lot of animals are behind a glass panel and some monkeys don’t seem to have enough space. The lemurs, however, being the mascot of the park, enjoy extra attention and living space as well as interaction with the visitors: you can take a stroll in their little habitat and pet them. Which is quite fun: the lemurs want to check your bags, pockets and even the buggy for food. Therefore, you are not allowed to take any food inside their place. (The lemurs will body search you anyway.) Lots of feeding times too.

The main theme park (Go Bananas, Go Wild, Maze)

This part of the park is really run down. The plastic bits are faded and outdated. Daddy got nearly stuck on the snake slide. The treasure hunt maze is proper scary (and run down too). My little boy was in tears when he tried to “save” me (awww) from entering a one of the dead ends of the maze with a mechanical talking parrot. We had to take him straight on the Thomas the Tank Engine ride. Three times.

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Thomas mini train ride

Cute, but very short. Prepare yourself for queueing too. Kids get stickers too.

Get Wet

Best fun by far. You have water jets, ground geysers, twirling streams and spiraling sprays, slides. We had a real hard time to drag Bobcat away after spending almost an hour here. Take double sets of changing clothes! The slides are just a little bit too big for a 2 years old.

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Hello Kitty Secret Garden

Good fun. Bobcat doesn’t mind just yet about “girly” looking things. He favours purple and pink colours and also likes cars. Double win. He loved driving around in the little electric car so we went for a few rides. Also enjoyed the tea cup ride, had to try both the blue and the pink tea cups, and the pink tea cup obviously performed better. 🙂

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Good point for:

Having a decent changing room not only for little ones but for disabled adults too.

Bad point for:

Smoking areas. Not at all hidden. It’s a theme park for children!

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There is a small shop for wasting some money for stuff the kids only want in the heat of the moment and breaks by the end of the day anyway. We didn’t eat here, but there’s a big pic nic area if you buy food here or take your own.

Family Day Out Review Series: National Motor Museum Beaulieu

The National Motor Museum Beaulieu  was a big hit for our vehicle-fan toddler. So was for daddy and mummy too. Here’s why.

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The toddler’s favourites:

Monorail – train on elevated tracks! Also going through the building of the museum. Fun to watch it too, but a ride is mandatory.

“WHEELS” – it’s a ride, sitting in a little pod whilst we can listen to the history of the wheel. Toddler cares only about having a ride in the dark though, singing the Wheels On The Bus to himself. Exciting!

Getting to “drive” old cars – great fun for the toddler (good photo making opportunity for mummy).

Craft station – in one corner of the museum kids can sit and create different cars related art. Not very busy.

Playground – designed for the little car lovers: tractor, bus and oldtimers to climb on and “drive”. Plus an ice cream hut. Good luck parents 😉

Palace – no, not the boring paintings of boring people, but the garden, where the kids can try and play old victorian games such as hoop and stick, quoits, skipping rope and bagatelle.

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Mummy’s favourites:

Vintage cars – lovely old cars and history: Harrods’ first electric delivery car, Lalique mascots on display and caravan car from the 60’s.

On The Big Screen Exhibition – famous cars from famous movies on display.

Palace – loved the kitchen with victorian equipment, the secret staircase and the staff on site dressed as maids. Also caught a funny little show in front palace where the driver was about to teach the lady how to drive an automobil.

Golden Arrow – a fantastically Art Deco looking car from 1929, which set a new speed record in its days.

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Daddy’s favourites: 

World of Top Gear and simulator – do we need an explanation here? 🙂 Original Top Gear car designs on display including some of the best: pensioner’s car and Fiat Panda limousine.

Racing cars – it’s a rather cool part of the museum: old and and some recent (well, some 15-20 years old) racing cars exhibited alongside with the history of car racing and memorabilias.

Bluebird – a famous gas-engine car which set a new World Land Speed Record in 1964.

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I strongly recommend to arrive early, as it can get really busy. It’s not cheap, tickets are £25 but the kids got in for free and there’s plenty to do. There’s a cafe too for nibbles and some ice cream huts scattered around.

 
One Messy Mama

Family Day Out At The Bockett’s Farm

So I’ve been hearing about this farm for ages from my mummy friends. It’s a short drive for a South Londoner, even with a toddler having a grumpy morning.  One lovely July day (when it was 30 C all of a sudden) we finally drove down there and visited it. We initially only intended to spend there no more than two hours, but it’s like a countryside Disneyland: there’s enough to do for a whole day.

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Hiding in the beautiful Surrey hills, Bockett’s is a working farm: plenty of animals, regularly introduced baby animals, a kitchen garden, and a barn to educate the kids about how a farm works and how they keep animals. They can also pet and feed them. For the fun part, there’s loads of exciting things to do and even small toddlers can enjoy themselves. There’s two different playgrounds, bouncy pillows, pig race, tractor ride and indoor play areas for bad (or too warm) weather.

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We started indoor as we arrived, as the entrance is through the play barn. Good luck dragging your small children outside again when they spot the mini John Deer race course and the giant slide. After we spent about an hour inside and successfully blocked a tantrum by promising even more playground fun outside, we managed to get out.

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Outside, Bobcat’s favourite was the giant bouncy pillow and the old tractors on the site: he loved sitting on them pretending to drive. Of course he had a go on every slide and climbing frame too. He loved feeding the animals and he’s favourite were the mini goats. He found them really funny 🙂 Mine was the pig race and the giant slide. Great fun even for a grown-up (or for your inner child).

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In the Old Barn Tea Room you can stop for a quick meal and buy locally made onion chutney, but make it really quick, as there’s so much to do! 😀

I would say it’s relatively cheap for what you’re getting and no charge for parking. We can’t wait to be back, another Bockett’s fan here!
One Messy Mama

Family Ibiza Holiday With Children – That’s What We Call Luxury!

Ibiza is forever in my heart since I lived there for a few years. Forget about the notorious party island fame, you can take children and they will love there!

APCCDT Harbour, Dalt Vila, Eivissa, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain

The sandy beaches are very safe for children: they are clean, the water is shallow and warm, and most of them has at least one small beach bar (chiringuito) serving fresh food. Small towns like Santa Eulalia, San Rafael or Santa Gertrudis are especially perfect for families being a bit away from the hustle and bustle, but they still provide you with everything: great restaurants, folklore, markets, beaches. Spain is famous for being family and children friendly: you will see a lot of small children eating out till quite late, running on the promenade or visiting the night market at Las Dalias with the parents.

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By booking a villa with The Villa Shop you get the best of everything. You can find a villa of 2-3 bedrooms to 6-7 bedrooms and the villa portfolio stretches across the island. It’s a small island, so luckily nothing is too far from the sea.

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Their experts will help you to find the best fit for you in terms of budget (with price match guarantee), location and anything you might find important. It’s a tailored customer service which will enable you to enjoy your holiday and not to worry about thing. The Concierge360 service is there for you to if you need a baby sitter, a car to rent (you will need a car on the island) someone to cook (either every meal or just an occasional), a driver for a night out or if you want to go for a boat trip. Just to mention a few. The concierge service is available 24/7.image

The company also keeps a few villas in the portfolio on the island of Formentera. The tiny island is one of the most beautiful gems of the world. In my humble view, you can compare its sparkling clean water and white sandy beaches to the Maldives. It’s just a lot more private, a lot less well-known and it isn’t rammed with tourists. If you are staying on Ibiza island, it is still worth to take a boat trip and visit Formentera, you won’t regret it.

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There’s a lot to do on the island with children. Check out Aquarium Cap Blanc which is great entertainment for the whole family, equally perfect for small and big people. More water fun available at AguaMar Water Park For bigger children (8 years old onwards)  Arcobosc Ibiza could be a great adventure located in a natural park in the region of Es Canar. The famous Las Dalias Market is open every day in summertime and they also do night markets (from 7pm). The original hippy market of the island offers lots of fun for children and adults too. If you are after more modern and quirky things to buy, visit Sluiz Ibiza, it’s a great concept shopping experience for the children too and they also run a restaurant which is worth a try. There’s a lot of cute and chain stores too in Ibiza town. Food wise, in Ibiza, you can’t go wrong. Let it be a chiringuito on the beach, a famous beach bar, a Spanish restaurant in Dalt Vila (old town of Ibiza) you’ll find great food, prepared with love and passion everywhere. Everyone’s favourite is La Paloma near Santa Gertrudis, is famous for its organic, healthy and new wave kitchen, in a picturesque setting. Or try Pura Vida near Santa Eulaila.

 

 

Review: Aquatopia Antwerp – Doesn’t Worth The Money

A few weeks ago we visited my cousin who lives near Antwerp and we wanted to spend a couple of hours in Antwerp: visit some children-friendly place and have a nice lunch near the train station. We found both challenging. Our first idea was the zoo, but most of it was under reconstruction so we decided to visit Aquatopia which was just around the corner.

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Initially, we thought we will spend about 2 hours in there, but we were done in an hour including some soft play time. And that was the best part of it. It’s very small, not much to do, a couple of enormous fish tanks with fishes, some rays and some reptiles. All very-very dark. Bobcat was actually scared at some points, that dark. There’s some extra features which also doesn’t make any sense: like a corner imitating the inside of a submarine, but only a big stirring wheel and two metal panels. The reptile section is so stinky and stuffy that we just rushed through. I was wondering if the animals actually looked after properly. Most of it looks a bit run down too. (See the photo of me and Bobcat with that tired looking octopus?) It’s also quite pricey for what it is: we paid €54 for 3 adults and a child. The only nice (ish) thing is a small soft play area by the cafe, but nothing special really. Just a ball pool and some climbing area.

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I don’t recommend it at all, waste of time and money. It was also completaly empty, we only met a few other dissapointed people on Saturday morning.

#OurFaveFive Linky March – Best 5 Of The Month

Well, that was a busy March! I don’t even know where to start 🙂

1. Bobcat turned two. He’s a big boy now, just unbelievable how time flies. We had my parents staying for a few days and we threw not only one, but two parties: one for the family and another one for our local mummy club friends. I came up with the nautical themed party idea and it was great success, everyone loved it. See my article about it: Nautical Birthday Party For Children

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2. Weekend in Barcelona. It’s so lovely to get away for a few days around the beginning of spring and charge your batteries with some sunshine and sea smell! We didn’t do too much this time, just long walks on the beach and visited the zoo. I love Barcelona and  I lived in Spain for a few years, it always feels a bit like visiting home. Wrote about it in this article: Barcelona Revisited

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3. Since Bobcat was still under 2, we thought: let’s make another trip without having to pay for his seat. 😉 So we did a day trip to Antwerp with the Eurostar to visit my cousin. It was short visit but nonetheless good fun, it’s nice to catch up with your favourite relatives from time to time 🙂 and the weather was really kind to us too. We also visited a place called Aquatopia which was, unfortunately, way below our expectations. Waste of money and time. Small and dark place, nothing interesting – planning to write a review soon.

4. Our cultural date night with DH this month was actually a short Saturday afternoon. Seeing Kenneth Branagh on stage was for a long time on my wish list and The Painkiller did not disappoint: a fantastic short comedy piece with superb acting. Not only Branagh is brilliant and funny, but his partner in crime Rob Brydon too. A must see.

5. And of course Bobcat’s first Easter Egg Hunt should be also on the list. We went to Polesden Lacey on Good Friday, to catch up with friends and hunt some Easter Eggs. Unfortunately, there’s no photo of the trophy (Cadbury bunny) because by the time I realised that I’d like a photo with Bobcat and his chocolate bunny, it was gone. It wasn’t me, nor Bobcat, which leaves only one person to blame, but he denied the charges 😉

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We wish you all a lovely April and don’t forget: even if it doesn’t always feel like that, it’s SPRING TIME!


 

 

Barcelona Revisited (Hotel SB Diagonal Zero Review)

We travel to Barcelona every year or two because I love there, it’s one of my favourite places in Europe. I lived in Spain for a few years, it feels like home 🙂 It’s always good fun, very child-friendly and a lot warmer in March than in London.

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This time we wanted to be near the beach but still close to town and just go for long walks and relax. A long weekend with spa experience and great Spanish food. So we booked SB Hotel Diagonal Barcelona Zero which was very convenient for the beach, as it’s just on the other side of the road. Not too bad transport links, tram stops just outside the hotel. They also booked us a travel cot (nearly new, good quality) free of charge. We were very impressed with the breakfast: from grilled vegetables for your scrambled eggs to churros with chocolate sauce they had everything. They even had a dedicated kids’ breakfast section – unfortunately, mainly with stuff which would exceed an adult’s daily sugar intake: pink sugar coated doughnuts, sugary cereal and yogurt, chocolate pastries, chocolate pretzel sticks etc. So cover those little eyes when entering the breakfast room.  imageTwo things we were really unhappy with: firstly, that we couldn’t enter the spa with Bobcat being under 14 years old. The information they have provided to Hotels.com is deliberately misleading: Hotel Information on Hotels.com, not saying a word about extra fees (not only the treatments cost money which is normal, but just to enter the spa too) or the age limit (14 years old. Really???). So, there goes our getaway spa experience out the window. When telling this to the receptionist she simply replied: apart from the age rules, I can’t use it anyway, because I’m pregnant and the chemicals in the water might be harmful. And it’s just a jacuzzi anyway. If we’ve known about this, we would not have booked this place. The other thing was that the door lock was broken and the door didn’t close properly. So they sent a handyman to fix it. On the photo below you can see the AFTER repair state. image

Apart from having nice walks down at the beach and stopping at every single playground (Barcelona has loads of playgrounds and they are great), this occasion we went to Barcelona Zoo, where Bobcat had some fun with feeding goats. imageIt was just very sad to see how small space the animals get in a small European zoo. Not only in Barcelona. They are just old, founded in the 19th century, and in those days no one cared about animal rights. It was heartbreaking to see the cheetach walking up and down in its cage, seemingly beyond stressed.

The City Park though, never dissappoints. We went for a walk after the zoo, stopped at the playground again of course.

Barcelona is always a great getaway choice with kids. From early spring the weather is very plesant.

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