The Marriott Regents Park Hotel Staycation (With Elmer the Patchwork Elephant)

Press Visit

It’s no secret that this year has scuppered our travel plans. We were really fortunate to have gone to Dubai in January but our dream holiday to Disneyworld was cancelled and our ‘make up for it’ trip to Disneyland Paris was also vetoed. The thing about holidays and breaks away is that they really are essential for me. I work from home mostly and manage cases of significant child abuse. I don’t really get that feeling of closing the office door and much of my work lingers in my mind. Our trips away really give me the re-set that is absolutely essential when working in this line of work. In fact, holidays provide this for so any people. A re-set. Aside from this, they are often the places where families make the fondest memories that they go on to tell year after year.

Ita with Elmer!

With all this in thought, on the weekend we had a much needed ‘staycation’ in London. Ok so we didn’t exactly travel far, but the night away provided us with the little break we so badly craved! We packed our over night bags and drove to Regents Park where we stayed at The Marriott Hotel.

Currently, Marriott Hotel Regents Park has a special ‘’Celebrate Elmer the Patchwork Elephant’s 30th Anniversary’’ offer for families.

This offer includes:

• An overnight stay in a spacious Deluxe Family Room

• A welcome gift for children (choose from an Elmer themed gift such as a patchwork rucksack, costume, book or comfort blanket alongside some sweet treats)

Our lovely surprise!

Ita loves Elmer and spotted the colourful patchwork elephant as soon as we made our way from the carpark to the hotel reception. I genuinely believe that seeing Elmer subtly let Ita know that this was going to be a fun stay for her. Immediately we got the sense that the hotel was incredibly child friendly and this was confirmed by the lovely host upon check-in. Our room was not quite ready so my number was taken and we decided to venture to Camden Town. We took a black cab which was waiting outside and it cost us £8.

After mooching around Camden for a little while, I received a call to let me known our room was ready and Ita was very keen to head back and check out our room. We were very impressed and even more so when Ben from reception called up to make sure that we had everything we needed.

I have to admit, I was blown away by the size of the family room. There was lots of space and having the Elmer goodies ready and waiting made Ita feel incredibly special. Straight away she wanted to do the activity booklet.

It’s completing her Elmer activity pack

After an hour of Ita jumping on the huge bed, we were ready for our pool booking.

Due to covid and the necessary precautions, you must book the pool and gym amenities and this can be doing via reception. You simply choose a time and you can access the area for an hour. This is to ensure only a limited amount of people are in the pool at any one time. I would suggest booking this asap because the pool and gym is actually part of a leisure centre and not just for the hotels residents.

The pool was clean and warm and an hour was definitely long enough as Ita was visibly shattered afterwards. We had planned to eat at the hotel restaurant but because Ita was so tired we decided to order a pizza to eat in our room! Currently Carluccios, the restaurant attached to the hotel, is closed and so is the hotels main restaurant. Although, you can order and eat in the lobby area. For us, this actually worked in our favour because the simplicity of eating dinner in our room added to feeling comfortable and relaxed. Fortunately the hotel is well placed for lots of local good food too!

Of course there was bed jumping…

After, what felt like the best nights sleep, we got ready for breakfast. We headed down stairs to the ground floor where a buffet style set up was arranged. You can go up to the station and choose your food, but a member of staff puts the food onto your plate for you. The breakfast room was spacious and the food was really good. The selection was well varied for even the fussiest of eater! We were so pleased that we were able to eat breakfast in the dining room. Safety measures were in place with staff wearing PPE. Simply being able to sit down and drink a warm coffee was lovely.

Check out was quick and simple thanks to the quick service check-out. I don’t think we ever used these before having a child but now they are an absolute blessing!

The staff at Marriott’s Regents Park were all so courteous and friendly.

I asked Ita what her favourite part of the stay was and she said ‘’swimming’’. Had we been able to stay longer, I would have booked a pool slot for the Sunday too. Instead, we had just enough time to walk around and see a few of the many animals placed around the hotel. I can honestly say though, Ita loved this break and it was largely down to Elmer and the thoughtful Elmer gifts.

An idea of some of the goodies children get to pick from

I know I have already said this but the hotel really is perfectly situated for seeing London. Although we headed to Camden, the hotel is very close to central London as well as other family friendly places to explore such as;

ZSL London Zoo – 1.6km away 

Camden Market – 1.6km away

Madame Tussauds – 3.1km away

Hyde Park – 4.3km away

Oxford Street – 7.4km away

There is even a Regents Park Mystery Treasure Trail!

We have previously done detailed posts on ZSL London Zoo and Madame Tussauds so do check them out. It is handy to know that Merlin do offers on their attractions and again, booking ahead secures you with really good deals.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable stay. The hotel was large and clean and our room was perfect for a family break. We all felt very safe and the precautions that Marriott Regents Park Hotel have put in place are enough to keep you safe without impeding in your stay. I think staycations are going to be popular because of all of the uncertainty when it comes to travelling. And as such, this is one offer I really recommend booking up. Having had a quick look, there is availability during the Half Term and a few weekends throughout November and December. This hotel would be ideal if you are hoping to visit London over the festive season.

The hotel is so clean and has lots of these hand sanitiser stations

This family offer (with Elmer) is running until 16 January 2021.

For further information or to book your stay, click the link below.

https://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/hotel-deals/lonrp-london-marriott-hotel-regents-park/

By way of a quick round up;

The collaboration with Elmer is only running until 16 January 2021

The hotel is centrally located to London’s top attractions

The hotel has a car park

The hotel has a pool and gym (remember to book your slots!)

The restaurant is currently closed but there are lots of food outlets locally

Don’t forget to check out our IGTV of our stay!

Thank you so much to Marriott Regents Park for hosting us.

Outside the hotel 🐘

Halloween Festival, Marsh Farm Essex

(Press Trip)

We have just returned home from a brilliant day at Marsh Farm and all I want to do it talk about it! As always, the theme is eccentric and detailed and we had such a ghoulishly fun day.

Ita and Frank

At the moment, you can buy tickets to either the pumpkin patch or the halloween festival (which includes access to the pumpkin patch). From the moment we entered the farm we could see lots of pumpkins and decorations and we even got to meet a character straight away.

I think I have spoken about this a lot, but meeting “characters” is one of the best things you can do from a child’s point of view. It really brings it to life! Ita also met Frankenstein and a fortune teller! There were also other characters including an incredibly tall skeleton, a wizard and a walking pumpkin!

Ita collecting her sweeties from the beautiful fortune teller

To start off with, we played a quick round of crazy golf. I always convince Ita that crazy golf starts at the 8th hole… thank me later parents! The area here is not manned so golf clubs are sorted into ones that are clean and ones that need to be disinfected but the signs are very obvious.

We then headed to the 3D cinema to watch Hansel and Gretal. The show is on quite frequently but remember you need to wear a mask inside unless you’re exempt – they do have ones on the door which I was really impressed with because as good as we are, Dominic forgot his today and we thought it would mean that we had to miss certain things out. Ita loved the show – it wasn’t scary at all so perfect of your child is slightly apprehensive about Halloween. (Just like Ita is!).

Pumpkin picking!

There are 2 small fairground rides situated just by the 3D cinema so Ita went on these and then we decided to collect our Halloween Quiz sheet to hopefully follow the trail and win a sweet treat! To collect your form, you need to head to where the bouncy pillow is. Ita actually got one wrong (LOL to blaming the child) but she was given a riddle and asked to repeat it to the fortune teller. The fortune teller must know all of the riddles off by heart because she knew which question Ita had gotten incorrect. Long story short, Ita got her treats! The story tellers set up is brilliant and is such a gorgeous photo opportunity.

Close by was the pumpkin patch so we headed there. The field was packed with lots of pumpkins and different squash but it was quite busy so we didn’t spend much time here. Again, there are lots of photo set ups. All gorgeous and detailed. When you enter the farm you are given a £3 voucher for a pumpkin and there are actually lots available at decent sizes for this price.

There is also a Halloween funfair here now and it looks really good! It was just a tad too scary for us but what a fab addition to the event!

Yet another photo opportunity

The Halloween Festival includes:

🧟 Spooky Walkaround Entertainment
🎃 Free Pumpkin to the value of £3 per full paying child
🎃 Free entry to our Pumpkin Village
🎥 3D Halloween Cinema
🤪 Adventure Play
⛱️ Sand Pit Fun
⛳ Crazy Golf
🍔 Takeaway Food & Drink
🐷 Adorable Animals
🎠 Carousel and Tea Cup Rides
🤪 Outdoor Play
🏰 Bouncy Pillows
👻 Spooky Fun Fair

The Christmas shop is also open and the ornaments and decorations had me thinking about putting up my tree on 1 Nov… I might still do that!

Anyway back to Halloween… You must book your tickets in advance and the Halloween is only on from 24 – 31 October!

https://ticketing.partyman.co.uk/WebStore/shop/ViewItems.aspx?CG=MF&C=mfhf

Prices are dependent on age but start at £15.99.

We had a brilliant day. I honestly believe that Marsh Farm go to such lengths for their events and it really shows. It is not one to be missed!

Winnifred Sanderson (Hocus Pocus) DIY Costume

After posting this photo of Ita as Winnifred Sanderson from Hocus Pocus, I was blown away by the response. Mostly because we all know Ita isn’t the biggest Halloween fan, so this was the only character she wanted to be… and because buying this costume in the UK is completely unattainable, I put this together myself.

It’s just a bunch of…

I received so many messages asking whether I would consider selling the costume but the truth is, it was a DIY job and is just not good enough to sell on to someone!

Instead, I am going to try and help you to put together this costume, or a very similar and recognisable version anyway.

Firstly, the most recognisable part of Winnie’s outfit is definitely her ginger curly hair and her green cape/dress. These were the first 2 factors that I started looking for. The cape was relatively easy since I had resided myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be the exact same as the one from the movie.

CAPE:

I used this one from Amazon priced at £8.99. You can find similar versions on eBay and Wish for about £5.99 but these could take a long time to arrive and I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

Green velvet hooded cape

https://www.amazon.co.uk/VGLOOKO-Hooded-Halloween-Cosplay-Costumes/dp/B073P6L3WM/ref=sr_1_5?dchild=1&keywords=green+childs+cape&qid=1602693107&sr=8-5

I am sure this is the same cape for slightly cheaper;

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Halloween-Christmas-Hooded-Cloak-Robe-Medieval-Witchcraft-Cape-Robe-Costume/264887939051?_trkparms=aid%3D555018%26algo%3DPL.SIM%26ao%3D2%26asc%3D20160908110712%26meid%3D17e42781c3af4a4c8193790a2a4248be%26pid%3D100677%26rk%3D1%26rkt%3D30%26mehot%3Dnone%26sd%3D273505039761%26itm%3D264887939051%26pmt%3D1%26noa%3D0%26pg%3D2386202%26algv%3DSimplAMLv5PairwiseWeb&_trksid=p2386202.c100677.m4598

You will see that in Winnies costume, she has elongated sleeves but I could not replicate this. Instead I decided to cut the cape so that the bottom curved and then use gold paint to draw on the symbols – again, just like Winnies. I hoped this would distract from the sleeves and I think it did the job!

The paint was Dylon in GOLD 43 and was around £2.50 from ebay. I totally winged the symbols so who knows what they mean!

Gold cloth paint

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/DYLON-3D-FABRIC-CLOTHES-PAINT-GLOSSY-PUFF-PEARL-AVAILABLE-/192364454497?var=&ul_ref=https%253A%252F%252Frover.ebay.com%252Frover%252F1%252F710-53481-19255-0%252F1%253Fff3%253D4%2526pub%253D5574631662%2526toolid%253D10001%2526campid%253D5338624526%2526customid%253D25b3e5d9a6c6650180eab918ae20199c%2526mpre%253Dhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.ebay.co.uk%25252Fitm%25252FDYLON-3D-FABRIC-CLOTHES-PAINT-GLOSSY-PUFF-PEARL-AVAILABLE-%25252F192364454497%25253Fvar%25253D%2526srcrot%253D710-53481-19255-0%2526rvr_id%253D2642855962288%2526rvr_ts%253D27fc590b1750ad3952b51039ff1aa20c

I did also intend to glue gold robe along the edge of the cape but I did not have enough left after creating the bodice on the dress. I don’t think it makes a huge difference but if I had some I would have definitely added it. I think it would have created weight to the cape (which is very light) so it would have flowed better.

I then simply used an old brooch to tie the cape together at the front and used a slight bit of elastic at the back to create the illusion that it was more fitted then it really is.

HAIR:

Winnies red curly hairstyle is really synonymous to Hocus Pocus so I knew I had to get this part right to make the outfit recognisable. Many of the wigs were simply way to expensive. One from America was over $130 so it was totally out of the question. There was one for £40 on eBay but I did think it was slightly too expensive so I decided to make my own. It was actually far easier than I expected.

I cannot find the exact same one that I used but if you search ‘ginger curly wig’ plenty of options will come up and you will be able to choose the best option based on your budget. The one we used was approx. £12.

This one is very similar. One with a long fringe is ideal because it provides you with the ability to make it look a bit messy.

Wig from eBay

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/GINGER-RED-COPPER-Costume-fashion-party-Long-Curly-Straight-Wavy-Women-full-WIG/321842347431?_trkparms=ispr%3D1&hash=item4aef4c7da7:g:DQYAAOSw~gRV2w~k&amdata=enc%3AAQAFAAACcBaobrjLl8XobRIiIML1V4Imu%252Fn%252BzU5L90Z278x5ickk5v8gVt3hEWLVg%252F253w6XCalRzIjGcY45H3ozH%252B1MxBKjy2BUmsgp5MSguqteU6jsSb0BYiDGa4Bdde29vuw%252FgQRnbyBHTgTXx458yDn39Qyq5prbg%252FwxujN%252F%252BG6d8xamGH7uewYcQA%252BHQsEF%252BhBmERxtOn84ZyEayJHeLG3%252BgZu3wL1vYvZHEaWFjU62hRSwwZMX%252FUaWRa91lMJqqHyZEHY5qlEHoQfn%252FDPBjRguzsvnc6c6CCpMCLLoiTPCVra7FLOqZC8Ibl3vivIS%252BeOCGvnzzERfi66KtnZl32CTVd03vGydJIY3yYrB2NZXNooRy05NqTWJu3z7nRVJ4bmLuWfkzxQaX02V9RxLBBxaz76OEmNLE7z5MVKKBppmuwNdurs2EbHkA8E1Pu9LshsecCJZA8EesVXZVLugb0uY2OMg7Jz4JiTqAzQw43%252FO8TEx2EwFvVe2GCx73GBaPc%252BcZ8VykRklK0SOjP9kcmBqd%252BGjT8DEnW5EFdX9RzIfZYLjPxOWwe0thoOMssXKX7JXmhj9VW4EKrseUa1bgBui5vDlekkoEi9DFVS8JzIx5WS%252FNaum7BtNfhSQlpDEs7bi06J9hhqzjBHPGyAHjcW4hY7gM17C2IELDP56iUGXEldw3vOCsiMUQuiI664lWardo9ySukvfQTDnTKYvY4ah6ubMZUPmpfFqPrw3jF9lE%252Bj5AK6F1xsMyDZzoJ9UwMCdPEAEi%252BYEwa4gZtwDYSMPgsiMvi6nwnWlph32QKX6aCOCpHuL02sAozQysrsWDhRpWA%253D%253D%7Ccksum%3A321842347431077c28957d4c4eb880ee17bbca627652%7Campid%3APL_CLK%7Cclp%3A2334524

Ok so making the wig into Winnies hair…

You will need LOTS of hairspray and pins for this. LOTS. I also wish that I had used 2 small doughnuts for this too as I think it would have been far easier to pin into place.

Essentially the goal is to create two space buns and cover them with curls.

Start by separating the hair into pig tails. Tie one section to keep it separate.

Take the first side and (keeping the fringe and some strands separate), tie it into a high pig tail. Once tied up, you can either curl the wig on a lower heat or you can twist strands into a curl and pin this way. I curled much of the wig because I felt it looked better. Then repeat on the other side.

You might find it ends up looking surprisingly neat. So gently pull the hair from the front to create more of a bouffant look.

I know this sounds difficult, but it is easier than you think! You can keep adjusting it until it looks right. Use plenty of hairspray to keep it in place.

I have googled Winnifred Sanderson countless times and in almost every photo her hair looks different. It just has to be recognisable.

DRESS:

Under Winnies green cape is a purple dress with a gold laced bodice. This was so hard to find and the closest I came to it was this below.

Purple witches dress

https://www.partydelights.co.uk/halloween-costumes/childrens-be-witched-costume-11242.aspx?ChosenSize=FANC11243&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIwsOV7ce07AIVB7LtCh1yNw06EAQYASABEgKEWfD_BwE

I removed the silver buckle and using the gold rope that I bought from eBay, hot glued it along the already existing black bodice.

MAKE-UP:

I think it goes without saying that for Winnie, its all about the lips. So I simply used a bit of red lipstick drawn only in the middle of Itas lips to create the look.

So as you can see, it was quite a bit of effort. Ita absolutely loved it though! So much so that I took around 50 photos just trying to capture one of her not smiling!

She just wanted to keep smiling!

Peter Pan Afternoon Tea, The Shard

Nothing will make up for the fact that we have cancelled 2 Disney trips this year, but we do feel Ita’s disappointment and so when we heard that The Shard would be doing a themed Peter Pan tea, we booked as soon as we could.

Details of the tea 🧚‍♀️

The afternoon tea takes place on the 31st floor. For those who have not visited before, you take a very quick elevator to the top and you must go through metal detectors and have your personal belongings checked upon entering the building. There was a queue to enter the building and you’re advised to therefore arrive around 15 minutes before your booking. Ita, dressed as Tinkerbell no least, was whisked through security and complimented on her rightfully themed choice of dress!

This was actually where the magic started and we had no idea. In the lift we met a man called David from Northern Ireland, who told Ita she looked like a princess and asked her was she excited for the afternoon tea. Ita made no bones about telling him she was tinkerbell and was very much looking forward to it! David, turned out to be the Front-of-House Manager at Aqua Shard and he made our visit so much more than we could have expected.

David made Ita sit on top of the chairs to get a photo – things like this, where children are treated as if they are special guests, make experiences so memorable 🧚‍♀️

Once we were seated, we were greeted by Alessandro, who again made such a fuss about Ita and explained to us what was in store. He kindly noted that because Ita was so small, she would be eating from our afternoon tea and even went as far as bringing her some separate ham and cheese sandwiches. This is where understanding families is so important – we were not made to feel uncomfortable about not getting Ita afternoon tea. It was totally understood and Ita’s sandwiches were complimentary. In fact, she was still offered the Never Grow Up mocktail which really was so thoughtful. (Big thank you so Allessandro for this!).

Delivery of our afternoon tea

The presentation of the afternoon tea is magical. It arrives on a big ship just like Captain Hooks and then dry ice is poured from the back as if the ship is flying through clouds. Ita was mesmerised! Best yet, the ship remains there for your stay and isn’t taken away as a short lived prop. This is so well thought out and executed. I honestly believe that even as an adult you’re blown away by the creativity. David told us how much went into the planning of this and it was obvious.

There savoury treats were possibly one of the best we’ve ever had at an afternoon tea. My husband especially liked the “baked pig” which was a caramelised onion sausage in puff pastry and I loved the codfish Captain Hook! The “tick tock tinkerbell” was so cute because they actually spray gold “fairy dust” over the desert, right in front of you!

Who’s more excited?

There are also two signature drinks- ‘Never Grow Up’ punch made out of pineapple, elderflower tonic and grenadine. (This was Ita’s mocktail). And ‘Fairy Dust’, containing mint and cucumber flavoured vodka, absinthe, apple, ginger and lime. I stuck with the champagne because that’s my little tipple during an afternoon tea.

I cannot compliment the staff that we came into contact with more. They were all so polite and friendly. Natalia kept checking everything was ok and made such an effort to speak directly to Ita. It was such a lovely experience because of the efforts that these team members went to. To top it all off, once we had finished, we were politely escorted to the other end of the restaurant where two cocktails were waiting for us, all thanks to David! What a surprise! We are truly so grateful.

The magic ship!

This themed tea will be around for a good time yet and I would absolutely recommend it. I have nothing to fault whatsoever. We have a bit of a reputation for our love of afternoon teas and in our opinion… It’s the best themed afternoon tea currently running in London. HANDS DOWN! Yup. Quite a statement!

The Peter Pan afternoon tea is £52 pp and currently only running 4 days a week, Thursday to Sunday. This is being extended to 6 days a week.

You can book here via this link to reservations;

https://aquashard.co.uk/experience

The Peter Pan themed tea is in partnership with Great Ormond Street and £2 from every person going will be donated to the hospital.

The biggest of thank yous to David, Natalia and Alessandro for making our visit so memorable! 🧚‍♀️

The menu

Tonies Review

A few weeks ago I posted some new stories that Tonies are releasing (to my stories on Instagram). These releases included a few Disney ones such as Frozen, Toy Story and Cinderella. In response, I received lots of messages and 2 mums in particular asked me to provide a review on them, as they are considering buying a Tonies box for their children come Christmas.

Itas collection so far!

Ita has had her Tonies box now for almost a year and has used it every day since receiving it! She was sent it last year to demonstrate and took to it straight away. Every morning she chooses a story and that’s how we start the day.

Tonies is basically an audio story book, especially designed for children. They describe it as “an imagination-building, screen-free digital listening experience full of stories, songs and more”. And I have to agree! Often, the box is playing stories in the background whilst Ita is playing with other things and it has cut her use of TV down dramatically.

Ita was one of those children who had zero screen time until she was around 13 months. (Believe me when I say that killed me!) but when we learnt she had sight problems at 15 months, you can just imagine my reaction. Sods Law or what! As I didn’t allow for screen time, we would typically listen to the radio a lot and my phone would always be blaring nursery rhymes via YouTube. I wish we had a Tonies as far back as then because they have little story books totally suitable for this age – singing ABCs etc. We have actually just bought a ToniesBox for our nieces as their main Christmas present. They will only be 16 months and 4 months in December but they will be able to benefit immediately and they will still be using it at Itas age and beyond.

Setting up the box is quick and easy. It took about 10 minutes all in all and you only need to set it up once. The adventures begin automatically when you place a Tonie (the characters) on top of the Toniebox. It magically (and magnetically) attaches to the box, allowing you to listen to something different every time. It is so simple to use that Ita does not need any help.

The Toniebox instantly recognises who’s standing on top, and they have the magic key. The key unlocks the right audio files so the box can download them from the Toniecloud. The story will begin immediately.

The ToniesBox is £69.99 (it was just on offer for £62 so keep your eyes peeled). Each story is £14.99 and we have a small collection so far. I have just ordered Room on the Broom and will be purchasing other stories in the next few months as Christmas presents for Ita. Especially the Christmas Carol one! Not only are there well known books available, but there are also educational Tonies too such as dinosaurs and sea animals.

Our favourite

The design is very simple and it does not flash colours or take up lots of space. This is why as a parent, I really rate the ToniesBox. I personally like that it doesn’t attract attention because it doesn’t distract Ita from doing other things whilst it’s on. I have also found that because the design is so simple, she does not keep messing around with it!

I really love our ToniesBox and I think it’s one of my favourite “toys” that Ita has. It is definitely worth the price and I think anything that stimulates a child’s imagination is brilliant.

Here is the link to the shop;

https://tonies.com/en-gb/shop/

The Snow Centre, Hemel Hempstead Hertfordshire

In March (before the Covid19 lockdown), we were invited to The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire for a 2 hour session of skiing. None of us have ever skied before, so myself and my husband were nervous and didn’t know what to expect, whereas Ita was so excited and couldn’t wait to get her equipment on and hit the snow.

Ita with her instructor

We entered the Snow Centre half an hour before our allotted time (it gave us plenty of time to get our equipment and feel comfortable with our surroundings), we checked in and were told to head to a designated waiting area, which was next to the equipment rental area (helmets, boots and skis) and the locker room area.

We then got changed into our thermal outdoor wear, and finally our boots (this was not an easy process). We waited for our instructor to arrive and were then lead to the snow.

Our instructor was amazing, he was firstly so encouraging to Ita and made her feel so safe, he gave her the confidence to do loads of different activities on the snow, like jumping, turning, slowing down, etc.

He also could see our competence levels were quite low and was very accommodating. There was no pressure to do anything too extreme or beyond what we were capable of doing.

We started off by getting our skis on the snow and moving around, we then crab walked up the slope (harder then it sounds) so we could slowly glide down and come to a stop, we then added a jump (which Ita nailed completely), Daddy on the other hand, not so much.

We then used the lift to get us higher up the slope and proceeded to try and do turns and then eventually stop. Again, Ita was brilliant at this and managed to do it with little to no problems, Daddy again on the other hand could not HAHAHA.

The 2 hour session was really hard for us, we were really tired afterwards and our legs were in agony – but as beginners I believe the 2 hour session is essential as we got so much done and became quite comfortable on the snow at the end. My husband was getting so tired towards the end and he kept on falling over, so I think it was the perfect duration for us all.

The Ski Centre has 2 large slopes, one of which is for the more accomplished skier, and the other is mostly used for lessons, which is obviously where we were based. Both slopes are 30m wide, this came in handy with the amount of people doing lessons at one time. There is plenty of room to get used to being on the slope.

Our video of the experience

The Snow Centre offers a wide range of lessons for the complete beginner to the want-to-be professional. You can get a family lesson booking also which is what we did, the prices vary depending on the amount of hours you want to take and also the amount of people.

https://www.thesnowcentre.com/lessons/families

Also available are Snow Fun activities which include Snow Boarding, Free Styling and also a potential Birthday Party experience where kids and adults can go down the Ringo Slide (which looks like so much fun)

https://www.thesnowcentre.com/snow-fun/summer-2020-activities

Driving to Disneyland Paris (Guest Post by The Kershaws)

Intro

We’re Gaz, Anj & Ollie. We’re a family from Greater Manchester that are Disney obsessed! We try to get to a Disney park whenever possible. Before COVID hit we were passholders at both DLP and WDW and have been going to Disney Parks regularly for the last 12 years. We had our son Ollie in 2017 which has brought a new magic into our park visits (he’s been to WDW 3 times and DLP twice already) – you can’t beat seeing magic through your child’s eyes.

We started up our socials in January this year and you can find us on Instagram (@thekershawsadventures), Twitter (the_kershaws) and YouTube (The Kershaws Adventures) where we share all our memories of our trips and other fun family content.

Ferry vs Eurotunnel

One of the main decisions you need to make when driving to Disneyland Paris is whether to take the Ferry or the Eurotunnel. We personally prefer the Eurotunnel as neither of us do well on the Ferry due to seasickness. The further you can book in advance for both the Eurotunnel and the Ferry the better as the prices go up closer to the time.

The Ferry is based in Dover and is usually the cheaper out of the two options. The channel crossing takes approximately 1 hour 30 minutes. Here is some information on the types of tickets:-

The prices start from £49 each way, here is the link to their current booking and Covid19 information – http://www.poferries.com/en/coronavirus

When you’re booking your crossing time take into consideration that check in closes 45 minutes prior to the time you select. Take the journey time to the port and add this 45 minutes into account before booking your crossing time, we made this mistake and had to get up at 4am to be there for our 6am crossing, not so fun with a three year old! Also if you are aiming to go to the parks the same day as your crossing keep in mind the time difference, France are an hour ahead of the UK and it is a 3+ hour drive to Disneyland. 

Once you have driven on board the ferry you have to get out of your car and go upstairs, masks are currently required to be worn. There are on board amenities but please check what will be available on the website as this may change due to Covid19.

The Eurotunnel is based in Folkestone and although the slightly more expensive option the tunnel crossing takes just 35 minutes. Here is the ticket type information:-

Here is the link to the Eurotunnel booking page – https://www.eurotunnel.com/book/YourJourney/(0) and Covid19 information – https://www.eurotunnel.com/uk/travelling-with-us/latest/covid-19/

As with the Ferry the check in closes 45 minutes prior to the crossing for the Eurotunnel so take this into account when choosing your booking time. 

You are able to remain in your car on the Eurotunnel and do not have to wear a mask during the crossing however the on board toilets are currently closed. Please check their website for up to date information about their procedures during the pandemic.

Places to stay UK side before Ferry/Tunnel

If you’re like us and a bit further up North you might not want to do the journey in one go. It takes us roughly 6+ hours to reach Dover/Folkestone so we tend to stay in a hotel over night there. 

If we are catching the ferry we stay at the Travelodge in Dover which is literally a 2 minute drive from where you go to board the ferry http://kersha.ws/travelodgedover The Travelodge was only £38 for the night and if you arrive after 9pm you dont have to pay for parking. If you do arrive a little earlier then theres a small complex at the side for food which also has a Nando’s on it 👍

If you want to catch the Eurotunnel (which we would 100% recommend) then we stayed at the Premier Inn in Folkestone, this hotel is a little smaller than the Travelodge and we’re not sure how busy it may get in the summer season but again it was reasonably priced at £40 for the night http://kersha.ws/premierinnfolkestone. Theres a cute little pub on the same site as the Premier Inn and a Tesco about 5 minutes away if you want to stock up on anything you want to take across the channel. Don’t put the sat nav in from the website as we ended up at the Logistics Centre. 

How do you get to DLP?

Its four motorways or as the french call them ”autoroutes” they are A26, A1, A104,A4 – It’s super straight forward to get to. These roads are Toll Roads which work out to around £50 return. You get a ticket at the first toll point and then pay at the second toll point. They do take cash but we recommend using card, no need to type a pin just insert and it’ll auto charge the card. (keep an eye out for the which lane you need to be in) (insert photo) – dont worry about congestion charge as you dont go near enough to the zone in Paris.

Differences in driving in France

Firstly and the most important – you’re on the right! and they use KM not miles! KM usually shows on the inside of your dial on the car or you can change the setting in your car to KM. There are 2 different speed limits in France which are weather dependant. 110km when it is raining & 130 km when it isn’t. HGVs also have periods where they can’t overtake and their speed limit is less. Some cars in France keep their indicator on when overtaking meaning they will move straight back in after overtaking but not everyone does that. Keep this in mind if you’re overtaking in the outside lane as it can seem like the middle lane is about to move into your lane.

Services

If you want to stop off during your journey France has a lot of “Aires” on average, every 20 kilometres along the motorways. Some offer just a picnic area and toilet block, while the ‘aires de service’ provide something more akin to our British service stations. and if you want a Starbucks the closest one is the junction after moving onto the A1 (wan court East)

If you need to fill up in France you’ll also need to know the fuel types in french Diesel = Gazole & Petrol = sans plomb or Octane

What you need to get before travelling in France – In the Car

A few important things you need to make sure you have with you before you cross the border.

What to pack:

Passport

Driving License

French Driving Kit

 • GB Sticker/Number Plate

 • First Aid Kit

 • Spare Bulbs (unless Zion)

 • Triangle

 • HiViz jackets – 1 per person

 • Light Dimmers

 • Breathalyser (not essential anymore but good to have just in case)

The correct insurance – Majority of car insurance cover only covers for 3rd party by default you need to call them to request this and there will be an admin fee to do this. If you have multiple trips planned have the dates for all trips as this will only be one admin fee to pay rather than multiple if you call up each time to request it. You will be sent a certificate from your insurance which you MUST take with you so allow enough time to receive this before your trip.

Check breakdown cover – Make sure you have European cover added to your breakdown policy as breaking down in France could cost a lot.

Parking at DLP

If you have an annual pass parking is FREE  –  excluding the discovery annual pass (the cheapest annual pass) which can add it on for €60

On site Hotel guests free

Price for non-Annual pass – 

cars €30

Camper vans €45

Motorbikes €25

Also a reserved area closer to the front called Disney parking + which is €45

Alternatively you can park for free at Val de Europe and is 20 minute walk, make sure not to park on the blue lines during weekdays as this is residents parking only.

Additional Tips & Tricks

Save money on food by investing in a Cooler for your car. The one we have purchased gives you the option to cool or to heat which is also great for picking up takeaways when you’re back home!! Our last trip we took ready meals to have back at our hotel room (it had a microwave) which saved us a LOT of money on food. (link to the cooler – https://amzn.to/3jimk5H)

Plug adapters & Extension Lead – Having the extension lead means you only have to have one plug adapter and you can charge multiple items in the room at the same time. 

Hot hands for the winter – Hot hands are great for the winter months as it can get quite cold in France if you plan to go around Xmas time. They’re super cheap and last for the entire day in the park.

Snacks – If you’re coming from up North the journey can take some time. We highly recommend having snacks in the car on the journey down. 

Music – Downloading the Disney parks playlists on Apple music/Spotify to get the whole family in the mood is a MUST.

Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea, Brigit’s Bakery London

Yesterday was a day we won’t forget in a hurry! That’s because yesterday was the day we boarded an old route-master, decked out in Peppa Pig galore, and ate cakes and treats as we were driven around some of the most famous landmarks in London including Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, Nelson’s Column, Tower Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, Borough Market, Green Park and Piccadilly Circus.

Outside the Peppa bus

As far as I can think, this is the first of its kind. It’s so unique and this is why I think it is such a brilliant concept. For years now, hotels have cleverly designed themed teas for children but none have been as child focused (or as fun) as this one.

At our table

Every thought has been given to make sure this children’s afternoon tea is enjoyable as can be. There are tablets on each table to provide a Peppa Pig guided animation of the London tour. Ita absolutely loved the sing-a-long songs thanks to our host and was pleased that she got to take home a special Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Activity Book.

The food was very typical of what children would eat as opposed to a fancy high tea. There was plain sandwiches, mini pizzas and cupcakes and children could pick between water and hot chocolate to drink. My only gripe would be that you’re paying £45 for the same as your child (£35) which I think is a bit pricey. I also think there should be more drinks options for children but I think the options are limited because of space on the bus and also because your drinks are served in little Peppa themed take away cups. For the adults, it’s worth knowing there is alcohol on board (thank me later!)

Themed biscuits

Let’s talk Covid. The bus is running at a reduced capacity and there are plastic screens up between each table. The staff wear masks and gloves throughout and although you must wear a mask to board the bus, you can take it off once you’re at your table. The food is also preset out with a plastic box over it which is removed once everyone is seated. You are also provided with hand sanitizer upon boarding and disembarking the bus. You are also requested not to use to toilet onboard the bus so remember this! You can use the toilets at Somerset House. Despite being in close capacity to others, I did feel safe.

Food is covered until everyone is sat at their tables

We had a really good time at the Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea. Ita loved the theme and the fact that we were being toured around London, and I really liked how unique the experience was. I would absolutely recommend going if you can but because of the price I would suggest awaiting a special occasion. I really hope they continue doing different themes! We would definitely go back!

The Peppa bus runs from Thursdays to Sunday’s. There are 2 sessions per day at 12.15pm and 2.45pm. Departure is from Somerset House and the tour lasts approximately 90 minutes.

For further info and to book, here is the link.

https://b-bakery.com/london/bus-tours/peppa-pig-afternoon-tea

Treats!

Please note, our visit was a press visit but we were not obliged to do a blog post. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to provide more info!

Madame Tussaud’s, London

On the weekend we were fortunate to be invited to Madame Tussauds in London. In short Madame Tussauds is a museum chain for life-size wax replicas of famous celebrities & historic icons in themed galleries.

Ita is such a little Rey fan!

I had not been to Madam Tussauds for a number of years and Dominic and Ita had never been at all. First impressions upon queuing were that the staff were very respectful of social distancing and were in PPE. There are marks on the floor too which helps remind people where to stand. We found that scanning the tickets from your phone was also really helpful and well thought out. Even going through security, you are excepted to hold you bag open and assist with searches which again, was really thought out and made me feel really comfortable.

We were also told to keep our masks on walking around but that we could remove them for photos (so long as you put them straight back on after).

Once we were inside, I was so surprised by how much space we had. We took the elevator (one family per lift) to the lower ground to begin our tour. We entered into Hollywood where we met some famous faces such as Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet and Tom Hardy. There is also a themed bar in this area which I was not expecting! You can buy snacks and drinks here… including champagne.

Ita and daddy with The Rock

Ita absolutely loved the Marvel area and the lay out was fantastic for photos. It is a brand new interactive experience, where Captain Marvel joins the likes of Spider Man, Iron Man and Nick Fury in the attraction’s Marvel area. We did not get to experience the 4d cinema though and I wasn’t sure if it was closed due to the restrictions or not. There are no staff in this area to ask so we moved along! (I really hope we didn’t just miss it!).

Meeting Iron Man!

Dominic loved the sports area and Star Wars too. Yoda looked brilliant!

It was here in these areas that we noticed how well Madam Tussauds was laid put for those with disabilities. There is access for wheelchairs especially so this attraction is perfect for an inclusive day out. (Please see below for further details for disability access).

Chewie

There is also a ‘Behind the Scenes’ area… this terrified Ita! King Kongs huge head and loud roars made her run straight through! She was too afraid to even meet Tinkerbell. Ita is much like me in this respect, she is very jumpy. So if you do have a child who you think might be frightened, be prepared for this area.

My favourite photo however has to be of Ita with the Queen! I believe that in this area usually you can sit down to eat but it’s currently closed due to the Covid restrictions.

When Ita met the Queen

I have to say, I was expecting the models to look familiar but I was really so surprised by how life liked they looked. Especially Donald Trump and Kanye West. The work that goes into these wax models is incredible. There is actually an area where you learn about this from none other than Beyonce.

There are lots of food kiosks inside and one had an amazing chocolate fountain and waffle station. This is just before you enter into the Marvel section so hold out for this if you can! (It is worth it!).

There is a reduced capacity at the moment due to covid so you must book on line in advance. It is open daily from 10 – 4.

Tickets start from £28 for 16 years and over, 3-15 years from £24 and children under 3 are free.

All in all, we were only inside for about 45 minutes so if it is not too busy you might find the experience quite a quick one. This however was ideal for us. What I love about London attractions is that you can do combination tickets which really give you a better value for your money. So, if you did decide to visit Madame Tussauds then you could buy a combo ticket to include the following attractions.

London Eye

Sealife

Shreks Adventure

London Dungeons

Madame Tussauds is right by Baker Street station too which makes travel very easy. As we attended on a Sunday, we decided to drive and parked close to Marylebone Station for free!

There are also some really interesting VIP Experiences at Madam Tussauds. The Birthday Package is £20 and you get a bag full of themed goodies. There is also an Early Bird option where you pay £60 and gain access to Madame Tussauds 45 minutes before it officially opens. I would really consider this if you do have the money because as explained above, you would essentially have the entire place to yourself and be finished before it even opens!

To book tickets, head over to

https://www.madametussauds.com/london/en/

Don’t forget you can also get 2 for 1 tickets if travelling to London by train thanks to National Rail.

Check out this link for further info.

https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/madame-tussauds

Link for information on disability access

https://www.madametussauds.com/london/en/plan-your-visit/disabled-access/

Covid Info

https://www.madametussauds.com/london/en/plan-your-visit/know-before-you-go/

Ticket options
Combination ticket options

Agagio Aparthotel, Edinburgh

Since returning from Edinburgh, we have had lots of questions about where we stayed. It is only fair that we are totally transparent and state that this was a press visit. Although we received our stay for “free” we were also asked for genuine feedback.

We were very kindly invited to visit the The Adagio Aparthotel in Edinburgh for a little family break away and it totally surpassed all expectations.

The beautiful exterior of Adagio Aparthotel

Firstly, we have never stayed anywhere like this. We usually opt for a central hotel and have not stayed in an apartment for a number of years. Since having Ita, we have not deviated from hotels but I genuinely believe that the Adagio has changed this.

The Aparthotel sits right on the Royal Mile so was the perfect location in the city centre and we were really impressed with the amenities! It is so close to all of the major historic parts of Edinburgh including the castle and St Giles Cathedral.

Aesthetically, the building is beautiful. It looks so old and the stone walls were just stunning. From the moment I saw the outside I was already impressed.

So let me explain why a hotel will no longer necessarily be our go to!

The Adagio Edinburgh Is an apartment meets hotel and has 146 modern apartments, so is perfect for business trips or for family breaks. As well as its front desk service that is open 24 hours a day, the Adagio Aparthotel offers a variety of other services, including on-demand babysitting, a choice of breakfasts during the week and at weekend. You can even bring pets and Dominic was pleased that there was a fitness room with lots of equipment.

The apartments are equipped including free and unlimited internet access, LCD TV and telephone. The apartments also have a fully equipped kitchen, a work desk and a living area which feels really homely.

As you can see below, the Aparthotel offers a range of amenities including room cleaning, laundry and even a baby sitter services.

Further details of amenities available

The Adagio Edinburgh does not have parking so we parked at the Holy Rood Car park which is about a 5-10 mins walk away and it is at a reduced rate of about £12 every 24 hours. The main train station, Waverley, is also very close and within walking distance to the hotel.

We really enjoyed staying here and would absolutely stay here again. The location alone makes it so worth it but the kitchen was such a bonus and I totally took for granted how handy it was to be able to cook etc for Ita.

Waiting in the beautifully decorated reception area for our Uber to dinner!

They have taken such great precautions for Covid-19 too with one way systems and plenty of hand sanitizer available. The front of house staff were always wearing face masks and there is a barrier to stop you from coming too close to the reception desk. We felt very safe I have to say. Everything was so clean and even seats in the reception area was marked off to ensure social distancing was in force.

The Adagio Group has locations across the UK including Brentwood and Leicester.

To view further information on the complex, here is the link;

https://www.adagio-city.com/gb/aparthotel-edinburgh.shtml?merchantid=ppc-adg-gen-goo-uk-en-mob&sourceid=bp-cen&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=ppc-adg-gen-goo-uk-en-ed-exa-sear-bp&utm_term=gen&utm_content=uk-en-GB-V1175&gclid=CjwKCAjw97P5BRBQEiwAGflV6TaywZPWGGTJtKiB4sjGT3Y5ScmY802gRF9qveys-iFnP8W-4CeOGBoCe50QAvD_BwE

To view our tour of our apartment, see below!

Tour of the Aparthotel