Science Museum & Elan Cafe

On the weekend we decided to take advantage of the free offerings in London, it was the weekend before payday after all!

We headed out early so that we could have breakfast at the beautiful Elan Cafe on Hans Crescent, just next door to Harrods. It did not disappoint! The decor is gorgeous. The pink carousel horse and the love hearts are every instagrammers dream!

Ita ordered a huge strawberry sponge cake, Dominic had the walnut cake and I went for the popcorn blondie. We both also had coffee because frankly it’s what we live off generally! It was only about £30 give or take and that included the service charge. I had a few messages on Instagram asking whether I thought it was better than Peggy Porschens so let me explain. Despite the fact that they both sell cakes and coffee, they are very different! I would say that Peggy Porschen set the tone years ago with their pink paint and floral displays in Belgravia but the setting was small and only served a few different cakes (including macaroons and biscuits). Elan on the other hand has always been a cafe with many options food wise. Although they now have a good few cafes (I think about 5?!), it’s the Hans Crescent setting that is the most elaborate in my opinion. The others are quite small and certainly the one by The Dorchester is in dire need of a makeover!

Afterwards we headed to the Science Museum which is only about a 15 mins walk. It’s of course free but we donated £10 as well as buying a science activity book for Ita at £4. All in all, £14 seems fair! There is quite a lot to take in at the Science Museum and you can easily spend a few hours here.

Ita loved the interaction section that has been specially designed for small children. Being that it was a Sunday though, it was very busy and as such we felt like crowds pushed you to the next section too quickly.

Afterwards we took a stroll and headed to Harrods to have some lunch. We love the Pizza restaurant because it’s fairly priced and there usually isn’t much of a queue. At the moment you will see so many gorgeous floral displays because of the Chelsea Garden show.

Harry’s has a gorgeous set up!

I think it’s worth adding that parking in London is free on Sundays and we have never had any problems finding a spot! This time we parked right beside Lauderee (at the back of Harrods).

Disneyland Paris Tips

With only a few days away until our next Disney trip I thought a little blog on tips might be useful for people. Here you will find some information that frankly I wish I had known about when visiting for the first time.

We aren’t new to Disneyland Paris and in fact this will be Ita’s third trip there! Each time we go we seem to pick up tips and new ideas.

The difference however with this trip is that ITA WILL BE 3!

This means that there will be a few more exciting things for her to experience!

Things to Do!

Princess for a Day Experience

This has been something that Ita has looked forward to for a few months now. The minimum age is 3 years.

Booking is between €55-€180 depending on what package option you go for. There is package that is thousands of Euros but you do get to meet an actual real life princess!

To book the Princess for a Day Experience it must be done in person at the ‘Galerie Micket’ Shop located on the second floor of the Disneyland Hotel. It is advisable to book as soon as you can on the day you wish to receive the package.

There are limited times and places each day. For that reason we will make this a priority!

(Tip: About €55 for hair and make-up and you bring your own dress. This is especially helpful as the dresses in Disneyland Paris are about €60)

If this is a bit expensive (I hold no secrets about Disney not being so) then just inside the castle by The Sword in the Stone, there is a mini makeover bit where you can have face painting, etc! its only about €8-€15. Again, you need to be 3 years old at least.

Extra Magic Hours

If you are staying at a Disney Hotel, your park tickets will include extra magic hours. Basically you can access the park earlier than others.

You can meet some of the princesses at the Princess Pavilion and if you have extra magic hours then this is the place I would say to head to first

(The Princesses are: Belle, Aurora, Ariel and Snow White)

Usually the wait time to meet one princess is about an hour plus, however if you access the park early you can usually meet a princess within 30 minutes.

The same applies to meeting Mickey Mouse. He has his own little area inside too and the queues to meet this famous mouse are usually about an hour long. However, we have used magic hours to meet Mickey immediately. No waiting whatsoever.

Free Things That Are a Must:

Disney Main Street, Next Stop: Memory Lane

Catch a nostalgic ride to and from the Town Square aboard a vintage vehicle. Board a classic Mercer, Paddy Wagon, Omnibus, Fire Engine or Limousine and sit back as you are ushered from one end of Main Street, USA to the other. Along the way, behold a bevy or 2 and 3 storey high Victorian themed shop and restaurant from a time and place long since passed.

 Pick -Up Points

One-way trips pick up at the transportation stops in Town Square and Central Plaza.

 Horse-Drawn Streetcars: A Grand Way to Travel

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the sidewalks between Town Square and Central Plaza, then why not travel in style? Just climb aboard one of the Main Street’s ornate horse-drawn streetcars and let your majestic Percheron clip clop along the brick-paved streets while you relax in ultimate splendour and comfort.

Pick-Up Point

Outside City Hall

Disneyland Rail Road

 This is just as you walk under the hotel of the City Hall area (before Main Street)

Embark on a relaxing 20-minute Grand Circle Tour onboard an authentic steam-powered train.

Listen to the clamour of the engine, the chug of the wheels and the call of the whistle as you travel aboard the Disneyland Railroad. Offering convenient stops at Frontierland, Fantasyland and Discoveryland, it’s a perfect way to preview the magic of the Disneyland Park and take in the picturesque scenery, such as the Grand Diorama, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Meals with Disney Characters

There are actually a good few options and it is without a doubt the best way to meet as many characters as possible.

Auberge de Cendrillon

Here you can have breakfast, lunch and dinner and it is the most popular dining experience.

Whisk your young royalty to Cinderella’s Banquet Hall for some fine French cuisine amongst enchanting stone archways and medieval stained glass windows. Here, princesses glide past and stop for a chat and photo opportunity in what is a fairy tale dining experience.

It can be a bit ‘hit and miss’ with the princesses as despite having eaten there numerous times, we are yet to have met Ariel there.

You will have to book this restaurant well in advance as it is always busy.

Cafe Mickey

a 3 Course Meal with Mickey and his friends. This restaurant is right at the end of the Disney Village and is really underrated. Our experience here was really good. We deliberately booked a 6pm sitting and the restaurant was more of less empty.

As with all sit down meals at Disney, it is not cheap. My understanding is that as this used to be a buffet style restaurant, that has now switched to a sit down meal, people expect the same elegance as Auberge de Cendrillon.

I think you can only have dinner here, but I will check this out.

Inventions

Based inside the Disneyland Paris Hotel up on the second floor, this restaurant does the best brunches.

Marvel at the time of a great technological imagination in this open-kitchen buffet restaurant overlooking Main Street, USA.

This restaurant is best known for its Sunday brunches where you get to meet more unusual characters like Lilo and Stitch.

Plaza Gardens Restaurant

Lap up a lavish buffet amid the Victorian splendour of this opulent leisure pavilion.

This restaurant is just inside the park situated at the end of Main Street, USA. This is usually where you are able to have your character breakfasts. It is an added bonus that you can access the park early if you book the earliest slot!

Again, these restaurant can all be booked on your dining meal plan so if you booked one, I’d recommend booking these. I think there is a small extra charge.

Rides for Under 5’s

This is possibly the most useful bit of information because when we first took Ita it was for her 1st birthday.

Fantasyland

  • Peter Pans Flight
  • It’s a Small World
  • Mad Hatters Tea Cups
  • Carrousel de Lancelot
  • Blanche-Neige et les Sept Nains (Snow White)
  • Les Voyages de Pinocchio
  • Dumbo

 Discoveryland

  • Buzz Lightyear Lazer Blast
  • Orbitron
  • Star Tours
  • Autopia

Frontierland

  • Big Thunder Mountain

Disneyland Studios

  • Ratatouille: The Adventure
  • Slinky Dog Zig-Zag Spin
  • Genie Carpet Ride

 Secrets to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

If you go upstairs within the castle you will be able to see Sleeping Beauty’s story and keep a look out for the beautiful sparking tapestries, the knights that snore and the changing rose in the magic window.

Another little known part of the castle is that there is a dragon that you can see under the castle. When facing the castle, take the side way to your left and you’ll enter its cave!

Fireworks 

Are every night!

Frontierland entry is a good spot to see them. This is where we have had the best photos and videos.

 

National Space Centre

Last week we we were invited by @licensetopr to the PJ Masks Small Space Day event at the National Space Centre in Leicester 🚀

This was a place we have been talking about visiting for some time now so we were very excited, especially having been asked to go as guests!

I have to admit, we weren’t sure what to expect as the website isn’t very detailed but I thought perhaps it would be quite small and not very busy. We thought it would be a short experience and with the long trip for us, we put it off a bit. Actually, it completely surpassed our expectations! The centre is huge!! Everything was interactive to help with understanding for little ones and much of the interactive items were deliberately quite low so that children could be included.

Ita enjoyed all the activities including PJ Masks themed stories and trails (which she was given some themed stickers for completing!). We were so lucky to see the special show featuring the planets and the screening of two-part Moonstruck episode special, where the PJ Masks must travel to the moon to keep Luna girl from improving her luna magnet powers!

We even met the PJ Masks themselves!

One thing I would mention though is just how busy the restaurant gets. We ate at 11am since we had travelled up early and at that time Is was reasonable busy. Knock on 12 though and the restaurant/eating space was heaving! The queue for the food was chaotic and since it’s right by the entrance and exit (of the space centre) it was exceptionally busy with people standing around.

Before we went, I had read that U5s were free because the centre does not cater for them – I disagree wholeheartedly. The building and all activities are dedicated to the Space Centre’s smallest visitors, there is so much space and the interactive features were low enough for Ita, with lots of extra activities to keep young hands and minds busy.

Watch out for the launch of series 3 of PJ Masks on Tiny Pop on 24 May 2019 🌒

CBeebies Land and Hotel

On the weekend we took a mini break to Alton Towers in Staffordshire so we could treat Ita to some toddler adventures at Cbeebies Land.

Having previously visited the resort, we decided that the journey there and back was too arduous for one day so this time we decided to stay at the Cbeebies Land Hotel.

Described as ‘’bursting with music, stories and adventures for little ones to enjoy’’ we decided the expense would be worth it! Our package included one nights stay and 2 days park passes for 3.

We booked directly with the Alton Towers website and whilst you can choose from a themed room (Postman Pat, In the Night Garden) we played it safe and chose the ‘’Bugbies Room’’. I mean, heaven forbid we should choose the wrong themed room and ruin the weekend, so this seemed to be the safest option! I must admit, I did laugh when the website read ‘’in these themed rooms you’ll join the CBeebies bugs having fun in the rainbow drenched sunshine meadow’’.

All rooms are designed with a separate area for children and parents and include a children’s entertainment wall with interactive play items.

Every room has toddler friendly features such as bathroom steps to the sink, children’s toilet seats, baby baths and a cot.

All rooms feature tea & coffee making facilities, hairdryer, bottle warmers, baby baths and child toilet seats. Bedrooms also have cots, & bunk beds.

We arrived at Alton Towers at about 1.30pm and although the confirmation did state that check in was from 3pm, we were secretly hoping that we would be able to drop our bags in our rooms. However the 3pm check in is quite strict so we left our bags in reception and were advised that they would be taken to our rooms whilst we enjoyed a few rides in the park.

The Cbeebies Hotel is the furthest away from the monorail (that takes you to the park), likely to be because everything else was built years before, so it did take a while to walk to the train and get into the park. For this reason, I would really recommend a stroller because little legs will get tired very easily.

At the park we flew through the rides including Peter Rabbits Hippity Hop, Octonauts roller coaster and Ita’s favourite, the Get Set Go! Tree Top Adventure. In all, there are 7 rides and also a few live shows and soft plays. So we headed back to the hotel to relax a little.

Much of the hotel entertainment begins at 3pm. You can meet Ubercorn, Iggle Piggle and Upsy Daisy and there is a sleepover with Bing! Ita absolutely loved having this access to the characters. It definitely felt more personal and was so interactive. The space where this takes place is also well thought out – it would be difficult for a child to just wonder off.

In the mix of the evening entertainment we had dinner at the Windmill Restaurant within the hotel. We booked in advance on bookatable (only because we were emailed directing to) but the only time that was left was 7pm. This is quite late for Ita to have dinner so I was a bit apprehensive. When we checked in we did ask whether we could change our booked time and were advised that it was not possible. However, at around 5pm we noticed the hotel seemed quiet so we asked again and were ushered to our table! 

The service was really slow. Reeeeally slow. We were quite annoyed actually because the restaurant was mostly empty (despite the booking service saying it was fully booked). The food took a while to come out and the order was mixed up but was quickly rectified without fuss. Being Southerners, we felt that £60 bill for a pizza, nachos, chicken salad, burger and chips as well as 1 soft drink and 2 cocktails was beyond reasonable.

After the hotel activities and dinner we headed up to our room and were asleep by 8pm!

Ita woke up at around 11pm though complaining that her bed was ‘too hard mama’. I thought she was having a goldilocks moment so I did check… she was right! The childrens beds were really uncomfortable so she crawled in with us.

We were up very early the next morning and had pre-booked breakfast for 8am, again, we were instructed in advance to do this. Breakfast consisted of a hot buffet and a cold one too. Whilst we overheard people moaning, we were pleasantly surprised!

We decided to check out after breakfast to avoid coming back to the hotel afterwards and we were given a pass to allow us to leave the car in the express carpark. This is complimentary but is only given if you ask! It is worth it as the express car park is just by the entrance/exit where as the other car parks are quite far away!

A perk of staying at the hotels was that you gained access to them before the general public. We took the monorail to the park expecting it to be quiet but we were faced with really long queues. With that said, the queues moved quickly and most people were heading to the main theme park so Cbeebies Land was empty! Again, we completed all the rides (some 3 or 4 times each) so we decided to grab some lunch and then explore the main area. We ate at the Little Explorers Lunch box. The food was lovely and again, really reasonable. For 2 jacket potatoes, drinks and pasta for Ita we paid less than £15! The live shows in the middle of the park were great but people start saving their spots about 40 minutes before they begin. You get a photo opportunity afterwards but it is very rushed and the wait is long.

Just outside of the Cbeebies Park there is a face painter and of course, Ita could not resist. At a cost of £7 we found it was cheaper than other theme parks but just a note, these stalls accept cash only.

Within the main park, just by the pirates area, there is Sharkbait Reef Sea Life and entry is free. It was much bigger than we were expecting and is as good as any of the other ones we had visited. The rides in Alton Towers are not really suitable for Ita’s age so its worth remembering that despite checking out before 11am, you can have access to the hotel for the entire day so if you are not planning on leaving too early, then you can head back and watch some live shows there too.

I have to credit Cbeebies Hotel. We had a brilliant time! Had we not have stayed then I don’t think we would have met all the characters and enjoyed our trip so much. I would really recommend staying here!

 

Cadbury World

On Easter Monday we took a road trip to Cadbury World in Birmingham!

It was a long journey so we decided to leave our home at 8am. Accompanied with a fruit shoot, snacks and a Disney soundtrack we jumped on the motorway and arrived in Birmingham at around 10.30am.

To start with we were given a tour through the life of Mr Cadbury himself and the journey of the Cadbury enterprise.

Afterwards, we headed off following the route marked out. There were a few small activities and one was to write our names in chocolate! To be honest, it was too busy to do much else so we queued up as Ita was begging for her face to be painted!

Ita loved the bundles of chocolate she received, having her little face painted (as a pink tiger 😏), and the car ride which she claimed was like It’s a Small World in Disneyland (it’s not, FYI)! She was gutted that it was so short though and that it was the only ride there.

Under 4s are free so for us all to go it was only about £30 (give or take) which seemed really reasonable. Even more so now that we have been because Ita’s age group would have got the same out of the experience as say a 6 year old who had to pay an entrance fee.

The issues we found were mainly around that fact that it was absolutely heaving! I’m guessing because of the Easter event? I can’t imagine it’s always so busy! There was a lot of shoving (not by me, I was on my best behaviour!) which tends to put me in a foul mood because Ita is so small and I worry her glasses will fall off!

There was also ALOT of waiting around. We spent so much of the exhibition standing around waiting which was frustrating.

Over all it was a nice day but not worth the travel. (Although the big bag of Cadbury’s is definitely a pro!)

We are visiting and staying at CBeeBies Land again in a few days so at least Ita can enjoy all the rides she wants!

Welcome!

Well, this isn’t so much as a welcome, because our concept isn’t new. If you have followed my Instagram for a while now, you’ll have gathered that we enjoy travelling (a lot), days out making memories and keeping our beautiful girl entertained!

However, my Instagram highlights are becoming completely full and I’d like to be able to provide more detailed accounts for my followers. So here I am!

Our next break is to CBeebies Land and that’s where our blogging adventure will properly begin. 💖