Rush Trampoline Park, High Wycombe Press Visit

With storm Ciara taking over the UK, we were so glad to be invited to Rush Trampoline Park in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire this weekend.

There are currently two Rush locations in the UK, the other being just a 10-minute drive from Birmingham city centre.

Rush Trampoline Park has exciting and unique activities for bouncers of all ages and ability.

These activities include: a huge Main Court with an amazing amount bouncing space, Tumble Lanes, Assault Course, Battle Beam, Foam Pit, Dodgeball, Rush Wipeout, Basketball and a football area also.

We arrived before our start time at 10am and checked in, we had to sign waiver forms (typical at a trampoline park) and then were given our Rush socks, which need to be worn at all times when jumping.

Then, we were required to watch a safety video just before we went through to the main area. The video last a couple minutes and gave us all the information and details we needed.

After that, the fun began and all of us bounced away for a full hour.

We used most of the areas as much as we could, and we had so much fun doing so!

Ita and Mia loved the Main Court where we spent most of our time as we had loads and loads of space in jumping areas. We all then moved to the Foam Pits which we enjoyed taking a long run and jump into (and then struggled to get out of LOL)

As the girls then tackled the Assault Course, Dominic decided he wanted to dunk in the basketball lane – which he did eventually, to everyone’s surprise!

For the last few minutes of the hour we had, we went to the dodgeball area and had a lot of fun trying to hit each other with the sponge balls.

After all the jumping, we got the girls some slush puppies and some food which is all available at the café. The café has a lot of food options for both the kids and parents.

When entering Rush, the kids can access the soft play area also. This area was very busy with very minimal spaces for the adults to sit, so we didn’t stay there for much time.

Rush is ideal for kids and adults of all ages, as parents we had such a good time too and would highly recommend Rush Trampoline Park as a good venue to visit.

Rush offers a lot of other sessions, for example, fitness classes, Rush After Dark, Corporate, Toddler Sessions and Kids Parties.

To find out more about Rush Parks and information, check them out below:

https://www.rushuk.com/

Disneyland Paris at Christmas

So granted, this blog post has taken me over a month to complete but here it is! I received so many questions about our trip to Disneyland Paris in December and I didn’t want to do a half hearted post. I hope this will help those going to Disneyland for the next festive season.

I have broken the post down into sections that are likely to be most useful; hotel and Christmas decor (since you are visiting during the festive period!), special meet and greets, weather and of course, Christmas magic.

Family photo with the one and only Stitch!

Booking / Hotel

So first and foremost, we decided that we wanted to book a festive trip to Disneyland about a year before we went. This enabled us to book with a deposit and do as much planning as possible. As always, we booked with Magic Breaks as this always works out as the cheapest option for us.

We booked for 2 nights in Newport Bay Hotel which included 3 day park tickets and a Disney mean plan. This was at a total cost of £720 so divided by 3, it was very reasonable. (Park tickets alone are very expensive). Because we fly instead of taking the Eurostar or boat, we get 3 full days in Disneyland and this is enough for us since we have worked out our trips and how to get the best out of them. Our flights were a total of £250 also which meant that our flight, accommodation, tickets and meal plan came into under £1,000 for us all.

Newport Bay Hotel

As we booked a Disney hotel it meant that we also had the benefit of magic hours – I’ll get to that in a moment.

I really cannot stress this enough… you are very unlikely to get a better deal booking this all separately. When people talk about doing this on a budget I have found that their trips have never come out cheaper. This was a big mistake that we made on our first family trip to Disneyland for Ita’s first Birthday. For example, a one day ticket is “from” £76.52 (Disneyland paris website). Now times that by 3 (people) and then 3 again (days)… you get my jist.

Having checked on Booking.com for a hotel for 2 nights by Disneyland Paris, the cheapest was the Explorers Hotel (which is not a Disney hotel) and was £670. Staying here means there would be no magic hours and you would need to get a shuttle to and from the parks.

I really would suggest booking well in advance and taking advantage of a package deal.

The Newport Bay hotel was huge and we were placed on the basement floor close to the pool. Due to the size of the hotel, getting out alone took 15 minutes each time and then there was a further 10 minutes walk to the park. The rooms were decorated in a nautical theme and were very clean. I would definitely stay here again although I’d ask to be closer to the entrance/exit just for convenience.

Now, if you are staying at The Disney hotel, Newport Bay or Davy Crockers Ranch you could pay for your room to be festively decorated for about £250. We actually did book this extra and we were quite disappointed when it seemed like the hotel had forgotten! If you are planning to have your rooms decorated with a Christmas tree etc, I would advise emailing a week before to remind them.

Weather

I knew it was going to be cold. I completely expected it to be cold. We even bought a thick snow suit for Ita just to make sure that she didn’t get too cold whilst waiting around in queues. However nothing could have quite prepared me for the harsh wind! Because Disneyland is so open, it feels far colder than you expect. The snowsuit was a god send for Ita especially for the evening luminations on the castle.

Bring lots of layers and hats and gloves. Waterproof shoes are ideal because November/December can be quite wet. I would really recommend a snow suit for smaller children. If you prepare for it to be very cold you will have a much better time than if you don’t!

Christmas features

Disneyland Paris was beautiful decked out in the multicoloured Christmas decorations and the Disney Village especially felt very festive. I had read that people were a bit disappointed in that the decor wasn’t as OTT as you might imagine – I partially agree with that too. The main decoration is on/around Main Street USA. There is a Christmas scene set up at the bottom of Main Street just in front of the castle. I’ve been told that America goes wild for their decorations so I can’t wait to see that when we go. However, there was plenty of photo opportunities I thought (but agree they could add much more!).

Ita in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle

Christmas Parades and Meet and Greets

There is lots of Christmas magic when it comes to the special parades put on at Disneyland. The Disney Christmas parade was a highlight of our trip and was something that Ita really enjoyed. The characters are dressed festively and the floats are thoroughly decorated too!

There is also Mickeys Magical Christmas Lights which is on at about 6.30pm (just before the fireworks). At Town Square, Santa, Mickey and Minnie have a seasonal sing-a-long before switching on the tree lights. It really is beautiful. The best way to view this is to stay on Main Street USA rather than Town Square.

There are special character additions over the Christmas period too including Stitch, Sandy Claws (Jack Skellington) and of course Santa himself! You can also meet Donald in his Christmas outfit but we we’re so disappointed to learn that you can’t meet Minnie or Mickey in theirs.

Stitch is out all day so the queues have peaks but also times where it will be quicker to meet him. We queued for about 45 minutes but Ita didn’t seem to mind at all and was so excited the entire wait.

To meet Jack Skellington you have to download the app Lineberty. At 9.30 daily, time slots are released for you to meet him. On the first day we couldn’t get an appointment at all and it did feel quite stressful. We got lucky on our second day when both myself and my husband were in the app, constantly refreshing, to be given an appointment for about 6 hours away.

Ita and Sandy Claws!!

A special greet that we managed to secure through Lineberty was also meeting Olaf over at the Studios park. we somehow managed to time this perfectly in that we meet Olaf and went straight into the Frozen song-a-long show. However, because of the app appointments we did have to cancel our dinner reservation at Agrabah Restaurant which was really disappointing and frankly frustrating. The restaurant would not budge at all and we’re so strict with times. We felt that Ita meeting Olaf would mean more to her but this is definitely one issue with the app.

Ita and Olaf!

Something that really was not publicised much at all was the fact that you could also meet Santa! He is inside at the Mickey greet point at the back of Fantasy Land. I was so happy to learn that you could meet Santa here but unless you have Magic Hours, I think it would be incredibly difficult to secure a meet. Firstly it is done by appointment only on the day. We used our magic hours to go and queue for an appointment. We queued for about 50 minutes and received our appointment to come back in a few hours. As you can see, it wasted quite a bit of time. I also think they could have tried harder surely 😂

Ita and Disneyland Santa

These meet and greets were the only different ones to the usual planned ones I believe. Ita did have her heart set on meeting Marie but she was only available the week after we were there. Instead of Marie we met Thumper. You can’t really let this decide when you book to go since characters aren’t released beforehand.

Christmas Food

This was something I was messages about quite a lot on Instagram – whether there was any themed food like in America. In short, not really.

We have always struggled to buy Disney themed snacks in DLP apart from in the Studio’s where there seems to be loads. We found that the only place there were Disney snacks was in a little hut in between the tea cups and the carousel.

Disney snacks

Overall…

Overall, we had a wonderful Christmas break to Disneyland and I would really recommend going at this time of the year. Could more be done to make it feel more festive? Possibly. More festive costumes and a bigger variety of things to do specifically for Christmas would be ideal. However, Ita loved meeting Santa Stitch and the shows were brilliant.

Would I recommend going at this time of the year? YES absolutely!

Chi Restaurant – Intu, Watford Collaboration

Over the weekend, we were invited to visit the newest restaurant to open in the Intu Shopping Centre in Watford – Chi.

Chi is an Asian inspired Street Food restaurant.

The dining area is small inside, but now there is a lot of seating outside which makes it easier to have your food in comfort.

When ordering, you go to the counter, pick your food, they provide you with a buzzer for when your food is ready.

The menu has an array of Asian food choices such as:

Bao Buns (5 different choices including vegan).

Small Plates including Baby Back Ribs, Gyoza, Prawn Toast, Chicken Wings, Panko King Prawns.

Big Bowls with Satay Chicken, Teriyaki Chicken, Katsu Chicken, Thai Chicken, Beef Short Rib, Vegan Panko Sweet Potato.

There are also kids’ options which were fried chicken with rice or noodles and vegetables.

Banh-Mi (Baguette) with Satay Chicken, Fried Chicken, Pork, Beef Short Rib, Vegan Panko Sweet Potato.

They also do desserts, which include Crispy Sweet Bao, Ice Cream and Bubble Waffles (we wish we tried these at the time, but we will next time)

We ordered three different types of Bao Buns (chicken, pork and beef), chicken gyoza, Katsu Chicken Curry with Rice, the Teriyaki Chicken with Rice and Ita had Chicken with Noodles.

The food was freshly made, and you could tell when you receive the Bao Buns and the Gyoza’s.

The Bao Buns are currently my favourite type of food, so seeing these and the way they were made was mouth-watering and so nice to taste!

We couldn’t recommend this place more, we loved the food, loved the service and was surprised at how reasonable the price of the food was.

The staff were so friendly and accommodating and were always making sure we and other customers were happy and satisfied.

The restaurant is also very child friendly and the menu is catered for kids but there was no obligation for the children to have their own meal.

We will be back to visit again very soon and no doubt it will be a regular occurrence.

For more information about the restaurant, please have a look here: https://www.chirestaurants.co.uk/

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea, The Sanderson Hotel

One of my favourite themed afternoon teas is (and I’m sure will remain) the Alice in Wonderland tea at The Sanderson.

The menus are hidden within vintage books and teapots and the theme is very well thought out and obvious. Every item on the plate was themed visibly and I loved that the mini drinks even had the Drink Me tags on! It really is such a fun tea!

The food is delicious and plentiful and we were even offered more.

The settings itself is a bit drab and it can easily feel cramped. The hotel itself isn’t too pretty but the room in which we had tea was like a little green house! I wish we had asked to be moved to the other side where the beautiful plants were since there were plenty of of other tables available but this is a lesson learnt on my part. However, I can totally imagine taking Ita here and feeling at ease. This is one we will aim to bring her to this year for sure!

Prices do vary – adults are from £48 and children are £35. Those under 4 are free.

There is currently 20% off!

You can book here;

https://afternoontea.co.uk/uk/london/oxford-street/sanderson-hotel/

Cinderella Afternoon Tea, House of Fraser

I’ve been asked a lot recently for ideas on things to do that are princess related and then someone asked if I would recommend this tea.

If I’m honest, I had completely forgot about the afternoon tea that you can have in the Cinderella carriage within House of Fraser… and this is why!

For Ita’s 2nd Birthday, we booked this little experience. At the Tea Terrace within House of Fraser you can chose to have tea in a special ornate carriage with Cinderella. On this occasion we only booked the carriage because Princess Belle had visited her at home! We had thought that the carriage would be magical enough.

When we booked this it was relatively new and so we were really disappointed to find that the seats were broken in the carriage and was partially held together by duct tape. The food was not themed at all which was also very disappointing. I think we ordered a few sandwiches and we felt quite annoyed that the concept had been sold to us as a themed afternoon tea, when in fact it was more so a cafe.

Overall the experience was totally below par and far too expensive for what it is.

The carriage costs £25.90 and there is an additional usage fee of £12.95 pp or £10.95 for those under 12 years. For this fee you have the carriage for 1 hour and 15 minutes.

On top of these fees you then have a £21 minimal spend – which usually covers beverages and food.

The carriage holds 6 people (4 adults).

The carriage is bookable directly via

https://www.theteaterrace.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA9dDwBRC9ARIsABbedBNED-HQx2q2SPfL4_VDK5PT_Uom4k-pPXKB6Gq49k10cJzPSO4KkkQaAnMfEALw_wcB

The princess can be booked separately by one of the party companies that they work with. You just need to email your details and a cost will be charged separately. Feedback from another mum on Instagram was that having booked Cinderella, she then posed with other children which didn’t feel right.

Here are some snaps from our visit.

The Disney Store Opening Ceremony

Since posting about this on Instagram, I have received messages daily asking about it so I thought it would be easier to do a blog post on this.

In case you are unfamiliar, some Disney Stores have what is known as “Opening Ceremonies” when the shop opens daily for business. This is where a child (or adult!) is asked to help Disney staff awaken the magic by officially opening the shop using a huge special key. Staff count down whilst the lucky child turns the magic key into the lock.

Those who are lucky enough to do the Opening Ceremony are gifted with a miniature duplicate key which is a keepsake / collectible. At times where the key is not available, staff can use their discretion to gift you a toy instead.

You can not book this in advance. The only way to take part is to be the first person outside of the shop prior to it opening. Therefore my advice is to get there very early and make it known you were there first!

The ceremonies only take place at Imagination stores. In the UK, these stores are in; Aberdeen, Blackpool, Belfast, Bromley, Dublin, Glasgow, Milton Keynes, Oxford Street, Westfield Stratford, Sunderland and York.

This is entirely FREE and truly memorable. Ita was completely blown away and it made her feel very special.

Nickelodeon Adventure Centre, Lakeside Essex Press Visit

Yesterday we travelled to Essex to check out the newly opened Nickelodeon Adventure Centre.

Having grown up watching Nickelodeon, both myself and Dominic were quite excited to visit.

We arrived early to Intu Lakeside and parked outside what we think was the main entrance. There are no signs outside for the Nickelodeon Centre so we really weren’t too sure where to go or if we were even at the right place. However, the website said the centre was in Intu Lakeside so we decided to park up and take a wonder.

We headed into the main shopping centre and saw a sign that said we needed to head to The Quays. Now, if you have not visited Lakeside before, then this could be quite confusing.

Nickelodeon Adventure Centre is situated by the lake, where the majority of restaurants are. This area is called The Quays.

Once you are outside by the lake, you really can’t miss it!

We headed into the brightly coloured building and collected our tickets. Then we headed upstairs to the play areas.

The layout of the centre is very good – very open planned with lots of space for children to explore.

The first area when you enter is Paw Patrol themed. It has various cars with games inside and on the back, a huge slide (which Ita loved) and a play area with tubes to experiment rolling balls down.

In this area, Ita met Marshall.

There is a small Dora the Explorer area close by which would be perfect for younger children because of the astronomy lights.

Afterwards, we went through to the Teenage Mutant Turtles area! This is one of the bigger spaces with a soft play type area, a balloon ride and a jungle theme style set up.

It is quite a dark space, much to fit with them theme. This area is definitely for slightly older children in my opinion but there are plenty of places to sit in case you wanted to keep a close eye on your child/ren.

In this area you get to meet the turtles. We met Raphael, I think it made Dominic’s day frankly!

One of the bigger areas here is the Sponge Bob Squarepants space. There are lots of interactive activities here and also a boat ride. Online it says that children can ride with an adult as long as they are at least 1.10 metres but unfortunately Ita was turned away and staff said she too small for this. (She is over 1.10 metres so we are unsure why). None the less, Ita really enjoyed this area!

We also went to the Slime Cafe for Starbucks coffees and a little rest. This area is nice and spacious too. It is exceptionally clean and the staff were friendly and helpful. There was a large variety of food and drinks to chose from and we noticed other parents had brought their packed their lunches too.

We also went to the 4D cinema which was a highlight of the day! You must be 1 metre tall to enter. It was a really good show – be prepared for the splashes of water!!

Before going we had read some mixed reviews. However, much of the negative comments I believe are quite unfair. Adults cost £7.50 (cheaper if you book online) and children cost £14.50 (those under 90 cms are free) and these prices are very reasonable for the experience.

In the few hours we were there, Ita met Marshall, Raphael and Patrick. The character meets alone are worth the expense in my experience. Children really enjoy them and it is unusual to meet so many characters in our outing. There are also no time restrictions so you can spend as much time as you like here.

Furthermore, you are able to bring your own snacks etc. This is something that many places don’t allow you to do.

Once you pay your entrance, then you don’t have to pay more for the rides or the 4D cinema. There is no hidden arcade inside either!

I do wonder if people’s expectations are too high sometimes.

The centre is clean and the staff are friendly. The lady who brought Raphael out (and took the professional photos) was unbelievably friendly and approachable. She really made Ita’s character meet really fun!

In terms of parking, Lakeside is FREE! This was a little bonus too.

Overall, we really enjoyed our trip to Nickelodeon Adventure Centre and would recommend it, especially as a rainy day or winter plan!

https://www.nickelodeonadventure.co.uk

You can book tickets online here;

https://tickets.nickelodeonadventure.co.uk/funnel/orderflow?execution=e1s1

Christmas Day at The Ritz, London

A few months ago I was online trying to book our annual festive afternoon tea at The Ritz. Usually, we would aim to book for a weekend half way through the month but I realised we had possibly gone over board in booking other activities… because of this we really didn’t have much spare dates in December.

However, I did spot that CHRISTMAS DAY had a few slots available and decided that actually, a trip to The Ritz on Christmas Day might just be the perfect treat!

For us, Christmas Eve is our real Christmas. We typically spend the day indoors watching movies, playing board games and will have a traditional roast dinner too.

We booked the 3.30pm slot and a few weeks later The Ritz emailed me to ask for Ita’s details (age and interests etc). I did think this was a tad odd but i replied with the details and within minutes, I received another email telling me that Santa would deliver Ita a present over our tea! I was really surprised because we didn’t pay a premium for our booking so it was a really nice touch, compliments of The Ritz.

As previously mentioned, we do visit each year and we are always more than satisfied with the service and with the staff. They always go to great lengths to make us feel welcome and the staff always pay great attention to Ita. They even greet her at the door!! Not many other places acknowledge children so it means a lot when somewhere like The Ritz can.

This year’s decorations is much like other years – I’m not complaining! I love red and gold decor and it always looks stunning. The tree in the reception is exceptionally beautiful.

When we sat down for tea we asked for some plain sandwiches for Ita. Our waiter brought Ita her own plate of identical sandwiches but without the condiments – perfect! As always, the food was delicious and we were stuffed quite quickly. At The Ritz, if you want more sandwiches etc you can simply ask and they will happily provide you with more at no extra charge. (We have been to a number of other places that will charge you more!!).

Half way through our food we would hear a bell being rung and a bellowing “Ho, Ho, Ho”!

Ita shot up from her seat to see Santa!

I can say without doubt that this was such a magical and special moment. Ita was completely enthralled with Santa, especially with it being Christmas Day!

Ita opened her present which was a washimals – a present she actually really wanted!! We saw that some other children received Lego sets and the older girls received what looked like jewellery. Such lovely and well thought out gifts.

It was so perfect that we have already decided that we will visit again next year on Christmas Day. I’m putting a reminder to book on my phone right away!!

https://www.theritzlondon.com/dine-with-us/afternoon-tea/

Breakfast at The Ivy, Chelsea (London)

Today we drove to one of the most beautiful restaurants in London, The Ivy Chelsea Gardens. We visited last year just before Christmas and the restaurant was decorated beautifully like a gingerbread house. Aesthetically it was amazing, a real life Hansel and Grettle House!

This year, The Ivy Chelsea Gardens have gone for a Narnia theme and it is equally as stunning as last year.

We always make our festive reservation months in advance, way back in August. The Ivy restaurants generally tend to book up your far in advance and we wanted to secure a breakfast slot. The Ivy do the best breakfasts and are usually a bit quieter and relaxed by comparison to lunch or dinner times.

Ita went for the pancakes (of course!), I went for the eggs royal (poached eggs and salmon on English muffins) and Dominic ordered the eggs benidict. We also had coffee (naturally), a bottle of sparking water for the table and some juice for Ita. One lovely member of staff was so fond of Ita that she brought over some cakes too for the table. This is exactly the type of kindness you want when bringing a 3 year old out to a restaurant.

Breakfasts are very reasonably priced at The Ivy and portions are really big too. We paid about £45 for our visit (for all 3 of us).

As always, we really enjoyed our visit to The Ivy in Chelsea. The food is tasty and the service is friendly. The decorations were gorgeous too!

If you visit between noon and 3pm (before 31 December) then a special faun, Mr Tummus, visits to read stories. Such a lovely addition!

We’re Off to Find a Unicorn book, Owlet Press

Owlet Press very kindly sent Ita this book a few weeks ago – We’re Off to Find a Unicorn.

The book is written by Eloise White and is illustrated by Cory Reid.

Based loosely on the famous, Were Off on a Bear Hunt, this book incorporates the fun and adventure with cleverly hidden unicorns and wild journeys to the likes of the jungle! Therefore Ita also got to learn about endangered wildlife along the way.

The book is thoroughly engaging and is so interactive. My favourite thing about this book is the diversity of the characters in their ethnicities but also disabilities. It is a beautifully subtle way of demonstrating that differences are irrelevant and totally accepted as normal.

It is so naturally incorporated too which I really liked. I wish more children’s books were like this.

Ita has enjoyed this book so much that she has memorised where the unicorn is.. on every single page!! I would absolutely recommend this book for children.

You can purchase this book via this link below

https://www.owletpress.com/product-page/we-re-off-to-find-a-unicorn

It is also available in WH Smith’s and Waterstones as well as on Amazon.