Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts
Showing posts with label family fun. Show all posts

Thursday, 27 April 2017

48 Hours in Hamburg

Hamburg isn't usually the first city you think of in Germany, but we were recently invited to visit and we loved exploring this fascinating city as a family.

We have always enjoyed city breaks and rather than stopping them when we started our family, we have instead tried to find a family friendly way to do them.  Most cities are full of brilliant attractions for under 5s if you look below the surface and we loved discovering this side of Hamburg.

I checked the Hamburg website before we arrived and noticed that we were arriving in time for the Hamburg Dom.  A huge fair that stays for a month at a time, three times a year, the Dom is free to enter and full of lights and colour.  After our drive it was the perfect place to explore, although the weather had turned and it was getting chilly. 

It wasn't exactly a cultural visit, but we loved noticing the difference in food stalls, the giant cookies emblazoned with 'Ich liebe dich', the donuts and spirals, the stands selling all manner of sausages and hot dogs.  The skies were threatening rain and the fair wasn't too busy but still after 3 hours we hadn't taken it all in, it really was huge.  With the lead up to Easter there were giant decorated eggs which the boys loved spotting and everything was wonderfully colourful.

The centre of Hamburg is serviced by an underground, a light-rail network, buses and ferries and to get back to our accomodation we had to get both a train and bus.  The whole journey was only about 20 minutes door to door but the boys loved watching out the windows and exploring the differences between the transport there and at home. Everywhere was really accessible with the buggy which made getting around really easy. 

After breakfast at our hotel, we ventured back into the city centre to really explore.  Unfortunately the weather wasn't on our side, but the rain held off and we could walk around marvelling at the criss cross of rivers that run through the city, wandering across bridges and looking up at the beautiful  green roofs on many of the buildings.  The Minatur Wunderland came highly recommended and as the boys had enjoyed the local Hornby centre we thought we would try it out in the morning.

Hamburg, family travel, family travel blogger

Hamburg for families

The Wunderand really was amazing and it was so much bigger than I was expecting.  We could have spent the best part of the day there as the boys were mesmerised by the tiny worlds.  Set over two floors, you can observe minature towns, cities and countries with many American states being represented, Scandinavia and of course Germany.  The exhibit was interactive in the two year old's favourite way - buttons.  Each display had several buttons that triggered something, for example a man to bungee jump, a disco to light up, a ferris wheel to turn.  We loved pressing the buttons and watching to find out what we had done.  

It was really busy and not ideal with a pram, but you could get around and we could always find a space up against the glass to watch.  One of the most magical parts is the way the lights are on a cycle so every few minutes the sun seems to set and everything goes dark so we can see what these cities are like at night.  One display included the Hamburg Dom that we had visited the evening before and it was beautiful watching it light up.

Hamburg Dom, Hamburg for Families, miniature wonderland

miniatur wunderland, Hamburg, Hamburg Dom, come to Hamburg

miniatur wunderland, Hamburg

I would totally recommend visiting the Miniatur Wunderland, it was a fantastic experience for the adults and children and you go and watch the artists creating new figures and areas too which the children found really fascinating.

Come to Hamburg, Hamburg

The Wunderland is set right on the side of a river with the dungeons just below it.  I would have loved to have visited them, but the children are still a little young.  We had a quick run around and wander along the river admiring the statues with their scarves and how grey the sky was.  Ed noticed a coffee rotisserie and being a bit of a coffee addict he insisted we went in for a look.
It was a really interesting place with a ridiculous selection of coffee.  You could watch the coffee being roasted, try different varieties and of course eat cake.  There was a shop attached selling all the beans too and I think this was probably the highlight of his holiday.  The boys loved the cakes and I had the best latte I have even tasted.

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the rivers, popping into a couple of shops and finding places for the children to run around.  We had been recommended the Better Burger Company for dinner and of course whilst in Hamburg it is compulsory to have a hamburger! 

better burger company, Hamburg for families, Hamburger in Hamburg

It was exactly what we needed after a day on our feet, the burgers were delicious and you can pick your toppings so we each had something a bit different.  It was a really chilled out place with long tables to share and seating outside if you wanted to people watch.  We didn't stay long as the boys were starting to get pretty tired by this point!

The journey back to our hotel was the perfect way for them to calm down and they settled easily once we got in.  

We had a long drive back, so we only had a couple of hours on Wednesday morning to finish exploring the city.  There were a few things I wanted to do including a bus tour and the Hagensbeck Tierpark which is like a zoo, but rather than cages, the animals are seperated by a narrow moat.  We decided to keep things simple though and went for a walk around the city admiring the stunning architecture. There is such a contrast between the UNESCO buildings and the modern concert hall and shopping arcades but the skyline was never boring and we found it fascinating working out what some of the buildings were.

Hamburg for families, Hamburg

Hamburg for families, family travel, Come to Hamburg

We left at midday and had a wonderful time in Hamburg.  I think it is a great city to visit and there is a lot for young families to do.  Mostly we found the people friendly, although on the trains don't expect anyone to give up a seat for you or your children even if you are babywearing.  Everyone we met spoke fantastic English and other than on the trains they were really helpful.  

We stayed in the Appartello smart living hotel which was convenient, comfortable and perfect for families and I will be writing a review very soon.

We were invited to Hamburg on a press stay and vouchers for some of these experiences were provided.  Other bits we paid for ourselves and as always this is my honest opinion.

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Rollercoaster

Motherhood is a rollercoaster and sometimes it feels like we are riding it in the dark.  There are those moments where you can't stop smiling, it is exhilerating, exciting, you let go with your hands because you trust that everything is going to be ok.  There are those moments where you can feel yourself climbing, anticipation building, knowing things can go one of two ways - it may be smooth, it may be scary.  Then there are the moments when you are just free falling, you don't know what is coming next, when this bit will end and how you will feel at the end of it.  Your stomach feels like there are butterflies dancing around in it, you cling on to the bars in front of you for dear life and are consumed by the fall.

We are all on different rollercoasters, all similar but all unique.  Some are milder, a bit like the ladybird ride I used to go on as a child at our local theme park, some are more of a loop the loop with your feet dangling down and you can't stop worrying that one of your shoes is about to fall off and get lost in the blur underneath you.  Being in the dark though, we can't see everyone else's rollercoaster, we can't know what kind of ride they are on. 

You know how when you are on some rides there is a little hidden camera? Well I think ours is social media.  Lots of us people know where that camera is, so they can put on a smile at the right place, even when they are scared, even when their feet are dangling.  Others are generally calm and enjoying the ride at that point.  Their smile is genuine, their enthusiasm real.  I want to smile in my pictures.  I want my souvenir from this ride to be the happy memories, the hands in the air, hair flowing in the wind, shoes staying in place smiles and so that is mostly what I share.

To be honest, my rollercoaster is pretty smooth.  My children can be challenging and I will own up to not always knowing how to deal with them best, to getting frustrated, to not parenting how I imagined I would, how I want to.  I can look into other situations with ease but I can't always take a step back from my own to see where I am going wrong.   Some days my children fight and squabble, they throw and most recently they have decided they enjoy flooding the bathroom.  My toddler has spent months refusing to hold my hand or stay with me out and about which resulted in him being in the buggy most of the time as I struggled to keep him safe when he was out of it.  

Through all this, I consider myself a glass half full kinda girl.  I feel lucky to be in the situation I am, privelidged to be their mama and able to stop and see the beauty in our lives every day.  There is a lot of pressure on social media at the moment to be 'real' and not sugar coat things but I think I am real.  I share snippets of our life, the bits I want to remember.  I don't share my whole life and I will own up to having bad days and weeks but ultimately some things have to remain personal.  

I love social media, I find it interesting, inspiring and it encourages me to see things from a different point of view.  It shows me an insight into other people's rollercoasters and I can share bits of mine.  After having a difficult time with Finn, we have reached a period of calm, we can relax a bit more, enjoy him more and everyone is benefiting.  I don't doubt that the next hill is on the way (especially since Cora is so nearly crawling) but for now, things are smooth, we are mostly pretty happy and we are smiling for the camera.

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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Easter Egg Hunting with Cadbury

The two week school holiday can feel rather long especially when the sun seems to have disappeared again.  My children have been buzzing with the excitement of Easter, talk of the magical bunny and what he may bring and asking to do activities, games and crafts in the lead up.  I love bringing the seasons to life for them, but sometimes I need a little help with ideas.

Cadbury have come up with some great Easter activities to try over this long weekend and we couldn’t wait to do our own Easter egg hunt.  We only have a tiny little garden and it has been sorely neglected over the winter, but whilst we were away last week my parents kindly came over and cleared it for us, so this was the perfect place to hold our hunt.  Admittedly all the weeds would have given us some much better hiding places, but this way they could run around afterwards (and create their very own car wash for the garden toys).

255,000 Cadbury eggs are made at the Bournville factory ever day (that is 177 a minute if you were wondering) and I am sure you can guess the best seller? It is of course the creme egg, which happens to be my favourite so those are what I chose to hide for them (with some bonus Cadbury caramel eggs too)

There are some other great activities on the Cadbury site including making pompom bunnies which I know is exactly what Dylan has been hoping to try and the activity sheets will keep them all entertained in the mornings when Mummy and Daddy haven’t quite had enough caffeine to function properly.

According to Cadbury's research, the top activities over Easter are eating Easter chocolate, seeing friends and family, giving Easter chocolate, going on an easter egg hunt and baking. 

Easter egg hunting is most definitely the boys' favourite activity though, they love the excitement, the race (everything is a race when you have two brothers and a sister) and of course the delicious Cadbury goodies at the end!

If you want to join in with the Cadbury’s Great British Egg Hunt then head over to their website to find a downloadable pack! There are over 300 hunts going on at National Trust sites in the lead up to Easter too, you can find more information on the Cadbury website

 This post is in collaboration with Cadbury

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Monday, 3 April 2017

Dear Zoo Trail at London Zoo

On Saturday we were invited to the launch of the new Dear Zoo trail at London Zoo.  To celebrate the 35th anniversary of the childhood classic book by Rod Campbell, ZSL and Macmillan books have created a trail around the zoo where children can collect stamps for all the classic Dear Zoo characters.  

Dear Zoo was one of the first books we bought when Dylan was little and I think we all know all the words now.  I took Archie and Cora with me for our trip to the zoo as Dylan and Finn were both ill and we loved following the trail and finding the stamps for the animals that were too fierce, too jumpy and too grumpy to become pets.

We were really excited to meet Rod Campbell and listen to him read Dear Zoo to the children.  We loved the special birthday cakes and Cora got to wear her Dear Zoo dress (M&S did a lovely range last year).  

dear zoo trail, London Zoo, dear zoo at ZSL London zoo,

The elephants are currently at ZSL Whipsnade rather than ZSL London so our card came pre stamped with the 'too big' box, but the rest of the stations were located by their animal and the children could do the stamps themselves.  The Dear Zoo theme extends around the park and the restaraunts sell themed kids meals as well as having decorations baring the famous giraffe.  It made our visit to the zoo even more special and Archie was so proud to complete his card.  

dear zoo cakes, dear zoo at London zoo

giraffes, London zoo

dear zoo trail at London zoo, London zoo, dear zoo trail

As well as enjoying the trail, we loved the new Land of the Lion area which transported us into the heart of India with a colourful hands-on exhibit surrounding the mighty (and far too fierce) animals. Archie and his friend T loved playing in the vehicles, trying to pedal the bikes and exploring the different areas. 

The zoo is brilliantly designed to keep children occupied and we could break up discovering animals with areas like Land of the Lion to discover, parks to play in and plenty of space to run around. 

land of the lions, London zoo

land of the lions, zsl London zoo

dear zoo trail, london zoo

dear zoo trail, London zoo, ZSL London

The Dear Zoo trail is on from April 1st to April 17th at ZSL London and is included free with your ticket price.  We had the most wonderful (and exhausting) day.
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Monday, 27 March 2017

A Spring Weekend

There is something so beautiful about each season and I made the decision when I had children to stop having a favourite, and to appreciate the little things each time the weather changes.  The excitement of snow and frost has gone, Christmas feels like a distant memory and it has all been replaced by blooming flowers popping up everywhere we look, the grass turning a healthier shade of green and that familiar warmth that promises summer is on the way.

I am an outdoor person whatever the weather, but with four small ones some things are just a bit much in the winter.  In the spring it all seems a bit easier, there are so many options, so much to explore and it becomes easier to go out earlier and stay out that little bit later.  

Last weekend in the absense of any plans, we revisited a beautiful local gardens with a museum attached.  We are lucky enough to have lots of local parks, but this one is so clean, dog free and full of things to explore.  I took my camera along to capture some pictures of the bigger boys in their new shoes as Bobux kindly sent us some of their new Kid+ range (they now go up to 7 years!) and I love the images I took.  They capture spring in all it's beautiful glory and the adventures we will be having for the next few months.

quex gardens, quex house

spring photography, daffodil photos, quex gardens

Bobux kid+, Bobux

Bobux kid+, Bobux shoes

The boys love their Bobux shoes because the barefoot soles mean they can really flex their feet as they run and climb.  There are some low hanging branches and trees that are perfect for little adventurers and they kept them entertained for ages.

Inside there is a museum full of animals and artifacts that they love looking at.  The highlight is the interactive room though full of instruments to play and stations to draw at complete with mircrosopes and fancy lights. (If you live locally this is Quex gardens and Museum).  It was a great place to calm down before heading home and there was something for everyone. 

The weather still seems to vary so much daily and there is still plenty of rain but this is what our Spring weekends will look like I hope - full of colour, sunshine and fresh air.  
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