Showing posts with label london. Show all posts
Showing posts with label london. Show all posts

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

London Adventures with Toddlers.

Trying to find something to entertain four children aged between 1 and 6 isn't always easy and we spent a long time discussing what to do with them all on our day in London last weekend.  We stayed overnight with Urban Villa which is on the outskirts of London and decided in the end to drive in to Central London and visit the SeaLife centre on the Southbank.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

I had a little google on our way in as the nearest parking was showing as £41 and found a website called Just Park which showed us a car park about 10 minutes walk away that would cost only £12 for the day so we parked up there.  The walk was fun, going past Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament and then over the bridge and the Aquarium was easy to find.  We had stopped at a petrol station on the way to grab a couple of boxes of Coco Pops as they have a 2 for 1 voucher on them where the adult goes free so we only had to pay for the two children saving us about £44.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

I wasn't sure how much the smallest two would enjoy the experience but both of them loved it! There was so much going on and so many different species and areas that they didn't lose concentration until the very end which is amazing for 1 and 3 years old.  Dylan at 6 was fascinated and could read some of the information and Archie couldn't get enough of the stingrays and sharks.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

There was a hands on area with the starfish (although Cora was the only one who wanted to touch them) and an interactive area in the Jellyfish exhibit where you could design your own and see them pop up on the big screen which was a big hit.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

There was a gift shop in the SeaLife centre but no cafe or anywhere to get a drink, although there is a McDonalds and Pret right outside.  It took us around 2 hours to enjoy the aquarium, although if we had just had Dylan I think we would have been there a little longer.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

Afterwards we decided to walk down towards the London Eye as there is a great green area right behind it.  After concentrating for so long, the children were ready to run free and they loved it there.  There was a big playground but because of Archie's broken collarbone we stuck to the grass areas, playing games and kicking around a football.  The area was suprisingly quiet considering how busy the Southbank area is and it was perfect for them to run off their afternoon energy.  

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

There were also lots of birds and a couple of ducks looking for scraps so the boys donated the leftovers from their lunch and loved watching the birds running around.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

If you were looking for other things to do in the area, there is the London Eye and the Shrek experience, both of which look like great fun and I know that the London Eye is definitely toddler friendly.  There was a carousel a bit further down from where we were playing too which we somehow managed to avoid!

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

There is so much to do in London with toddlers, but I would recommend a trip to the Southbank area and the Aquarium, although always check online for vouchers as there are very often BOGOF ones available.

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

London with toddlers, London Sealife centre,

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Monday, 2 April 2018

Overnight in London with Urban Villa

I love how even a night away is considered a holiday when you are five and six and when we headed up to London to stay with Urban Villa both boys were super excited.  They had packed a backpack each with their essentials and we decided to drive up as it gave us more freedom.  Urban Villas is in Brentford on the outskirts of London (very close to Richmond Park and Kew Gardens) and as we arrived we still hadn't decided what we were going to do on our mini holiday.

We were booked into a Master Suite which happened to be on the top (10th) floor.  It isn't easy finding hotel rooms that accomodate larger families like ours but the suite was perfectly designed and spacious enough for the six of us.  It had a master bedroom with a really comfy queen sized bed and then a living area with a small kitchen a double sofa bed with memory foam mattress and a table and chairs.  The idea was going to be that the three boys shared the sofa bed but with Archie having broken his collar bone a couple of days before our visit we decided that it might risk it getting knocked so we asked for a second cot which the staff brought up straight away for us.

We had one travel cot set up in our bedroom and a second in the living room and the villa still felt spacious and practical.  The best feature though, was a conservatory style addition along the long wall and round the corner with glass walls that looked over the city.  The children loved running round in a circle, through the big doors at the end of the living room and back into the master bedroom.  It made the room brighter and so interesting.  There was a little table and chairs out there too which was ideal for eating breakfast and admiring the view!

Our night was comfortable and peaceful and the children were so sad when we had to leave the next morning, despite us having an exciting day planned in central London. We decided to head to the Southbank which was a 25 minute drive or 50 minutes on the trains for our adventures and it was so nice to have been closer and not have to travel so far on the morning.  

Urban Villa is definitely somewhere we will consider staying again as the room was perfect for bigger families like ours, the kitchen was fully stocked which gave us the freedom to cook at home and the wifi was really fast and free.  We all had a great night's sleep and the room felt pretty soundproof to the outside world from other noises inside and outside the hotel. 

Our night with Urban Villa was complimentary for the purpose of this review 
but all thoughts and opinions are completely my own

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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

A Christmassy Day in London

I love London, especially as Christmas approaches and they go all out on lighting up the city so spectacularly.  I will find any excuse for a day up there with the boys as we can always find something to do, something new to see and an adventure to have.  There is something so magical about the big city and they do everything on a different level to our local towns.

Last weekend we headed up first thing in the morning to go and see the Snowman.  I took Dylan last year and it was just amazing.  I knew it would be something that would become a family tradition and this year all five us turned up at the Peacock Theatre to watch the show.  The Snowman brings the classic book and film to life on stage and is perfectly designed for toddlers and small children.  With two halves, both under an hour it isn't too long to expect them to sit still and with all the magic on stage even Archie coped (the child who doesn't understand the concept of sitting or still).  

The snowman really does fly across the stage and the dancing is spectacular.  The boys loved when all the snowmen meet Father Christmas in the forest and we loved watching their faces light up.  Even Finn seemed amused although he did snooze through at least half of the show.

Once it was all over, we walked over to Covent Gardens which is less than 10 minutes on foot as we had reservations at Jamie Oliver's Italian.  None of us have ever eaten at one of Jamie's restaurants before and we were keen to try the fresh food and check out the kids menu that is more adventurous than your average chicken nuggets and chips.

Jamie's Italian, Jamie Oliver,

The service was fantastic and I loved the choice that the boys had, with titles like 'chicken lollipops', everything sounded really appealing and all the food was fresh.  Our waiter was fantastic with Finn, we struggle sometimes as he is allergic to dairy and egg but he gave us different options and made sure Finn's came straight away so that he could tuck in.  The boys' meals looked delicious, although the salad in a jar wasn't a hit as both are completely scared off as soon as you put lettuce in there. 

The bloke and I ordered starters and mains, and they were all lovely.  The desert definitely stole the show though, the chocolate pudding was soft and exquisite and the salted caramel ice cream had so much flavour and a perfect texture.  The service definitely made the meal that bit more special as every member of staff seemed to go above and beyond what I expect in a restaraunt.

After lunch we took a leisurely stroll back to the centre of Covent Garden as it is my favourite part of London.  It was our second time this season, but the boys were desperate to see the giant Christmas tree again.  Last year we loved the Lego santa's sleigh and this year's Santa Express didn't disappoint.  The queue was pretty small at 4pm and so we didn't have long to wait before the boys could board the train and press the buttons to make the steam come out.  (The sleigh is there until the 29th December).

Lego Santa Express, Lego Covent Garden, giant lego creation

There was plenty to see and do, from street performers to watch and shops to browse to the spectacular lights and trees all around.  It really brought Christmas alive and we came home feeling festive and ready for the big day.

Thank you to Sadler's Wells for our tickets to see The Snowman and to Jamie's Italian for our meal

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Merino Hospitality

Now that there are 5 of us, we don't always fit neatly in a single hotel room, and with three under the age of five, their bedtime is significantly earlier than ours.  These things combined mean that when we are looking to stay away from home we often have to chose somewhere outside the centre so that we can have some extra space.

It was brilliant to discover that Merino Hospitality offer accommodation perfectly designed for families like mine that is not only spacious, but in an amazing location too.  A couple of weeks ago, we headed up to London for the weekend and arrived at a converted coach house in the Bloomsbury area of London.  With a tube station around two minutes walk from our front door, a shopping centre even closer and our own parking space as well, it seemed too good to be true.

The personal service meant Andres was there when we arrived to give us a quick run down of the apartment and to leave us with a lovely welcome basket that contained snacks and everything we needed for breakfast too.  These little touches make things so much easier when travelling with young children.

It was dark when we arrived, but I wanted to get some pictures of the rooms before 5 people had crashed in the beds and thrown the pillows everywhere so I took some quick phone snaps.  The apartment had two double bedrooms, both with themed walls making you feel somewhere far more exotic than London.  Each room had ample storage and space as well as towels, dressing gowns and jugs of water at the ready.

The bathroom had all the usual toiletries that you expect alongside plenty of things I didn't, like a his and hers shaving kit, a shoe shine box and a bath bag.  

The living area was compact, but with everything we needed and plenty of space for the five of us.  When we booked we had been offered a cot, highchair and buggy and the highchair was set up at the dining table ready for Finn.  I was surprised about how well stocked the kitchen was, with every kind of pan and gadget we could need meaning anything was on the menu if you wanted to cook at home.  The boys loved the fact that there was a full fruit bowl on arrival and they managed to get through quite a lot of it!

The biggest hit had to be the 'den' on the top floor.  A hidden space with coloured lights that can be controlled by the children and stocked full of Lego.  The blackboard wall at the back was mostly neglected by the boys as the Lego was more than enough to entertain them for a few hours.  The bloke and I loved that we could spend a bit longer in bed knowing that they were happy playing, and they are desperate to create something similar at home.

We really enjoyed our stay with Merino Hospitality and I would definitely consider re-booking for a future trip to London as it met all our needs.  The bloke found the mattresses very firm, but that is his only complaint and all three boys made themselves completely at home.  It made all the difference having our own space to stay up once the children were in bed, with a huge TV and our own wifi connection.

Thanks to Merino Hospitality for our fantastic stay.  You can find out more about their properties and options over on their website

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Monday, 30 November 2015

A Weekend Away in London

We just love getting away and I will never get bored of visiting London.  There is always something new to see and we revisit the same places because they are just magical, especially as Christmas draws closer.  

We drove up to London last weekend after Dylan had finished school and the bloke had finished work and found the gorgeous converted coach-house that we were going to stay in.  Having three children means hotel rooms aren't always practical and Merino Hospitality offer serviced apartments in the very heart of London.

The boys were sleepy, but excited to be somewhere new so they ran around exploring before climbing into their bed.  The bloke and I weren't far behind as we were looking forward to an entire day exploring on the Saturday.

There was a basket of food waiting for us when we woke up alongside the fruit bowl that the boys couldn't leave alone.  One of my favourite things about staying in an apartment is having breakfast at your leisure, usually in your pjs.  We had a blogger event to go to first thing to celebrate the book I had helped create with HP and we so we headed across town.

The event was brilliant with the illustrator Tom Percival reading the book for all the children and little animals for them to see and pet. They loved colouring in and the inflatable lightsabers that they discovered and we all enjoyed some lunch.

After being inside for the morning, the boys were desperate to run around and the event was only metres away from the Diana Memorial Playground.  I have been meaning to visit for so long and it didn't disappoint.  A giant pirate ship set in the biggest sand pit and surrounded by climbing frames and little areas to discover, it was a dream park for the boys.  There was a cafe serving delicious hot chocolate and indoor toilets and changing facilities which made the visit easier too.  It was so much colder than we were expecting, but the boys didn't mind at all with so much to explore.

I love Covent Garden all year round, but there is something so special about Christmas there so we walked that way.  All three boys fell asleep on the journey over - something we don't get very often now so the bloke and I decided to sit down and enjoy some cheesy fries and shakes from Shake Shack.  I can't go to Covent Garden without having their fries and I love sitting in the very centre and watching the world go by.

We let them all have a good rest as we wandered.  I don't normally let Dylan nap for long, but as we only had one full day in London, a good sleep meant we could break the routine and stay out later, enjoying the wonderful sights by night.  We had a wander around a few shops and stalls, and then decided it was time to find somewhere to eat.

What we didn't think about was the fact central London on a Saturday night is pretty busy, and getting a table for five people wouldn't be easy!  We gave in at Pizza Express and decided we would just queue and thankfully it wasn't too long.  The big boys love their pizzas and Finn had some plain pasta to munch on, as having a dairy allergy in a Pizzeria isn't easy!  They were all so well behaved and we had wonderful comments from people on the tables around us.  Dylan spent most of the meal writing sentences for us to read and Finn spent a long time studying the menu!

As the boys had been asleep the entire time we were at Covent Gardens, we went back that way to show them the giant Christmas tree.  It really is spectacular and they were in awe of its size.  They were completely captivated by the street performers and whilst we would normally walk straight past, we stopped to watch two whole shows as they sat on the floor staring up.  

We went inside to look at the giant ivy lights on the roof and to watch more of the street performances and all three were smiling away.  Although it was already past their normal bedtimes, their naps had meant they were coping well and we went window shopping at the Disney Store and the Bear Factory.  Everywhere has such colourful displays and very few shops were still open which made it easier to walk past.

 When we were all getting a bit tired, we decided to head back to the apartment and it was amazing to see it was only a 20 minute walk away.  We could easily have gotten on the tube, but with a double buggy it is often easier to walk and the twenty minutes went fast admiring all the lights along the way.

We arrived back with three tired babies who went straight to bed and we stayed downstairs for a while.  The living area had a huge TV (with Netflix) and it was lovely being away from home and still able to keep the lights on and talk at a normal level even with the boys asleep!

We woke up for another leisurely breakfast on Sunday and the big boys loved playing Lego in the 'den' upstairs. There were no doors between our bed and the den despite them being on different levels and it meant we could lay in bed for an extra hour whilst they entertained themselves up there.

It was so lovely being able to explore London from the centre and we had a tube station only one minute walk from the house as well as a shopping centre practically on our doorstep.  We have never driven into Central London before but it only took around 2 hours to get home.

We are feeling ready to get into the Christmas spirit after all the wonderful lights and sights, although I am refusing to get too festive until at least December 1st.  Thank you to Merino Hospitality for our stay and to HP Instant Ink for putting on a great event.

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