Just as we were heading away to the coast for the weekend, Charlotte received a rather exciting delivery! The new Tiny Tears Interactive Doll With Sound had arrived for her to review, cue excited screaming from one doll loving four year old.
In the box contained the clothed doll, bib, nappy, potty and baby bottle. It was easy to get out the box, always a plus when you have a child eagerly waiting to play with their new toy. We found the size and weight suitable for Charlotte’s arms; I dislike those dolls that are weighted the same as a real baby, they’re not practical for a toddler to carry around. The clothes are easy to take off and put on with its soft velcro fastening, along with the nappy.
It’s as realistic as a baby doll can get, it will feed, cry make lots of baby noises and even goes on the potty. The fact it burps when you remove the bottle from its mouth made Charlotte giggle again and again. Its cries of ‘Mama Mama’ still to this day makes me look around wondering who’s calling my name, just as it’s crying takes me back to when Charlotte was a baby herself. Excellent way of explaining to your child what they were like once upon a time.
We think dolls like this are a fantastic potty training tool for toddlers; you can use it as a guide to how they sit on the potty to what happens once they’re sat on it. You could even use the doll as a reward chart itself, offer your child clothes/accessories with each target your child succeeds at.
Charlotte loves her new doll, it went everywhere with her while we were away, sat next to her on the way home and since being back has experienced being pushed around in a pram, paddling pool dunkings and piggyback rides provided by our dog. It withstands the harshness of our toddler and still looks as good as new. A good starter doll we would highly recommend to those looking for their child’s first interactive doll.
I didn’t realise when I booked our Parkdean bank holiday escape in Crantock, quite how much of a fantastic location it was. We were surrounded by some of Cornwall‘s most beautiful beaches and lots of family-friendly activities to choose from. We had the town of Newquay just right next door to us.
Crantock Holiday Park itself was a beautiful little park; it wasn’t a big one which meant it was so calm and peaceful which is always a plus when you’re on holiday. Our accommodation had a view of the play park as well as the sea; we always seem to get lucky when it comes to the views from our caravans.
We spent our time on site playing mini golf, spending pounds worth of 2ps in the arcade. Us adults played bingo while the kids tucked into ice creams and had fun with the children’s entertainment. It does lack an onsite swimming pool, but when the weather is right, you have the sea so no biggie for us.
Our main reason for booking this holiday park was for it’s proximity to the beach. It was Dylan’s 6th Birthday on the Sunday, and this was the most perfect gift you could give to him, he adores spending time at the beach and will happily spend all day chucking sand into water, huge sensory enjoyment for this boy.
On your walk to/from Holywell Beach, you go past a cafe, and we would highly recommend the cream tea option. The Man is a baker by profession so for him to rate the scones highly is a huge compliment. They were the perfect kind of fluffy, and Charlotte and I enjoyed smothering ours in cream and then jam!
One of the family-friendly places we decided to hit up was Newquay Zoo, it’s not the biggest of zoos, but for the entry prices and what you see, it was good value for this family of 5. We even got given a barcode which would allow us to return for free within 7 days. The kids had a fun afternoon, we took a picnic with us and learnt lots more about the animal kingdom, Charlotte even got to hold a centipede which she has’nt stopped going on about since arrived home.
I wish we had the full week down there to explore; there was so much to do in the town of Newquay, we eyed up a boating lake and played in lots of rather cool play parks. Even the surrounding area had lots more activities we could have checked it, it was a great central base for exploring Cornwall, and we’re glad we picked it.
Isn’t it the most blissful experience getting to tick something off your travel bucket list? Several months after ticking New York off that very list we got to do the same with our family day trip to Venice.
We grabbed a bus from the centre of Jesolo which took us to Punta Sabbioni where we got the boat across to Venice. No, we made a boo boo and got off a stop early much to the amusement of my Italian friend who was travelling with us, she had sat at the top of the boat where we waited down the bottom. We should have realised we weren’t quite there as we lacked the famous Vence landmarks in front of us as we were getting off, but it turned out to be one of those good mistakes. We found ourselves getting to see the quieter part of Venice where there were fewer tourists to be seen.
After walking for a bit, we decided that it would be unfair to the kids to subject them to more walking than was needed, so we hopped on another boat which took us straight to where we needed to go. Upon seeing the gondolas, I did the same excited squeal that I did upon seeing the Hollywood sign for the first time., it’s that moment you realise you’re precisely where you want to be.
We made no plans with regards to what we wanted to see or do in Venice; it was merely a case of letting our feet do the walking, and our eyes do the marvelling.
Our friends were found just off the square enjoying wine and basking in the sun, would have been rude of us not to join them right? This is where we discovered precisely how pricey it is to sit at a table and drink wine and if my memory serves me right we paid around 8 euros for a glass of wine each. Apparently the further as you go towards the back streets away from the tourist trap, the cheaper it becomes.
The timing of our visit (late September) could not be any more perfect, the heavier tourist areas during the summer were fairly quiet with the bonus of that summer weather still lurking around.
Obviously, our eldest understood more about Venice than what his younger sibling did; they just found it so exciting that with every twist and turn they took down an alley, water surrounded them. It turned into a game for them which we shall call ‘get as lost as you can in Venice’, not a bad game to play on a sunny day in such a beautiful place.
We made the most of the food on offer to us in Venice that day, we had lunch, we had dinner, we had various stops for refreshments (cough.. prosecco), and we had lots of cake. Our inner foodies were pleased with how well we did that day with regards to authentic Italian cuisine.
Everywhere we turned there was something to see, learn about, smell, watch and so much more which pleased the senses. It’s left me with the desire to come back but this time stay and take longer to take it all in.
The Rialto Bridge below is the oldest of the four bridges spanning the Grand Canal, and we got the treat of seeing it from both the water and as we crossed over it.
I guess we could have done our homework into what we wanted to see in Venice but in true Me, The Man & The Kids style, we like to just go with the flow when it comes to our travelling adventures.
Pinterest was looked at though, and pins were added to my Venice board in true hoarder fashion, and one pin I remember was of these hands on this building. I almost skidded on the remains of the fish market as I rushed to take my photo, the kids thought it ridiculously cool, and I promised them we would find out more about them when we got back that evening, and we did. Titled Support, the piece from Artist Lorenzo Quinn shows a pair of large hands rising from the water to support the sides of the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel, a visual statement of the impact of climate change and rising sea levels on the historic city.
The whole Gondola ride was something I wasn’t fussed about, I’ve always admired the romantic aspect to them and I was looking forward to watching them in action but going on one just didn’t interest me. That was until I was stood right there in Venice and with the children looking at them in amazement, so we flagged one down and hopped on, and it was the water version of a magic carpet ride. Just look at those smiles, it was worth every Euro to take in this beautiful place from a different perspective.
Venice was everything we had dreamt it to be; it was mesmerising, it was art brought to life with the most stunning backdrop and has left me in agreement that it is indeed one of the beautiful cities in the world.
When my one of my closest friends suggested I come along to Italy with her, I spared no time at all looking into flights and seeing if it was feasible for me to go. Flights were cheap enough, and the man was able to get it off work, I then entertained the idea of taking the whole family with me. My friend is Italian, so it meant having an instant tour guide, and she planned to stay in the seaside town of Jesolo which she visited as a child. The children love their Aunt Fran, and for the price of 5 return flights (£200), it was cheaper than taking the kids to an UK holiday resort.
We had the stress in the days before we were due to set off with wondering if our flights were those that were included in the Ryanair cancellations. We found out that our flight out there was safe, but we had to wait a couple more days to see if our return flight was safe, it was, but it was still stressful wondering if we would be missing our Italy trip and losing out on the apartment costs.
It was our first experience of both Ryanair and London Stansted during this trip, Ryanair was exactly what it was on the tin – cheap and convenient and nothing more. London Stansted was fantastic when it came to their special assistance! We got given a blue band to wear which allowed us to use a different queue in security and a walking assistant to the plane. Before we knew it, we were up in the air with a flight time of just an hour and a half until we landed in Treviso.
Just as planned we were met at the terminal by NCC Friendly who was holding up a sign with my name. The vehicle was immaculate, the driver extremely friendly and the price of 80 euros was the cheapest transfer from Treviso to Jesolo (in season there are much cheaper buses to take you to Jesolo)
Our accommodation was found via booking.com, and we went with an apartment instead of a hotel as it was relatively cheap and allowed us to have three bedrooms. Our host was lovely and made sure we had everything we needed to have a comfortable stay.
We unpacked, the kids picked their beds and freshened up before heading to meet our friends. We met on the seafront and enjoyed a drink in front of the picturesque Adriatic sea. The kids built sandcastles at our feet, collected shells and excitedly talked about their plans for swimming in the sea.
Lunch was our first taste of real Italian food; we have spent weeks dreaming of holiday where we would eat nothing but pasta for days on end, and we were not disappointed. The kids squealed with delight when their Mickey Mouse pizza was served to them.
Our friend being rather excited by the fact we were now in her home country wanted us to try everything. Despite the fact she’s unsuccessfully tried to convert me to espresso in the past, she still wanted me to try one in Italy to which I obliged, and I’m still not a fan. Grappa was then ordered which was an entirely new taste experience and one which left my face more screwed up then when it was trying the espresso. I left the rest to someone who wouldn’t be pushing around a pram for the remainder of the day.
Being in a seaside town we obviously had to hit the arcades, the arcades here were cheaper than most the ones I’ve come across in the UK. We exchanged some euros for tokens and let the kids loose to play whatever they wanted.
Us adults joined in the fun and for the below video I totally blame that grappa, there’s a longer version which will stay on the man’s phone never seeing the light of day.
We headed down towards Piazza Brescia to see the ‘Wheel Of Venice‘ and were lucky enough to be able to see this one piece leftover from the Sand Sculpture Festival before it was knocked down.
We were so tired come the evening after all the walking, exploring and eating ice creams that we decided to head back to the apartment. Oli had the bright idea of grabbing some slices of pizza from the 3 euro pizza place, and the man had the equally bright idea of grabbing some beers from the mini market. It was a blissful end to our first day in Italy.
If there’s one thing we like doing as a family it’s having dinner together; we enjoy it, even more, when it involves going out to a restaurant and not having to cook or wash up. So naturally, we were delighted to be invited along to Carluccio’s to review the menu and find out more about kids being able to eat for just £1 this summer.
Running from 25th July to 31st August, every Monday to Friday and between the hours of 12 noon to 5pm children aged 10 years and under can enjoy a main, dessert, drink and activity for just £1 with an adult main. I love the idea of feeding these two little foodies for a total of £2 when the man and I eat!
The kids were given their own little menus to choose from with a pretty impressive variety of kids Italian meals to choose from. Oli picked the lasagne (his favourite), and Charlotte went for the build your own pasta option and picked the Spaghetti with beef Bolognese.
I went to Carluccio’s with the full intent of having a pasta dish, but after browsing the menu the Chicken Milanese caught my eye, and I just had to give it a try. The man was the same, and he decided on having the Beef Steak Alla Griglia instead.
Safe to say we were not disappointed with our meals, my chicken was delicious, and the mustard dressed on the salad was perfect, I had it with a side order of Garlic Focaccia which complimented it well. I’ll let the man give you his own words for his dish ‘The steak was cooked to perfection. Juicy medium rare that melted like butter in the mouth. Deliciously seasoned and was the star of the show.’
The kid’s meals came with the choice of Carluccio’s Ice Cream or Fruit Sorbet. Now Oli couldn’t decide what flavour ice cream he wanted and was struggling to choose (we’ve all been there) and the waitress kindly checked with the chef and was able to give Oli both vanilla and chocolate, nice touch from them.
It would have been rude for us not to have a nosy at the dessert menu, and this menu did not disappoint! Charlotte went for the Chocolate & Salted Caramel Sundae, while I went for the Chocolate Bread & Butter Pudding and the man went for the Tiramisu. Let’s just say it’s food torture for me writing this review and seeing this image of this scrumptious dessert and not having it actually in front of me to consume. I have a new favourite dessert ladies & gentleman, and it is indeed this scrumptious chocolate bread & butter pudding. It melted in my mouth which is how the man also described his tiramisu.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meals at Carluccio’s, and we fully intend on making the most of the kids being able to eat for £1 when we eat. Just think the other pounds saved could go towards a family day out!
The husband has always said that if we were ever to go and watch a sports match together as a family that it would be cricket. It’s one of those sports we play down the park with the kids and one of the few that they can actually watch on TV and not hear any naughty words being shouted. It’s a real game of sportsmanship and thanks to Nissan we got the chance to watch a game of cricket together at Lords.
It wasn’t just any old game either; it just happened to be the sold out England vs. India Women’s Cricket World Cup Final. The idea of taking my cricket loving 3-year-old daughter to watch women play was one which filled me immensely with joy. Oli loved the idea and was quite excited about attending his first cricket game, and the man could not wait to tick ‘a visit to Lords’ off his bucket list.
We had a slight hiccup at the start of our day as our babysitter cancelled on us, so we had the choice between cancelling or bringing Dylan with us. Nissan and ICC went out of their way to change our seats to disabled ones when we found out we couldn’t keep Dylan in his pram and sit in the family stand. His autism means he just about copes with the environment around him as long as he’s in the comfort of his pushchair so we cannot thank them enough for doing this!
Before we went and sat down for the match, we had some fun in the Nissan family area, and Charlotte got match ready with some flags face paint. There are lots of screens all over the place, so we didn’t miss any of the game while we were here having some fun and chill time away from the main area.
The kids were indeed amazed by the sight of watching this game they enjoy playing themselves being played right in front of them. They cheered, they clapped and really got into the spirit of spectating. Everyone around us was so friendly and this only added to the family friendly atmosphere we felt the moment we walked into Lords.
The great thing and the man pointed this out to me was our ability just to get up and go and do something else with the option of returning at any point to our seats. So when the children started to get restless, we were able to change the scenery and go and check out what else was on offer around the ground for the kids to do.
After grabbing some lunch (kudos for the kid’s range of hot dogs & wedges) we headed back to our seats to watch the rest of the match. The sun had come out to play too which was welcoming, it one of those typical British weather days where one minute we were reaching for the raincoats and the next we were rubbing in the suncream!
The game had started to heat up, and as the final was coming to an end, it looked at all odds that India had the world cup in the bag. Negotiating the run rate with ease it would take something special to lose it. Enter Shrubsole. The England pace bowler bowled a spell worthy of legendary status taking wicket after wicket, stumps crashed and catches taken as India crumbled under the pressure she exerted. Believing until the end, England had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
Charlotte & Oli’s excitement has gone to a whole new level, joining in with the crowd chants and Charlotte’s shouts of ‘You can do it England’ had us mega proud of our patriotic little girl.
The atmosphere around the ground was fantastic; the kids were ecstatic and joyfully celebrating with all those around them. It was one of those moments that I’m glad we shared as a family.
The best part (after winning) was watching the England ladies get their medals and lift the cup. We were so proud of these women, and by this point, they had certainly captured the heart of my sports mad children.
It looked like the lades were doing a victory lap and Oli said it would be pretty cool to high five and congratulate them. We explained how they were very busy and how they could wave at them if they walked past. What happened next made what was already an amazing day even more memorable and priceless.
Anya Shrubsole saw the kids and came over for a high five and if that wasn’t enough Katherine Brunt came over with the cup in hand and asked Charlotte if she wanted to hold it! I was already emotional at witnessing and being with my daughter as England win the world cup for the 4th time, but this just finished me off, through tears I watched as my three year old got to hold the ICC Women’s World Cup trophy.
As if that wasn’t enough of a treat for the kids, all under 16s were given a free cricket bat and ball on our way out. We ended the day in applause of how well the children were treated from start to finish and how they catered for families.
We can not thank Nissan enough for inviting us to come along, and so many more thank yous go to Lord’s cricket ground, ICC, England cricket and especially all the ladies that took the time to talk to my children and letting them be a part of their celebrations.
Since we got back home it’s all Charlotte’s talked about, my cricket fan interest in cricket has exploded, our living room has turned into a cricket cage, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Here’s some video highlights including photos from our day at Women’s Cricket World Cup 2017…
Disclosure: Nissan kindly provided us with our tickets for the day.
I’ve discovered a nifty little feature on Facebook which has been helping us find days out in the local area. You know that events tab? Well, it can be used for more than just inviting friends to something and being invited to something. There’s the option of looking up what is happening in your local area that day or in the future, and this is how we found out about ‘Go Wild at Crickley Hill’ hosted by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in the nearby town of Cheltenham.
Crickley Hill is one of those hills I use to visit back when I lived in Cheltenham, it’s a blissful place with fantastic views, and I cannot believe I’ve never thought to take my kids up there. There is a pay and display car park on site and a cafe at the top which is where we found the Go Wild event happening.
The kids first stop were the fossils, always the fossils for these little dinosaur lovers. With the help of the Gloucester Geology Trust, they made some of their own fossils to take home with them.
kids always do like the grossest of things don’t they, ask them if they want to root around in owl sick to find some bones of the animals they’ve eaten and they jump at the chance.
After the kids had their fill of mice bones, they headed off into the woods on a bug hunt. There were plenty of creepy crawlies to be found under twigs and rocks which kept Charlotte & Oli amused. Dylan enjoyed just exploring the area, and we found sensory objects for him to discover and touch.
After we had finished our bug hunting, we found some history re-enactment guys who dressed up the children and explained to them what various tools did once upon a time in battles.
There was so much to and all they asked of us was a donation which I thought was reasonable considering how much they had going on to keep the kids entertained.
The welly wanging was enjoyed by all the children; we even got Dylan who struggled with the concept of throwing to wang a well a few times. We had no choice but to make him go without his comfort of his pushchair, it did cost us a pack of haribo though (think Hansel taking that slice of bread and leaving that trail of bread crumbs for them to follow home!) it was such a good afternoon and we’re looking forward to seeing what the Worcestershire Wildlife Trust has in store at the ‘Evesham Goes Wild’ event.
The guys at uncommongoods got in touch with me and asked if I fancied putting together a post with some of my favourite pieces from their Home Decor Collection which of course I did. The website is jam packed full of quirky items I haven’t seen on sale anywhere else. Here are some of the items that caught my eye…
These Custom State Pillows are simply fantastic and would make the perfect gift for the man as reminders of our visit to America. He’s made it our family mission to visit as many states as possible and what better way to record those states than in pillow form. The heart can be your hometown, or in our case, it would have to be where we stayed during our trip to that state.
I’ve never come across vases like this Caterpillar Bud Vase before. It’s the perfect solution to holding flowers just won’t quite look right together in the one vase. For us, we have this long windowsil which looks weird with just the one vase in the middle of it so something like this would make use of all that space and transform the looks of it.
If you’re anything like me and are terrible at remembering to water your plants both outside and indoors, then this Self-Watering Pepper Planter is perfect for us both. I want to grow something which we can pop into a meal to add that extra homemade touch, but I’m just rubbish at keeping plants alive.
What I like most about the Vintage Edition My Cinema Lightbox is that it’s different to all the other lightboxes I’ve seen available. It’s wider which would allow me to add longer words such as Charlotte’s name to it. What also makes it stand out from the other ones I have seen is that it has a wood grain inspired frame which adds that vintage touch.
We are all for fun decorative items on display around the house and this Break The Pinata Bank would make a welcome colourful addition to our shelves. This is one pinata that you don’t need to smash to get to the goodies! It has a rubber stopper at the bottom which will allow you to release your coins. No need to worry about candy consumption with this El Burro Pinata.
We were invited by Britmums & Prezzo to go along to our local restaurant to try the new Prezzo La Famiglia sharing dish. If there’s one thing, this family loves its food, especially Italian food! We visited our nearest branch in the Cotswolds medieval market town Tewkesbury and here’s both our review of that dish along with our entry for the #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge.
We were quickly seated upon arrival, given a couple of adult menus (obligatory drinks menu included) and the children given menus which double up as activity sheets. Our first task as a family was to decide which La Famiglia sharing dish we wanted. We had the choice of Penne Arrabiata, Spaghetti Bolognese, Spaghetti Carbonara or Penne Alla Rusticana. We went with the Penne Alla Rusticana (Seasoned chicken, pancetta, peppers and rosemary in a creamy pomodoro sauce) as it sounded incredibly appetising.
Oli is a fussy eater when it comes to Italian food, and won’t eat spaghetti or pasta unless it’s plain, so we ordered him a pizza off the older kids food menu. Our side order consisted of 2 large garlic bread for the table, and our drinks consisted of a couple of coke cola’s, and water’s for the children, Oli’s meal came with a capri sun which his sister consumed.
We weren’t disappointed with what was served, our sharing bowl was HUGE and I can why it recommended for four people. The taste didn’t disappoint either, the chicken melted in my mouth and the yellow peppers added a burst of flavour alongside the sauce. We thoroughly enjoyed this dish, and I’m already looking forward to going back to try it again.
The sharing bowl may have been our main reason for coming, but I left Prezzo with a major crush on its large garlic bread. The balsamic onions added something different to the flavour, and it has totally rocked my garlic bread world. I’m glad we ordered 2 for the table as there could have easily been a battle between me, the man and Charlotte over how many slices we got.
When we had all the pasta, we could consume we were left with some leftovers which they kindly boxed up for us which was perfect for Charlotte’s lunch the next day. Then we were passed the dessert menus to browse; it was a case of being full until we saw what was on offer for pudding. I knew the man wouldn’t be able to resist the honeycomb smash cheesecake while I went for the dolcino option and had a Nutella hazelnut spread and banana mini calzone with a latte. The kids had ice creams; they picked the two scoop option with 1 being chocolate and the other strawberry. We all rather enjoyed our desserts and found them the perfect ending to our meal.
Eating together as a family is one of my favourite times of the day, it’s even more enjoyable when eating out and not having to worry about the cooking and cleaning. Our love of food is one thing that brings us together as a family. I loved having the sharing bowl in the middle of the table and being able to divide the portions between us, handy when you have a small child who one day will eat a whole plate, and the next will leave some. This option avoided any of us having leftovers on our plates.
Our visit was spot on; the sharing dish was worth reviewing as it’s giving us a new favourite family meal, the staff were friendly and were accommodating when I explained Dylan had autism and how we needed a table where he could stay in the comfort of his pushchair. The prices are reasonable, and I couldn’t get over how cheap Oli’s meal was considering it included a reasonable size pizza where he got to pick his topping, a side order where he picked salad, pudding and drink. Prezzo gets a huge thumbs up from Me, The Man & The Kids.
This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo