I’m still mourning the fact I have finished ‘Career Of Evil’ by Robert Galbraith (pen name for JK Rowling) and is the third in the Comoran Strike series. With JK’s busy schedule it could be a while until I’m reading the forth. My current read is ‘Kill Me Again’ by Rachel Abbott, I’m only a couple of chapters in but am already gripped by the storyline! It’s available for free with kindle unlimited.
I was 16 years late to watching Gilmore Girls, but I made up for that by watching all several seasons within a couple of months. God bless Netflix. I got through it so quickly that I had friends trying to calculate how many hours it took me to watch it all and then go on to ask if I had done anything else but watch Gilmore Girls, my answer was no.
Charlotte’s vocalably is expanding by the day, at 30 months she now pretty much knows all the important words there is to know in life. This week we have heard numbers 1,2,3,4 & 5 from her. Sentences are coming along, and we hear full sentences from her now she puts words together. Go Charlotte!
I was craving the afternoon tea without the afternoon tea destination, so what better than to have a homemade one at home. We had sandwiches followed by some yummy scones and topped that off with some Mr Kipling cakes. My little cake lover was in afternoon tea heaven!
Pretty much living in the sale haul, I got from ASOS lately but have been spicing things up with some Anglo-Saxon wear. We thought we would give vintage a try, that and Charlotte requested that we all dress up while visiting Birmingham Art Gallery & Museum.
You know autumn has arrived when you have your first sip of Pumpkin Spice Latte. I like to enjoy mine minus children and accompanied by a chocolate twirl.
You have until the 30th September to swim on down to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham for the Finding Dory event. Go on an interactive trail where you will discover facts about the real life fish behind our favourite Pixar characters, Dory and Nemo.
We were given a free family pass to go along and join in with the trail and have a family fun day out at the Sea Life Centre Birmingham. It’s worth noting that children under 3 go free and for fellow parents of a disabled child you can also attend for free as your child’s Carer. Birmingham is one of those places which is easily accessible by car and public transport, but if it’s not close enough for you then one of the other 11 locations may be.
We were handed our Finding Dory worksheet upon entry and set off to find the hidden clues around the centre. I like the idea of doing something like on top a normal visit to an aquarium, the children have the added joy of completing a task on top of the excitement of seeing all the fish.
Oli certainly got into the spirit of hunting out the clues to spell out his word, especially when he heard there was a prize at the end of it. None of the kids was born when Finding Nemo originally came out, but that has not stopped them from discovering the film since Charlotte knew exactly who the clownfish was and took great delight in pointing out ‘Nemo’ to us.
We had an enjoyable afternoon watching the jellyfish, running away from the sharks, hiding from the octopus and smiling at all the different fishes we came across. The entry prices are fair; the layout is good, and the kids had lots of fun – we couldn’t ask for more for a family day out. Plus if you do go to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham there is so much to do nearby such as shopping in the Bullring or the free to enter museum.
The LEGO Nexo Knights 70320 – Aaron Fox’s Aero-Striker V2 is a 301 piece set which includes three mini figures. Transform into Aaron using the 2 in 1 Aero-Striker V2 as a crossbow with dual spring-loaded shooters, or fly into battle against the Ash Attacker. The ejectable mini-flyer has a cockpit for Aaron Fox and a cockpit for the Aaron Bot. It includes two Nexo Powers, which can also be used in the NEXO Knights app.
Oli’s words – I like this set because it’s amazing and includes lots of weapons. It can be split into two which makes playing it lots more fun. The Aaron Bot mini figure is a funny character because he’s little and not very good at fighting. You can make it fire a weapon by pulling a lever. It’s my favourite LEGO Nexo Knight so far!
I love how he chose this as his first NEXO Knights set to open up to build and play, it has kept him entertained for hours as he uses that wild imagination of his to bring the set to life. He’s 7 (going on 17) so with the recommended building age of 8+ it was an enjoyable build for him and helped to progress his building skills.
Britmumslive 2016 started for me the moment I picked up Lauren from Real Housewife Of Suffolk in a taxi from her hotel. That was it I was now in the company of a blogger, someone who understood me in a way my non-blogging friends doesn’t. I could have a conversation about all things social media and not sound like a total weirdo – yay! We were off to the Holiday Inn Friday Night Fringe Party, naturally, the moment we heard the words ‘complimentary drinks & nibbles’ we signed up to attend straight away. The venue location I thought was rather delightful; it was just a few minutes away from Camden Town tube station, and we got to drink our wine while enjoying the view of Camden Locks.
After the party we headed back in the direction of our hotel, stopping off at All Bar One (unofficial blogger hangout area for BML) for food and drinks. You could spot the group of bloggers a mile off, mostly because you had Tony from Papa Tont at the head of the table along with my super amazing friend Donna from What The Redhead Said. I & Lauren ordered half the food menu and joined in with Claire from Emmy’s Mummy, Jaime from The Oliver’s Madhouse, Kerry from Oh So Amelia and Jennifer from Jennifer’s Little World who were working their way through the cocktail menu. Some time later we ended up back at the Travelodge bar where we saw Martyn from Inside Martyn’s Thoughts, and the rest was a blur. Explains why getting up at 7 am the next morning to join everyone for breakfast was a painful experience. Coincidentally John from Dad You Geek joined us around that time.
We arrived at registration (was totally thrown by the change of registration area) to collect our badges before grabbing some coffee. On the stairs, we found Kate from Lesbemums, and this had made my day before it had barely begun, I have been following their blog more less from the start and have enjoyed watching their son T grow like some proud virtual aunt.
By the time we had wandered through the crowd of bloggers and sat down, Susanne & Jen were on stage with the start of #BML16. This was then followed by the poem ‘Britmums We Are Live‘ by Kirstie Pelling from Poet In Motion. Our keynote speaker this year was Anne-Marie Cockburn, campaigner and author of 5,742 Days. Her daughter died in 2013 of an accidental overdose.The way she dealt with her grief was a way I had never come across before; I was both saddened and inspired at the same time. Find out more about Anne- Marie and Martha at What Martha Did Next. Next on the agenda was the inspirational short with how to achieve your goals with Julie Creffield from Too Fat To Run, which if I’m honest I didn’t really take anything away from this.
Next up was pass the parcel which of course was the perfect party game to kick off the start of the birthday celebrations (BML turns five this year) and put us in the party mood. Here’s Tony & Martyn opening their layers, I’m still gutted Tony never offered to share his Mars bar with me! (So what if it was snack size!)
After we had finished our game (Jaime won) we headed to the Hub where the brand stands and refreshments were. Along the way I found the Dad blogger legend that is Dave from The DADventurer, I like to think I get on rather well with Dave after bonding the previous year over marshmallows on sticks & canapés. This year we bonded over dummies and crepes.
I really didn’t take many more photos during the day from that point, the rest of it was filled with sessions and mingling with other bloggers. The lunch was the best one so far, kudos to the brewery chefs. None of the brands in the Hub really caught my eye, I do love Coca Cola but I’m all about the full fat stuff and not coca cola zero sugar stuff. I enjoyed the lounges as somewhere to escape from the business of the hub. The MAM lounge had the most yummiest cupcakes, sadly (or not so sadly) all my children are too young for most the MAM stuff now. The Big Tent Little Tent I visited with Debs from Super Busy Mum, had some funky lei’s passed us which we bagged for the kids and grabbed a glass of something fizzy (elderflower for Mrs fragile over here!)
Later on in the afternoon saw a birthday cake followed by the start of the evening events. First up was a chat with Cherry Healey about her new book which somehow led to bloggers revealing some truly horrifying moments of their own. Up next was The Bloggers Keynote – a selection of top posts read by the bloggers themselves. Rather excitedly for us we had Tim not just reading out a post but singing for one out for us, it brought tears to the eyes. You can either relive or watch it for the first time below!
Next came the Brilliance In Blogging (BIBs) party which would of happened in the courtyard but thanks to our delightful British weather we had it inside. Much wine was consumed before returning to our chairs (and tables full of more wine) for the BIBs Awards ceremony which was being presented by Carol Smillie. I was so pleased to see Amber from The Goblin Child, Maggy from Red Ted Art & Fiona from Coombe Mill win their categories.
And that wrapped up the end of #BML16 and all that was left for us to do now was to grab our goodie bags and blogging friends to go and consume as much alcohol and food as we could find. Luckily enough we had the super organised Martyn arrange for us to eat at Nando’s that evening. You are a star Mr Kitney! After that we headed to All Bar One for some delicious cocktails(or not so delicious depending on how fussy you are!)
And that was it. Off to bed with the excitement of a midday check out to look forward to! The idea of actually rolling out of bed about 11am was absolutely thrilling and I made sure the no housekeeping sign was displayed and my phone was on silent. So come 5am I was slightly confused to why my phone was going off and why it was loud. Then my eyes started to process the flashing light and realised that it was the fire alarm going off. It in this moment that I realised I really am one of those people that will just leg it, I had my jacket on the bed next to me so grabbed that and my phone which was already glued to my hand. I didn’t even grab my room key. However what I did manage to grab that was important was one Daddy Blogger in the form of Martyn! It seems the Travelodge didn’t really have priority when it came to collecting the disabled from their room. It was left to me, Faye & Jade to get him to safety. There’s not many people I would stand in a stairway minus underwear for! It was a false alarm but it still left us disappointed at how the situation was handed and those who were evacuated outside felt the same. naturally being the bloggers we are we thought it would be a fab idea to selfie the moment!
Overall the weekend was a rather enjoyable one; it is a brilliant place to socialise with blogging friends both old and new. Roll on #BML17!
The ticket has been bought, the hotel booked, business cards have arrived and I have EEKED at the price of the train, so I guess it is official – I’M GOING TO BRITMUMS LIVE 2016! Whoop!
Excitement is starting to kick in. I cannot wait to catch up with all my blogging friends! I cannot wait to sit on the back table at the back of the hall with Clare where I have sat the past few years. I look forward to seeing all my favourite Daddy Bloggers again! Catching up with Tony, geeking out with John, listening to Tim’s keynote, cheering on Dave, who is a finalist in the BIBs and eating dinner with Martyn. The room to be will be the one where Lauren is room moderator; she has been my rock this year so cannot wait for squeezy hugs. Seeing Donna and celebrating the success of our UK Parent Blogging Facebook group – over 900 members now!
The agenda sounds ace and as someone who is thinking of dipping her toe into travel blogging, the travel related sessions will be of interest to me. Being the sucker that I am for food, the coffee and crepes jumped out at me; I will be found stuffing my face with some of those beauties. My blogging game hasn’t been the best it could have been this year and I am hoping that by the end of the weekend I will come away feeling energised and with a new sense of blogging purpose for the rest of the year and beyond.
In the years gone by I have been terrible for leaving everything last minute, but I think I did well this year and got my ticket a month ago and just at the start of the week I booked my hotel, unlike last year where I did it the night before. I do regret leaving my wardrobe shopping until this week though as my next day delivery has been cancelled (cheers Topshop) which isn’t good considering my wardrobe these days pretty much consists of ankle grazing ripped jeans and band t-shirts. So I guess this evening will be pretty much spent pulling my wardrobe apart in the hope of finding my perfect BML16 outfits.
I think one of the things I was most excited about experiencing in America was the food and especially the American breakfasts. That was exactly what we got down the road from our hotel at Cocos Bakery Restaurant. It was the kind of place you walked into to be greeted by a cabinet full of the most delicious looking pies you have ever laid your eyes on. We kept saying we would get one to take away with us but by the time we finished our breakfasts we could not face looking at any more food! By our third visit, we had learnt that we didn’t need to order food for the kids as there was enough on our plates to go around!
Right next door to Cocos is Target so we headed there after breakfast for even more shopping; you will not be surprised to hear that we almost hit our weight limit on all our cases on our return flight home!
When we got back to the hotel, we headed to the designated Disneyland desk to grab the Southern California CityPass, which would allow us three days at Disneyland or Disney California Adventure and a day at SeaWorld and Legoland. As Charlotte was under three, we only had to buy a pass for the boys and us adults.
We didn’t really do much on day four as that evening we had a visit to Pretend City Children’s Museum planned, though you wouldn’t think that from this photo of the children on our way there. While researching possible days out and activities before coming over I discovered that the museum offers a monthly family autism event for free, and there just happened to be one on a day that we were just staying down the road. With Dylan being autistic I was worried about how he would cope with anything we had planned for our getaway, so it was nice to have something which was especially for him.
It is set out like a small town which has everything a child may encounter during their week, from the mail sorting office to the supermarket and so much more! The children also have the chance to ‘work’ in many of the environments to then stamp their time cards which will then give them a wage at the cash point. There is so much opportunity for them to develop pretend play skills and bring their imagination to life that if you live locally or visiting then, we highly recommend taking your children along!
All three of mine had a fantastic evening of playing in a relaxed and fun-filled atmosphere. Dylan was unsure at first like he is in any environment like that but as time went on he was no longer dragging us to the exit and had fun exploring anything button related.
Our journey home not only saw us seeing a rather beautiful Californian sunset but also the Angel Stadium, somewhere we regret not visiting during our stay but hey there is always next time!
As we missed the Egg Hunt the day before we looked again on Plan A Day Out and saw there was another egg hunt just down the road from us at Anaheim Marketplace. It turned out that we had arrived too early for the hunt, and it would be happening much later on. So it was back to that ‘Plan A Day Out’ website again to see what else we could do, Downtown Disney caught my eye, and it was free to explore.
We decided to not come across to California with an itinerary set in stone, we knew of some places we wanted to visit, but aside from that, we wanted to see how the children coped with the change of environment. Plus it was nice not having to stick to a schedule and being able to change our plans at the last minute.
One reason we picked the Hyatt Regency Orange County was that it was only 10 minutes away from Disney. We discovered how close we were on that first night when we heard and saw the fireworks and could see the top of Mickey’s Fun Wheel.
Downtown Disney is packed full of shops and restaurants, my idea of a fun afternoon and once the kids discovered there was a LEGO store they were on board with this idea as well.
After we had spent lots of dollars in the LEGO shop, we decided to go and spend even more at Build A Bear. I think I was more excited than the kids as I watched them browse the Bears to pick one to make and bring home with them. Oli surprised me with his choice; I thought he was going to go for one of the Star Wars bears, but instead he picked Toothless from How To Train A Dragon and strangely name it Dave. Charlotte fell in love with Chase from Paw Patrol the moment she saw him and Dylan we picked Olaf for him as it’s a character he is familiar with and from a film that he enjoys.
The kids got to stuff their bears and went through a ceremony to bring them to life wich involved popping a heart into them before they were sewn up and singing a song. It was adorable and I regret not catching it on video as the kids were captivated by the process. Once the bears were all completed, we took them over to the bathing area for a quick scrub before registering our bears and making them official.
We were so ready for some food by the time we left Build-A-Bear that we walked straight into the open restauant outside the store. If you ever happen to be in anehim then you have to plan a pitstop to Catal, you get a couple of hours free parking at Downtown Disney, which is more than enough time to fill up your tummy and empty your purse at a few of the stores.
These garlic fries and that salad were perfect, dont you just wish you could reach into the screen and grab them?!
To make up for the lack of Easter egg hunt, I grabbed a bag of Hershey’s chocolate eggs from Target, which I hid around the room when we got back to the hotel that afternoon. The kids were happy they finally got to use their baskets, and we enjoyed consuming all the chcolaote we discovered over the next few days which the children had missed!
After dinner, we headed to the sports area for some basketball, tennis and smores before collapsing into our beds. Zzz…