If you live in London or Surrey, you will have heard of Chessington World of Adventures. It is a fab theme park that also has a zoo, aquarium and petting zoo. Last year we went for Howloween, their cool Halloween celebrations during the October half-term. As part of our visit, we spent the night at the Chessington Safari Hotel.
We wouldn't normally think to spend the night at a Chessington hotel (the park has two adjacent hotels: Safari and Azteca), as it is only a 20-25 minute drive away from our house. But as we were offered a room for our review of the theme park, we thought it would be a great idea to check out the amenities. My children love staying in hotels, but a hotel that is decorated in a spooky fashion is even more exciting. They also loved that they had a little nook for their beds AND A TV. Husband and I enjoyed our comfy double bed and the complimentary WI-FI.
Do you know those women who always wear pretty heels and generally look quite elegant yet cool? Well, I'm not one of those women. I'm the practical one wearing trainers/sneakers. Recently I've started going for regular walks in Richmond Park with various mum friends. Sometimes this results in wet toes. Trainers aren't that great for muddy walks. So I've been wanting to get some Goretex boots for ages. And last week I finally got some.
Along with some other bloggers, I was invited to an event at Hotter Shoes in Guildford last week. Not only did we get to find out about the history of Hotter, we got to go crazy trying on lots of boots. Hotter was founded in 1959 making slippers. These proved so popular that they started making an array of comfortable shoes and boots, and now there are currently 70 stores in the UK. And all the shoes made for Hotter, are made in their factory in Lancashire. That's right, their factory is based in the UK. I became a fan of Hotter shoes last year and was already the owner of two sandals, one trainer and one heeled party shoe, but no boots. Not until last week.
Most of the bloggers were trying on cute heeled boots, and of course Mrs Practical here was looking for boots that would enable me to walk for miles in comfort (and stay dry). The problem was that there were so many comfortable boots - even the ones with heels. But then I found some Gore-tex beauties and I knew that I had to get them. They didn't have the Orla boots in black, in my size, so the store ordered them for me (with free delivery!) and they arrived at my house four days later.
There is so much to do in London. If you're planning a mini-break or a day visit this half-term, I have noted some fun family outings. For you Londoners, you could even visit all these places. I have sneakily added a Surrey attraction because if you live in south London, Surrey is a breeze to get to.
When HP asked me whether I would like to invite some of my friends over for a pamper party, I couldn't say yes quick enough. I invited five of my mum friends over, and they were equally enticed. Mums really love Prosecco and pampering!
When my guests arrived, we cracked into the fizz immediately. I had set up a table in the dining area for the manicures, and a lovely beauty therapist came in to do our nails. There was another lovely lady there giving foot massages, and I set her up in the living room for some quiet. We enjoyed our pampering while enjoying some nibbles and a good girly chat.
Time sure flies when you're having fun. I can't believe that today marks my three-year blog anniversary. I remember agonising over a blog name, and then being so nervous when I pressed the 'publish' button for the first time (if you want to read my random first blog post, here it is). I expected to quit the blog after six months, but didn't. Instead, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I made friends. And filled my life with something quite unexpected. Blogging has made being a Stay-At-Home-Mum so much easier.
I remember feeling astonished when my blog turned one. And now at three years old, I am taking stock. Thinking about where my blog will go. Will I switch the focus? Maybe I will have a re-design. Whatever happens, I hope you will continue the journey with me. It has been a blast!
Who doesn't love Quentin Blake? Besides his gorgeous illustrations for Roald Dahl books, he has written and illustrated a fair number of books. And one of his books, Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave, has now been made into a fun family show. If you're not familiar with the Mrs Armitage books, she has a few adventures - on the road and on wheels. And her ordinary but extraordinary adventure surfing a big wave does not disappoint.
We went to see Mrs Armitage and the Big Wave at Watermans arts centre in Brentford. It is such a lovely venue, with a restaurant, cinema and theatre, and parking. The play consisted of two actresses who took on the roles, along with a screen as the background. The show is recommended for children up to eight years old. My four-year old and eight-year old both loved it. Moozles and Dubz thoroughly enjoyed the 60-minute show. Not only was it entertaining but it sparked their imaginations.
I live in dresses and leggings. And even though I have many outdoor adventures, I am not dressed like I am about to go creeping through tall grass or stomping in the mud. In September, Regatta invited me (and three other mummy bloggers) to a style masterclass with Vogue Williams. Vogue is a model and TV personality, and is the new face of the Regatta AW16 Heritage collection. Vogue and Regatta helped me find a sportier look for my weekends.
Regatta considers me to be a 'Weekend Explorer' because my family and I spend our weekends walking and discovering new areas. I like my clothes to be practical and warm. This is all true, but I never seem to be dressed appropriately for our walks. I normally wear my trainers which always leave me with wet toes. And my winter coat is made of wool rather than a fabric that will keep me dry.
Did I ever mention that my family and I love an American diner? Many years ago, when I first moved to the UK, I would drag Husband around London looking for acceptable American fare. I needed to know where I could get burgers, milkshakes and pancakes if I had an urgent craving. Fourteen years ago, there were only a handful of places to get American-style food. Nowadays, they are everywhere. There are now more American restaurants and diners in London than I have fingers and toes. One place we have frequented a few times is Ed's Easy Diner.
If you're not familiar with Ed's, it is a chain of 1950s-style American diners. They have booths, as well as tables, cute jukeboxes and My family and I last went about five months ago. My son has recently become obsessed with cheeseburgers, and we're all fans, so it makes life easier to eat at restaurants where they serve cheeseburgers. Recently, the people from Ed's invited us for a family meal to check out their new junior menu.
Dining out with kids is made so much easier with a great children's menu. Ed's Junior Bites is made for kids 10 and under. For £5.95, you get a main, side and a drink. One issue I have with many children's menus is that there is enough food for my 4-year old, but my 8-year old ends up still hungry. I would rather the kids had more proper food and less dessert. At Ed's, my 8-year old was properly full while my 4-year old had food remaining. Take note other restaurants!
I have had one of those weeks. You know, the ones that make you drown your sorrows in gin and chocolate?! Except I am taking a break from sugar so I needed to find a replacement. So I've gone on a couple of walks in Richmond Park with my mummy friends. The fresh air, lovely scenery and sunshine have lifted my spirits. Plus it always helps to talk things out with your friends. Free therapy, no calories consumed and loads of calories burned. Noting better than walking your worries away.
I'm not joking ladies. There IS a No Bra Day, and it is here. So throw those bras in the bin. Okay, not all of them. But you don't need to wear a bra everyday, and you should especially take a break on the 13th October (National No Bra Day). This won't be tough for me, because, you see, I, um, I don't often wear bras. There you have it. I've said it. Now you know.
I've loathed wearing bras since I was a teenager. There was the initial excitement that occurred when I was first able to wear a bra, at age 11. Woohoo, boobs! But after a few years, I grew weary. What evil sorcerer came up with the underwire? Why should my breasts be squeezed in when they just wanted to be free? I used to get fed up and sneak my bra off during school. Luckily I went to an all-girls school. For years I would wear a bra, while quietly hating it. And then I got pregnant and lived in bras. And obviously I could not go without one whilst breastfeeding. But then when I was finished, my bra became my enemy again.