days out

We have never taken my son on an airplane (although his big sister has flown all around the world), as he has always been a handful. In May, we went for our first overseas holiday as a family of four. We had decided to go to France, and take Brittany Ferries as it would mean we could take our car plus we could better control our five year old son. I thought that sailing to France from the UK would be the easy travel option, but it turned out to also be the fun option.

I have to say that the kids and I weren't sure what to expect on the ferry. Luckily, the Brittany Ferries website has plenty of information and even videos of the ships. Dubz made me watch the videos about 20 times. His mind was blown to be travelling on a ship so big it could fit cars and beds and restaurants. But the ferry fits all those things and more.

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When you tell young children that you'll be spending the day at a garden, you will see the terror in their eyes. Their lips may even quiver at the thought of looking at flowers and not spending the day at the playground. So when I told the kids that the four of us were spending the day at The Savill Garden, they were not enthused. Fast forward a few hours, when driving home, and both agreed that they had had loads of fun. So let me tell you why an ornamental garden can be such a fun family day out.

The Savill Garden is utterly beautiful. Located in Windsor Great Park, there are 35 acres of woodland in addition to the gardens. There are different areas, including the Summer Gardens, Autumn Wood and Winter Beds. Although we had a map, we just wandered around throughout the various interconnected garden areas. And I spent a lot of time smelling the roses, literally.

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For the May half-term, we packed a week's worth of clothes, got into the car and drove to France. Okay, there might have been more to this. Like spending weeks looking at which Eurocamp holiday parc would best suit our family and then researching what one needs for a Eurocamp holiday as well as what you need for driving in France. And obviously you have to book the ferry. If you try driving straight to France, you will literally be swimming with the fishes.

I must note that this was our first holiday abroad as a family of four. Dubz, who has just turned five, has always been quite crazy a handful. But he has calmed down in the past year and we got him his first passport in May. We also thought that travelling by ferry would be a good way to ease into a holiday (I reckon we will be brave enough for plane travel in a few months).

So anyway, after much deliberation, we chose La Garangeoire in the Vendee (on the west coast of central France). I had read that there is better weather there than the northern parts of France, plus it requires much less driving to than the south of France. And we were not disappointed. While it did drizzle a couple of mornings, the weather was mostly sunny and warm. We had an amazing week at La Garangeoire, and I wanted to show you what a holiday looks like when every member of the family proclaims it to be 'the best holiday ever'.

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While my family and I were in the Vendee on our family holiday at the May half-term, we decided to take a day trip to Nantes. To be honest, we had never heard of Nantes before the holiday but had read an interesting article in the Brittany Ferries magazine and wanted to visit Les Machines de L'ile. And yes, it was mainly because I wanted to ride on a giant mechanical elephant.

Les Machines is an art installation on a grand scale. You will see how sketches are brought to life with small models, which are then made on a large scale. The elephant is an amazing feature as it is 12m high (that's 40 feet!!), and made up of more than 48 tonnes of wood and steel. You can go for a walk along three different routes, which take about 30 minutes each. When you are at the top, you feel so high and it is such a strange sensation to be moving along. One of our favourite aspects of the elephant is that its trunk splashes water at people. So funny to see, whether you're near the elephant or riding on its back (have a look at my vlog below to see it in action).

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My children love Chessington World of Adventures. Moozles goes on the big, scary rides (with her daddy), and Dubz and I go on the gentler rides. The amusement park is about 20 minutes, in the car, from our house so we visit several times a year. Last year, I bought an Adult & Pre-schooler Annual Pass for Dubz and me. And I thought I would let you know if I found it to be good value.

First of all, the annual pass is for adults and children up to, and including, the age of five. At £60 for the pass, you would need to visit three times to break even (the one-day entry cost for a parent and pre-schooler is £21). But the pass gets you a 20% off discount off food and the gift shop, which is great. Even if you bring a packed lunch, you might still be tempted with donuts, ice cream or a cuddly toy. It helps having that extra little discount.

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Forget about winter coming, the dinosaurs are coming. And they will be coming all around the UK. At Easter, we saw the first stop of the Jurassic Kingdom UK tour, at Osterley Park in London. The tour will be heading to Birmingham, Manchester, Blackpool, Glasgow, Newcastle and Leeds. But I wanted to let you know if the tour is worth your visit.

First of all, you may remember that Dubz was obsessed with dinosaurs when he was two and three. He now has other interests but is still keen on dinosaurs. My daughter was not interested in going, not at all. But she actually enjoyed the visit. The exhibit has over 30 animatronic dinosaurs in an open-air setting. It feels like you are seeing the dinosaurs in their natural habitat.

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Who doesn't love to party?! And partying while getting to sit on comfy sofas? Even better. Last month I dragged a couple of my mummy friends to Habitat's Couchella festival. And though we were the only ones there in their 40s, we sure had a blast. You can replicate our festival fun at home.

It doesn't matter if you're stuck in the UK and not at the coolest festival in California. Habitat has launched their digital festival so that you can party from the comfort of your home. That means that the drinks will be free-flowing, there won't be queues for the loos, and you get the best seat in the house (hooray for your sofa!).

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Regular readers will know that Moozles and I often have mummy-daughter days. She has always needed a little bit of extra time with me. But then, don't all children benefit from one-on-one time with a parent? Moozles has been having some friendship issues at school recently and has been feeling quite down about it. I had planned to have a special day, but then the lovely people from Travelodge invited my family for a #LiteracyLegacy visit to London. So I thought that a mummy-daughter weekend would be just the thing to cheer up Moozles. So off to central London we went for a short break.

First stop was to check-in to the hotel and drop off our bags. Then we went to Leicester Square for our Harry Potter walking tour (one of many free walking tours offered by Strawberry Tours). London has a rich history of authors, as well as being the subject and backdrop of many a book. The Harry Potter tour was an example of the literacy legacy of London. The tour was due to last 2 1/2 hours but my girl got side-tracked by Hardy's Sweet Shop after an hour and a half, and we ran off for some jelly beans. Then we went back to Leicester Square to watch Beauty & The Beast (we both loved it).

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My family and I love a fun day out, and if there are animals - even better. At the beginning of the Easter break, we visited Paradise Wildlife Park in Hertfordshire to check out the animals and to see the new penguin exhibit. The biggest kid of our family, Husband, is crazy for penguins, and was especially excited for our visit. We were even blessed with a warm and sunny day.

Our first stop were the big cats. We were impressed that we found white lions, tigers, leopards and cheetahs. And most of them were lazing about, sleeping in the sun. What a tough life. In fact, many of the animals we encountered were napping. I don't blame them. It is tough staying awake when you're sunbathing.

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The children are at their grandparents' house, which means that Husband and I are free to enjoy London as we want to. We have been sleeping in, taking long walks and enjoying meals out without packing colouring books. Yesterday, we had the most delicious lunch, and I had to tell you about it. We went to Chi Kitchen, and I have to share all the delectable dishes we ate.

First of all, Chi Kitchen is a pan-Asian restaurant. This means that it serves a few different cuisines - Japanese, Malaysian, Korean and Chinese. To me, this is Heaven. It means I can eat loads of different things that I love. I started off with the spider soft-shell crab sushi roll. It arrived on a steaming plate, which was very theatrical. Then Husband and I had dim sum. I had prawn and he had the beef Wagyu. These items are perfect for sharing, but sadly my husband does not like fish or seafood (crazy, I know).

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