days out

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It's a true sign of summer when my family and I head to Mayfield Lavender Farm. It provides a lovely backdrop for informal family photos. And of course the smell is unreal. But we almost did not go this year. But two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, the power on our road went out. So we decided that a trip to the lavender farm and brunch at a cafe would ease the pain of not having any electricity.

And ease the pain it did. Mayfield Lavender is a 25 minute drive away, so we were able to enjoy some air-conditioning. At the lavender farm, we only spent 10 minutes taking photos, and then went to brunch at Fego in Banstead. We came home at 1pm hoping for electricity, but annoyingly it did not return til after 6.30pm. Still, at least we had a lovely morning, and some sweet photos to remember the day.

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It can be so tough going on dates when you have young children. Besides getting a babysitter, you have to deal with the fatigue that comes with the evening. So sometimes Husband takes the day off and we have a day date. And this is what we did this week. After a lazy morning, we went to see the Han Solo film and then went to Cau to try out their new summertime menu.

We're very lucky to have a huge array of wonderful restaurants in Kingston, and Cau is especially nice as it's right on the river. As it was a sunny day, we sat outside, and of course we drank cocktails. One of my favourite cocktails ever is the Passionfruit Mojito, which they happen to serve at Cau. It is so delicious and refreshing that I can never just have one. Thankfully we ate lots of yummy food, so I wasn't stumbling home.

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My family and I have been to many dinosaur experiences. Many. And although Dubz isn't obsessed with dinosaurs anymore, he still adores them. And to be honest, the rest of the family quite like them. I mean, what's not to like?! Cool creatures that we'd normally be afraid of but are extinct so we can be fascinated without fear. And one of the newest attractions in London showcasing them is Dinosaurs in the Wild.

When we first arrived at the giant warehouse that housed Dinosaurs in the Wild, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. But I was wrong. I don't want to give too much away (the element of surprise helps to make this such a cool experience).

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My family and I were invited to Kidzania this Easter. And since Moozles and I love it, we decided to take Husband and Dubz along. And right now, in honour of WrestleMania34, there are some WWE-related activities in addition to all the regular fun stuff. So we knew Dubz would enjoy himself.

Located at Westfield in Shepherd's Bush, Kidzania is a city (all indoors) made for children. Before arriving, you queue as if you're at the airport. Children are given 50 Kidzos each, which they can use to spend on fun activities or save and earn more money through jobs. It's probably one of the few times your child will want to work. Dubz started off as a policeman while Moozles worked at the library and then a hotel. Then she became a surgeon while he went to work at the Cadbury chocolate factory.

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My son is in Year One, and this term they are learning about space. Dubz is constantly talking about the Milky Way galaxy, so we thought a family trip to the planetarium was in order. It turns out that London's only planetarium is located in Greenwich (south east London). We decided to combine our visit with the National Maritime Museum, as well as sneak in a boat ride and lunch. And what a fun day it was.

If like us, you live in south west London, you may know that it's a bit of a pain to go from west to east London. But sometimes you have to bite the bullet, especially when there's a cool attraction that you don't want to miss. So, after we arrived at Waterloo, we decided to take the Jubilee line to Canary Wharf, and then hop onto the DLR to Greenwich. While the latter offers lovely views to Greenwich - this ended up taking 45 minutes. It would have taken half the time if we had just taken two trains from Waterloo East. But sometimes it's nice to take the scenic route.

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One thing that I love about Kingston-upon-Thames is that there is always something going on. Sometimes, when we have no plans, and we don't feel like staying home, we just pop into the town centre looking for fun. A few weeks ago we had a free Saturday so we went to check out the grand opening of The Entertainer in the Bentall Centre, Kingston.

To celebrate it's opening, The Entertainer had free face painting and character visits (Dubz was especially excited about Batman and Robin Lego). And of course, there was the lovely new shop. Somehow, Dubz managed to get us to buy him a new box of Ninjago Lego. That boy is Lego-mad. And since my daughter could not be left out, I took her to Claire's to buy new earrings. In exchange for their new things, I made everyone walk around Zara with me (cue evil laugh, muwharrr).

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Every year, my family and I visit RHS Wisley to see their annual butterfly exhibit. There is something so extraordinary about living in the UK but being able to see loads of exotic butterflies. It's not an everyday occurrence, which is probably why it feels so special.

It's one thing seeing a couple of butterflies out in the open. But at The Glasshouse at Wisley, you will find so many more. They have over 50 species of exotic butterflies. Some are flying around, some are resting leaves and trees, and some are munching on old fruit. You probably won't spot more than 20 species, but it's fun trying. You can get a butterfly spotting guide for £1, which is a big hit with the kids.

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Before I moved to the area, I knew that Kingston-upon-Thames was known for its shopping. And in the last few years, it has gotten even better. And it's not just shopping. There are restaurants, cafes, as well as pubs, bars and a delightful theatre. There is so much that you could easily, and happily, do to spend a day in Kingston.

A few weeks ago, I took Moozles and Dubz to enjoy some of what Kingston has to offer. We started off in the Bentall Centre. It is an indoor mall housed in a gorgeous building. And it houses some of my favourite homeware shops (Zara, H&M and West Elm). We are currently renovating our house, and I have been spending a lot of time exploring the internet for gorgeous items for my home. But sometimes you just need to get to a shop and see things in real life.

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It's been a bit tough feeling festive this year. Our home renovations still haven't finished, and we don't even have a Christmas tree. But on Friday, we took the time out for some family fun in Kingston. The kids and I went shopping at Bentalls and had afternoon tea at the Hilton Doubletree. Husband then met us at the Rose Theatre to watch Alice in Winterland.

Fans of Lewis Carroll will be familiar with both Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Alice in Winterland is a combination of both books. Alice's world is falling apart and all she wants to do is stop time. Her journey to Wonderland helps to show her how important it is to move forward and to accept change. The show had some really touching moments, but there were plenty of exciting moments and fun songs.

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I love Christmas. Shopping for gifts, visiting Santa, meeting up with family and friends, and buying cheesy festive jumpers. But my favourite part is going to the theatre to see a show with my family. For the past few years, we normally see the Christmas show at the Rose Theatre Kingston. This year, I am so excited about Alice in Winterland.

Written by Lewis Carroll, and adapted and directed by Ciaran McConville, Alice in Winterland looks like it will be another family favourite. Watch as the White Rabbit visit Alice and begs her to help him save Winterland (a frozen world of mad hatters and a terrible Jabberwock). The very brave Alice goes on a magical adventure. Expect puppetry, projections and a delightful cast of 30.

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