Husband has been desperate to visit Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for ages. I wasn't really sure if Moozles and Dubz would enjoy a day looking at old boats, so I had been putting it off. But I thought that this summer would be the right time to have go for a visit. Dubz is now five and Moozles is nine, both at an age where they enjoy learning and don't throw that many tantrums. So a couple of weeks ago, we drove down to Portsmouth.
When I hear 'dockyard', I think of water and boats, but the thoughts aren't very exciting. I have to say that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard was more than I was expecting. Before you arrive into the dockyard, you see the HMS Warrier 1860 looking quite grand on the water. When you enter the docks, you can choose what you want to do first. We went to the HMS Victory as we thought it would be less busy in the morning. Husband has quite a few memories of visiting the dockyard as a child and was keen to see the Victory again. So we climbed aboard and explored the ship.
We don't go to many shows as a family. I either go with my 9-year old daughter or my husband. My son is quite fidgety and cannot sit for more than an hour. I can't tell you how many shows we've endured with me silently screaming at him to stop kicking the seat in front. So when we were invited to view The Wind in the Willows at Kew Gardens, I was excited to see a show with no proper seats.
Once you arrive at Kew Gardens (Victoria Gate), there is a 10-minute walk to the beginning of the show. We spread out our picnic blanket, and waited for the first part of the show. Husband is not a fan of sitting on the ground, so he sat at the back on a camping chair we had brought. I let the kids eat half of their sandwiches, because it is obviously very tough not to start eating lunch at 10.30am.
Nothing kicks off a splendiferous summer like a trip to the Roald Dahl museum followed by afternoon tea with Mr Kipling. I was pretty excited to visit the museum, but then to get to eat my body weight in cakes?! It was like a dream come true. First, I must clarify that I was not being forced to eat lots of cakes. I just love Mr Kipling (especially the Viennese Whirls and Bakewell Tarts).
The Roald Dahl Museum is both educational and fun. I really enjoyed learning about Roald Dahl (Moozles had read a biography about him so was an expert, she informed me). But she loved learning how tall the various characters were, and that she was the same height as Danny. We really enjoyed seeing Roald Dahl's armchair and the place he created all of his stories. The museum has loads of interactive bits, which made it interesting for my nine year old and my five year old. There was also story-telling, dressing up and crafts. Dubz and Moozles loved the paper flowers we made.
If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen hundreds of posts from lavender farms all across the country. June, July and early August are the best times to visit. Take some family photos or capture your outfits in a beautiful environment. And if you live in south London, Mayfield is the nearest lavender farm.
We first visited Mayfield Lavender Farm four years ago, after Moozles finished her first year of school. I was looking back at the photos from this first visit because we had our third visit today. And how my little ones have changed. They really aren't so little anymore. My two were running around, trying to stay away from bees. At one point, they were both adamant they had been stung by the bees. They hadn't. But it can be quite daunting for children to see so many bees in one place. There are loads of bees, but they mostly keep to the lavender.
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.
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.
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.
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!).
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).
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.