Kidzania LondonLast month we were invited to Kidzania London to give our children their first (fun!) taste into the world of work  as guests of 365 Tickets, an online ticket retailer that offers huge discounts for the biggest and most popular attractions in the UK and around the world.

Located within Westfield, KidZania London is a child-size city, set up like a shopping mall, where the kids are in charge. Kidzania offers children the opportunity to try out an enormous variety of jobs in a very impressive, life-like environment, where parents are strictly relegated to the sidelines and the children have to put some effort in to earn their keep – if only the real world was like this!

Kidzania London

KidZania is clearly signposted within Westfield, but it’s also very easy to find on the first floor next door to Marks & Spencer thanks to the huge aeroplane marking the entrance.

The airport-style check in made the children excited about what was to come and they loved having their ‘boarding cards’ (tickets) scanned and having to pass through ‘immigration’ before they could enter. The helpful staff fitted each of us with a security bracelet that zaps the little ones in and out of each activity and enables the adults to keep tabs on them at all times. It also ensures your child’s safety as they can only be checked out of the City with you present and it records any allergies your child has.

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania London

Kidzania London

At check-in the children were also given 50 kidZos (currency) each so they could pay to participate in some of Kidzania’s most popular jobs. Whilst it seems counter intuitive to make children pay for some of the jobs (you should get paid for working shouldn’t you?), it’s actually a great idea as it means that the children quickly learn that in order to be able to undertake all of the jobs that they would like to, they need to do other jobs to earn enough money.

If they do enough ‘paying jobs’ and have some spare kidZos at the end of the day, children can save it in a KidZania bank account for their next visit or spend the money in the shop at the end. Sadly mine did neither of these things as they spent their last kidzos that they’d earned, making pom pom necklaces and having their faces painted!

‘Designed to empower kids, KidZania gives them the confidence to challenge themselves and inspire them to explore the world of opportunities. KidZania is a real life role play experience for 4-14 year olds,  blending learning and reality with entertainment. Each role-play experience is crafted to teach kids essential life skills including financial literacy, team work and independence’.

(Kidzania website)

The employment opportunities at Kidzania are almost endless and hugely varied.  Roles include actor, advertising executive, air-conditioning engineer, air-line pilot, beauty stylist, bell ringer, chocolatier, customer manager at the department store, the list goes on and I’ve only gone as far as ‘C! There really is something for everyone, and for those who have no idea what they’d like to try, there’s even a job centre!

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania London

Many of the jobs are interlinked. For example, once trained at the fire station, our mini firefighters jumped into the fire engine to put out a fire in a burning building round the corner. Once there, they met the mini-police officers and mini-paramedics, who all worked together to successfully put out the fire, secure the area and treat injuries.

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania London

For some reason, one of our favourite occupations was that of the courier, who ferried packages to and from various businesses throughout the town, where they were signed for just as we do in our more mundane, less upbeat, adult lives. Navigating the city was a good challenge for the littles and they loved taking it in turns wheeling the trolley and getting their clipboard signed as they handed over the packages.

Kidzania LondonKidzania London

The supermarket was also a big hit, and Phoebe absolutely loved working in the maternity unit despite the fact she could barely see over the table!

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania London

The staff, playing the roles of doctors, nurses, police officers, firemen, cooks, shop assistants, bank clerks, tattoo artists etc. were all friendly and patient, and critically, were fully committed to the roles they were playing, which is what makes the experience so realistic for the children.

In KidZania the tickets are timed to 4 hours, but within that time our children became chocolate makers, cashiers, shoppers, firefighters, maternity nurses and couriers amongst other things and it’s definitely enough time to get through a vast array of jobs, queues permitting of course!

Kidzania London

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonAs we’d been invited to review Kidzania for the blog, they very kindly allowed Phoebe to take part in all the activities despite being two years too young. This meant that she was an honorary four year old for the day and allowed to participate in all the same activities and jobs as Jack, Bea and Ted (their lovely cousins) which was a huge relief as we could have had a huge meltdown on our hands if she has been limited to just the Science Laboratory, RightZKeepers play house and Kindergarten.

Situated on the first floor, these ‘Early Years’ attractions, all offer unique interactive play opportunities for those under 4 years of age, but they definitely wouldn’t have kept Phoebs entertained for longer than an hour, and especially if she knew what fun the others were having in the city without her!

Kidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania LondonKidzania London

It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re planning on going to Kidzania as a solo parent with two or more children and one of those being an under four year old, it would be nigh on impossible to get the most out of the place, as you aren’t allowed to leave children over the age of four unattended until they are eight years old and you obviously couldn’t be in two places at once. So ideally bring your partner or a friend to help even out the ratios and enable you all to get your money’s worth.

Children from the age of 8 years can be left on their own at KidZania enabling adults to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet in the ‘Grown Ups Garden Shed’ with its board games, TV area and comfy sofas or in one of the numerous cafes dotted around the city.

Kidzania LondonKidzania London

We weren’t made aware about it until near the end of our time at KidZania but on our next visit we’ll purchase a B-KidZanian PaZZport for the kids as we all know how much children love getting stamps in books! Not only that, B-KidZanians receive more benefits to enjoy at KidZania London, including fast-track access to the City once you arrive at the Airport, discounts at KidZania Shops and the chance to earn more kidZos!

Thanks so much to 365 Tickets for a brilliant day out. Despite being slightly too young to really make the most of it all (they have no idea about the value of money yet for example), the children were totally engrossed for the four hours we were there and thoroughly enjoyed participating in all the different jobs. In fact, they can’t wait to return on our next trip to London in April!

If you’re looking for discounted tickets at unbeatable prices, from theatre tickets in London’s West End to passes to Disneyland Paris, you must check out the 365 Tickets website. You can also keep up to date with their latest offers by following 365 Tickets on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclaimer: I was very kindly sent the tickets for the purpose of this review, but all words, opinions and photographs are my own.

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100
  • Sarah CantwellFebruary 1, 2017 - 2:52 pm

    Aw we very nearly took Rosalie here yesterday as we were in Westfields. I’m glad we didn’t now as she would be most upset to be confined to the under 4 area xxReplyCancel

  • Sonia CaveFebruary 1, 2017 - 7:34 pm

    This looks like amazing fun, and our little lady would love it!ReplyCancel

  • Keri-Anne PinkFebruary 1, 2017 - 9:19 pm

    I have heard such wonderful things about kidzania. A few of my friends have taken their children and have raved about it! It is such a clever idea :)ReplyCancel

  • StephanieFebruary 1, 2017 - 9:39 pm

    I’ve seen lots of post on this place, and I think it sounds fantastic! I think my twin girls would love it, and would quickly spend their money!!!ReplyCancel

  • Mrs hFebruary 2, 2017 - 3:29 pm

    This looks like so much fun. Little Miss H has a fantastic imagination and I know that she would love this. She is always playing make-believe. Her favourite activity is to dress up and pretend she is a doctor, hairdresser or teacher. So this day out really does sound perfect for her. Hugs Lucy xxxxReplyCancel

  • The London MumFebruary 5, 2017 - 7:52 pm

    We’ve yet to visit Kidzania, but it’s on the list for sure because I know my son would just love it!ReplyCancel

  • Janine DolanFebruary 6, 2017 - 2:52 pm

    This looks absolutely amazing. My four year old would be completely amazed by this and might even take his fear away from certain things.ReplyCancel

  • JodieFebruary 9, 2017 - 8:30 pm

    Your photos are stunning! We went a year or so ago and my girls didn’t really understand the concept unfortunately. I loved the idea though.ReplyCancel

Geronimo-Fest_Logo_2017

Following a hugely successful festival in 2016 at Tatton Park, the ultimate in children’s festivals in back for its third successive year and 2017’s Geronimo Festival promises to offer not only a great family day out but a whole weekend full of amazing acts and activities.

Taking place from the 27th – 29th May, Geronimo is back, bigger and better with a host of big names from children’s TV teamed with a plethora of outdoor activities, live shows and workshops.

In fact, Geronimo is now a family mini-vacation destination and will offer camping and glamping for guests who don’t want the fun to end. You can take your own tent, caravan or motor home or let Geronimo take the hassle out of camping with their range of themed tents available to suit all families.

This year there’s a change of location and Geronimo will be held in the stunning, expansive grounds at Arley Hall in Northwich, Cheshire giving you access to a whole host of new and exciting attractions set over a larger scale. The event will be now held over three days so that more people can take advantage of everything the show has to offer.

The magical family festival which has been billed as ‘Glastonbury for Kids!’ by the Daily Mirror, will play host to a huge array of TV stars who will take centre stage throughout the day including Mr Bloom and Justin Fletcher. In addition Dinosaur fans will be pleased to know that Andy Day will be making an appearance and little pirates can join Cook and Line from Swashbuckle in a rip-roaring pirate adventure! The theme of this year’s event is Princesses, Knights and Dragons, and families are welcome to dress up and join in the fun.

For older children there is a Digital Zone where they can meet their favourite YouTubers and Gamers as well as try their hand at all the latest tech. Geronimo guests will also be treated to two full Circuses, a Theatre Tent and a Show Ground Arena with lots of displays including motorcycles, jousting and fencing.

For active children, there’s so much to cram in, including mobile climbing walls, cardboard harp workshops and a Bear Grylls Assault Course. In fact, Geronimo has so much going on for children of all ages, I’m not entirely sure how we’ll fit it all in, but I’m so excited for Jack and Phoebs who will be in their element!

Take a peek at last year’s Geronimo Festival to get a snapshot of what’s on offer…

As we only live about half an hour away, we are still undecided about whether to camp or not (Phoebe and a tent, I fear won’t be a good mix!), butI know Jack and Phoebe are going to have a brilliant time come rain or shine as many of the activities will be under cover and in marquees.

If you fancy coming along too, Geronimo currently have an Early Bird offer that is available until the end of January with Tier 1 tickets available from just £16.50! As an added incentive, early birds who purchase Tier 1 tickets will receive a free wristband for the Victorian Fun Fair. But act fast as the Tier 1 tickets are selling like hot cakes and once they’re all sold, the Tier 2 tickets will be released that are more expensive!

To purchase tickets and for more information visit the Geronimo website.

Disclosure : We have been offered tickets to Geronimo Festival free of charge as part of our role as ambassador.

 

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100

one

 

I’ve always been partial to a department store and it has to be said that one of my utter favourites is most definitely John Lewis. On a rainy day I can often be found roaming around their Cheadle store, wandering the toy department, browsing the latest technology, swooning over the soft furnishings or just enjoying a hot chocolate and scrumptious cake with the little lady. You see, even Phoebe loves going to John Lewis. She’s in her element riding the escalators, pressing the buttons in the lifts and playing with all the toys. So its a win-win for both of us!

From furnishing the home to the latest fashions, John Lewis is the department store that seems to have it all, but one of the areas I think they completely outdo themselves is the ‘nursery department’.

One of the biggest minefields for new parents is what to buy. It’s so easy for new parents to be seduced into believing that their baby needs a huge amount of stuff, when in reality you only need a small number of core pieces of equipment to see them safely through the first six months.

Thankfully John Lewis understand there’s a lot to take in and are on hand to try to keep things simple and practical for new parents by offering individual consultations completely free of charge. Available in all John Lewis shops with Nursery departments, these free, two-hour appointments are a brilliant starting point for new parents and during the appointment, a Nursery Partner will get to know your particular needs and likes in 5 key areas that cover all the basics:

You’ll be guided around the department and the Nursery Partner will help you compile a list of everything you’ll need for your new arrival. This list will be available for you to view and review online or in-store and a bit like a wedding gift list, you’ll be able to share your nursery list with family and friends for them to purchase items that you really want.

Obviously, an appointment with a Nursery Partner isn’t compulsory and you can have a good old browse in your own time to compile your own list. If this is the approach you’d rather take, I thought I’d give you a helping hand by offering my favourite picks from the John Lewis website…

On the move //

John Lewis nursery - on the move

1 // Joolz Geo Mono Pushchair with Carrycot, £799

2 // Britax Dualfix Group 0+/1 Car Seat, £350 – Read this post for a full review of the Dualfix.

John Lewis also sell a huge number of leading brands including Baby Jogger, Bugaboo, Quinny, MaxiCosi, Nuna, Uppababy and Maclaren.

 

Sleep Tight Baby //

bed

1 // John Lewis Martha Sleigh Cotbed, £300

2 // Sleepyhead Deluxe Portable Baby Pod, £110

3 // Motorola Smart Nursery, £349.99 – John Lewis exclusively stock the Smart Nursery Range from Motorola which is beyond clever! Read more about it here.

4 // John Lewis Baby Zebra Print Sleep Bag, £20

 

Well-fed baby //

Untitled-2

1 // Medela Swing Breast Pump with Calma Teat, £99.99 – You can read about all my other ‘must haves’ for breastfeeding in this post.

2 // Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep Machine, £70

 

Nice Clean Baby //

bath

1 // John Lewis Baby Bath Support, £12.95

2 // Original Sprout 2 in 1 Baby Shampoo and Body Wash, £15.50

3 // John Lewis Baby Leopard Organic GOTS Cotton Sleepsuit, Pack of 3, £16

 

Well dressed baby //

Untitled-1

1 // John Lewis Baby Floral Romper Playsuit, £15

2 // John Lewis Baby Dinosaur Dungaree Set, £18

3 // John Lewis Baby Ditsy Floral Print Dress, £18

These items are just a teeny tiny snippet of the lovely wares that John Lewis sell so head on over to their website now to see for yourself. But be warned, you may lose an hour or two browsing!

Disclaimer: PR collaboration

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100
  • Rebecca | AAUBlogJanuary 24, 2017 - 8:15 pm

    i used to work for John Lewis (boy do I miss that discount), as everything they sell is so lovely. Great choices here xReplyCancel

  • Moderate MumJanuary 24, 2017 - 9:06 pm

    A nursery partner is such a good idea! I was so lost when I went shopping for baby stuff and had so many questionsReplyCancel

  • JennaJanuary 24, 2017 - 9:48 pm

    JL baby clothes are gorgeous. I wish there was a store closer to me, alas our closest one is a bit far away for me to get to. I do buy a fair bit online though.ReplyCancel

  • Sarah CantwellJanuary 24, 2017 - 11:03 pm

    Oh this looks great. Such a wonderful idea for first time mum’s. I keep lusting after the bugaboo prams on the John Lewis website xReplyCancel

  • Lauren Belle du BrightonJanuary 24, 2017 - 11:15 pm

    I love the playsuits, both my babies first sleepsuits were from JL too!ReplyCancel

  • Vikki HolnessJanuary 26, 2017 - 10:28 am

    I think John Lewis is a one stop shop for EVERYTHING these days, they have such a vast product range! I shopped there for quite a few nursery bits when the boys were babies actually! xxReplyCancel

  • JanineJanuary 27, 2017 - 12:56 pm

    Great picks for new mums to be. Only recently John Lewis started to deliver to Ireland. No use to me now but I do find their toy section very handy.ReplyCancel

  • Keri-AnneJanuary 27, 2017 - 1:02 pm

    John Lewis is my fav department store. I love roaming it and i love going in their at xmas too. It always makes xmas seem more magical when you see the department stores all decorated :)ReplyCancel

  • StephanieJanuary 30, 2017 - 12:00 pm

    I love that pushchair! Great picks, and yes a really nice shop to get baby items from.ReplyCancel

Darwin Forest Country Park

Last month, just before the mayhem of the Christmas festivities ensued, the four of us set off for a short break at Darwin Forest and we had the most relaxing weekend we’ve had in a long time. Early nights, forest walks, fresh air in abundance, afternoon naps and quality time as a foursome meant that we really did switch off and recharge the batteries.

Tucked away between Matlock and Bakewell, Darwin Forest Country Park is set in 47 acres of mixed woodland and is considered to be one of the UK’s best holiday parks. Offering over 120 lodges in various shapes and sizes, Darwin Forest recently achieved a VisitEngland Silver Award for Excellence in 2016 and it’s really not hard to see why. The setting is idyllic, the lodges are comfortable and stylish and there are a whole host of family-friendly activities on site to keep the little ones entertained.

The Lodges // 

The lodges at Darwin Forest Country Park all vary in shape, size and price ensuring that there really is something for everyone. From the traditional redwood Classic lodges with all the modern comforts you’d expect to The Meadow; an exclusive small development of three luxury lodges on their own private road that are just lovely!

We were lucky enough to stay in the 3 bedroomed Skyline, one of the three luxury lodges that make up ‘The Meadow’. I’ve stayed in a fair few lodges over the years and it’s fair to say that the Skyline is one of the nicest lodges we’ve stayed in.

Located down a private road, the Skyline lodge was spotlessly clean, beautifully furnished and despite being a world away from our home in look and feel, it had all the home comforts we could have asked for during our stay.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

The Skyline lodge was deceptively spacious with plenty of space for the little ones to roam around and the open-plan living area offered a dining table with seating for 6, a lounge area with flat screen TV and a super efficient faux woodburner and a fully integrated kitchen that housed all the essentials including a dishwasher (with tablets), microwave, oven and fridge/freezer.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

There was even a little utility/cloakroom that had plenty of space for coats and muddy boots and contained a washing machine that we found to be invaluable after our long roams in the woodland.

Along the hallway from the open-plan living area there was a stylish family bathroom with a separate shower and a super deep, freestanding bath that the kids had a hoot in!

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

Further along the hallway, there were two twin bedrooms, both with plenty of wardrobe space and flat screen TV’s (which delighted the littles!) and our master bedroom with its quirky wooden bedhead, spacious wardrobe and lovely en-suite shower room with a brilliantly powerful shower.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkThanks to the large windows in every room, the lodge was flooded with light all day long and throughout the lodge it was very apparent that only high quality, practical yet stylish fixtures, fittings and furnishings had been used.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

Outside, there was a large verandah along the front and one side of the lodge with garden furniture for alfresco dining and one of the biggest highlights for the kids – a hot tub!

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkEach lodge has parking for two cars (ours were opposite our lodge), but if you are a large party and need more, there’s additional parking on site near the main reception.

Darwin Forest Country Park

As you can see from the map below, Darwin Forest Country Park  is pretty spacious yet none of the lodges are too far away from the on-site facilities which is essential when you have small children in tow.

Darwin Forest Country Park

The lodges are also well spaced within the forest, some more so than others, offering guests a peaceful stay no matter where you stay. This is essential for me as I do like my own space on holiday, so the more private the better.

Facilities // 

Aside from the lovely lodges, Darwin Forest Country Park has plenty of family-friendly activities and facilities to suit the family come rain or shine.

Indoor heated swimming pool // 

Despite the inclement weather, we enjoyed playing outside so much during our stay that we only made use of the on-site pool once but the kids loved it.

Darwin Forest Country Park

Located within ‘Evolution Health & Fitness‘, the pool is the ideal temperature for little people, spotlessly clean and the family changing rooms are great. There’s also a spa and gymnasium for grown ups and treatment rooms where you can take advantage of a range of beauty treatments and massages. Complimentary use of the indoor swimming pool is included in your holiday and over 16s are welcome to use the spa and gym facilities for a small charge (£3.75 each or £6 for both).

Little Monkeys Soft Play Centre //

Open from 10am to 6pm daily, Little Monkeys was a huge hit with Jack and Phoebs and Andy and I were really impressed too. It’s the perfect size and layout, ensuring you can keep an eye on your little ones at all times from the cafe area (if you’re lucky and not being asked to climb up with them!)

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

Little Monkeys is open to the general public and not just families staying at Darwin Forest, however they do offer discounts for guests staying on the holiday park and they are great at monitoring numbers ensuring it never gets too busy. You can also enjoy a drink or a bite to eat at the Explorers café which is open all day for breakfast, a light bite or lunch.

I didn’t take any photos inside Little Monkeys as there were obviously lots of other children around, but you can head on over to the Little Monkeys website to see it in all its glory.

For a free soft play option, you can head to the Activity Den that houses a complimentary soft play area for guests to use with children under 5 years of age. Although small, Phoebs loved it (especially as she had it all to herself most of the time!) and we had fun doing the short circuit whilst Andy and Jack made use of the other features in the Activity Den including pool tables, arcade games, air hockey and table tennis.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park
Darwin Forest Country Park

Outdoor play areas //

The Outdoor adventure playground wasn’t utilised as much as we’d hoped due to the rain, but we did have a short play one evening before dinner. With slides, fireman poles, ropes and climbing walls it was the perfect place to build up an appetite!

 Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkWe also spent a LOT of time over the weekend on the Trim Trak! It was a brilliant way of encouraging the kids to head out and explore the beautiful surroundings and they loved trying out all the different obstacles en route.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

Woodland walks // 

With an array of woodland walks on your doorstep at Darwin Forest, you really have no excuse not to head out and explore. We spent many an hour in the woods, splashing in muddy puddles, throwing leaves and having a giggle.

Darwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country ParkDarwin Forest Country Park

Other activities //

Other on-site activities include mini golf, tennis on the all-weather tennis court and Darwin Forest also offer a planned programme of activities aimed at older children and adults. This is the current timetable of activities on offer…

Darwin Forest Country Park

Eating //

If you want to give yourself a break from cooking, I can highly recommend a meal at the Foresters bar and restaurant. We ate there both nights and the food was really delicious and very reasonably priced. The extensive menu offers fresh, locally sourced quality ingredients and there is a children’s menu that covers all the classics too. A takeaway menu is also available if you wish to dine in the comfort of your own lodge.

Darwin Forest Country Park

There is also an on-site convenience store, ‘The Woodland Store’, that sells all the food staples you might need plus a vast array of extras, including art supplies, balls and toys for all ages. It is worth mentioning however that it was quite limited on fresh produce (and expensive) so I would recommend either taking it with you if space allows or booking an online delivery from Tesco or Ocado to arrive once you have checked in.

All in all, we had a fantastic weekend at Darwin Forest Country Park. It was the perfect setting to relax and enjoy time as a family without the distractions of day-to-day life. The lodge was really lovely, more so than I expected, but above all it was functional and comfortable (the beds in particular!). The site itself was also immaculately maintained and had the perfect combination of family friendly facilities on offer to keep little people entertained.

Darwin Forest is also ideally situated, with a whole host of attractions and villages nearby if you can tear yourself away from the site including Matlock Farm Park and Bakewell. We also spent a lovely morning at Chatsworth House browsing the Christmas Markets and having fun in the adventure playground which is only a few miles away.

We had a truly brilliant stay, and will definitely be returning soon,  so if you’re looking for child-friendly accommodation in the beautiful Derbyshire countryside, I can wholeheartedly recommend Darwin Forest Country Park.

Here’s a little video of our weekend…

Disclosure: We were very kindly invited by Darwin Forest Country Park to stay for the purpose of this review, however all opinions are my own.

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100
  • Claire at Tin Box TravellerJanuary 15, 2017 - 10:36 pm

    Your lodge looks so cosy. I love all the beams and the hot tub! Bliss! The location, activities and different options for eating sound ideal for families. The last time we were in the Peak District was when I was expecting Tin Box Tot. It’s a beautiful area and one with lots of special memories for us. By the way, your photos are wonderful!ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 16, 2017 - 12:24 pm

      Ah thanks Claire. We had the most wonderful weekend despite the weather and I definitely want to head back soon xReplyCancel

  • Lauren Belle Du BrightonJanuary 16, 2017 - 5:54 pm

    This place looks amazing! So much to do, and I think I’d happily live in the accommodation full time! Going to bookmark this review for when we’re looking at holidays later in the year!ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:57 pm

      Yes Lauren, you so should! It really was ideal. Stunning lodges, ideal location and loads of family friendly things to do on site! Perfect! xReplyCancel

  • Rebecca | AAUBlogJanuary 16, 2017 - 6:27 pm

    this looks so lovely – what a great little break away. The lodge is decorated just in my style. Love that there is a hot tub too! xReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:56 pm

      It really was perfect and I can’t wait to go back with the kiddies again xReplyCancel

  • Sam | North East Family Fun Travel BlogJanuary 18, 2017 - 9:34 am

    Wow it looks wonderful – I can’t believe all of the space you have in the lodge as often they are so cramped! Also, LOVE that you have your own hot tub.

    Your photographs are beautiful and it looks like the perfect place to chase away those January blues.ReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:55 pm

      Ah thanks Sam, we were really pleasantly surprised how spacious the lodge was and it was so homely! I can wholeheartedly recommend Darwin xReplyCancel

  • CassJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:29 pm

    Wow!

    That looks amazing and definitely somewhere I want to take the kids xxReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:54 pm

      You must, it was such a lovely place Cass and we will definitely be returning! xReplyCancel

  • TanitaJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:52 pm

    It looks like you all the most fabulous time away. Darwin forest looks beautiful. The lodge looks so spacious. Your photos are beautiful. I love the hot tub! The children looked like they really enjoyed it too. I love these types of holidays, long walks and exploring sound like lots of fun. XxReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 18, 2017 - 12:53 pm

      It was so lovely Tanita, just what we needed in the run up to the craziness of Christmas. xReplyCancel

  • Mrs HJanuary 18, 2017 - 7:15 pm

    That lodge looks amazing. I love the open plan living room/ dining room and kitchen. And that hot tub. How fabulous! The place looks gorgeous. Absolutely perfect for a relaxing family weekend away. Hugs Lucy xxxxReplyCancel

  • JodieJanuary 20, 2017 - 9:29 am

    Oh wow! This looks like a super dreamy holiday destination.ReplyCancel

  • Newcastle Family LifeFebruary 4, 2017 - 2:23 pm

    Your photos are just beautiful, love the ones of you and the children. This looks like such a lovely, peaceful place to visit. We have been looking for a lodge for a weekend away later this year and this looks perfect for young families xxReplyCancel

This time last week, Andy and I bid a fond farewell to 2016 with numerous games of pie-face, a delicious meal, and fun and frolics with good friends and all our little ones. It was the perfect end to a brilliant year.

A year that seemed to pass by in the blink of an eye.

A year full of adventures and fantastic holidays.

A year of fabulous friendships, old and new.

A year that saw Jack starting a new chapter without us when he started ‘big school’ in September.

A year that Phoebe became Miss Independent(!)

A year that will be hard to top…

But i’m excited about 2017. We have lots of lovely things to look forward to on the calendar already (namely holidays – whoop!) and I’m looking forward to witnessing the growing bond between Jack and Phoebs. They utterly adore each other and I pray that their friendship and reciprocal adoration remains as they grow up.

And what about resolutions I hear you cry?? After all surely a New Year and resolutions go hand in hand?? Well I’m normally terrible at keeping New Year’s resolutions and they usually last a few weeks tops, but this year is going to be different for me and I have set myself some ‘goals’ rather than resolutions which I have every intention of sticking to.

1. I am determined to get fit again (and lose weight!)

Since having the littles I have piled on the pounds and I want to get back to the old me. The me that was at least 2 stone lighter. The me that was happy in a bikini. The me that didn’t shudder at her reflection in the mirror. The me that was a lot fitter and could run a half marathon. The me that didn’t feel completely done for after a netball match.

2. I am determined to be healthier

I go through phases of eating lots of fruit and veg and ‘cutting the crap’ but I really need to be more consistent and eat well every day. At the moment I am most definitely not eating ‘5 a day’, so I’m going to use my trusty Nutribullet to help me on my way and I will be sharing my favourite ‘recipes’ with you over the coming months.

3. I need to look after my skin

Now I’m in my thirties I really need to look after my skin a little better. I need to drink a LOT more water to start. Some days I can go for hours without drinking anything and it’s only when a headache kicks in that I remember to drink! I also need to maintain a better daily skin care routine, as at the moment its a bit haphazard.

4. Spend more time as a couple

Since having two little ones in tow, there are days when we are just parents and forget that we are a couple! A whole day can pass by with us barely uttering a word to each other as we are both so busy but now that Phoebe is more settled at night, I want to get back to our date nights and spending more quality time together. I have kick started this goal already. For his birthday last week I bought Andy a little mini-break away, just the two of us. We are both approaching it with mixed thoughts; super excited as the prospect of lazy days and lie ins but we will miss the kiddies terribly and will probably pine for them until we return!

5. Be tidier

For the sake of my husband’s sanity I’ve added this to the list! He is the tidy one in our relationship and constantly clears up after me.

6. Relax

In 2017 I really should spend more weekends relaxing at home with the husband and the kiddies. Over-planning every second of spare time tends to be one of my major flaws and sometimes I’m sure they all just want to relax at home rather than playing in another park or feeding more ducks!

7. Be more organised with the blog

I started my little blog in 2014 and I am absolutely loving it. It has been my creative outlet and although it’s hard work and most of my spare time when the kiddies are asleep is spent writing and researching, it has brought us some wonderful opportunities and I am very grateful to the lovely brands and PRs that have been very kind to me over the last few years. In 2017 I want to grow my blog further, but not to the expense of family time, and I must must must become more organised with my planning and scheduling.

8. Enjoy life with my family

It goes without saying that family is my number one priority and maintaining a happy home is, and always will be, my number one goal. I want to continue creating memories, have wonderful adventures as a foursome and make the most of every minute spent with them.

Happy New YearHappy New YearHappy New YearHappy New YearHappy New Year

Happy New Year everyone, here’s to a healthy and fun-filled 2017.

Have you made any resolutions / goals for this year? I’d love to hear all about them in the comments.

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
TOTS100
  • DonnaJanuary 8, 2017 - 1:13 pm

    Happy New Year lovely! I can’t wait to meet you at Blog On :) I love your aims for the year, they’re all so achievable and realistic xReplyCancel

    • Steph@HelloBabyJanuary 8, 2017 - 7:53 pm

      Happy New Year to you too hun. Yes! Me too!! It will be long overdue. xReplyCancel