Our first week on Tour: Manchester

Well this week certainly has been challenging… It’s been a lot of fun but I wasn’t anywhere near prepared for what being on tour with a baby would really be like. Trying to stick to some sort of nap schedule while still fitting in activities around Barney’s work schedule has been tricky but we managed quite a few mornings or days out!

We rented a great flat in the centre of town, which meant walking everywhere was no problem but I struggled to find many ‘baby-friendly’ activities for Isla. Certainly very few places where I could just let her run around. We visited Waterstones’ a few times as they had an amazing children’s section, fully equipped with a Wendy house that Isla was just thrilled with!

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She waited very patiently for some friends but the big kids didn’t want to play with her!! Haha!

Our new SmarTrike (full review coming soon!) was a saviour as Isla loved it so much she was perfectly happy to be pushed around Town & not get out… She didn’t want to get out when we got back to the flat either… Haha!

One of the best things we did was get the Combi Ticket for SeaLife & The Lego Discovery Centre, that we visited on two different days – it was £17.50 each (Isla went free!) if you book online in advance. They are both at the Intu Trafford CentreIntu Trafford Centre which is the biggest (and weirdest!) shopping centre I’ve ever been to. It’s almost modelled on the Venetian in Vegas but bigger & tackier… That said, it was easy to navigate, they have every shop, restaurant, and attraction you could want. The parking was easy & free and they even had a play beach, rides and carousel outside the SeaLife/Lego. We took Isla on the carousel which was so lovely!

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I can’t get enough of this gorgeous outfit!! All from Zara Baby, Top can be bought here & trousers here.

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The Lego Discovery Centre was brilliant even if Isla was a little too young to fully enjoy it. They recommend from 3years up but they do have a Duplo farm for the little ones too!

We loved the ride that she could go on, Barney definitely had to most fun out of all of us! There was plenty to see & do – you can even join in on a workshop with a master builder! The cafe is pricey, but what you’d expect & the baby duplo area was pretty dirty! Other than that a great afternoon with lots to discover and a special shout out to the incredible staff who couldn’t do enough to make sure our day was perfect!

Isla tried her first BBQ at Red’s True BBQ – as you can see… It’s a hit! Big thumbs up from us too – great food at an amazing price, absolutely brilliant service & so child friendly! Isla even got a balloon to take away! Plenty of high chairs & open floor space to bring a pram. (There are a few small steps on the way in!) The baby change is uni-sex but a little dingy! Overall a great place to grab lunch with the family! 

We visited SeaLife & it got off to a promising start with impressive projections & a great set up to introduce you to the Aquarium. Everything is very new & shiny, but a little underwhelming. We’ve been to London & Birmingham SeaLife so were expecting more for our money. It’s very small – but has a softplay in the middle that might make your visit last a little longer than ours did. It didn’t take us more than 30 minutes to walk through the whole thing as there are no sharks, penguins or otters in this one. Isla enjoyed herself & showed off her fishy ‘noise’ the whole way round as she pointed & laughed at them all – that made it more than worth the ticket price!

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We couldn’t resist the cheesy photo block as Isla actually ‘waved to the fishies’ when she was asked too! Haha! IMG_4538

Isla fell asleep just as we were leaving so we headed over to the adventure golf for a little almost adult fun!

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I also took Isla swimming to the Aquatics Centre which was great! They have a huge baby pool with different slides & water sprays! It was warm, pretty clean & had amazingly helpful staff. Make sure you call before you go to be sure that the baby pool is open as we tried a few times & it was broken. They run sessions so be sure to get there early to make the most of your hour in the pool and prepare for a busy changing room after as everyone gets kicked out at the same time!

Isla’s favourite part of Manchester was this rainbow art installation called ‘ Through No 3’ by Liz West! She ran through it at least 100 times & even stopped to take a selfie inside!

Not a bad start to the tour, home next week and then off to Birmingham – so please send any recommendations over to us or leave them in a comment below!

All of Isla’s outfits are from Zara Baby.

Isla’s First Trip to the Beach

I couldn’t resist sharing a few of these with you! We took the opportunity to head down to Omaha Beach while visiting some friends in France. It was Isla’s first time on the beach and it was such a beautiful thing to witness.

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Both Nanny & I forgot the towels so we were just going to let Isla have a little paddle and go. Isla had other ideas. She instantly fell in love & wanted to go for a swim!

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We played in the shallow waves for as long as I could convince her to stay, but she kept trying to make a break for deeper waters!

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Isla would have stayed all day if we had let her, but without a sunshade or towels we had to cut the visit short!

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Eventually we gave in and stripped off her jeans to go for a deeper paddle before giving in completely and putting her in her totsbots swim nappy & swimsuit!

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The difference a filter makes… Haha! It actually looked like the final picture but I couldn’t resist a moodier edit on the shots from my camera!

I can’t wait till next time & I’ve promised Isla that we will come prepared for a whole day of splashing & sandcastles!

 

11 Months

This month has been a whirlwind of amazing changes & experiences for Isla!

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She’s now a confident little walker, and is starting to give running a go! She’s the busiest baby I’ve ever seen & is constantly exploring. It’s been so lovely to see her style of play advance as she’s getting really into her duplo.

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We went to Hitchin Lavender Fields for these photos & it was an amazing experience. Such a beautiful place to visit & pick up a few bags of lavender while you’re at it! I thought I should actually get in a few photos for once! IMG_0284IMG_0302

Isla took her first trip on a ferry, went abroad to France and visited the beach which was just incredible! She couldn’t have loved it more – and refused to hold my hand after she realised I was holding her back from going for a swim! Our determined little lady kept making a break for it to try & go deeper into the water!

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Still the cheekiest madam, and even starting to say a few more words! She now says Hi, Hiya, Egg, Dog, Mum, Dad/Baba, Nanan (for Nanny!), Grrr (for Grumps!), Up, and puts ‘my’ in front of everything!

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Plans are well underway for her first birthday party & birthday photoshoot too! 🙂 I can’t wait to share it with you all!

Hampton Court Palace – The Magic Garden

When I heard about the new Magic Garden at Hampton Court Palace I knew it would be a brilliant summer day out to add to our ‘staycation’ plans! And boy was I right…

The Magic Garden is an exciting new interactive play garden for families. Populated by mysterious mythical beasts, with battlements to storm, towers to besiege, and even a secret grotto to discover, the Magic Garden is a new and unique way for your family to explore the palace’s past. Set within King Henry VIII’s former Tiltyard, where the elaborate spectacle of the Tudor tournament played out, the new garden takes inspiration from the fairy-tale-like quality of the Tudor Palace.

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We met up with Isla’s brilliant cousins to go on this adventure! Ted is just a few days younger than Isla so it’s always lovely to see them playing together & Jack is almost 3 so can show the little ones how it’s done!

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Theres so much to explore from incredible tree-houses to hidden slides & mythical beasts!

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There is a beach area with play sand and a river running through which is fully equipped with plenty of water pumps and buckets to keep little ones entertained for hours!

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We decided to take a little break from the fun for lunch & then headed over to explore the famous maze! The cafe was reasonably priced & had a great selection on offer – I was even able to stick to The Body Confidence Programme thanks to a brilliant salad bar!

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We couldn’t remember the trick to find the middle so opted for letting Jack, guide us through! Probably the only time I’d recommend letting a 2 year old guide you, but it worked out pretty well!

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I swear Isla was having fun…  especially when we finally found the middle!!

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Look at those two!! Best friends, and the cheekiest pair I know!! We headed back to The Magic Garden and found a shady spot to relax while Jack tried out all the slides!

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I got roped into going down the big ‘scary’ slide with Jack… we had to go a few times, just to check it was still as fun as the first!

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This was Isla’s first time playing with sand, luckily she had Ted to show her how it’s done! I just love watching these two together…

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We all had the most amazing day & I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the garden before it closes on the 29th of October. Tickets are really reasonable at £7.70 for an adult & £5.50 for children 5+ – that includes entry to the Maze & the Magic Garden – more information can be found here. We can’t wait to go again & will be taking a picnic with us next time so we can stay in the garden all day!

 

Father’s Day at Waddesdon Feast Festival

This weekend was Father’s Day & not just any Father’s Day but Barney’s first Father’s Day!! I was determined to make it extra special, starting with a coffee & presents in bed, which Isla very kindly helped him open! She chose the unicorn wrapping paper that concealed a Chewbaca talking mask… I couldn’t resist! And a personalised book all about Daddy & Isla’s adventures! It’s so beautiful that I’ll do a separate review soon!

We had a very chilled out morning & then headed off to Waddesdon Manor with my parents for the Feast Festival! We arrived to GIANT queues and very nearly turned around but after some detective work & lots of confusion from the staff working there we established that we didn’t have to join the mammoth queue as we already had tickets! Not a great start but we boarded the short bus ride up to the festival with great relief that food was near!

We stepped off the bus to a flurry of activity, families eating on the long table, watching performances on the grass, creating flower crowns in a tent and all having a brilliant day!

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We immediately went in search of Lunch, quickly spotting the pulled pork & Rueben Sandwiches! While I left the more patient of our party in the queues, I took Isla off to explore! Naturally we found our way to the best stall… Prosecco & cake… What more could a girl want on cheat day?!

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We found a quiet spot to settle down for Lunch. Isla made her way round everyone to get a taste of everything…!

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Clearly a Daddy’s girl, as she was most interested in stealing Grumps’ Apple Watch!

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Cheers!! We have so much to celebrate on Father’s Day, not just the best Daddy in the world to Isla, but the best partner I could ever ask for!

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This cheeky monkey took the opportunity to escape as quickly as she could before I trapped her again in the baby wearer!

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After Lunch we walked around the festival checking out all the stalls, Barney must have tried every Cheese at the festival! And we even spotted some rather unusual visitors… If you follow me on Facebook you will have seen a video of Isla coming face to face with this big bad wolf!

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We walked around the back of the house to take in the beautiful Gardens before heading over to the Aviary and to watch the Jazz band! Nanny & Isla led the dancing with enthusiasm!

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I don’t know how Barney managed to escape my camera lens for most of the day, must be years of practise! Luckily I captured these two up to their usual mischief on the way back to the bus! Isla is so lucky to have such an incredible Daddy & I just love seeing them together having so much fun!

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We had a brilliant day, despite the slight hiccup at the start! I would highly recommend visiting any of Waddesdon’s events (we visited the Chilli Festival last year & loved that too!) just make sure you pre-book your tickets and turn up early to get a good seat at the table if you want one – or bring a picnic blanket like we did! There is so much to do for children of all ages & the Jazz band was a particular highlight for us! For more information on their upcoming events check here.

Mrs. Henderson Presents – Opening Night

The opening night of Mrs. Henderson presents was on Tuesday & seeing as it was Barney’s first time as Musical Director of a West End show (SO FREAKIN’ COOL!) we thought we’d celebrate properly!

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We decided to book a hotel & asked my lovely mum look after Isla so Barney could enjoy his big night without having to leave the party early to catch a train. Booking a hotel in London is always an interesting experience – you can pay hundreds for a tiny box or find a hidden gem (still hundreds!) and get a whole penthouse!

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I’ve walked past LIB-RARY so many times & thought, ‘That looks so cool,  I wonder whats in there!?’… seeing as it’s a private members club, I’d never managed to satisfy my curiosity. But we just couldn’t resist booking it when it sits perfectly between the theatre & the after party! And as you can see… we were not disappointed! Room4Room

Complete with it’s own balcony over looking St. Martins Lane – it had the ‘wow’ factor at every turn!

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#blessed

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With all my pregnancy hip problems I’ve had to ease myself very gently back into exercise and also be a lot more realistic with my goals – so when I had to find an outfit for an industry party I knew the thing I needed the most would be shapewear!! The wonderful people at BellyBandit kindly sent me their Mother Tucker Corset to try & I fell in love instantly!!

This wardrobe essential is comfortable enough to wear all day (no, seriously!) and thin enough to hide under your clothes. Created with 2 layers of SecureStretch™ material for double compression, this smart corset slims your waist and tummy while concealing bothersome back bulge. The soft boning ensures the corset will stay in place without rolling or digging, and the lightweight and breathable fabric provides maximum comfort. The 6-hook design allows for greater adjustability and compression.

Once I’d found a dress all I needed were some killer heels & I was ready to go!
These beauties are by Sophia Webster – they have been sitting in the box waiting to be worn since I bought them two days before I found out I was pregnant!

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The view from the balcony was beautiful & perfect for truly appreciating the glory of the Coliseum!

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I haven’t been out in such a long time, I actually forgot what I needed & didn’t bring anything to do my hair – so a pony tail would have to do!! Into my dressMother Tucker® Corset, & Marc Jacobs jacket (similar here) & ready to go!

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It was amazing to spend some time just being a double act again – even if I did cry on FaceTime to Isla… twice!!

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The show was as incredible as I’d remembered from it’s time playing the Theatre Royal in Bath & finished the night with a much deserved four tier standing ovation. I was bursting with pride for my wonderful best friend/partner in crime/fiance!

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Barney’s jacket is Ted Baker & my hand bag is a Boy Bag from Chanel.

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After a few glasses of champagne with some wonderful friends, we were well & truly partied out & stumbled the mere few steps from the National Gallery back to our penthouse to finish the night eating a cupcake with boobs on at 2am…

See the show & you’ll get it…

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Of course, I barely slept – thinking about Isla – seeing as it was my first time away from her that was to be expected! Even though I knew she would be having the best time being spoilt by her nanny with kisses and silly games!

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We had a quick breakfast on our balcony before I headed back to be reunited with our sweet girl!

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It was great to just be me for a few hours and not ‘mummy’ – but my goodness I missed her every second I was away!

 

 

 

Our Family ‘Staycation’ at St Moritz Hotel, Cornwall

Deciding where to go for our first family holiday was a mammoth task; we wanted somewhere luxury, beautiful and most of all happy for us to bring Isla… Easier said than done!! Travelling with a baby has it’s restrictions but that doesn’t mean you have to end up in a ‘kidz’ holiday park wishing you’d just stayed at home…

We found the St Moritz hotel in Rock, Cornwall and boy did we luck out! It was absolutely perfect. There’s a Cowshed spa, indoor and outdoor pool, gym, two buzzy restaurants and a bar. The finish is super-stylish and contemporary, the location’s unbeatable and the Guest Host is on hand to plan your stay from start to finish. You can book into a hotel room, penthouse apartment or child-friendly garden villa, all with everything you could need for travelling with kids! Cots & linen are provided (for a small fee) and if you book into a King/Twin room you even get your own sea view beach hut next to the outdoor pool – if you are planning a summer visit!

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Isla was just a little grumpy as we arrived… but that changed quickly!

Located in Trebetherick, with views across the stunning Camel Estuary and Atlantic Ocean, close to Rock and Padstow and within five minutes of the beaches at Daymer Bay and Polzeath, St Moritz is the destination for a relaxing beach break.

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Isla made herself at home on the giant marshmallow bed right away! It was such a comfortable nights sleep – we didn’t want to get out of it the next morning! Isla had a great sleep in her cot but jumped right in with us first thing for cuddles & cartoons.

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Ready to catch some waves!

After the long drive we decided to go for a swim, as it’s Isla’s favourite thing to do! The pool changing rooms were spacious & clean. They have amazing disabled access too.

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Just relaxing in her own private pool… Lucky girl!

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After our swim we decided to brave a coastal walk down to the beach… It was rather windy as you can see… But the breath taking views more than made up for it! You wouldn’t be able to take a pram – but I felt safer baby wearing Isla anyway.

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We made a quick pitstop for a hot chocolate to warm up… Isla was fascinated but had to settle for her milk! Onesie from Gap Kids.  The service we received everywhere was amazing – so accommodating & friendly.

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Baby carrier from Baby Bjorn & Bear Suit from The Little White Company.

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We had to improvise a little to get Isla into the high chair – but she found it hilarious, of course! Breakfast was included in the room price & was absolutely delicious – my eggs Benedict was a particular highlight.

That night we had a three course dinner in the main restaurant that was absolutely beautiful. The service was wonderful & the restaurant was incredible stylish. The menu is a little pricey – but you pay for what you get. The attention to detail was exceptional & it was great to watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen.

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The next morning we went for another swim before driving over to Padstow. You can get a boat/ferry over but as we were there out of season – the last one back was too early to fit in our special dinner plans!

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Padstow has some lovely little shops to explore and great walks along the cliffs. All paved & accessible with the pram. (Urbo2 in Camel from Mamas & Papas!) Isla had her eye on some fudge that we were bringing back as a souvenir for her big cousins!

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For dinner we went to Rick Stein’s Cafe… He also has a restaurant in Padstow but only allows children over the age of 3. The food was fantastic, as you would expect – but make sure you get a reservation well in advance as even on a midweek in January it was fully booked from the moment it opened! The cafe itself is very small so there really isn’t much room for a pram – leaving the pram in the car & baby wearing would be a great option.

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Full & happy, we headed back to the hotel. We spent the rest of the night watching movies in our spacious room & letting this cheeky monkey stay up after bedtime for some extra family time before our much needed mini break was over. After another great nights sleep we grabbed breakfast & headed home.

It was the perfect first family holiday, short but sweet! We can’t wait to come back to this beautiful hotel & see it really come to life in the summer. They have some amazing deals on their website for out of season – if you don’t have to fit in with the school holidays yet. We stayed on the Discounted Decadence package & thought it was amazing value for money.

Family Friendly – 10/10
Baby Change Facilities- 10/10
Hotel Room – 10/10
Food – 9/10 (Just a little too expensive!)

Swimming Pool – 10/10
Nearby Activities – 10/10

You get the picture… absolutely perfect!! Thank you so much to everyone at the St. Moritz for making our first family staycation such a success!

One extra gift…

I absolutely love christmas and every year spend far too much money spoiling my family with beautiful gifts but the gift I have the most fun putting together isn’t for anyone I know… Every year I put together two gift boxes for the homeless and go and give them to someone in need.

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I set myself of a budget of £10 per box, but always end up going just a little over…

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Super warm hats, socks, gloves and new underwear are all great things to add to the box. As well as waterproofs, an umbrella or a new lightweight backpack.

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I was advised by Shelter, the wonderful homeless charity, on what to include. They recommended not putting anything too flashy or expensive looking as you could make the person who receives your gift a target. You can get all of these from Primark or even the £1 shop who are selling thermal hats & gloves at the moment.

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If you want to include toiletries keep everything mini and lightweight or they may end up being thrown away as they are too heavy to carry around.

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I’ve used old shoe boxes and wrapped them nicely, but packing them up in a cheap backpack would work perfectly.

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When I go to give my gifts I always also include a 2l bottle of water – as dehydration is a huge problem for the homeless as well as a Pret Christmas Sandwich and some fruit. Try not to include too many sweet things as most homeless people suffer from dental issues.

If you don’t have time to put together a christmas box, you could just offer to buy someone you pass every day on your way to work breakfast or lunch? Or you buy a christmas gift pack directly from Crack + Cider… £60 for the full ‘Warm & Dry Set’ but there are lots of cheaper options on their website too!

There are so many other ways to help the this christmas, you could donate to Shelter or volunteer, or give a gift to someone in need with Save The Children.

Are you volunteering this Christmas? Or sending out an extra gift or two to the homeless, elderly or children in need? Tweet me a picture at @Poppy_Carter or post it on my Facebook!

Happy Halloween From Isla

Happy Halloween Adventures With Isla Award Winning Baby and Lifestyle Blog Baby in Pumpkin Cute

Happy Halloween from all of us! As you can see, we had a wonderful time at the party – here are just a few pictures of Isla’s adorable costumes & our carved pumpkins…

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Baby Captain Janeway & her Crew Member

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Our little Tiger!

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Wonder Woman ready to fly away!

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Our pumpkins – Barney’s scary face & my friendly Witch!

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Our little R2D2 that she wore all day out shopping for party supplies… 😉

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Our family snap in the polaroid frame that I made for the party

Did you dress up with your little ones? Share pictures of their brilliant costumes on my Facebook or Tweet me @Poppy_Carter… 🙂

Isla’s First Adventure… Ruislip Lido Railway

Isla is already 6 weeks old so we thought it was about time to go on her first adventure! We were invited for a wonderful Sunday Roast at Mike & Natalie’s with lovely friends Bronia, Terrence & their gorgeous 18 month old, Freddy. After a truly delicious lunch we made our way over to Ruislip Lido Railway; pretending it was all for Freddy & Isla but secretly rather excited to ride the train ourselves!

The Ruislip Lido Railway is a 12 inch gauge railway operated entirely by volunteers. The line runs through the woodlands skirting the lake from Woody Bay Station beside the beach, all the way round to Willow Lawn Station which is close to the car park. Here you can watch the loco being turned on the turntable ready for the return journey.

Tickets are £3.00 for an Adult Return, £2.50 for Children & Under 3’s go free.

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

We piled into the carriages & eagerly awaited the word from the driver that we were about to begin our journey through the forest!

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Passing another train that had stopped to refuel, naturally the whole train broke out into excited waves to the driver, who dutifully waved back to every child (and over excited adult!).

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Pulling into the station we collected our pram – on the rather convenient buggy carriage – and made our way over to inspect the trains further. Luckily we had managed to visit on their open day so got to get up close and personal with these wonderful machines.

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Beep Beep!

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The youngest ever train driver…? (Don’t worry, Daddy was holding her safely in the chair!)

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After we had pressed every button & explored every train, we went for a walk across the sand and over to the park so Freddy could try out some of the slides. Isla picked out her favourite for next time, when she’s a little bigger!

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There really is something so magical about these trains & the golden leaves falling from the trees added to the whole glorious scene.

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Back on the train & ready to go!

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Choo Choo, Freddy!

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This next picture is by far my favourite picture of Isla so far… Absolutely hilarious. And despite what it suggests the train really wasn’t going particularly fast!

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

Adventures With Isla Blog - Ruislip Lido Railway

A successful first adventure, and one I look forward to repeating when she’s old enough to explore the trains with the same adorable curiosity as Freddy!

If you are looking for a lovely outdoor adventure with your little ones this half term, I highly recommend it for all ages. There is a cafe by the beach & a little shop to buy drinks and snacks at the entrance. The toilet facilities are a bit bleak & I changed Isla in the back of the car instead of braving the nappy change.

Family Friendly – 10/10
Toilets – 1/10
Nappy Change – 1/10
Food – We didn’t try it but looked like they had lots of offer.

For more information on how to find them, timetables & their special rides with Santa just click here.