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!

IMG_4492IMG_4498IMG_4503

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!

IMG_4414

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

IMG_4418IMG_4424IMG_4433

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!

IMG_4525IMG_4527IMG_4532IMG_4533IMG_4537

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!

IMG_4540

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.

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.

IMG_8485

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!

IMG_8489IMG_8493IMG_8497

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

IMG_8507IMG_8511IMG_8516

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!

IMG_8523IMG_8525

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!

IMG_8533IMG_8535IMG_8537

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!

IMG_8545IMG_8546IMG_8548IMG_8551

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

IMG_8555IMG_8562IMG_8564IMG_8569IMG_8571

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!

IMG_8575IMG_8582IMG_8589IMG_8592IMG_8593

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!

IMG_8596IMG_8603IMG_8609IMG_8619

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…

IMG_8637IMG_8645IMG_8647

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!