Sea Life, London Aquarium 

The summer holidays started for us last Friday and S has a whole two months off!! I was hoping to make the most of the glorious sunshine (yeah right!) but unfortunately (perhaps as expected), it’s been raining  a lot.

Nevertheless, a little rain never hurt anyone so last Monday a few nursery mums and I decided to take the kids to Sea Life, The London Aquarium. The school had given us some coupons allowing the kids to go free so we just paid £24.50 for each adult.


My friends nanny called in sick on the day and she had to work so I offered to take her daughter with us. Although A is such a sweetheart, it did make me wonder how I ever thought I wanted twins! *cray cray*

We just visited Dubai for half term and I’m not even going to begin to compare the London Aquarium with the Aquarium in Dubai Mall (because Dubai would win hands down) but you can see the whole Aquarium in Dubai in 5 minutes. What the London one lacked in grandeur, it made up for it in variety (and information!) 3 adults and 5 kids, we spent just over 2 hours in there!

The kids loved watching all the different fish, finding nemo, spotting giant turtles, admiring the beautiful “glitter fish” and getting up close and personal with the penguins. The penguin enclosure is the last bit and was probably my favourite. They had a really cool screen that acted as a mirror (so we could see ourselves) and it looked like we were standing right beside a pool with polar bears and orcas. The picture doesn’t do it justice, you had to be there.

The kids also got to touch star fish which they were thrilled about and check out a giant whale tooth!


If you’re looking for something to keep the kids busy this summer, check out The Aquarium. It’s down on the Southbank which also hosts some fabulous child friendly restaurants (like Giraffe) so you can make a whole day of it. Make sure to look out for discount coupons on boxes of cereals.

 

 

Rush Hair, West Hampstead 

A few months ago I spotted a Groupon voucher  for a cut, condition and blow dry at Rush West Hampstead. I’d walked/driven by it a few times and it looked good so I thought I’d give it a go. When I got there I was seated and immediately offered a drink. Although I opted for a coffee, they also serve wine! My stylist Veronica came over, pulled up a chair and sat down to go over what I wanted. While cutting my hair she chatted to me about ways to look after my hair and my colour. I left there promising I’d come back when I was ready to re-do my highlights.

Fast forward to June and I was ready for some summer hair. I went on the website to get their number and noticed they had something called “Colour Tuesdays” which is 50% off all colour treatments on a Tuesday. I booked myself in last week while S is still at school and I actually have some time to myself. Again I was seated and offered a drink (and offered a few more times over the next 3 hours). Given the length of my hair now, it took longer than anticipated and I didn’t have time for a cut. I made an appointment to go back on Saturday with S in tow and headed to pick him up from school.

By sheer coincidence, I got an email the following day asking if I’d like to go in to Rush West Hampstead for a treatment. They agreed for me to come in as planned for my hair cut and blow dry on the Saturday.

When I got there, both S and I were seated and offered drinks and biscuits. He was thrilled with his massive glass of apple juice and I settled in with my coffee. Although we were taken care of, I did have to wait 30 minutes before I was seen. I understand things can get delayed on a Saturday morning but it would have been nice if I was taken in for a hair wash by someone else in the mean time. Nevertheless S was occupied and the 30 minutes went by quite quickly. Veronica came over and took me in for a wash while S was being entertained (spoilt) by the lovely ladies outside. I’d taken his IPad but they also gave him lots of paper and some highlighters to entertain himself.


Veronica took time with my hair, asking what I’d like and offering advice on looking after my newly highlighted hair. Having had a few bad experiences with hairdressers who take too much off because they think my hair needs it, she respected my choice to keep it long and worked around what I wanted.

What I loved about Rush was my experience as a paying customer and a blogger. It was the same. I felt taken care of everytime I went there. And the fact that they were so good with S was an added bonus.


I’ll definitely be going back in 8 weeks for a trim. I left there with some very glamorous looking hair!


*Disclaimer: My Saturday cut and blow dry was complimentary, I paid for all other services. All opinions are honest and my own.

Holiday in Dubai (places to eat)

Our recent trip to Dubai was spontaneity at it’s best. My brother and dad were going to be there, S had half term coming up and pre Ramadan we got a great deal, so we booked on a Sunday afternoon and flew out on the Friday morning.

S and I visited Dubai in December 2014 and although we were there for 2 weeks, I was ill for a lot of it and it wasn’t the best time, weather wise. This trip on the other hand was fantastic. We fit quite a lot in, the heat was bearable and we’re home now with lots of memories, new experiences and fab tans😉

On this post I’m going to focus on all the best places to eat/drink/stay in Dubai. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton DIFC which is as central as it gets. Getting a cab was never an issue (there’s a metro station close by too), Dubai mall was a 5 minute drive away and the service was second to none. The staff were attentive, polite and went out of their way to make our stay as comfortable as possible. Breakfast was included in our package and they had everything you could think of. A selection of breads and pastries, yoghurts, smoothies and museli pots. Dim sum, sushi, cold cuts, cheese and mezze. A selection of fresh fruit, an Indian counter (that changed daily), a live cooking station that made eggs (however you like them), waffles and pancakes. There was a good variety of both vegetarian and non vegetarian options.

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As soon as I told my friend A I was coming to Dubai, she got booking different restaurants and when I finally got there, she said the only place we *had* to go to was Catch. Catch opened last year and is located in the Fairmont Hotel, 5 minutes drive from where we were staying. Paying homage to the original Catch in New York, the decor is quite eccelectic with exposed brick wall covered in graffiti and soft leather interiors. We had the Crispy Shrimp, the Lobster mash, the Hell Fire roll, Wagyu on the rock and the Truffle Mushroom Spaghetti.

If there’s one thing that I should warn you about, it’s the portion sizes in Dubai. Everything is huge!!

The Hell fire roll was so good I forgot to take a picture before devouring it, The Truffle Mushroom Spaghetti was really yummy (especially the hint of truffle) but quite heavy. Wagyu on the rock with an accompanying teriyaki dip just melted in your mouth. I think we over ordered slightly and I wasn’t able to enjoy the Lobster mash as it was far too heavy for my liking. The Crispy Shrimp was good (although it had a touch too much mayo) and the size of the portion (given that it’s a starter) was overwhelming.

On the Sunday we spent the day at the Mall of Emirates and had lunch with my cousin at The Cheesecake Factory. I actually wanted to take S to ski Dubai (an excuse to go myself!!) but as I expected, he chose to spend time with my niece L rather than go snowboarding and so that’s what we did (she really is the cutest!). We were lucky to get a booth overlooking Ski Dubai where I got to watch everything I was missing out on😉 I ordered the Chicken Strips and Chips for S and my mum and I ordered the lunch sets (the menu said they were smaller portions). I can tell you, the menu was wrong. I had the Santa Fe salad and she had a sandwich and a bowl of soup which came with a green salad. My cousin got to us late but looking at the portions (which we all ended up sharing), she ordered the garlic stuffed mushrooms. My salad was great: very fresh with a zingy dressing and a nice crunch offered by the pieces of fried noodles in it.

On Sunday evening, my brother, mum and I went to the Sunken Garden at the Ritz for a drink before walking over to La Petit Masion at DIFC for dinner. The Sunken Garden is an outdoor venue but in typical Dubai fashion, it’s temperate controlled. So although I knew it was a balmy 25 degrees, it felt like it was 18 degrees. Dubai…never ceases to amaze! I’ve never been to La Petit Maison in London so was quite excited to be checking out the Dubai version. We had the warm prawns in olive oil (divine!), the fresh lobster and crab salad (fresh and delicious!), the burrata (melts in your mouth deliciousness!), the lentil salad (perfectly cooked and very well seasoned) and The Arrabiatta (can’t say I thought much about this dish!).

On the Monday my friend A suggested we take S to The Rainforest Cafe. She’d taken him to the one in London for his birthday last year and although the restaurant in London is quite dated, he enjoyed the experience. Being a whole year older, he enjoyed it even more this time. And like everything in Dubai, it was amazing. Being a much newer version of the restaurant, it was brighter and the “thunder storms” and “animal acts” were a lot more real. But the piece de resistance was the fact that the whole front of the restaurant looked on to the massive Aquarium in the centre of Dubai mall. So not only did we feel like we were in an actual rainforest with monkeys shaking trees and a snake slithering down on us at the entrance, but we got to eat watching sharks and stingrays swim by. It’s an experience no child will forget.

On the Tuesday my mum, S and I spent the day at Dubai mall and had lunch at Markette. It’s a casual cafe style restaurant in the middle of the mall, opposite the Aquarium (my favourite part of the mall). Having learnt our lesson about the portion sizes, I ordered a starter of grilled chicken skewers with salad and humous, my mum ordered a chicken burger from the children’s menu and S had the fish and chips. I was hoping to save some space for frozen yoghurt but even with just a starter portion, I was well and truly stuffed.

On Tuesday night we were invited out by some family friends to Tresind. My dear readers, if there is one place you go to when you visit Dubai, let this be it. Molecular Gastronomy! It’s not just a meal, it’s an experience. They call themselves “Modern Indian” but it’s really “Scientifically Brilliant Indian”. We started with some pani puri bites that had been transformed into jelly. It was literally an explosion of taste in your mouth. We then went on to have the chaat trolley, the lamb shank, some mock meat, a really tasty dry chicken dish, the mushroom steak and the deconstructed black forest cake (which was worth every bite!). It is progressive dining at it’s best!

On Thursday we spent the day at Atlantis on the Palm and we left on Friday. Look out for my post on things to do with kids in Dubai, next week! Here’s a teaser…

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Have you been to Dubai? Do you have any amazing restaurant recommendations?

 

 

 

Summer is here!

Judging by the humidity levels today, I’d say summer is well and truly here…let’s hope it’s here to stay.

S has another month off before I have to start thinking of ways to keep us busy. We’re away in Tenerife at the end of August which I’m really looking forward to and just yesterday my cousin and I booked to take our boys to Butlins in Bognor Regis in July. I have some really fond memories of Butlins Holidays from when I was a child and I’m sure our boys are going to absolutely love it!

If you’re spending the summer in London, feel free to check out my guide for things to do in London this summer. Last year we did Legoland, Belmont Farm and The Chickenshed Theatre to name a few.

For lots more ideas around the UK, you can check out this handy ebook created by over 101 of the Best British Bloggers. It’s filled with hundreds of activities, destinations and just general fun ideas to have with your children this summer. Each idea has come from a fellow blogger who has personally tried and tested the experience, so you know it’s going to be a fab list.

So here’s to lots of fun in the sun this summer!! What are your plans? Are you going away anywhere nice?

 

Chinese Culture & Expat Living

I’ve had many a conversation with people about the pros and cons of growing up in different cities, among different cultures. I was born in Liberia and went on to live in the UK, Nigeria, India, Ireland, Hong Kong and Taipei. I loved it and wouldn’t change it for anything. My experiences have exposed me to so many different cultures, people and ways of living.

One thing I have learnt is how important it is to be sensitive to the local way of life when you’re living there. What’s considered rude in one culture may be completely acceptable in another. Things we take for granted in the West are a complete novelty in the East. Having spent 5 1/2 years living between Hong Kong and Taipei, here’s a quick list of the do’s and don’ts in the Chinese culture.

  1. Gift giving – Handkerchiefs, clocks and white flowers all symbolise death or a parting…do not give these as gifts. In fact giving someone a clock as a gift is like wishing death upon them. No shoes as presents. I once bought a friend a pair of shoes she’d asked for and didn’t want to take the money from her. She insisted so it wouldn’t feel like a gift.
  2. Eating – When dining out in Asia, they prefer family style eating. Lots of dishes are ordered and everyone on the table shares them. If you’re hosting a dinner, you’re expected to insist your guests (especially the elderly) get served first. Chopsticks should never point towards anyone on the table.
  3. Shoes in the home  – Outdoor shoes are not worn in the home. In Taipei, it’s not uncommon to see shoe cupboards outside people’s front doors so the shoes don’t even cross the threshold.
  4. During Chinese New Year, the custom is to give “laisee” (red envelopes with money) to family, friends and members of staff. When giving Laisee, it should be an even number, a new/crisp note and nothing to do with the number 4 (which is considered unlucky). Number 8 is considered very lucky as it signifies infinity.
  5. Visiting friends/family – Never go empty handed to someone’s home. This is sort of a rule in my Indian culture as well. Of course it depends on your relationship with the person but you’d never go empty handed to someone’s home, especially if it’s your first time.
  6. Business – When handing over business cards, the chinese will *always* hand it over using two hands, often with a slight bow of their heads.
  7. Paying a bill – This is common in my culture as well. Arguing over who pays the bill. You see it a lot between friends at restaurants. However, between families, in the Chinese culture, the youth always pay. Where I come from, the elders usually pay.
  8. Weight – The Chinese (although I think it’s an all over Asian thing) have no qualms about telling you how much weight you’ve put on or how much weight you’ve lost. Every time I flew to Taipei, the cleaner there would make a comment about my weight. In one ear and out the other is the only way to handle this.

Have you come across any other cultural differences I’ve missed out? I’d love to hear your experiences while travelling/living abroad.

Jo Frost, The Book Trust Ambassador & Supernanny

Last week I got wind of a Book Trust event being held this Tuesday in London. Being an avid reader, I signed up for it with Tots 100 with no clue who the author was going to be. So on Tuesday morning when I woke to find out it was Jo Frost, I was quite excited. Hers was one of those parenting books I bought years before I was even pregnant. I’d watched many of her shows and was a huge fan!

Jo has recently become the Global Ambassador for the Book Trust, a charitable organisation transforming lives by getting children and families reading. Their new campaign “Bath Book Bed” aims to get families together at the end of the day to set a routine of bath book bed before getting their kids to sleep. They believe with this routine kids are going to get a better night’s sleep and as a result, so will parents. Jo was on hand to chat to us about why this routine is so important and to help some of us through our sleep (or lack of) woes.

I’ll be honest, I’ve followed the bath book bed routine since S was 6 months old and he wasn’t a great sleeper. However, after chatting to Jo I realised that there were so many changes I could have made that might have led him to be a better sleeper and that although his routine didn’t have him sleeping through the night, it helped with so much else. I’ve written before about how important reading to your child is and I still stand by all my reasons. That 30 minutes before bed is his down time and our bonding time. And there are nights I can’t do it but someone else at home always will, so nothing changes for S.

Tuesday’s event was held at The Library near Charing Cross Station. It’s a beautiful venue with a glass roof, old bookcases filled with books and a bar (my kind of heaven). We were spoilt with bucks fizz and an assortment of pastries and croissants before being taken in for a round table discussion with Jo herself. She was chatty, down to earth and very real…just like she is on tele. As you listen to her talk you can see just how passionate she is about what she does.


According to Jo, in society, we’re all sleep deprived (whether we’re a parent or not). The ripple effect of that, as parents is a lack of tolerance, a lack of drive and motivation. It’s the moments when you know in your head that you want to feel happier but you’re exhausted. You can see it on your child’s face when they haven’t had the sleep they need and they’re less willing to show you that they have the ability to learn and focus and concentrate. It has a detrimental effect on their executive functioning skills. It then effects every other cornerstone of the day…meal times, getting ready, etc. This is why the campaign is so important to her. Not only does she believe reading helps with literacy, speech development, etc. but also with our moral compass and emotional intelligence in being able to relate and have empathy for different characters that we read about in stories. Lastly, you cannot replace that feeling of relaxation and calm you get when your child is nestled up beside you as you read them a story.

Without further ado, here are some of Jo’s invaluable tips to parenting and getting your child into a good bedtime routine (mostly in her words).

  1. When thinking of starting a bedtime routine, work backwards. If your child is getting up at 7am, they need to be going to bed at 7pm. So you’d start the routine an hour before at 6pm. An hour before is all that’s needed to establish fun at bath time (let your child have fun, let go of all their energy), calm during book time and then finally bed time.
  2. Children are open little beings and very receptive to different energies so it’s very important to be able to create the right energy for them. If we want our kids to nestle up to us for that bedtime story then we need to create the right environment for them. Which means that we have to be disciplined enough to recognise that the radio that was on, needs to be turned off. The background noise of the television has to come off. There’s no room to invite technology in to the space where you are going to be creating a safe, peaceful, calm ambience for your child.
  3. As parents, getting our children to sleep through in their own bed needs to come from a place of strength. You have to show your child your expectation, tell them what you want them to achieve and reward them when they meet your expectation. (As a side note, this is what I did with S and it worked. I went from holding his hand till he fell asleep every night, 30 minutes sometimes, to telling him he needed to put himself to sleep and that I’d be right outside his door. It took 2 nights and I’ve never had to hold his hand to sleep again. And he sleeps through the night).
  4. Find time, even if it’s only 15 minutes every evening to spend quality time with your kids and make it consistent. It doesn’t matter if it’s only 15 minutes but let it be 15 minutes every day rather than 20 minutes on a Monday then nothing nothing nothing then 10 minutes then nothing nothing then 10 minutes again. Even in the morning, if you give the kids 20 minutes, undivided attention to do early learning with them, they’ll give you an hour. They’ll go off and self play and they’ll give you an hour. But you need to give it to them first! 
  5. Everything that you do during the day, helps in the evening. So if during the day there’s that moment to be able to read to them or encourage them to look after their puzzle pieces, use those opportunities to teach them life skills because one of those executive life skills is to be able to sit down and focus and turn the pages and read. Don’t be disheartened if they don’t want to read during the night time, you can practice in the day time too. What happens in the day only enhances what happens in the evening.
  6. As parents, you need a routine in the day that helps support you with time management in the evening.
  7. Don’t use yourself as the reward. If your child knows you’re going to sit there and hold their hand until they fall asleep, why would they go to sleep? How are you teaching them the transition between day and night? We need to teach our children that sleeping is a good thing and it’s important. Don’t use yourself as the prize. By doing that it’s bleeding into your time with your other children (and what they need) or your partner or even time for yourself.
  8. As mothers, we need to get real with the real reasons we choose to remain attached to our children beyond what they need. And it can be disabling to them, rather than giving them the capacity and the ability to be able to reach their milestones in their developments. Many mums are being used as human pacifiers (at night) but it’s only when the mum makes up her mind to recognise this that she is going to empower her child by giving them what they need for their development.
  9. In your heart, trust what you know about your child because it’s right. Listen to your gut! You know what you know!
  10. There will be days where the bed time routine doesn’t happen…but keep on it. Even with raising kids, one day it’s chaos, the next day you can’t wait till 7pm because you’re exhausted. Tomorrow is another day…that’s raising kids…that’s parenting. It’s not the image that books portray, it’s the reality…it’s also the joy.

No matter how old your child is, I’d encourage you to take part in the Book Trust’s “14 days to better sleep”. You can sign up here and see how you go. You have nothing to lose but hopefully lot’s of sleep to gain.


Thank you Book Trust for the fabulous goody bag and thank you Jo Frost for your invaluable advice, it was such a pleasure to meet you!


 

Ashridge Estate (National Trust)

We’re having some glorious spring weather here in London (that obviously also includes a few days of non stop rain) and we’re absolutely loving it! Last weekend was a scorcher (26 degrees on Sunday…Yes I know, I know, my definition of a scorcher is quite tame) and a mum on a fb group I’m on recommended Ashridge Estate in Berkhamsted.

We were up early on Sunday and by 10am we left home on our way up to Hertfordshire. It took us about 50 minutes from NW London, straight up the M1. Clearly lots of people had similar intentions because at 11am it was already quite crowded. 


Of course the weather helps, but even then, it’s a stunning estate and we hadn’t even seen the best bit yet. The fellow mum who recommended it suggested we go soon so we get to see the most beautiful bluebell fields. These pictures don’t do it justice.


There’s several paths you can take, depending on how long you’re willing to walk. Although we took S’s scooter, I wouldn’t recommend it because the ground is quite uneven and he went flying off it a couple of times. Also he’s usually a pretty strong walker (we walked for hours in Rome and Istanbul) but I think the scooter (and the heat) tired him out a lot faster.

If you’re close enough to London, I hope this post and these pictures tempt you to go, you won’t regret it.

A quick guide to Istanbul 

Earlier this year we were trying to plan a holiday to the States but somehow it didn’t happen. Instead we each picked a location we really wanted to see. I chose Rome and my mum chose Istanbul. I’d been last year but it was mainly for work so I was looking forward to a lot more touristy/family things this year.

Istanbul doesn’t disappoint. There is so much culture, lots of sites to see and surprisingly, quite a bit for children.

Public transport is super easy, you can get one Istanbulkart and everyone can use it (you don’t need individual cards because you only tap in once). While there are lots of taxi’s, they a) don’t always stop for you b) refuse to take you if your location doesn’t suit them c) insist on a high fare, rather than use the meter, especially if they know you’re desperate.

Things to see:

The blue mosque 

The Aya Sofia 


The stunning tulip display outside the Aya Sofia


The spice market

There’s also Topkapi Palace (but we didn’t make it there), Taksim Square (I didn’t see the big deal), the Grand Bazaar of course and don’t forget a cruise over the Bosphorus river.

Turkish food is amazing. Not so great for vegetarians but a delight for meat eaters.


We did however get a little tired of Turkish food after 3 days so we ventured to Taksim Square and went to Kitchenette which was amazing…I’d definitely recommend visiting it (they also have a branch at Atuturk airport).


My friend Louise lives with her partner in Istanbul and on the Saturday night she convinced us to give Turkish food another go at the famous Develi restaurant. It did not disappoint!


If you’re visiting with kids then head over to Istanbul Mall and check out mini Legoland and Jurassic World (more on this coming soon but here’s a sneak peek).


By day five we were all exhausted and ready to go home.


This cheeky monkey on the other hand was already planning his next vacation while devouring the Turkish Delight samples at the airport.

 

Things to do in Rome 

The Easter Holidays are finally over, S is back at nursery and life goes back to routine. We were trying to plan a trip to the States over the holidays but left it too late. Instead we decided we’d each pick a European destination and book a last minute trip there instead.

My choice was Rome. I absolutely love sightseeing and learning about new cities and the history behind them. One thing I couldn’t help but notice about Rome which added character (but also ruined the architecture) was graffiti. It was absolutely everywhere..on buildings, trains, trams…anywhere they can find a spot basically. 

Without further ado, here’s my guide to the city…

Where should you stay?

We booked our flights and hotel as a package and chose to stay near Termini Station which is pretty central and makes getting around easy. Our hotel was called Hotel Una Roma and was a stones throw from the station. Check in was effortless, the rooms were clean, the pillows were fabulous and breakfast was very European. Lots of juices, cereals, pastries, cold cuts and cheese.

What should you do?

1. The Colosseo 

This architectural masterpiece looks even more amazing in real life! We booked tickets online before we got there to try and avoid the queues. And although we were there by 11am, so was everyone else. We stood in the queue for a security check and 5 minutes later, S wanted to use the loo. The one thing you’ll learn quickly in Rome is the lack of public toilets. According to a local tour guide, most of the public toilets were shut down because of the misuse of drugs in toilets across the city. This tour guide also convinced us to pay a little extra to “get inside in 5 minutes” through the group entrance (so S could use the toilets inside). We agreed but it was almost 40 minutes before we got inside. Never the less, I recommend going with a group tour because the guides are a wealth of information and after the Colosseo, they take you across to Palantine Hill as well.

   
    
    
   
2. St. Peter’s Basilica and the Vatican Museums 

We booked tickets for the Vatican Museum in advance but you can just show up and queue for St. Peter’s.

   
    
    
 
Did you know that the Colosseo didn’t lose parts of it’s walls in the war (as I thought) but in an Earthquake. And the fallen marble was then taken to build St. Peter’s Basilica, which is the world’s largest church (apparently). It goes without saying, the architecture is absolutely breath taking!
I imagined the Vatican quite differently. I’m not sure what I expected…a mini city perhaps…but as we walked in, it just felt like a very, very big building, housing the most amazing museums. 

   
    
    
    
  

THE Sistine Chapel 

With all our modern technology, we still don’t build and paint like we used to. While the world is awestruck by the ceiling of The Sistine Chapel, Michaelangelo was quoted saying “I’d rather be skinned alive than have to paint that ceiling again.”

You have to walk through every room before you finally arrive at The Sistine Chapel. The thing is, all the rooms are so extraordinary that I thought I’d arrived at The Chapel atleast 3 times before we actually got there!!

3. The Spanish Steps 

To be honest I didn’t see the big deal. Plus it was undergoing renovation so it was closed off. I’m sure there’s alot of history behind it but if there’s something you need to skip, this can be it. They do have horse drawn carriages near the steps which S really wanted to go on but unfortunately we didn’t have the time.

4. The Trevi fountain 

An old friend who grew up in Rome said we must eat the Gelato at the Trevi fountain and that’s just what we did:) These pictures don’t do it justice, it really is spectacular!

   
  
 
5. The Mall in Florence 

If you’re a fan of designer shopping then The Mall in Florence is a must. We didn’t have the time to go there unfortunately but I hear it’s well worth it. You can catch a train from Termini station which takes about 40 minutes.

Where should you eat?

Practically anywhere. The Pizza in Rome is amazing. I’m convinced it’s all about the juicy tomatoes and the sauce. The Ginger Café near Spagna was quite good. We went there tired and hungry after visiting the Colosseo and started our meal with an amazing fruit bowl.

  
I ordered wrongly and didn’t think much of the grillled chicken and potatoes I had but the salads and sandwiches I saw being eaten around me looked mouthwatering!

How do you get around?

The three T’s…Taxi, Train, Tram. They’re all very easily available. Unlike London, public transport is very cheap. You can buy single journeys for 1.50 euro or a day pass for approximately 7 euro.

5 tips for Rome:

1. Take comfortable shoes. If you’re sightseeing it involves alot of walking and you want to be comfortable.

2. Stick with what Italy does best…Pizza and Pasta…when dining at small local restaurants. Their fried food was always greasy and badly fried.

3. Take a cross body bag when walking around the city. Rome is notorious for pick pockets. While we were there it wasn’t uncommon to see police or even army officers patrolling the streets and train stations.

4. Book all your sightseeing in advance through the official websites. Expedia kept sending me emails to book the sites as we’d booked our package with them and their prices were much higher than what we paid locally.

5. Don’t forget to look up from your map every once in a while, there’s a lot of eye candy around the city!😉

Travelling with kids 

I have always loved travelling, seeing new places, experiencing new things. Passing on the wanderlust gene to S has always been a priority for me. He’s just turned 4 and he’s probably been to more places than I did in the first 15 years of my life!

Many people comment that he’s so young and he won’t remember all our trips but I see things differently. While he probably won’t remember them, they most certainly add value to his day to day life. Everytime we travel, I watch him grow, open up and come back slightly changed. 

It’s not always easy travelling with kids, especially a strong headed four year old who has no sense of fear and no qualms about wandering off in a crowd. But these are the reasons I’m ticking places off my bucket list and taking S with me.

1. Travelling ignites the curiosity in him. As we stood outside a mosque in Istanbul during prayer time yesterday, he asked me about the call to prayer, why all the men were bowing as they did and what they were doing. 

2. He sees things he would never see in our day to day life in London. Even something as simple as a tram which he’s loved riding on both in Rome last week and Istanbul this week.

3. New foods – Thankfully S is not a fussy eater but he does like to flaff about at mealtimes and many a time expects me to feed him. When we’re at home he also prefers the same handful of things each week. On holiday over the last 2 weeks he’s eaten lots of pizza and pasta (he was never a fan), lamb kebabs, chicken shish and this afternoon, calamari. 

4. In general he’s taking in so much more than he would at home. He’s seeing how different people live, he’s exposed to different cultures and I hope all these experiences will make him a much more open and diverse person.

5. Although he is only 4, S has walked around the colloseum and through all the Vatican Museums. As he grows older these trips will also add to his education, teaching him about history, geography, culture, religion and architecture.

6. Travelling teaches kids patience and also that the world doesn’t revolve around them. In our house, most things revolve around S but on holiday he has to do what everyone else is doing. We do of course plan things for him as well but he joins in with whatever we’re all doing.

7. A sense of adventure is developed every time we travel. S jumped off a boat into the sea (and into my brothers arms) in Cebu when he was only 2 years and 4 months old. He went camel riding in Dubai a few months before his 3rd birthday and last summer he went down a super fast water slide in Mazagan, Morocco. I hope travel keeps him fearless and only adds to his keen sense of adventure.

Travelling with a child is no easy task, especially for the parent and there are times I want to pull my hair out but I know it’ll be worth it in the end. 

   

Chillin’ like a villain 😎

 Outside the Aya Sophia in Istanbul