The other side of the au pair story

When S started reception 2 years ago, I decided to go back to work full time. It had been a while and truth be told, I missed working/having some sort of purpose beyond him. However, with the cost and inflexibility of child care, especially in London, it makes going back to full time work quite difficult, especially as a single parent. It was then that I looked into getting an au pair. I sought the assistance of a friend’s nanny and after going through a few CVs, I came across Belen – a 25 year old Spanish girl who’d been an au pair before and wanted to come back to London.

She started in October 2016 and it wasn’t long before she was very much a member of our family. She ate dinner with us, taught S a few Spanish words, dropped him to school and picked him up. She was interested in learning how to cook Indian food and when Christmas came around, 4 year old S was very excited as I took him shopping to buy her a present. I cried when she left.

An au pair is supposed to be a cultural exchange, where a young person comes to live with you and in return for boarding and lodging, they provide childcare services, acting as a big brother/sister to your child. It’s typically 25-30 hours a week for approximately £80-£120 per week “pocket money” plus transport.

Belen left after 6 months (we’re still in touch), that was always the plan, and we then had two au pairs, Cindy and Damla. Both were here on an 11 month short term student visa from Indonesia and Turkey respectively, to better their English. We unfortunately had a negative experience with both of them. Cindy ignored me when I asked her not to give S juice from the carton she was drinking from, when I asked her not to buy him an ice cream and when I asked her not to give him crisps at 8:30am. She hung her dripping wet underwear on our bannisters and when she finally left, the room she had was in a state with period stains on the sheets. She lasted 2 weeks and I asked her to leave when she approached a friend at tennis camp, where she was picking S up, and asked her to book her an Uber home.

Damla arrived and spent 19 out of 24 hours in her room, which was a tip, with hair and bits of cotton wool mashed into the carpet. I’d have to ask her to clean the bathroom she shared with S 5 times before it was half-heartedly done and I regularly tidied up in the kitchen after her. I genuinely felt like I was paying her to stay with me and that she was only here because she wanted to live in Central London.

1 family, 3 different experiences – and this is what writing should be like – both sides of the story. I was shocked to come across a Guardian article by Rosie Cox (probably written to drum up some PR for her book “Au pairing in the 21st century”) where she described au pairing as “low paid domestic work”. The article is very one sided and from what I can tell, Rosie has gone onto various Facebook au pair groups, posting questions pretending to be a host mum to get some feedback for her article. It’s disappointing to see the Guardian publish such a biased view of what being an au pair is like.

Go onto FB au pair groups and you’ll see host families asking questions like “How can I make my au pair feel comfortable when she arrives?” and “What sort of goodies do you leave for your au pair in her room when she starts?” You also see posts from au pairs looking for a host family in London, ONLY in zone 1 or 2. Other posts have included points like “I will not do any house work”, “I will not work on weekends”, “I expect ATLEAST £150 a week”, “I’m coming over with my boyfriend and we’d like a family who wants both of us”, etc. There was a post where an au pair had gotten into university in Glasgow and so was looking for a host family there. For a student, 25 hours a week of childcare is not a lot to ask in return for free accommodation (WiFi, etc. included) and food while she studies at university. It’s a win win situation.

On another occasion, prior to Cindy starting, I had a girl approach me to be our au pair. She was working in Cambridge and intended to leave that family (working parents, 3 kids) with no notice. She wouldn’t let me get any references as she lied to the host mum saying she had to go home for a family emergency. I’ve also heard of stories where au pairs come home drunk at 4am and can’t wake up to take the child to school the next day and other instances where they’ve stolen from host families and then done a runner.

Like with anything in life, there are two sides to a story. Of course, you’ll have host families who mistreat their au pairs but an au pair has a choice – he/she can leave at any time they like, usually with 2 weeks notice. Responsible journalism would have given two sides to the story, not painted au pairs as “slaves” when I think the majority are actually quite happy and are living and working in a situation that suits their needs, as well as the needs of their host family.


From yummy to slummy…

When did we move from aspiring to be a yummy mummy to instead being proud of being a slummy mummy? Every time I scroll through Instagram, I come across posts of bloggers talking about their pile of laundry, their dirty kitchen counter or their unmade bed. And it’s said with such pride…like they’re winning at parenting because they don’t give a shit about the state of their home.

A few years ago, blogs like Hurrah for Gin and the Unmumsy mum came about and they took off because they showed the realities of parenthood. When you have a new baby in the house, the house keeping does tend to take a back seat and your priorities are then aligned with the baby. But at some point, as more and more bloggers got in on the act, all proclaiming to be even slummier than the last, I think we’ve got to a point now where what started as a healthy dose of reality has become an obsession to be the most inept. “You think you have a dirty worktop…I’ll meet your dirty work top and raise you with yesterdays peas still all over the kitchen floor!” And this is the sort of thing that is going up on the ‘gram.

At the risk of ruffling a few feathers, most of the mums parading their slummy ways are invariably middle class. Mums who can afford child care, mums with their own businesses and mums who work flexibly. If a more working class mother was drinking a G&T in a tin on the train from Hove up to London, she wouldn’t be seen as cool, she’d be brandished as cheap. And many of these bloggers are showing off their “slummy” homes in Boden skirts and H&M dresses with Farrow and Ball walls and La Redoute rugs.

The fact is, many of these Insta parents striving to outdo one another with their candour and stories of ineptness are in fact devoted and hard working individuals. So why the desire to downplay your situation? When did it become cooler to have a messy bedroom and a dirty kitchen? When did it become uncool to be house proud and tidy up after yourself?

Rayong – for a quieter Thai holiday

When visiting Thailand in December, rather than spend all our time in Bangkok, we decided to head out to nearby Rayong for a few days. Why Rayong? Well I’d heard Pattaya was overcrowded and the water wasn’t particularly clean. The other option was Hua Hin but upon doing some research, I found that Rayong was much cleaner and we could visit another island from there too.

Rayong is a 3 hour drive from Bangkok and is on the coast. It’s a very quiet town, so if you’re looking for a party, Rayong is not the place to go. However, I was travelling with my family so it was ideal as it would suit multi-generations. One of the best resorts to stay at in Rayong is the Marriott. However, we chose not to stay there as it is quite far from the city centre. Perfect if all you want to do is stay at the resort and soak up some sun but we like venturing out so found somewhere closer to the city.

We stayed at Kantaray Bay in a 2 bedroom serviced apartment. Although the apartment was slightly dated, it was clean and had everything we needed. I prefer staying in an apartment when travelling with S because it means when he goes to bed early, there’s a separate living area to sit in and of course having a kitchen is always helpful when travelling with children. Breakfast was included and the spread was quite large – Asian, Continental, American and European. The hotel/serviced apartments also had a gym and two pools.

We decided to break our journey down to Rayong by stopping at The Cartoon Network waterpark and spending the day with friends who happened to be in Thailand at the same time. If you’ve read my blog for a while, you’ll know just how much I LOVE a waterpark – Dubai, Tenerife, Center Parcs, you literally have to drag me out of there. The best thing about The Cartoon Network waterpark was how empty it was. We didn’t have to wait more than 5 minutes for any ride. It’s super child friendly! They have a massive play area as soon as you enter for younger children with a pool (and waves) behind it. The waterpark is quite small and very easy to get around but they still manage to fit quite a bit in. I finally conquered my fear and went down the vertical shoot – you stand in it and the floor just comes away from under you. I got into it and out again twice before I finally did it and I can report back to say it looks far worse than it is. When you’re all tired out, they have some great pizza and the most amazing crepe which they serve with condensed milk (my weakness!!) Good thing you had to climb lots of stairs for every slide so I felt like I got my workout in to make up for the yumminess that is condensed milk! 😉

We left the waterpark around 4:30 and were at our apartment in Rayong by 6ish. 3-4 days in Rayong is probably enough. Although our resort is on the coast, it doesn’t really have much of a beach. So if you fancy lying on a beach, the closest one is Laem Mae Phim. We decided instead to kill two birds with one stone and head to the beach on Koh Sahmet Island. A 40 minute drive to the pier, a 30 minute boat ride, a 20 minute walk and we were on the beach in Koh Sahmet.  Like most beaches in Thailand, it caters to tourists so expect over-priced food, drinks and pretty much anything else you need to buy. It’s also quite a short beach with tourist boats pulling in every 100 metres. The water however is gorgeous and the sand is soft. Expect to see lots of Chinese tourists jetting in and out on speed boats as well as endless (!!!!) “selfie queens”. We were really lucky with the weather, it was a glorious 29 degrees the day we headed out to the island.

Exhausted from a day spent at the waterpark followed by a day heading to the island, we decided to take a day out and head to one of the malls, followed by foot massages. We also explored some local markets – I love taking in the culture, sights, sounds and smells of different cities we visit but word of warning, the smell of dried fish is very, very strong! The fruit however, amazing! My favourite being preserved guava.

On our final day we headed to Khao Chamao-Khao Wong National Park – approximately 90 minutes from Rayong city centre. The idea was to see the waterfalls and the caves. However, with a grandparent and grandchild in tow, the climb was all a bit much. It was probably one of my favourite days though. I loved hiking and climbing through the trees and we got to see quite a lot on the way up, even if we didn’t get to the top.

I don’t think I’d go back to Rayong again, once is enough to see it all, but if you’re looking for a short trip away from the main city and you don’t fancy dealing with hordes of tourists, then Rayong is the place for you!

Have we become too sensitive?

A few months ago, there was uproar on the internet because H&M featured a little black boy (am I allowed to call him that?!) in a sweater that said “Cheeky little monkey”. I didn’t get what the big deal was. I later learnt that people felt offended because in the past, people of colour (specifically black people) have often been referred to as “monkeys”. I am not insensitive to racism. When I moved to school in Ireland in 1997, I had my fair share of racist slurs thrown at me. But I see racism as another person’s lack of culture and ignorance, not as a reflection of me. The fact that the model was a minor and his mum signed off on it should be enough shouldn’t it?! Following the Twitter storm, there was a video of a group of kids who ran through an H&M store trashing it. This is the other bit I don’t understand. We want the world to see us in the best light even when we’re happy to be doing something that’s dark. There are ways to protest and ways to stand up for what you believe is wrong. Trashing a store because they put what many just saw as a little boy in a sweater that said “monkey”, something most of us call our kids, is not the way to go about it.

This is just one example, there are so many I notice on the internet on a daily basis. Someone just has to sneeze the wrong way and everyone’s criticising it. Just look at the amount of criticism the Duchess of Cambridge got earlier this week. I’m all for empowering women and supporting #thisgirlcan. I am a woman after all and women have been marginalised for far too long. However, I have a son and I recently saw an ad that left me quite surprised. Mainly because I don’t see anyone going on about it. It’s for Direct Line. The DL man tells a couple that a taxi is going to take them home after an accident. He then says to the wife…”Aren’t you forgetting your donkey?” The wife looks at her husband who’s shuffling over carrying ALL the luggage and holiday paraphernalia and the DL man goes “No, this one…” and hands her some sort of straw donkey she’s bought on holiday. So it’s okay to insinuate that a man is a donkey and no one has anything to say about it? Is it because men don’t take themselves so seriously? Or women think carrying of the bags is a man’s job? Or if it’s not about them then why bother protesting?

There are definitely things we need to be protesting about – sexual harassment, lack of gun laws in America, lack of flexible working options for mother’s who want a work/child balance, rape, war, LGBTQ rights, the list is endless. But I think we need to pick our battles because we could be doing so much more with our time than feeling bad about something that had no malicious intent.

This HILARIOUS video pretty much sums up how I feel about everyone being so PC – ridiculous!

What do you think? As a generation, have we become too sensitive? And is social media making us feel better or worse?

She’s a Princess…did you really expect anything less?! #royalbaby

My Instagram feed yesterday was filled with pictures of exhausted mums, wondering how Kate Middleton was able to stand on the steps on the Lindo Wing, 7 hours after giving birth and look as amazing as she did. I went on to read some papers who thought she was making normal mums feel like shit by looking so amazing (the same papers who would have crucified her if she came out in tracksuit bottoms and a mum bun). Firstly, what is normal? And secondly, no one else can really make you feel shit but yourself.

What people seem to forget is that a) she has a make up artist and hair dresser who helped her look like that b) she has a team at home to support her c) she didn’t do a 1hr meet and greet, it was 1 minute on the steps d) she is a PRINCESS and in all likelihood, her husband will be the King in the next decade or two.

I think she looked amazing, I think lots of women look as good leaving the hospital, they’re not just in the media’s eye with millions of people waiting to catch a glimpse of their baby. I believe if any one of those mums posting pictures had what Kate has, they’d be doing the exact same thing.

The Royal Princess is a role and she cannot be expected to come out, in front of the world’s media looking like a “normal” mum…and I’m surprised anyone thinks she should. Rather than judging her for “dissing” the sisterhood (not my words!), we should be respecting and supporting her as the “sisterhood” should!

Congratulations Kate, you DID look amazing and you play your role perfectly. Enjoy all the baby snuggles!

My baby snuggles a little over 6 years ago!

Bangkok with kids

Bangkok, although known for its red light district, lady boys and cosmetic surgery, also makes for a great family vacay. We spent a few weeks in Thailand over Christmas and we still didn’t get to see all of Bangkok. With the gorgeous weather in December (not too hot), we chose to do a lot more outdoorsy things but if you’re visiting with kids in April, May or June, when it’s scorching, I’ve included a few indoor things to do as well.

Here’s my top 8 things to do in Bangkok (in no particular order):

1 Take a boat ride along the Chao Phraya River – Children love to take everything in and often while we’re so busy trying to “do” so much on holiday, it’s good to just “be”. There’s five different express boat options (no flag, blue flag, yellow flag, green flag, orange flag). Jump on one depending on where you’d like to go and take in all the sights along the river.

2 Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) – There are sooo many Wats (Buddhist temples) to choose from and we saw a few but the most famous one along the river is Wat Arun (you can’t miss it, it’s beautiful). It’s worth visiting and taking in the Buddhist culture. The steps up the central prang are quite steep but worth the effort.

3 Asiatique – Famous for its Ferris Wheel, Asiatique is an outdoor Riverside project, combining eating, dining, sightseeing and activities for the whole family. It’s only open from 4pm until midnight. For some great local grub, the perfect gifts for your friends back home and a ride on the Ferris Wheel to take in the Bangkok skyline, Asiatique is well worth the visit.

4 Bounce – Some days you need the kids to burn off energy while you just SIT! Bounce is the ideal place – as the name suggests, Bounce is a trampoline park located in the The Street Shopping Mall at Ratchada BTS station. 5,600 sq. m of bouncing space means your kids will have the time of their life! Book in advance as it fills up quite quickly, especially over the holiday period.

5 Children’s Discovery Museum – We didn’t actually make it there on our last trip but it is definitely somewhere we intend to visit the next time we’re in Bangkok. Located in Chatuchak Park, it’s an interactive learning centre, encouraging children to ask questions about how the world works. Sounds just like the type of place S would love.

6 Siam Paragon – Hands down the best mall in Bangkok. And really, no trip is complete without visiting at least one mall while in Asia. What I love about the malls in Asia are just how much emphasis goes into decorating them. We were there at Christmas and the honestly, Oxford Street has nothing on some of the décor in Asia. The second thing I love about the malls there is the fact that my favourite American stores have a presence – Bath and Body Works – enough said! They also have a fantastic food court, definitely check it out if you’re visiting.

7 Last but not least, check out a show (there are so many to choose from, your hotel should be able to guide you). These are not family friendly (if you have young kids) but I’ve been to one on a previous trip to Bangkok and it’s just one of those things that you have to do – after all, Bangkok is practically known for Ladyboy shows.

8 Get a massage – another thing Thailand is known for are the massages. At only £10-£15 for a one hour oil massage, it’s very affordable and very very good! Don’t be surprised if you end up craving a massage every day!!

The traffic in this capital city is horrendous at peak times. A 15 minute drive could take an hour if you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. Where possible, take the BTS. Yes, it gets crowded but it’s super quick, very efficient and even at rush hour, I managed to get on the first train that pulled into the platform, with S in tow. The river boats are also another great way to get from one point to another (along the river of course).

There are some amazing bars (Sky Bar, Maggie Choo’s) and restaurants (Gaggan, Din Tai Fung) worth checking out. I’ll leave them for another post.

Oh and before I sign off, one thing I have to say about Thailand in general which may sound bizzare to many but is very important to me is “toilets”! Having travelled through India and China, I sort of expected similar toilets in Thailand but boy was I wrong. Everywhere we went, the toilets were so clean, I was genuinely surprised. In some places they may have been wet (near the beach in Koh Samet for example) but always clean. That’s a total win for Thailand in my books!

We’re planning to go back to Bangkok later this year – are there any places you’d recommend that we missed?

Sent from Mail for Windows 10

A review of Honey & Co. London 

Tucked into a tiny spot along Warren Street, blink and you’d almost miss Honey & Co. Part of a wider group of restaurants/shops (including Honey & Smoke and Honey and Spice), this little place has been on my brunch bucket list (yes, that’s actually a thing!). With my friend Shilpa visiting from Hong Kong and being a fellow foodie, it was the perfect time to check it out. Sarit Packer (co-founder) was previously the pastry chef for Ottolenghi and executive head chef at Nopi. Together with her husband, Itamar Srulovich (who has been cooking since the age of 5), they opened Honey & Co.
We arrived there at around 10am and although the restaurant is very small (tables and chairs packed closely together with very little elbow room), thankfully they had a table for us. For breakfast, you can opt to have the Mezze to share followed by your choice of eggs or just go directly with the eggs. Given we wanted to save some room for their incredible looking desserts (lined up along the front window), we opted for just the eggs. We ordered the Shakshuka and Green Shakshuka to share as well as some coffees.
The waitress (an enthusiastic ray of sunshine and smiles) brought our food over quite quickly. The Shakshuka could have done with slightly less oil but the combination of spicy tomatoes and eggs was divine. It was accompanied with a coriander zehung (condiment of sorts) which I found quite bitter (and I’m a huge coriander fan). The Green Shakshuka was accompanied with a goat’s yoghurt which complemented it perfectly. My only criticism was the consistency of the eggs. Although our waitress did say the eggs would be runny, when plated up, the Green Shakshuka was more thick soup than poached eggs. Their saving grace was the delicious blend of flavours.

Their coffee was so good, I had two, but not before we ordered some dessert. The best foodies will always do a quick Google before trying out a new restaurant so Shilpa knew exactly what she wanted: the famous “cheesecake”. I on the other hand ooh’d and aah’d at the window display before finally settling on the chocolate, hazelnut and cinnamon babka. We shared both and I can tell you, I’m so glad we decided not to go for the mezze, leaving enough room for the sweet goodness that was their dessert choices.

The cheesecake was a whipped cream cheese placed on a bed of shredded filo, topped with honey, nuts and blueberries. Babka is a sweet leavened bread made with a rich dough and while it is typically flavoured with raisins, the chocolate and hazelnut version hit my sweet spot without the cinnamon being too overbearing.

We ambled out into the sunshine at 12:30, thoroughly satisfied. I love a good brunch and in this case, the company and the food were both stellar.

A first timers review of Center Parcs 

If you live in the UK, you’d have to be living under a rock to have not heard of Center Parcs. Located within forests across the UK, CP is a one stop holiday suitable for all generations. The only catch is relying on the UK weather. After much dillydallying about where to go on holiday this summer (read: leaving things to the last minute), we booked a mid-week stay at CP Elveden Forest.

On a sunny Monday in August, we loaded our two cars with bikes, suitcases and half our kitchen before heading up the M11 to Elveden Forest. Having never been to any of the other Center Parcs in the country – Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire, Whinfell Forest in Cumbria, Longleat Forest in Wiltshire and Woburn Forest in Bedfordshire – we had nothing to judge it by. Some described it as a nicer version of Butlins. My cousin Latika and I bravely (yes, bravely!) took our boys to Butlins last summer and I can tell you, comparing Butlins to CP is like comparing £100 an ounce caviar to the stuff you get at Yo Sushi! From the moment we drove into CP, I was completely bowled over by the giant trees that seemed to touch the sky.

Once all the Monday check ins were complete, cars were relegated to the car park for the duration of our 4 day stay and what we were left with was open safe green space. Our lodge (which had its own sauna at the back) had 3 bedrooms, all ensuite, and an open plan kitchen, dining and living room. With multiple restaurants, a beautiful lake, an indoor tropical pool and sports centre (incase it rains), tree climbing, ziplining, laser combat, off road biking, wall climbing, a pottery barn and lots more, CP quite literally has something for everyone and enough activities to exhaust even the most energetic 5 year old! S who had only learnt to ride a bike without stabilisers 2 weeks prior mastered his riding skills as he quite literally flew around CP at every opportunity. I loved the village feel of the place – we took two bikes and hired 3 there, riding everywhere we wanted to go and locking up the bikes in the many cycle parks dotted around CP.

We had beautiful sunny weather for 3 out of 4 days and on the one day it rained, while all the adults chose to stay indoors, S was still adamant he wanted to ride his bike in the rain. As long as there’s fun to be had, nothing stops my 5 year old, even a bit of the typically wet British weather. We spent a lot of time at the Tropical Pool – I lost count of the number of times we went on the rapids which S absolutely loved! We went tree trekking, ziplining across the lake, wall climbing and boating. And while the grown-ups played laser combat, S was entertained in an Alice the Wonderland themed drop-off camp. Win:Win!

If I had to nit-pick, I’d suggest baskets on the bikes – trying to ride to the pool while balancing a bag slung on my shoulder was no easy task. Towels in the pool area would also be a nice touch.
Top tip – You can actually order take out from one of the many local restaurants. Although the food was good, we found very limited vegetarian options (my dad is a vegetarian). At Forresters Inn (one of the nicer bars/restaurants), there was only one vegetarian main option and at Bella Italia, a vegan pizza didn’t include vegan cheese, it was just a pizza without any cheese!! One night we took the car out to a local Indian restaurant and another night we ordered take out and went to pick it up (although they do deliver as well).
Fret not, if you run out of milk there is a supermarket on site (and a Starbucks!) There’s also a gift store and a couple of clothing stores in The Sports Centre. I ventured in to have a look at some sweaters because in very uncharacteristic fashion, I relied on the BBC weather app and didn’t take a jacket or any sweaters for that matter. We live in the UK, always take a jacket and sweater!!

By the end of the 4 days, S had to be cajoled into the car to go home. With a slightly sore bottom from all the bike riding, a bruise on my leg from the wall climbing and adrenaline running through me from the ziplining, I went home thinking I’d definitely go back!

Hampton Court Palace – The Magic Garden and The Maze 

I wasn’t kidding when I said I intended on seeing the best sights in (and around) London, making the most of my  3 day week. Last Friday was a beautiful day so we decided to head out to Hampton Court. We took the tube to Waterloo and then South West trains to Hampton Court via Surbiton. A quick walk from the Station and you step into grounds that would fit into a Phillipa Gregory novel easily. At first glance Hampton Court Palace is quite majestic. This beautiful Tudor Palace was built by Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. It was never meant to be a Royal Palace but when he left in 1529, King Henry took it over. In his efforts to impress people with his grandeur and wealth, he spent what would be millions now to expand it, employing Europe’s most gifted craftsmen and gardeners. It might be almost 500 years since it was built but Hampton Court Palace (unlike the outside of Buckingham Palace) is quite simply stunning.

Last year saw the opening of The Magic Garden on the grounds of Hampton Court Palace. I’d read quite about it but we didn’t have a chance to go. Friday was the ideal day. We didn’t go into the Palace…Let’s be honest, it would be lost on our 5/6 year olds so instead bought tickets for The Magic Garden and The Maze. If you don’t intend on going into the Palace and it’s quite a warm day, don’t queue up at the main ticket kiosk. Instead make your way to The Magic Garden and buy your tickets from there instead. 

It lives up to its name…the kids had a blast!

Almost two hours later we made our way to the maze. The kids were super excited by the maze and enjoyed navigating the many corridors. At one point we thought we’d found our way out but alas it was the middle of the maze.

Right outside the exit there’s a patch of grass for the adults to rest their weary legs and hidden in what appears to be a huge bush is one of the best trees to climb.

We finally ended our day walking through the rose garden and picking up some amazing real ice cream (made with clotted cream!!)

If you’re thinking of visiting this summer, The Magic Garden is open until October. Remember to take sun cream, a spare change of clothes (there are fountains and a mini lake, as S describes it, in the sandpit) and lots of snacks (the cafés there are limited).

Don’t forget to take a picture under this beautiful arch on your way out.

It cost us £9.20 each return from Waterloo to Hampton Court on Southwest trains. If you to manage get a direct train it’s approx. 35 minutes (we had to stop at Surbiton both ways). Hampton Court Palace is very family friendly and makes for a great day out. It’s got our stamp of approval.

Summer 2017 Bucket List 

The great British Summer…There’s absolutely no guarantee of hot weather but you can always have a good time. From this week going forward I’ll be working 3 days a week (rather than 5) and I intend on making the most of August, exploring  many of the wonderful sights/attractions the UK has to offer. Here’s my bucket list for Summer 2017:

Mayfield Lavender Fields – If you’re on Instagram you can’t escape these gorgeous lavender fields. They are Insta perfect and something I definitely want to see. A little over an hour from London, in Surrey, it’s pretty easy to get to.

Hampton Court Palace – The Magic Garden looks amazing and super child friendly.

Parkside Fruit Picking – I feel like S is finally old enough to appreciate and enjoy fruit picking. My cousins have been doing it for years and now he can join them 🙂

Warwick Castle – Which child wouldn’t like to dress up as a knight and feel like part of a castle? S has the costume and Warwick has the castle. And during the summer, kids can watch Horrible Histories live on stage in the truly unique Wicked Warwick Show!

Go Ape (Alexandre Palace) – Go Apes newest venue at Ally Pally now has Tree Tops Junior. S is a bit of a monkey and I think he’d absolutely love walking high up and ziplining through trees.

Snozoneuk – While our summers aren’t always hot, our winters aren’t extreme either which means S hasn’t seen proper snow yet. At Snozone, you can feel like you’re in The Alps while only being an hour up the M1 from London.

Camber Sands – Back in May we visited Brighton Beach and while that was cool, a sandy beach will always beat a pebble beach. Fingers crossed we have one more heat wave before school starts in September and we will be down at Camber Sands in a jiffy.

Emirates Cable Cars – For the gorgeous views of London and the thrill of riding high up suspended in the air.

Of course this is a limited list…London and the surrounding counties have to much to offer. I’d love to hear what adventures you’re having this summer…