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…

A weekend in Cambridge 

Back in January I was catching up with one of my oldest friends, Mariam and we both realised it had been ages since we’d seen each other and we could both really do with some downtime. From there sprung the idea of a girls weekend away. Edinburgh was our first choice but given the cold weather, we settled on Cambridge. Neither of us had been before but we’d heard good things.

We arrived in Cambridge on the Friday evening and Mariam had booked us into an Air B n B apartment which was pretty close to the centre of town. Time flew as we caught up on each other’s lives and before we knew it, it was 10:30pm and no where around us was serving food. We jumped into her car and ended up at Merhaba Restaurant on East Road, a really yummy Turkish restaurant. We shared some kebabs and an aubergine dip, both of which were amazing!! I wish I had a picture but we were so hungry, it was gone before we could say kebab!!

On Saturday we walked into town and headed to Patties for brunch. Apparently it’s quite a landmark in Cambridge. I can’t say there was anything particularly special about it but everyone I mentioned it to sort of have me a nod of approval at having gone there.

   
   
We then headed to the tourist centre and bought some tickets to go on a punting tour. Anyone living in England will know how volatile the weather can be but that weekend we were blessed with beautiful sunny weather. It was mid March and still cool but the glorious sun shone all weekend. Our guide was equal parts informative and funny…the punting is a must do!

   
    
   
*Top tips: 1) As you head towards the river, outside some of the universities, there are students offering punting tours and walking tours for slightly cheaper than the tourist centre. They’re wearing red jackets. If you’re a big group, this would work out more cost effective.

2) Try and avoid sitting under the rower/guide if you don’t want to inevitably get splashed with water.

After the tour we walked around the town and popped into the Fitzwilliam Museum. The architecture in England never ceases to amaze me!

   
 
  

If you’re visiting with kids, they’ll love these ride on cars which you can hire for only £2 at the Grafton Mall.

  

On Saturday night we decided to hit the town and relive our youth. We started with a cocktail at Ta Bouche then crossed the street to Baroosh for another. Had a bit of a dance at Fez Club before ending our night at Lola’s.

   
   

On Sunday we had brunch at Patisserie Valerie (while our poached eggs looked amazing, they were overcooked and underseasoned). 

   
 
We then walked around the market square. Filled with all sorts of delights from chocolate to cake, jewellery and keepsakes, there’s something for everyone. 

   
   

Don’t forget to catch The Singing Dustbin on your way down to the river!

Cambridge was a fabulous weekend away and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for a weekend break. Most people ride around on bikes but it’s small enough to walk around if you’re staying close enough to the centre. We didn’t get a chance to go inside any of the universities but I was told by a friend who studied there that they are absolutely gorgeous inside and I can just imagine so.

The Family Travel Show, Olympia Oct 31st – Nov 1st

If you’re busy the last weekend in October, cancel all plans because you don’t want to miss this! The Family Travel Show is coming to Olympia. It’s the UK’s first ever event, totally dedicated to Family Travel. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?!

Family holidays are the chance to create memories to cherish. Whether you’re holidaying with your kids or your parents, there is always so much to see and do. In the last year we’ve visited Cebu, Dubai, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Morocco to name a few and I truly believe that every holiday has even taught S, who is still so young, so much. He comes back having seen so much more and done so much more than he usually would. People often comment that he won’t remember all these holidays. But the way I see it, it adds joy to his upbringing. He may not remember them all in years to come, but they would have played a small part in the person who grows up to be.

The Family Travel Show will give you the chance to get face-to-face with the best family holiday providers and specialist operators all under one roof, take advantage of exclusive show-only offers and competitions, gather impartial advice and inspiration, and of course quiz the experts on those all important questions.

Whether you’re looking to do some research on your next perfect family holiday or simply want to have a browse of all the amazing places you could visit, there’s all that and more at the Family Show.

I am giving 1 lucky person the chance to win a pair of tickets to the show! Just answer this simple question below:

Where is The Family Travel Show taking place??

Answers in the comments please. A winner will be picked at random on Monday 5th of October.

UK participants only.

*The tickets will be provided by The Family Travel Show

**Competition winner will receive their tickets ahead of the show

Brit Mums Live 2015

Last weekend was the much anticipated Brit Mums Live. Bloggers all over the country booked their event tickets and train tickets months in advance. Outfits were bought for the occasion, business cards designed and excited tweets tweeted.

It was my first Britmums event and my second blogging event. To say I was excited was an understatement but I also had a few nerves. I agreed to meet my friend Anupa outside the Brewery and on the way there Amie messaged me and said she was outside as well. I was so glad I had these two for the event!

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I need to be really honest here…I thought Britmums was extremely well organised and I came away with a lot of knowledge and inspiration. However, I did feel let down by some fellow bloggers. I can honestly say I went up to almost everyone I recognised and while it was amazing to meet lot’s of new people, I guess some people find it a lot easier to be friendly/inclusive online than they do in person. And apparently I’m not the only one who felt that way.

The event itself was pretty amazing! Friday got us all mingling with a Guinness World Records Ice breaker. What was it you ask? How many “mummies” (get it? ;-)) can you wrap in 3 minutes? We broke the record by 1 and are now all proud holders of actual Guinness World Record medals. How cool is that?!

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I also took part in their “fastest nib” contest. You had to run a marker nib around a track, staying within the narrow lines, in the fastest time possible!

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In the second half of the afternoon I went to the “Turning pitches into profits” session by Emily Leary and “How successful bloggers do it” by Helen McGinn, Vicki Psarias and Becky Wiggins. Helen and Becky were new to me but it was so great to meet Vicki in person. I’m a big fan of her blog, she’ll always respond if you tweet/message her and it was nice to put a voice to her name. She’s one of those bloggers who is as friendly in person as she is online.

I had to leave early on Friday because S had a bit of a false alarm at A&E (I think he was having too much fun with the toys they had in the children’s waiting area!).

On Saturday I got there nice and early (unlike Friday when my Google maps app had me walking in circles) and got a chance to chat to some of the brands. Anna Barcelo from Costa Brava, Sarah Keeble from Boots, Rosie Stoddart from Beattie Communications and Amir Nezemi from RealTimes (which have a new video feature on their app which is pretty damn awesome! I can’t wait to try it out).

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My favourite session on the Saturday was the one about travel blogging. I always thought of myself as a parenting and lifestyle blogger but after this session I realised that I actually write quite a bit about our travels/local adventures. I’ve since gone on to set up a specific travelling with kids page where I’ll be adding all the links to our travelling adventures.

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Cupcake decorating with Emily Leary.

Britmums taught me to think outside of what I’m doing and to put myself out there. I came away with tools to confidently speak to brands and PR people, to improve my writing and to make the most of SEO.

The day ended with 13 bloggers’ keynote, some of which had us all in tears! Hayley’s (Downs Side Up) letter to Mr. Richard Dawkins really pulled on my heart strings. It was so beautiful to listen to a post read out in the writer’s voice. To hear their emotion come through as they write on topics they feel passionate about.

Being a blogger has given me confidence, a voice I never really used before and the opportunity to be a part of a huge community of some pretty kick ass people! Britmums left me exhausted, inspired, determined, educated and truly humbled! I can’t wait to go again next year!