Breaking the City with a Toddler

We love a good city break, the chance to discover a new city in between our longer trips, which these days aren’t as often as we’d like.
When we became parents we thought those city break days were over, the fact we’ve taken a ridiculous amount of luggage on each trip since Milo arrived and the fact it usually takes him a good two nights to settle in a new bed meant we were hesitant about a trip that would take him as long to get used to as we were actually away.
But we decided the only way to see if it was possible was to try it, the worst case scenario being that we had an awful trip and wouldn’t do it again.

Four days (three nights) in Lisbon was our choice, flying with TAP Airlines – hand luggage only.

Packing was scary. Most airlines give you a hand luggage allowance for an under two lap passenger, but is it realistic to lug three small suitcases around as well as a stroller, a nappy bag and don’t forget the actual child. No it’s not.
So we packed two small hand luggage size suitcases and took Milo’s changing bag as well.
We packed as light as possible, I planned my outfits beforehand, taking a skirt that could be mixed with one of four tops, travelled in my warmer clothes in case I needed them and then packed one other dress. Milo’s Daddy did similar (no dresses though). For Milo I have included our full packing list below. Would I say we missed anything, not really, maybe we could have done with a couple of extra nappies (we ended up buying a pack while there) but other than that I think we cracked it.

We purchased specifically for this trip the GB Qbit Stroller (approx £179 at time of purchase) we did a fair bit of research and the fact it folds down to hand luggage size was the deciding factor. We did check it in but knowing we have that option in the future is a bonus.
It’s small and lightweight and perfect for the beautiful small, skinny, cobbled streets of Lisbon. I could not recommend this stroller more. It took a little getting used to as I am used to Milo’s Uppababy at home and the wheels are closer together (to make it compact) which meant a few catches of the feet the first time of using but other than that I loved it!

IMG_0246
Lisbon – what a city!!! 

This was Milos seventh flight and he was a little gem as usual. Our only tip would be to download a ton of twirlywoo videos (or your child’s favourite) and keep them awake as long as possible beforehand. It seems to have worked for us so far.

Usually we would have done public transport but with a small child we decided taxis were the best option. The hotel was lovely. I did a ton of research before we booked and found a stunning hotel that offered apartment style rooms. The Lumiares hotel in the Bairro Alto district was perfect for our stay. We booked a studio room and it had by far enough space for the three of us. They provided a travel cot and it tucked away nicely just out of sight of our bed (if Milo sees you in the morning he will not go back to sleep)
It did take him two nights to settle, so at 5am both mornings he was up and chatting away, it meant we were first in best dressed for breakfast and it also meant we hit the pillow at 9pm. The third morning he slept until our alarm at 8. It didn’t matter though, early mornings meant more time to see the sights.
The Lumiares provided a lovely breakfast each morning but also had a kitchenette in the room should you want to do extra bits for your little ones. We didn’t use it but it seemed well equipped.

We had the most wonderful four days. Milo is a great eater, he sampled all of Portugal’s favourite dishes. He sat there eating octopus like it was the tastiest thing ever, he definitely doesn’t get that from me, that’s all his daddy’s influence.

A great place to eat is the Lisbon Time Out Market. Set in a great location it offers informal dining with some world class foods. We ended up having at least one meal here a day, just because it offers so much choice and it was somewhere that children were clearly welcome, families were everywhere. Don’t leave without trying a pastéis de nata from Manteigaria located just as you walk through the main entrance, they are quite literally the best thing I have ever tasted.

We would also highly recommend a trip to the absolutely amazing Lisbon Oceanarium. Listed as the second best in the world we had high hopes for this place and it surpassed every one of those.
The days were long and he was shattered by the end of each one. Taking a stroller meant he could fall asleep if he needed, while we would walk back to the hotel after dinner.

It was one of my favourite trips since he was born. My only advice would be if there is something you want to see on a city break and you can book tickets in advance, do that. We arrived at one attraction to find a 45 minute queue, we declined the chance to see inside because that is not fun or fair for any toddler!

My other advise is take calpol, neurofen or both. Milo cut a huge tooth while we were away and the calpol was a lifesaver. Medicines aren’t freely available in supermarkets like they are in the UK in many other countries and when it’s 10pm and the pharmacies are closed you will be so glad you’ve packed some.

Would we do it again. Most definitely. In fact we’ve already booked our next trip. Life is completely about creating memories and we want as many as possible.

IMG_0245

If you are considering a city break we would say DO IT! As a family we had a wonderful time and he might be young but he’s seeing new places, trying new foods, making memories and as we saw on a huge sign in Lisbon ‘moments are far better collected than things’!

 

Milo’s Packing List

(fitted into one half of a hand luggage case)

▪️Three pairs of shorts
▪️Four short sleeved baby vests
▪️Six t-shirts (he can be super messy)
▪️Four pairs of socks
▪️One wipe clean bib

▪️Two pairs of shoes (both trainers but one super comfy and one a little smarter)

▪️One pair of toddler reigns

▪️Mr Lion (we go nowhere without him)

▪️16 Nappies
▪️One packet of wipes (we purchased an extra while away)
▪️16 nappy sacks
▪️One bamboo muslin cloth (Zippy Bibs of course) for emergencies

▪️Toothbrush
▪️Toothpaste
▪️One tiny bottle of sunscreen – so glad we packed this as it was hot!
▪️One small bottle of Burts Bees baby wash (taken from a travel sized set)
▪️One bottle calpol
▪️A packet of Ashton’s and Parsons teething powder

He travelled in jeans and a hoodie and jacket which meant we had these items should we need something warmer but we were blessed with beautiful hot days!

 

 

 

Advertisements

We’re Going to The Zoo!

I hate zoos. I am against animals being locked in tiny cages for our amusement.
I don’t hate all zoos though, I do believe that some are genuinely in it for the conservation of animals and if they are done right the animals don’t suffer and are really well cared for. Whilst I’d still prefer the animals to be in the wild I’m not against these.
Singapore zoo is one of my favourites and having been a couple of times I highly recommend this to anyone visiting the city.

The other day a friend suggested a trip to the Yorkshire Wildlife Park. After a little research I really liked the look of it, so on bank holiday Sunday we headed down for the day.

The car park was packed and I was a little apprehensive that it may be really busy inside but honestly I didn’t think it was. They seem to have enough going on that it never felt crowded and we never spent long in a queue or waiting too see anything.

We arrived about 11am so we headed straight to grab a couple of coffees and some sandwiches to take with us and then we headed off to see some animals.
Entry was £16 for an adult and the boys were free as they are both under 2.

We saw polar bears, spider monkeys, mara’s, lions, leopards, meerkats, zebras and giraffes just to name a few. I fell in love with one of the tiny baby baboons and if I could have taken him home he would have been in Milo’s changing bag quicker than you can say ‘Safari adventure

Lunch consisted of sandwiches and mini cheddars on a picnic bench while the boys ran around the grass. Well Milo wobbled around and fell over a lot. But it was lovely, and the sun was shining making the day delightful.

We headed back to the animals and the boys watched with the most excited looks on their faces. I think Milo’s favourite animal was the spider monkey, the enclosure is open so they are just wild, swinging around the branches above you. He couldn’t get enough of them and finally dragging him away meant tears. But it wasn’t long before we were at the next stop and there was something else to make him smile.

Late afternoon the boys both fell asleep and we used that as an excuse to grab a couple of ice creams and sit in the sun.

The enclosures are huge, the animals look healthy and happy and there are plenty of viewing areas for each stop so you can see loads.
The cafes are plentiful and although it’s just your usual sandwiches, cakes and sausage roll type fare it wasn’t overly expensive and it tasted good.
There are endless areas where you can stop and grab a picnic bench and have a bite to eat. If you are more prepared than we were take a picnic with you….and don’t forget the sun cream. We covered the boys but neglected ourselves and both ended up crispy and red, rookie manoeuvre.

Before we left we headed to the monkey house soft play area (indoor) and the boys had a whale of a time monkeying around. We could have spent longer here but toddlers get tired and cranky and it was time to head back.
There is also a huge outdoor play area, we didn’t have time this trip but all the kids there looked like they were having a great time, there is so much to do here!

IMG_5764

I love this place, I can’t wait to return and hopefully as Milo grows he will enjoy the animals more and more. I highly recommend!!

IMG_5758

Milo’s Mummy x

WHO WANTS TO GO ON A GRUFFALO HUNT?

Last weekend was my first Easter as a mummy. I had been so excited at the thought of Milos daddy being off work for four whole days, he travels a lot and we are renovating a house so time together is often last thing at night while he snoozes and I catch up on crappy tv. I couldn’t wait to do the family thing. To name a few we planned picnic, a trip to the park, a safari trip (not an African one unfortunately) dinner with grandparents and daddy also wanted to build a patio in the garden. But the thing I was looking forward to the most was a Gruffalo Spotters hunting trip.

 

I don’t think I’ve been to Sherwood Forest since I was a child, the home of legendary Robin Hood and some ridiculously big trees, it is now also one of the locations where you can go Gruffalo Spotting. Run by the Forestry Commission I wasn’t sure what to expect, in all fairness this was suggested by friends as their kids (Louis 3 and Haley 2) are slightly older than Milo and massive Gruffalo fans.

We arrived at the forest and parked up, it was busy but there was plenty of parking (approx £6 for the full day) We headed to the main area and purchased our little spotters kit for £3 from the cafe, this was also an excuse for the grown ups to have super yummy hot chocolates with tons of whipped cream and marshmallows. Louis became an immediate detective and scoured the floor with the magnifying glass, looking for ‘clues’ and stickers were handed out and we all had to wear one.

We had all downloaded the app prior to arriving and it didn’t take long to work out how to use it. We followed the ‘clues’ and each one led to an interactive sign that when you held your phone up and pointed it at the sign the scene came to life and a Gruffalo character appeared on the screen, you could then take a photograph with your little ones looking like they were whisked off to another world inside the pages of a story book. You have the chance to find mouse, fox, owl, snake and of course the Gruffalo.

It took us about an hour and a half to complete the trail, the kids had an absolute blast, they hunted the characters like tiny cluedos and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a two and three year old so occupied for so long. The only trouble we had was keeping the kids still long enough for a photo, they were too busy rushing off for the next clue.

Currently there are 26 locations you can hunt the Gruffalo, check out the Forestry Commission website for more information.

IMG_3203

TIPS : DO NOT forget to download the app for free before you go, where we went there was no chance of downloading when there due to lack of signal, and the app really is the main part of the hunt. Also make sure your battery is fully charged, I am well known for always having less than 10% battery, but I made sure I was camera ready because missing out on vital photo opportunities and a chance to see the character come to life would be such a shame. I’d like to have included some of my pictures with actual people in too but I can only describe them as a blur of children running off in all directions – major mummy fail!

IMG_3089
Here is the star of the show….amazing how they appear in the picture like they are really there!

Should you buy the Spotters Activity Kit? They are available for £3 at cafés / visitor centres (cash only) of participating forests. Inside the kit you’ll find:
An evidence collection bag
5 animal activity and facts cards
A Spotter’s Guide
Stickers of The Gruffalo characters
A special magnifying glass, ruler and a pencil.
It’s a little extra fun for the kids, you can do the hunt without but our tiny adventurers just loved it.

IMG_3202
The ‘Evidence Bag Activity Kit’

With parking only costing £6 and the spotters kit £3 it can be a really cheap day out. We took a picnic and made use of one of the hundreds of picnic benches and splashed out a little on those hot chocolates.

Well done Sherwood Forest, you gave us a wonderful day, entertained our children with some good old fashioned outdoor fun, yet brought to the table a little bit of magic. I would absolutely recommend this to absolutely any parent, not just those with little Gruffalo fans