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!

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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!!

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Milo’s Mummy x

How our holidays have changed now we have a baby !

So my husband and I have been together for ten years and we love to holiday! We love to chill by the pool, read a book in the sun whilst drinking cocktails. But oh how things have changed this year.

First of all it took me forever to actually book a holiday, spending hour after hour reading through reviews trying to find a resort that was perfect for what we wanted but also suitable for Matilda’s needs. So after a lot of research we booked the Blue Lagoon Princess in Halkidiki, Greece through Thomson.

So the first big change was the packing, oh my gosh do babies come with a lot of things. I’m used to having 20kg of luggage to myself and still going over. This year was very different, I had to decide what the absolute essentials where that I needed for the week, in order to make room for all of Matilda’s things.

I’m not normally fussy about where I sit on the plane and just wait until online check-in opens and hope that my husband and I can sit together. However, this year we paid for ‘seats together’, I write this in inverterted commas as Thomsons class two people sitting on two aisle seats with the aisle between them as ‘sitting together’ – I do not! As it was the first time flying with Matilda we wanted to make sure we were all sat together and not just one person left holding the baby. So we paid our extra for ‘seats together’ and set a reminder in our phones for 90 days before the flight to log on and be the first to choose our seats.

So the bags are packed, seats chosen and the day finally arrives to go on holiday – wohoooo. We normally drive to the airport and park the car at somewhere like jet parks. However, my dad decided that it was a silly idea for us to be parking  in the airport car park and then wait around for the transfer bus to the terminal in the middle of the night with a baby, instead he would transport us from door to door! This was great for us as it gave us an extra half hour in bed, and he even carried all the suitcases down to the car!

We arrived at the airport and the great thing about traveling with a baby is you get to go in the shorter security queue and board the plane first. As Matilda still drinks a lot of milk and needs sterilised water we were able to go through a special queue at security control as babies fluids are an exception to the 100ml fluids in your hand luggage rule. All the families with babies or little children boarded the plane first and handed their prams / strollers over to the airport staff. We however decided that we didn’t really want to be messing around with a pram in the airport and risk it getting damaged on the plane. So we decided to carry Matilda around in the sling whilst in the airport and hire a pram from the hotel through Thomsons – I would highly recommend this and it was a bargain at €10 for the week!

We arrived at our resort around lunchtime and with it being a Thomson’s Family Life resort the  animation team were outside waiting for our coach to arrive. We normally avoid the animation team like the plaque but Matilda’s face lit up when she spotted Thomson the dog! So we decided that this holiday we couldn’t avoid the animation team anymore and we would embrace the cheesiness by getting involved with the activities around the family pool. Matilda absolutely loved it. Everyday she would get so excited when having a splash around in the baby pool and she loved watching the older kids run around. Lucky for me my husband doesn’t mind spending time in the shade so that worked out well for me when I wanted to spend abit of time sun bathing.

Our evenings were very different but in a great way. Long gone are those days of getting dressed up, going out for a nice meal and staying out for wine and cocktails! This year we still all got a bit dressed up and would head out for food. Sometime between 8-9pm Matilda would get very grumpy, as this is way passed her normal bed time. So we would head back to our room and put her to bed. My husband and I would then have a few glasses of wine on our balcony whilst watching Matilda on the baby monitor.

So all in all this holiday was very different – but in a new amazing way. I would not change anything for the world. Matilda has absolutely loved it, she has made some great friends, relished the attention she has been given and most of all given us priceless memories.

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.

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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!

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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.

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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

The Ultimate Baby and Toddler Holiday Packing List

So summer is nearly here. That means it’s holiday time. Traveling with a little one can seem very daunting. We were pretty scared the first time we took the babies away as we are used to travelling around and living out of a backpack, so we thought traveling with the babies would mean traveling with everything including the kitchen sink. However, like most things it was never that bad, so we have put together a list of things you will need to pack for them:

On the Way (the journey there – road, air, train):

  • Car Seat
  • Car Window Shade
  • Pram
  • Pram Shade
  • Blanket
  • Baby Sling / Carrier (Milo and Matilda both love hanging out in their slings, they have the BabyBjorn and Connecta)
  • Soft Books
  • A New Toy (pick up a few new things from Poundland or ebay and as they will have never seen them before they will be entertained for at least an hour!)
  • Basic First Aid – Calpol, Teething gel, Plasters etc
  • Sunglasses (if you’re going somewhere warm hopefully the little one will need these as soon as you get off the plane)
  • Sun Hat
  • Sun Cream
  • Changing Bag – wipes, nappies, nappy bags, changing mat
  • Muslins / Swaddle clothes (we love bamboo breathable swaddles as they can be used for wiping up mess, a nursing cover, blanket, sun cover over the pram etc etc)
  • A change of baby / toddler clothes
  • A change of clothes for you incase of any accidents
  • A plastic bag for any type of random emergency uses
  • Ready-made bottles of formula – this sometimes can be ordered from the Boots store through security which can make things at security easier for you
  • Formula powder
  • Bottles / Teats
  • Bottle Warmer
  • Water
  • Lots of Bibs (if your little ones gets soaked from dribble then a great dribble bib should keep them dry for the whole journey)
  • Food Pouches (ALDI’S Mamia food pouches are very reasonable priced to stock up on for the journey)
  • Snacks – fruit etc
  • Feeding equipment – spoons, beakers
  • A good app to keep them entertained on your tablet or phone. Milo and Matilda love the ‘Baby TV‘ app and ‘Infant Zoo’ app
  • Hand Sanitiser
  • Milton Wipes (to wipe down high chairs and toys that have been dropped)
  • Passport
  • Travel Insurance
  • Don’t forget if you’re traveling in Europe you will need to add your little one on to your EHIC card.

On Holiday

  • Arm Bands, Pool Floats, Pool Toys
  • Swim Wear (M&S have some very very cute swim wear)
  • Swim Nappies
  • Baby / Toddler Shampoo and Bodywash (Milo and Matilda cannot recommend enough the Burts Bees – as its super soft and smells yummy)
  • A universal travel bath plug, for turning basins into baby baths
  • Hairbrush
  • Nail Scissors / Nail File
  • Toothpaste and Toothbrush
  • Travel Steriliser
  • Breast Pump
  • Pacifiers
  • Lots and lots of wipes
  • Toddler Reins
  • Beach Towels
  • UVA protection pop up tent
  • Plastic bags
  • Cot sheet
  • Sleep bag / Gro bag – don’t forget you will need the correct tog for the climate you will be visiting
  • Night Light
  • Baby Monitor
  • Travel Black Out Blinds
  • Lot of Sun Cream (the ones that are coloured are great to help you make sure the little one is fully covered, also its a good idea to test on your little ones skin before you travel to check for sensitivities)
  • After sun
  • Insect repellent/ after bite for insect bites
  • Extra Bottles and Teats
  • Cool Clothes for the Day
  • Warmer Clothes for the Evening
  • Sleepsuits / Pyjamas
  • Check your accommodation has a cot / cotbed ready for you

Hope you all have a lovely holiday wherever you may be heading off too.