Our April

Our April

I’ve recently seen a few people do the month in review Blog Posts and I love the idea. It’s so nice to have a record & see all the things you have got up to. All the little days out get forgotten so it’s lovely to look back on.

We started the month with Easter Sunday, we had dinner at my Mum & Dad’s and a park trip to burn off the millions of eggs Finn had ate.

We then had an amazing swimming lesson from Finn, which was a big turning point. He was really nervous and held onto his teacher when he first started but this was the point he slowly began to make progress and gain confidence m.

We had a trip to Bents Garden Centre in Warrington which Finn loved, there’s a fab park & a lovely cafe.

I then ended up in hospital for 2 nights with tonsillitis, I think though I was really run down. I’d been working loads & doing a lot of late nights & early starts. Luckily a few days later we went on our Amazing holiday to Costa Teguise in Lanzarote. We stayed at the HD Beach resort which you can read about here.

When we come home we met my Mum & Dad in Chorlton & went for food & a play in the park.

Another day another park visit, followed by Finn’s favourite coffee & cake.

We went to Messy Mallie’s which is about 20 minutes away from us in Buckley. It was brilliant and Finn loved painting his own money box.

After the Easter holidays we were entitled to more hours at nursery. I was sad in one way as Finn stared doing more days so we lost a day in the week together. It’s meant though that I’ve gone from doing 4/5 late nights a week to 1/2. I’ve loved the little things like us having tea together as a family & doing bath, story & bed time.

Finn’s first go at Crazy Golf, followed by a Wagamama’s.

A visit to Little Al’s Urban farm in Eastham. We love it here.

Yet more amazing swimming from Finn, he’s managing to swim now with just the woggle & not holding on to his teacher.

Finally a zoo trip, we are members of Chester Zoo so we go all the time. This time Finn played in the sand & water for over an hour.

Disneyland Paris, the best rides, attractions & shows for a 3 year old

Disneyland Paris, the best rides, attractions & shows for a 3 year old

Finn was about 27 months the first time we went to Disneyland and turned 3 the second time we were there. These are the main rides, attractions & shows he loved & were the most suitable for his age.

Alice’s Curious Labyrinth- We all loved this where you work your way around Alice’s labyrinth to get to the Queen of heart castle. The view from the top around the park are amazing.

Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast- Finn’s a big toy story fan so this was one of his favourites. The queues can get quite big so we went in this using a fast pass and during extra magic hours.

Cars quatre rallye- Finn loved the cars theming of this one, I get quite travel sick so sat this one out. Queues were normally about 10/15 minutes.

Casey Jr. – this is a lovely little train ride, It was really quiet whenever we went on this.

Disneyland Railroad- We loved this, we went all the way round the park on it and you get some really good views. You can also use it to get to the different areas of the park. It always seemed to be really busy even in quiet times but we went on first thing one morning and the queues weren’t as big.

Dumbo- Finn loved flying round on the elephant, the queues never seemed to be really big for this.

It’s a small world- My favourite, even though you end up stuck with the tune in your head for days. The queues were never massive but if you stand near here to watch the parade you get a good view for that & can then walk pretty much on it’s a small world.

Le Carrousel de Lancelot- a traditional merry-go- round, Finn really enjoyed this and there was rarely a big queue.

Flying carpets over Agrabah- this was in the Studio’s you fly on a magic carpet on an Aladdin themed rides. It can get busy.

Mad Hatter’s tea cups- this was another of Finn’s favourites, the cup of tea ride he called it. This was another quiet ride.

Orbitron- Here you can ride in a rocket, the queues for this one always seem longer than they say so be prepared to wait but Finn loved it.

Peter Pan’s flight – this is a lovely ride but can get really busy. We got fast passes for this which I’d definitely recommend doing.

Pirates of the Caribbean – I was really nervous about this one as I though Finn would be scared but apart from a few drops it was quite gentle & we all loved it. We were quite lucky to just walk on this a few times.

Ratatouille- this was another favourite of ours, it gets busy but you can get fast pass. There is WiFi in the studios so we used the Disneyland app to check wait times and managed to just walk onto this one day.

Slinky Dog- Finn loved this being a toy story fan and we managed to just walk on it quite a few times. I suffer with motion sickness and this did make me feel a bit sick.

Thunder Mesa riverboat Landing- I loved this boat ride & definitely recommend you go on this. It’s a lovely little ride round which you don’t expect & has loads of little things to look at.

Toy soldiers parachute drop- I thought this would be really scary but we all loved it, you also get a fab but quick view of the castle! It can get busy.

Moteurs Action Stunt Show- This was a massive hit, Finn’s face when lightening came out was one of the highlights of our trip.

Mickey and the Magician- This is a lovely show and definitely worth going to if it’s on, true Disney magic.

Mickey presents Happy Anniversary Disneyland Paris- a fab show located on the stage near the castle. Finn loved all the Characters and them all waving.

Disneyland Paris, My top 10 tips

Disneyland Paris, My top 10 tips

The first time we went I read loads on Facebook groups and got advice of people who had already been. It can feel really overwhelming before you go as you want to cram everything possible in. Here’s a list of my top ten tips, there’s probably loads I’ve not covered but it’s just a few things we found useful.

Parade – the best place we found to stand for the parade Is outside the Pizzeria Bella Notte in Fantasyland or near start of the parade near it’s a small world. That way once it’s finished you can get on a few of the rides in Fantasyland with no queues. I think it’s absolutely worth getting there just one day 30/45 minutes early to get to the front as you get brilliant interaction.

Illuminations – Again I’d say just one day get there 30 minutes or so early for the fireworks just to get the best view. We sat on a bench just behind the statue of Goofy & Pluto and had an amazing view. We were there about 45 minutes early but Stu just took Finn off to a ride & for popcorn so he didn’t get too fed up. Another good spot was by the rope near the castle stage.

Snack packs/ drinks – we took quite a few snacks with us & little things for Finn to have in the queues. We also took water bottles to fill up as drinks can be quite dear. We took little sachets of coffee to have in the room as well as there’s none provided. Things we took for snack packs were crisp,cereal bars, raisins, little sweets, mini cookies, individually wrapped brioche etc.

Layers/ waterproofs – This obviously depends what time of year you go but we went in April & January and have had really changeable weather. At one point in January it was warm enough for just a jumper. Definitely take plenty of layers as it can get hot in queues if you’re all wrapped up and take waterproofs. The ponchos they sell are really expensive, we took Finn’s puddle suit.

Rough plan/ list – some people say go without a plan but I found it useful to make a note of what shows I wanted to see and the times. Also what rides we wanted to do in each of the different lands or areas of the studios so we wasn’t doing too much walking about between rides or meet & greets.

The picture – I’d seen loads of people getting a picture of the castle & an empty Main Street after the illuminations and was desperate to get one. We hung around after the illuminations had finished for about half an hour and just went in the shops. We were then able to get the picture.

App- the Disneyland app was brilliant, we were able to check the queue times and a few times just walked on the main rides.

Take fancy dress from home – we took all Finn’s costumes from home as they were so much cheaper than buying them in the parks. You also get brilliant character intervention when they are dressed up and all the cast members make a fuss. It’s also fab for pictures.

Personalised autograph book & pen- I ordered Finn a personalised autograph book from eBay and it’s lovely to keep for the memories. Take your own pen as well as these were expensive on the parks, a sharpie is easier for the characters to hold.

Spare battery for camera & a portable charger for phone – I took millions of pictures so made sure I had a spare battery for my camera & a portable phone charger was really handy as we spent really long days in the park.

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Erddig Wrexham

Cadbury’s Easter Egg Hunt at Erddig Wrexham

We recently joined the National trust hoping to have lots of family days out. We are quite lucky that we are within an hour of some amazing National trust properties. We are also planning some U.K. breaks this year so it will be handy to take our cards with us incase there is any properties close by.

I joined by Direct Debit so pay £10 a month for a family membership, I like this option to spread the cost & knowing we can always have a free/cheap day out.

Over the Easter Weekend we decided to do the Cadbury’s Egg Hunt at Erddig in Wrexham. This is the first time we have visited and we loved it. We were with friends so had a few children in the group so just stayed in the ground. The gardens are beautiful with loads of trees, flowers & a lake. The kids loved running around and it was all really safe for them.

Our favourite bit was there 2.5 Hectare natural play area the Wolf’s Den. It was brilliant and I reckon we spent a good hour in there, we could have been there longer as well if we didn’t want to finish the egg hunt. There’s den building, loads of stepping stones, a wooden play shop, a rope swing & plenty more. They run activities in here throughout the year like tree climbing & den building so we will definitely be back to try some of these.

We didn’t get a chance to try any of the cafe facilities (except for a coffee, which was a good strong coffee) but we will definitely be trying these next time we are back as they looked really good.

We all really enjoyed the Easter egg hunt, we were given a map and had to follow the trail looking for signs of Spring. At the end they kids were all given a full size Cadbury’s egg.

We really enjoyed our visit to Erddig and will definitely be back soon to make the most of our membership.

Disneyland Paris, Our favourite restaurants

Disneyland Paris, Our favourite restaurants

One thing I really worried about before we went to Disneyland Paris the first time was the price of food. I’d heard people say they had spent £1000+ in a few days and this just wasn’t in the budget for us. There was no dining plan offer when we went and it was expensive to add one so we decided to just go with it and hope for the best. Both times we’ve been we’ve spent around £400 (excluding a few pre booked meals) including drinks etc.. It’s obviously not the cheapest place but you can do it without spending the huge amounts people say. We could have done it on even more of a budget if we tried as well. Here’s the places we ate at and enjoyed.

Breakfast – the first time we stayed we had breakfast included at Santa Fe, I personally wouldn’t go for this unless you get it included as I found it quite crowded & chaotic. We made do with a coffee in the room and then just grabbed something in the park when we were up the second time we went.

Annette’s- We really enjoyed Annette’s, it’s themed around an old school American diner with the staff on roller-skates. This is definitely the place We queued the longest and it was always busy after the fireworks so be prepared to queue for a while. The portions are massive, we shared 2 of the Jukebox menu’s between the 3 of us and there was more than enough food. This is €29 and included a starter, main and brownie for pudding. Finn loved the brownie.

McDonald’s breakfast – the second time we visited we didn’t have Breakfast included and Finn choose McDonald’s for his birthday breakfast as they did pancakes. I know it’s not the healthiest but we were really surprised how good value it was. It cost us €16 and for that me and Stu had meal each with a bacon & egg muffin, pancakes, coffee and juice and Finn had pancakes, hot chocolate & juice and it definitely kept us going for a while.

Rainforest cafe – We all loved the theming of the Rainforest Cafe. Finn especially loved the fish & monkeys. It is a little on the expensive side, they do have some set menus though which are a bit cheaper. We all really enjoyed our food though and would say it’s worth the expense once on your visit. Our bill came to around €80 for a children’s meal with drink & dessert, a beer, a cocktail, a shared starter and 2 mains.

Vapianos- We love Vapiano’s and find it really fresh & tasty and good value. The portions are quite big so Finn shared with us we had a pasta & pizza dish and with 3 drinks it came to about €35. The ordering system can be a little chaotic as you have to go up separately for pizza & pasta and then get buzzed when your food is ready but it’s well worth it.

Five Guys – this is another restaurant located in Disney village. We shared again between the 3 of us and 2 burgers, a large chips and 2 drinks was €40, a bit on the expensive side for a burger but they are really fresh & big portions.

Inventions, Disneyland Hotel – This is by far my favourite Dining experience we have done at Disney. We went for lunch for Finn’s birthday and Mickey, Minnie and the staff brought out a cake and sang to his (I Pre booked this for about €25) it was such a special moment. Inventions is expensive at €65 for an adult and €35 for a child but we added it at the time of booking so we could spread the cost. The character interaction was brilliant and they came round a few times. We got plenty of photos and Finn’s booked signed. The food was lovely as well there was Beef, king prawns, loads of salad, cheese, desserts etc.. definitely the one to do if you do one character meal.

Caseys’s Corner- This is on Main St with an area to eat inside or an outdoor eating area. The hot dogs are really nice traditional American ones & it came to around £35 for 2 hot dogs, 2 chips, nuggets & 2 drinks.

Glowtini- I loved the Glowtini cocktails which are quite fruity & come with a light up ice cube. We stayed in Santa Fe and apparently this is the cheapest place to have one.

Fuento del Orto- we ate here on the last day by chance as we were in Frontierland and had time before we had to head back for our taxi. I’m really glad we did as it was really nice Mexican food. It came to €32 and we had Nachos and 2 set meals including drinks & a side or yogurt. This was plenty for the 3 of us.

Toad Hall- this is a fish & chip restaurant in Fantasyland. We all really enjoyed it and got the Double to share with a few extra sides.

Cable car bake shop- this is on Main Street and Finn loved the Nutella muffins. They do all sorts of Disney themed cakes & snacks.

Plaza Gardens- on our first visit we had the character breakfast here. I really enjoyed it but after doing the lunch at inventions I’d say that’s definitely the better of the two. You still get the characters coming to your table but it just felt a little rushed compared to inventions and they only seem to come round once. The breakfast was really good though with an amazing selection. I’d still do the breakfast again if we got a deal but would definitely pick the lunch if we could.

Buffalo Bills- On our first visit we did Buffalo Bills Wild West show and loved it, Finn was just over 2 and he really enjoyed it but it is really noisy. The show was brilliant with character appearances and we all really enjoyed the food. You get drinks re fills as well. It’s definitely a fun experience and is really interactive.

Earl of Sandwich- We love Earl of Sandwich and normally end up eating here a few times. They do really nice sandwiches with loads of options and it’s always really quick & reasonable prices. They do a meal deal for about €12 or you can just get the sandwiches on there own.

The Enchantment of Chester Zoo 

The Enchantment of Chester Zoo 

In the run up to Halloween Chester Zoo staged a special event ‘The Enchantment of Chester Zoo’ as members we were able to attend this event for free. 

The Zoo had been cast under the spell of an evil sorcerer and it was our job to help save it. The event started with an introduction by various characters to explain what had happened and how we could save the zoo. This was brilliant and so interactive. 

We had to visit 3 animals the tarantulas, aardvarks and the bats learning a fact at each animal in order to receive some potion. At the end all the potion was added to a big cauldron and we received a certificate to thank us for saving the zoo. 

Finn really enjoyed the day, even though he didn’t fully understand the tasks he loved all the characters and it was an opportunity for us to visit animals we wouldn’t normally go to. 

The Autumn & early winter (as well as spring) are definitely my favourite times to visit the zoo as it is quieter and looks beautiful with the changing seasons. I’d definitely recommend a visit at this time of year if you can. 

Autumn Walks 

Autumn Walks 

This Autumn/Winter I am making a resolution for us all to get outdoors more. I normally hate the cold weather and am definitely a sun lover. This year though I have a whole new appreciation as I am seeing it through Finn’s eyes. 

Finn loves puddle jumping, leaf stomping, collecting leaves, conkers & sticks, in fact he just loves the outdoors in general. He is happiest when he can run around and I love that he can burn off some of his endless energy and get some fresh air. 

So I have decided that we need to get outdoors as often as we can even if we wrap up and get outside for 10 minutes. I have discovered a lot more of our local area doing this. What are your favourite Autumn & Winter outdoor activities? I’d love some inspiration. 

Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

This August Bank holiday weekend we headed to the Lakes to stay at The Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge near Lake Windemere.  We love this hotel and have visited a few times. I always leave feeling totally relaxed. this time we went with my parents.

 

Me and my Mum started the break with an Espa Intensive facial. This treatment was so relaxing and totally worth every penny. As a Beauty Therapist I don’t always enjoy treatments as I  often think how I would do them different or what I can add to my treatments  but I was able to totally switch off during my facial. The Pool is also a lovely place to relax with a sauna, steam room and hot tub.

One of my favourite things about the Hotel is the riverside location,it is so peaceful. We were lucky to have nice weather so we were able to enjoy a drink in the afternoon sat by the side of the river.

 

We stayed in a ground floor room called a ‘lovely room’ this had everything we needed including some lovely ESPA toiletries for us to use thoughout our stay. There was plenty of room to put Finn’s travel cot.

I love the different  lounges in The Swan and we made full use of the playroom, there was a TV, books and toys Finn loved it. Following the recent refurbishment there is now a pool table which is a lovely touch when staying as a family.


Every time we visit we always notice how warm and welcoming the staff are, every member of staff you pass will greet you and they always make time for conversation. If we ever have any requests I always feel like they go out of their way for you.

 

In the evening we ate at the Swan Inn and all of us really enjoyed our meals, I had the ‘on toasts’ to start which included various toppings like avocado, egg and capers. I then had the chicken and chorizo paella. Both were really tasty. Another thing I love about The Swan is the breakfast. There is a buffet with cereal, fruit, yogurt, pastries etc.. then there is a selection of cooked food to pick from.

 


We took advantage of the lovely weather on the Bank Holiday Monday to visit some of the local area before we headed home. The first place we visited was Hawkshead a lovely pedestriansed village. There are plenty of shops,cafes and pubs to visit. We then headed to Coniston, the lake here is stunning, defintrly worth a visit. We could have happily spent a day by the lake if we didn’t have to get back as there was so much going on.

At luch time we headed to Chesters by the River an amazing cafe, deli and shop. we sat on the terrace which has beautiul views over the river. My parents had stumbled across this the last time they were in the area, it was a bit out of the way for us to visit but was defintely worth it.

The last stop on our trip was Kirkby Lonsdale, to see  the beautiful Ruskin’s view. this was well worth the drive and walk and I loved photographing such a stunning landscape.

 

I can’t wait for our next visit to the Lake District, which places do you love to visit when you are there?

 

Mattel Play, Liverpool 

Mattel Play, Liverpool 

We love Mattel Play, in Liverpool. We visited a few weeks ago for the second time and Finn had a brilliant time. 


It’s located on the Albert Dock and has Thomas the Tank, Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam themed play areas. We booked online and entry cost £19 for the 3 of us. Each session lasts 2 hours. 


Finn’s favourite is Thomas, there’s a ball pool, a pedal operated train, large models of the engines & plenty of other activities. He loved this section and was so excited to see the characters. 


We even got to meet Fireman Sam, he came out onto the stage area and danced to the theme tune. The children could then have their photo taken with him. Finn ran straight to the front. 


Bob the builder is ideal for older children as it has more activities they can get involved in like drawing, mega blocks and hand operated diggers. Finn still really enjoyed this section though. 


Fireman Sam is the last area you come to. This has a slide, a replica shop, a fireman’s pole, a model boat & fire engine. Finn loved sitting in the fire engine and pretending to drive. 


We spent about an hour and a half there but would have happily spent the full 2 hours if Finn wasn’t tired. We visited each section twice. It is definitely excellent value for money and we will be regular visitors. 

In the Night Garden Live

In the Night Garden Live

We had an amazing day at In the Night Garden Live at the Trafford Centre. Finn was so excited as soon as we got in the Showdome, As there is projections on the ceiling of the Ninky Nonk. It ran really smoothly getting to your seats and there was a countdown to the show. The seating is  steps with plenty of room so he could move around. 


The show was brilliant and it was lovely to see how excited all the children got as the charachters came onto the stage. 


We bought Finn an Iggle Piggle teddy and a balloon which came to £17.50 expensive but probably about the same as similar attractions. 

​I’d definitely recommend booking the meet the character experience Finn loved meeting Iggle Piggle. You choose one character and the time slot  is in order of who booked first. We booked last minute so had about an hours wait. You get a text with a link  so  you can track how long is left. 

I’d definitely recomend for any In the Night Garden fans, we had a lovely day. ​