The Family Travel Show Review

Dear Mummy, just before Christmas we visited The Family Travel Show in London. With the madness that was Christmas, we’ve only just sat down to go through our goody bags and have a look at some of the holiday brochures we … Continue reading

A better day

A better day

Dear mummy, today was a better day. For all of us. The sun was shining and you managed to finally get some shut-eye last night. Sleep helps to recharge your batteries, especially when you are feeling low. You feel selfish for sleeping over 12hrs yesterday, leaving childcare duties to Grandma and Daddy, but you were much better for it. Laughing and joking with me today.

You see, since we arrived in Ireland for the Christmas Holidays I haven’t been sleeping. 😦 It could be the change in routine, too much excitement or my final milk teeth coming through…it could be a wonder week as my speech is getting better…it could be anything.

I must admit I’ve had the whole household at their wit’s end! Lack of sleep leads to mutiny within the ranks and discord.

You’ve been low because of it and you hate hearing me cry all night. Big family gatherings are hard, too much pressure for everything to be ‘perfect’. Keeping up with the Jones’ with social media feeds full of gloating families about how wonderful their Christmases have been. PAH! Bah humbug. Real families have real issues.

Anyway, I digress. I saw you kissing Daddy today so I know you still love him, even though he’s still poorly sick. He even made you crack a smile 🙂

It’s all hands on deck to deal with this troublesome toddler (that’s me btw) It’s like a switch went off in my head as soon as we landed in Belfast. One minute I was serene and calm, the next I was transformed into this drooling sugar crazed monster. I can’t help myself, I know you know that.

I must have fallen asleep on your chest tonight as one minute I remember hearing you breathing and feeling you rub my back, the next I’m in this cold unfamiliar cot. It feels strange. I don’t like it.

So, shall I cry out tonight for comfort or just go back to sleep?

Stay tuned

Bella x

My ‘Baaaaaaa’ animal neck pillow

My ‘Baaaaaaa” Animal Neck Pillow

Dear Mummy, you are always on the eternal quest for sleep. To find products to help all of us sleep better, ear plugs for yourself, nose plugs to stop Daddy from snoring, night lights to keep the scary monsters away and the list goes on. You’ve known about a company that can help, they are masters in ‘pillow’ talk… well pillows of the fluffy kind. The company is called Theraline and they make clouds of sleepy joy!

Theraline Animal Neck Pillow They are best known for producing top quality breastfeeding pillows in a multitude of patterns and colours.

When my mummy was pregnant with me she used their pillow to pop between her legs to make it more comfortable to sleep at night and take the pressure off her hips.

She also continued to use it as a breastfeeding pillow and a soft cushion to prop me up. So we know the quality and longevity of Theraline products already. No other supplier seems to have a more extensive product range of pillows for maternity in one place.

However, today it’s the new kids range that we are reviewing. If you haven’t heard about Theraline they’ve been established since 1993 with the aim of offering high-quality maternity and well-being products at great prices. They are climate aware too and actively look to balance they CO2 emissions by putting money into environmental projects. All and all a good reputable company which makes it more reassuring to buy from.

The Theraline Animal Neck Pillow arrived in a clear plastic zipped case which looked super cute, I’ve already decided that when I’m not storing my pillow in it I’m going to use it to carry around my toys on long car trips. I spend ages playing with the zip on the bag until I realise that the pillow has been neatly folded and put onto the table.

At first glance it looks like a cuddly toy, it’s super soft and brilliant white, not so sure it will remain white for much longer though! I unfold my new friend and see that he is a sheep! That’s so cool I think! I point out his stitched nose and eyes and proceed to give him a big squeeze.

I love the way he feels and the sand-like Theraline Animal Neck Pillow sheepmicro-bead filling moulds to my grip and makes me giggle. I swing him around as he’s not too heavy and wear him like a bag over my shoulder; I don’t think I’ve got to grips with this whole ‘neck’ thing.

I spent the next 20 minutesTheraline Animal Neck Pillow  2 talking to him and preparing him an imagery drink, mainly to make him feel more at home. I fill the clear zip bag with my toys and carry him to the car.

The high functionality of this super cute ‘Baaaaa’ animal neck pillow means that I can play with him and go to sleep on him.

He’s a great travel pillow and I use him briefly for a head support. Unfortunately I start to dribble on him and make him wet, which I don’t like and take him off to inspect the wet patches.

However he’s easy to wash and wipe clean, good thing too with a messy pup like me using him! Funnily enough I use him more outside the car to play with than to sleep on, but on longer car journeys my mummy will help me put him on, to save my head from lolling around the car seat. It would be good if Theraline introduced some more characters to their range like a pink pig and a green crocodile!

He would make a nice little Christmas present for any child that likes to ‘nod off’ in strange and unusual places!

Love Bella x

Family Fever

Our safari trip to Marwell Hotel

Dear mummy, we’ve had a great time at Marwell Wildlife (Zoo) seeing the dinosaurs, so what better way to end the day than a stay across the beaten track at Marwell Hotel. It’s a hop, skip and jump from the entrance to the zoo and there is oodles of parking.

Marwell

The hotel is 15 minutes from Winchester Train Station and 10 minutes from Southampton Airport. We stay on a Friday night and the hotel is at 80% capacity. Marwell Hotel has 68 bedrooms and an award-winning restaurant too!

We check in at 5pm when the zoo closes for the day and are greeted with friendly reception staff who offer to help mummy and I with our luggage. Mummy pushes the buggy right up to the front door as the hotel has good access for limited mobility, however they could do with some more automatic doors nearer the accommodation areas.

Front of Marwell Hotel

We have the buggy and one rucksack, as daddy is joining us after work with a suitcase. Coming straight from the zoo we are soggy and cold. The hotel lobby is warm and inviting. It looks like a large safari lodge with giant wooden beams and wood panels and lots of safari artwork on the walls. As the sun comes out we look through the giant windows and it looks like we are abroad. It’s very green my mummy thinks! When we leave the lobby area we walk into a long corridor that leads us down into the accommodation buildings, each one has it’s own name too. All the rooms are surrounded by 60 acres of woodland and it is very peaceful.

Marwell Hotel Rooms

One helpful staff member even opens all the doors for us and leads us up to the Giraffe Pavilion where we are staying. She even carries my buggy up the stairs on her own while mummy carries me in her arms. What a star! First class service! We should have left the buggy in the car, my mummy thinks, but it just goes to show that it’s relativity easy to go from looking at animals in the zoo to your hotel room in less than 5 minutes! Great access from Marwell Wildlife. We have opted to stay in an executive room, as we didn’t really want to take up a large family room as it’s only me and my parents. We don’t need bunk beds and loads of room. The hotel staff have kindly put a travel cot in our room ready for our arrival.

Marwell Hotel Room

We stay in room 214 and when we get there we are greeted with an impeccable room! It’s so clean and tidy, a little on the hot side, but there’s a fan to cool the room down. Not really kiddy safe, but then what hotel rooms are?!? We love the Cosatto Monster Travel cot for our room (funnily enough this was the one mummy and daddy had their eye on to buy!) so we get to road test it. The staff had also left us a kiddies activity pack, with crayons and a colouring in book, which was a nice thought. There are kettle facilities in the room and a nice little bathroom with bath and mummy enjoys a long hot soak in and I have a quick play in. No slip mat so I have to be carefully in it. No mini bar or fridge, so we have to use the communal fridge on the landing right outside our room. It’s stacked with fresh milk and fruit. Yummy!

Sleep time

When daddy turns up from work, we have some playtime in the room as it’s big enough for me to have a little run around in. When we mentioned earlier that the room is not baby safe, it’s mainly because of the handles on the drawers as they stick out and the TV wires are hanging down the side of the wall, but then this is an executive room not a family room, so it’s probably unusual for babies to be in here. I sit down and write a letter to the hotel management…like an executive! Hehe.

When it’s bedtime after my lovely bath, mummy my gives me my bottle in the armchair.  We turn the lights down low, keeping to my bedtime routine. I get sleepy eyes and start to yawn. It’s been such a busy day seeing all the animals and dinosaurs that I’m very tired. We play the sneaky cow peek-a-boo game on the landing in the hotel and run back into our hotel room with giggles.

Mummy’s transformed the room into darkness and all I can see is my blue night-light and the green shining stars from my turtle night-light on the ceiling. It’s just like my room at home. All nice and snug as a bug in a rug. Mummy and daddy have tested the Angel Care monitor and know the distance it will travel, they put me down in the travel cot with big kisses and I drift off while they wait outside.

Sausages

My mummy and daddy lock the room and retire down to the lobby bar, where they enjoy a fabulous meal on the mezzanine. They both enjoy dinner in the lobby area and have outstanding Ambrose Sausages and Mash which has won awards, they later inform me that it tasted great. The waiters are very friendly and the food is delivered fast…..I mean, really fast! It’s lovely and looks/smells wonderful. It was very nice that the staff accommodated us as we couldn’t go into the restaurant due to the baby monitor reception.

Reception at Marwell

Bliss… Mummy and daddy think. They remain down at the lobby and use the free wifi and watch all the wedding hotel guests arrive for a wedding at the zoo the following day.

All ages are at this hotel. Mummy and daddy see a young family and their baby in the lobby area at 10ish, the mother is breast feeding her newborn. My mummy reminisces of a time when she used to feed me like that. My parents check in on me every 30 mins to make sure I’m sleeping soundly and that everything is ok. It’s less than a minute walk from the lobby area to the room.

Cheese board 2

Mummy tells me that when they sneak back later after their meal they feel happy and content, having had a lovely meal and a relaxing couple of drinks. I sleep peaceful through the night only waking once to turn over and talk in my sleep.

The next morning I’m up bright and breezy at 6am, I’m jumping up and down in my travel cot excited about the day ahead. A very sleep mummy and daddy feed me my bottle and give me a nappy change and we head down to breakfast.

Breakfast was from 07:30 til 10:30, so we kill a little bit of time kicking my football up and down the long corridors that join the buildings, far away from the rooms and sleeping guests. It’s great fun and I peer out of the floor to ceiling glass windows outside into the dreary wet woods *I pretend it’s a jungle to make it more fun* we spot some bunnies and squirrels running around too.

Breakfast at Marwell Hotel

Breakfast was a continental and cooked breakfast. The spread was great and the hotel staff even provided Ella’s KItchen fruit puree which was a nice touch. Great sausages and bacon for brekkie, I help myself to some scrabbled egg and toast as well. All the food was piping hot and they waiters were quick serving tea and coffee. It was a very relaxed breakfast. But could have done with some beans and hash browns, daddy thinks.

Afterwards mummy and daddy take me for a little swim in the hotels spa. It’s just before my morning nap so I’m a little bit tried but I take a dip in the pool with daddy while mummy relaxes in the jacuzzi. Afterwards mummy puts me down for a nap and they head to the lounge area to catch up with the morning papers and have another cup of tea.

Swimming pool at Marwell Hotel

Mummy watches the monitor closely and checks on me every 20 minutes. I sleep until after 11am and the hotel staff offer us some extra time in the room to pack everything up. We stay an extra 30mins than the usual 11am check out, which is a nice gesture… No one likes waking a sleep baby!

Bar area at Marwell Hotel

On the way out we notice that the hotel actually has a kids games room, but at that time it wasn’t open which was a shame as we could have played in there. From what we can see through the locked doors they had a table tennis table, drum machine, a TV,  board games and a games console. I must admit though, this side of the hotel looked a bit tired, the floor boards creaked and walls could have done with a lick of paint.

Marwell Hotel Corridor

On checkout there were no queues and the reception staff let me sit on the desk and chat to them while mummy and daddy settled the bill. I was kicking my legs eager to go into the sunshine and explore the zoo again.

Giraffe Pavillion

A great hotel stay and a lovely mini-break for my parents who found their stay at Marwell very relaxing and the staff accommodating. Great location, next to the zoo and close to the M3 corridor with oodles of space. The executive rooms are of a high standard and very clean from what we saw! The food was fantastic too! All in all a lovely beginning to the Bank Holiday weekend. Thanks Marwell Hotel, we will be back!

www.marwellhotel.co.uk

Bella xx

Family Fever

A quick snap shot of my spring heatwave weekend

A quick snapshot of my Spring heatwave weekend.

Dear mummy, I’m being lazy as there is too much to tell you this weekend. We did some great stuff, visiting RHS Garden Wisley and the National Trust’s The Vyne and Cliveden. Phew! I could do with putting up my little feet and enjoying a stiff bottle of milk!

Heres a couple of photos of our weekend 🙂

The view from the wood of Cliveden House

The view from the woods of Cliveden House

 

Swans at The Vyne

Swans at The Vyne

 

Crocuses at RHS Wisley

Crocuses at RHS Garden Wisley

My first Trip to RHS Garden Wisley

My first trip to RHS Garden Wisley.

Friday, March 7, 2014.

Glass house 3Dear mummy, the word on the grapevine (well the world of Twitter) was that The Royal Horticutural Society (RHS) had a free entrance day across the country at their venues. MITK (Mothers in the know) highlighted this little gem on Friday morning and as the weather was so beautiful, mummy and I decided to go. The quickest way for us was up the M3 onto the dredded M25 and down the A3. Mummy was surprised just how well we were doing until we hit the A3.

Queues of traffic stacked up from RHS Wisley back up to the A3, oh dear we thought, hope it’s not too busy. We were wrong. The place was stacked. It seems everyone got the same Twitter message that RHS Wisley were opening up their doors for free today, saving a fee of £12. We queued for about 20 minutes to get into the carpark and thankfully I was dozing in and out of sleep, but mummy was frazzled by the time we got parked up.

The LabSo the first mistake – mummy decided to leave the buggy and carry me in her wrap, little did she know that I had other plans today…. As soon as we got pass the gates I wanted out and down walking with the rest of the little people. This is fine, but it was a VERY long walk to our objective which was the Glass House.

On the way we saw the old house (Laboratory) and the canal. The canal was a large rectangular shaped pond with a fountain in the middle of it. Looked very pretty in the midday sun.

The CanalMummy carried me for a little while until I saw my next adventure, climbing the steps of the Rock Garden up to the Model Vegetable Garden. I thought this was great fun, climbing up all the little stone stairs. Mummy on the other hand was not impressed having counted 30 or so steps and having to hold onto my hand for dear life as I dragged her up the steep hill.

We stopped occasionally to look at the water falls and small flowers and before we knew it we were at the top looking down across the Rock Garden towards the Glass House. From this vantage point we could see how busy it was. Streams of mothers with pushchairs queue the pathways and families were sat outside eating at the Glass House Cafe.

The Glass HouseWe continued with our journey back down the hill, baby steps. Walking past the Wild Garden, mummy made a note to visit it, once she had gone back to the car and retrieved the sensible buggy. No map was handed out at the entrance so we were just following the crowds and occasionally looking at the signposts. We finally (after 30 minutes of baby walking) made our way to the Glass House.

An impressive glass structure only recently opened by the Queen in 2007. It’s was funded by private donations and entrance fees and was built to celebrate the RHS Bicentenary. It holds, not only the butterflies we are here to see today, but a world class collection of Orchids and Tropical Plants.

The Glass House FlowerIn the Glass House we enjoyed exploring the subterranean world of roots in a dark damp area. It was an interactive learning zone in an underground cavern. It demonstrated the importance of roots in plant life and how they are often forgotten but very integral to the longevity of plant life.

I liked the way the area was set up and enjoyed looking at all the screens, green lights and touching the twisted sculptural roots. Much fun was had in this area.

ButterflyWe ventured out into the bright light of the Glass House and decided to join the short queue to gain entry to see the butterflies. Mistake number two – we thought the queue wasn’t going to take long….it took nearly 1 hour!!! No pushchairs are allowed in the Glass House, lucky because we didn’t have one on us anyway. Mummy wrapped me in her sling for the first 20 mins and kept me occupied, but it wasn’t long in the dull, boring queue that I wanted to go for a walk and get down.

It was hot and sticky in the Glass House queue and people were getting impatient with several families bailing out after a 30 minute wait, we questioned why we were still queuing. Mummy let me have a little walk around while a nice person in the queue held our spot, then suddenly we were at the front.

OrchidInside the Butterfly House it was very hot, no buggys we’re allow due to large Tropical Plants and thin paths. Mummy carried me around and pointed out the butterflies floating above our heads. They were very beautiful, swooping down to eat pineapple and other sweet fruits.

Mummy took some great snaps to show daddy when we got home. The butterflies would only be at RHS until the 9th March so I was glad that mummy took me to see them, it was worth the visit.

As we escaped the humidity of the Butterfly House we walked through a garden of Orchids. I have never seen so many in such a small space. The RHS sure did a good job looking after all these plants.

SleepyAn overdue lunch break leads us to a very busy Glass House Cafe, luckily we manage to grab a baby high chair, but there are not many left and we see parents struggle to find some. Mummy didn’t have any cake, as she’s given up cake for Lent (very brave with all the lovely cakes on offer mummy!!)

We decide to head back to the car to get the buggy and mummy carries me in her wrap. I don’t remember getting back to the car, I just remember waking up in my buggy and mummy wheeling me around Seven Acres and the pond.

DaffodilsOne of our favourite finds in Seven Acres were the Wildfire grasses, which were yellow with red tips and they looked awesome against the green and browns. Behind them we could see the lake and the Chinese Pavillion which was built in 2005. Lots of people were sat on benches soaking in the sunshine. Lots of daffiolds were in bloom in the Wild Garden and we stopped to look and smell them. Snowdrops were also still poking their heads up from the soil. We also noticed crocuses and primroses. My favourite flowers were the purple Toothwort with thin star petals. Very pretty.

Playing with flowersOn our way back to the car, mummy let me have a little walk before our long jouney. So much to see and do, we didn’t get round half of the site before it was time to go home and beat all the Friday traffic. Next time we will bring daddy and a picnic blanket. I think we will be regular visitors hopefully returning in June to see the roses.

Thanks for putting on this free day RHS, even though it was very busy we still enjoyed seeing the butterflies and the beautiful flowers.

Bella x