Thursday 1 September 2016

The Parent Pod Launching Tonight 6pm!

I am so excited to be part of a brand new parent You Tube channel, The Parent Pod launching tonight at 6pm.
The lovely Hayley from Sparkles & Stetchmarks posted on Facebook a couple of months ago asking who would like to be involved in a new collaborative You Tube channel. I really enjoy making videos so was really keen to be part of an online community for parents.
We will be covering a range of topics aimed at parents with children of all ages from birth stories, to toddler life, to the teen years!
You can view our trailer below
You can subscribe to our channel here and keep up to date with new videos by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Friday 19 August 2016

Our Break At Disneyland Paris

As a child I would plead to visit Disneyworld in Florida, it was somewhere I'd always heard about being magical and was eager to visit and meet all the characters. When I was 15 my mum and dad took me there over Christmas but I was a moody, hormonal, unappreciative teenager then and don't think I truly appreciated the magical experience I was lucky enough to have.
It hadn't really crossed my mind to visit Disneyland in Paris until I noticed a bargain deal one Sunday afternoon. It came out at less than £500 for the three of us to stay in Disney's Santa Fe Hotel with breakfast, three day hopper passes into both parks and included return ferry crossing during the school holidays. I then priced it on the Disneyland Paris site and it came out at over a £1000 but that did include dinner.
It seemed like a no brainer as we wanted a summer getaway out of England and knew it would appeal to Eliot so I booked it.
On the 7th of August we headed down to Dover which was a fairly long drive but we were pleasantly surprised we didn't encounter any horrendous traffic like had been reported a couple of weeks earlier.

 The crossing was smooth and took around an hour and a half. Eliot absolutely loved being on the ferry and couldn't keep still, a success for the start of his first break abroad!
We then embarked on the three and a half hour drive to the hotel which I wasn't looking forward to!
 Thankfully there wasn't much traffic but as France is an hour ahead it meant our arrival would be pretty late. We stopped off for food around 8:30pm at a motorway service station but there wasn't a lot on offer and it seemed to be winding down for the evening so we decided to try the next service station which turned out to be closed. So that's something to note if you're planning a trip to France and arrive in the evening. The petrol garages were still open so you could still get hold of sandwiches. Unfortunately there wasn't anything Eliot would have eaten so we continued our journey hoping to come across a McDonalds! As we were switching motorways coming up to Paris there was a sign for KFC which also turned out to be a couple doors down from a McDonalds so dinner was finally sorted even if it was really late!

We finally arrived at the Santa Fe hotel just before midnight, we were all knackered! We were greeted by security after they'd finished rolling their eyes at me because I attempted to drive in on the wrong side! I was still getting my bearings driving on the other side of the road. Security checked our booking and looked in the boot of the car before allowing us to enter.
Next stop was reception where we were met by a very pleasant 'Disney Cast Member' who gave us our park tickets and character breakfast tickets along with a map and our room key. The hotel was a lot bigger than I imagined with different 'blocks' all named after the characters in Disney's cars, we were in McQueen!
After a little bit of faffing with the room key card, we were finally in! 

 The room was immaculately clean with the theme of cars throughout. There was plenty of space to put things away with a rail for hanging clothes along with a large chest of drawers. There was a safe for locking away valuables but we didn't use it as the other half had read a review about things being stolen, I'm not sure if it was one review or more but we kept our money and passports with us.
There was a TV with mostly French channels but a couple were in English and two double beds.
The bathroom had clean towels and complimentary toiletries, I just loved the hair and body wash with the Mickey Mouse ears lid! There was also a hairdryer in there which I wasn't expecting which was very handy as I hadn't bought my own. There was a bath with a shower which was ideal for us as Eliot has a shower phobia! 
Even though it was so late Eliot was so excited being in a new room it took him a while to get settled, even when he was in bed it took him ages to get to sleep considering he hadn't napped at all during the long journey.
I didn't sleep till a lot later and didn't have the best nights sleep, I was worried Eliot was going to roll out of the bed and the fan on the ceiling was a bit loud. Still, I woke up earlier than planned before my alarm went off!
Once we were all ready we headed to the buffet breakfast which is served between 7:30am and 11am. We arrived just after half past 10 which meant we had missed the most congested time (between 8:30am & 9:30am). There were four different cereals to choose from, three of them being sugary ones and Special K. There were obviously croissants, pain au chocolate  along we little French bread rolls and bread to toast. There was also mixed fruits, cheeses and meats. There were coffee machines and orange & apple juice dispensers to help yourself to as many beverages as you needed. We enjoyed breakfast here and took our left over croissants with us for snacks later on.
After breakfast we left to get the free shuttle bus to the Disneyland parks, the pick up point was near reception. As we walked through  reception I swiftly noticed a theme park style queue of people who had just arrived to check in. I felt relieved we'd arrived the night before, missing the queue madness! 
I would definitely stay at the Hotel Santa Fe again and recommend it to families particularly those whose kids are Cars fans!

We were dropped at 'Marne La Vallee Chessy' train station, a couple of minutes to the entrance for the Disney Village. It took under ten minutes to get there and with the shuttle buses running from 7am until 1am it means you can relax about getting to and from the parks.
Before you can enter Disney Village there is a security point to go through, bags get checked through an x-ray machine and you walk through a metal detector. It was always very swift and we were through in no time at all on every visit.
We decided to head into the Disney Studios first of all, I'd been enticed by the Hollywood Tower Of Terror which I'd gone on in Florida but wasn't brave enough to go on by myself  this time! The other half did though.
Whilst Eliot and I waited for the OH (as the queue time was only 15mins), we wandered around seeing what rides we could go on next. Eliot also managed to get his photo taken with Goofy which was quite lucky as it can be tricky meeting the characters around the parks without queuing or waiting for a long time. We seemed to be in the right place at the right time.

Once the OH had finally been on the Hollywood Tower of Terror we went on the Studio Tour ride which was one of my faves, as well as seeing lots of different props from various films you experience some of the special effects that are carried out on sets.

Part of A set on the studio tram tour

We then ventured to 'Playland' where the theme was the wonderful Toy Story. There were a few rides there but Eliot would only go on the Slinky Dog ride.
On Slinky Dog!
 After that we ventured to where the rather popular 'Ratouille' ride was. The queue was rather long, as Eliot had already had mini meltdowns queuing up we decided to find a ride that had a shorter queue.
We went on the a 'Cars' ride and also flew on Aladdin's magic carpet which for some reason made me feel quite emotional!

After that we headed into the main Disneyland Park which you enter under the Disneyland Hotel, once you put your passes through you walk onto Main Street USA. The OH and I were very quickly 'wowed' by Sleeping Beauty's Castle. There really is a 'magical feeling' when you step into Disney!
There are four different themed areas in addition to Main Street USA, Frontier Land, Adventure Land, Fantasy Land and Discovery Land. Fantasyland is where the majority of rides suitable for children are. You'll find the likes of the teacups, a carousel, flying elephants and the famous 'It's A Small World'. However there are rides in all areas that smaller children are able to go on. 
 There are several places to eat around the parks and in the Disney Village. There are price ranges but as you'd expect the lowest priced places to eat are still pricey. We paid just under 90 euros for the three of us to eat in the Plaza Gardens buffet restaurant. The food was ok, nothing special there were different dishes to choose from including meat, fish pasta and salad. The best thing about it was the dessert selection! Personally I wouldn't pay to eat there again, we really wished we'd researched dining options carefully!
We stayed in the Disneyland park till about half 10 as we wanted to see the fire works but we were all shattered and as we had to be up earlier to go to a pre-booked character breakfast we decided to leave and stay later the next night.

The next morning just before 8am we arrived at Café Mickey in the Disney Village for a character breakfast. I'd pre-booked when I booked the holiday. It was buffet style like at the hotel. There was hot breakfast available as well as a selection of cereals, meats, cheeses, pastries, fruit.
While people were eating or queuing for their breakfasts Mickey, Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and after the two chipmunks appeared, they made their way around the restaurant signing autographs and having pictures taken. As you can see from Eliot's face in the pictures, it was well worth the experience, he was so excited! I was disappointed there were no more characters, I really thought there would and should have been more characters like Donald Duck and Minnie to accompany Mickey! Still Eliot thoroughly enjoyed the experience and that was the main thing.
After meeting the characters Eliot had his first pony ride at Disney's Hotel Cheyenne which was next to our hotel. Eliot had seen the ponies the day before and had asked to ride one. Children had to be three and over and a certain height to be able to ride.
It was 6 euros for something ridiculous like a minute and a half but the staff weren't strict and let me walk the pony round for longer.
After that we caught the train into Paris which took longer than I expected (over an hour to the Eiffel Tower). I wasn't keen on going as the OH and I had visited in 2009 and apart from the train ride it wouldn't be as appealing as Disney to Eliot. The OH was desperate for 'escargots' and wanted to see some of the sights again. After a quick visit to the Eiffel Tower and lunch I decided to bring Eliot back to Disneyland. I also wanted to make sure we got back for the Parade.
We got back into the park about half 4 and people were already sitting down on the pavements ready for the parade at half 5, so I found us a spot on Main Street USA. I was concerned about keeping Eliot in one place waiting for an hour. I had some snacks that kept him occupied and luckily had a couple of toy cars with me too. He did sprawl himself out over the floor wheeling them along, accidentally kicking people as he moved around but it kept him busy.
Waiting for the parade
The OH arrived back from Paris just in time for the parade. It was amazing, if you visit make sure you make time to get a good spot to see it, it really is not to be missed! Disney pull out all the stops and the atmosphere makes it an unforgettable experience!

After the parade we headed for some more rides and spent the rest of the evening in the Disneyland Park.
View from the castle in 'Alice's Curious Labrynth'

Flying a rocket in Discovery Land
We stayed until around 11pm and watched the water and light shows on Sleeping Beauty's castle. They were fantastic, really worth staying up to see even if you are shattered!
The next day was sadly our departure day but we didn't have to leave to get our ferry till around 3pm so after breakfast, packing up the car and checking out we headed to the Disney Studios. The park was a whole lot busier than it had been on our first visit and plans to go on some of the rides we hadn't been on went out the window as the queues were really long. After a ride on slinky dog we made our way back into the Disneyland park for our last few rides Then when it was time we all left reluctantly!

I highly recommend visiting Disneyland Paris, we thoroughly enjoyed it and are planning to go back in the future. It really was a magical experience and so special for children.

Here's part 1 of our trip to Disneyland, lookout for part 2!

Have you visited Disneyland Paris?

Monday 18 July 2016

Joules Summer Sale Picks

This time last year I was not enthusiastic about buying any clothing for myself as I didn't like the way I looked and only felt comfortable in clothes I was 'used to'. If I did try anything on I'd usually be left feeling miserable and rubbish about myself.
This year I'm much more excited about buying clothes for myself, since May I have lost 1st 10lbs and feeling blooming great for it! And now that we seem to finally be getting some Summer weather I've been enjoying some online browsing and making a wish list for myself.
I love the Joules Sale clothing range and have been adding some gorgeous bits to my online basket! Here's what's caught my eye.

 Amelie Dress
I am a huge fan of floral prints, especially in the summer and I just adore this 1950's style dress with capped sleeves. I love how feminine it is and how well the colours work together. I know this type of fit flatters my figure too so already feel confident it would look great. I would team it up with some summer sandals for a day out, if I had any weddings coming up I would definiyely wear this as I think it's perfect!

 Iris Top
As you can see I'm definitely going for a floral theme, I just love the print and the pastel colours on this sleeveless top and think it would be perfect to dress down on a hot summers day like above or it could be dressed up for an evening with some heels. 

 Helena Floral Dress
This caught my attention as soon as I saw it, I like that there is cross over at the bust and think this fit would be flattering too as it's fitted at the waist. Again I really like the colours and think they work well together.

What's caught your eye in the sales?

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Our New Bathroom

Back in April, I wrote about our excitement about having a new bathroom fitted, it was something that had been on our 'to do list' ever since moving in. Our old bathroom had not been looked after by the previous owners and appeared to be much older than it actually was. It was a room that that my other half did not like to use and would frequently say 'it creeps me out'.
Thankfully since our new bathroom has been installed he is much more relaxed and we can have a bath (we wouldn't use the old bath!). It really has made a massive difference in our day to day lives!

Apart from the tiles, which we bought from Homebase we purchased everything from Victorian Plumbing.
My inspiration can from a variety if sources, browsing showrooms, other bloggers new bathrooms, my friends new bathroom and of course Pinterest!
From the outset I knew I wanted the brick tiles, I've always loved these and think they look fabulous. I wanted black grouting to give a bit of a contrast and not have too much 'white'. 

 We also wanted a built in toilet and sink, with a modern rectangular sink. After much browsing I found that Victorian Plumbing had the best value products that had caught my eye and I liked the fact there was a choice of delivery options.
So I went ahead and placed our order. We went for the Barmby Shower Bath with a hinged screen, even though shower screens can be a bit of a pain to clean I personally prefer the look and finish over a shower curtain.
I was immediately attracted to the Milan Thermostatic shower when I saw it. I love the large 'fixed' square shower head and equally love the smaller moveable shower head. It's so easy to use, you simply turn the bar backwards for the larger fixed shower head and forwards for the other one.

We ordered the Turin High Gloss White Vanity Unit Bathroom Suite, I couldn't wait to be able to hide lots of the bathroom bits in the cabinet.
To coordinate I ordered a bath and sink tap together which was the Milan Modern Basin Mixer and bath filler.
To ensure the bathroom had a more modern feel I also wanted a heated towel rail and went for the Diamond rail.
We also ordered radiator valves, the bath panel and bath waste.
We are all thoroughly enjoying our new bathroom, although it took Eliot a couple of baths to get used to the new one, he was asking for the old one back!
We still need to do a couple of things like paint the ceiling and get a blind fitted, which will be easy enough to sort quickly.
After that our next 'house job' is to get the downstairs toilet sorted, we had that ripped out over a year ago and had an idea of making it into a utility room but have decided it will better off as a toilet. Then we'd also like to sort the ensuite in our room but that won't be for a while.  
In my excitement of having a new bathroom fitted I also bought lots of bits to go in our new bathroom, you can watch the haul below to see what I purchased!

Have you had or are hoping to have a new bathroom makeover soon? I'd love to read about your ideas/see finished results!

Thursday 7 April 2016

Daily Mail Shoot Photos

Photo Credit Juliette Neel
If  you follow me on Instagram or Facebook you may remember back in February I posted a photo of a lot of make up as I was having my hair and make up done for a newspaper article. We were also sent clothing to wear for the shoot which I wasn't overly happy about as both dresses sent for me did not suit my shape at all and made me look like a pretentious 1950's housewife! I couldn't wear my own dress as the only one I had that would have worked was black and you couldn't wear black! 
I was very happy with my hair and make up though that was one thing that turned out well!
When we were told what day the article was appearing I was dreading seeing how I looked in the photos as how I was dressed simply wasn't me. However when I looked at the article online there were photos of another family but none of us. We were referred to in the article but none of our photos were included.
At first I was slightly offended, what was wrong with us?
Then as I read the comments underneath the article I was quite relieved our faces weren't plastered all over a page of The Daily Mail.
The comments were mainly negative, some personal but the ones I did read (I stopped after a while) were about the family that had been pictured. Their article had gone in to much more detail about the in's and out's of their relationship. I was very relieved neither of us had shared that much information!
We were keen to see the photos though, so contacted the journalist and asked if we'd be able to view them. The photographer kindly emailed a folder containing all of the photos.
 I was even more relieved that my photos hadn't been used. I really disliked how I looked in all of my individual photos and some of the family shots, the outfit didn't do me any favours at all!
But I thought I'd share some of them here on my blog, . Excuse Eliot's hair, it's truly crazy in these!

 All photos taken by Juliette Neel

If you're interested in reading the article, the link is here.
Let me know what you think if you do have a read :)

Monday 4 April 2016

A New Bathroom...

Goodbye ugly bathroom
Today work begins on a new bathroom in our home. Something we have wanted to do for a very long time. I'm hoping things will go smoothly and there will be no glitches with all the work that needs to be done!
When we moved in we had the flooring pulled up and had new tiles put down, I actually don't really like them now but seeing as they're still pretty new there's no point in forking out even more money for new flooring. So apart from the floor everything is coming out, the old being replaced with the new.
The new bathroom was delivered almost two weeks ago so has been waiting rather patiently to be installed. We bought everything apart from the tiles from Victorian Plumbing.
We are having the ever so popular 'brick' tiles to replace the current ones and actually tiling out all areas apart from one wall.
I am most looking forward to the new bath with modern taps and a shower screen rather than a curtain. I have not had a bath in this house (not because I'm dirty, I've been having showers!) since moving in so I am REALLY looking forward to a bath and have bought some goodies from Lush to enjoy once the bathroom is complete. I hate the colour of the current panel on the bath, it's just...nasty! I had been meaning to paint it white ever since we moved in but just never got round to it.

We are having a toilet and sink unit fitted as I think they look stylish and tidy and we are replacing the radiator with a more modern heated towel rail. That bathroom cabinet has already gone and I think it will just be replaced by a mirror as we will have the cupboard under the sink.
On Friday we had a new light fitted which looks much more modern than the previous one.
 I have bought new towels and accessories for the bathroom and I'm super excited to start using them once the work is complete. Keep an eye out for a reveal post!

Saturday 2 April 2016

Breakfast With The Easter Bunny

On Good Friday I took Eliot and my niece for Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at the Podington Wyevale Garden Centre. I was really looking forward to the experience and thought it would be a great start to the Easter weekend!
When we arrived we were greeted by a member of staff who showed us to our table which was all laid out ready for us. At this point the member of staff double checked our order which had been placed at the time of booking. There were a few different options. Adults could select a full English, vegetarian breakfast (£7.99) or a hot drink & pastry (£3.99). The children's breakfast was £9.99 which included unlimited squash.
 The children received a kids activity sheet with some crayons and a little bag of mini eggs which Mr Eliot was dying to get into and managed to get one out before breakfast!
Unfortunately we had quite a long wait from sitting down to actually getting our breakfast. It took around 10-15 minutes for our drinks to be served and around half an hour for the food to arrive. As well as part of the restaurant being used for Breakfast with the Easter bunny, the rest of it was also open as normal. I think this is what had such an impact on the wait for the breakfast, the staff in the kitchen struggled to cope with the demands of different customers.
Kids breakfast
When breakfast did arrive it looked nice and both Eliot and my niece tucked in without any complaints!

Vegetarian breakfast
I opted for the vegetarian breakfast but wasn't sure exactly what would be on the plate until it arrived, I presumed some veggie sausages would be on there but was pleasantly surprised by the sight of bubble and squeak. However, I did find my breakfast a bit of a let down. The egg was very crispy on the bottom, as you can see in the photo and the bubble and squeak seemed a bit undercooked in places. Nothing major but a let down all the same.
Once all the tables had finished breakfast we were grouped together for an Easter egg hunt. The children were told they had to look for eggs on posters which were 'hidden' in different locations around the shop. My niece really got into it but Eliot was probably a little too young so didn't have a full understanding. Still this didn't stop him getting excited each time they found an egg as each child was given a mini bag of Haribo when one was found.
There were three eggs to find in total. Once the last egg had been found the Easter Bunny arrived bearing gifts of cuddly rabbits for all the children!
We then returned to our tables in the restaurant which had been cleared and where a biscuit and goodies to decorate it had been left for the children.
There was a bag of icing all ready to pipe, chocolate, marshmallows and sprinkles in a pot to decorate the biscuits. Both Eliot and his older cousin really enjoyed this and took time making their masterpiece!
A member of staff then came round and asked if the adults would like to make one too which of course I said 'yes' to! It was a good job too as after Eliot had squeezed out as much icing as he could and decorated his biscuit, he decided he wanted a plain one so I ended up giving him mine.
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and most importantly Eliot and his niece did too. Even though the long wait for food and my breakfast were a disappointment I would still do the experience again and definitely recommend it to others.
 I would choose having 'tea' over breakfast which I had intended to do but unfortunately there was no availability for tea.
*We received complimentary breakfast with the Easter Bunny for review purposes. All opinions are my own.
Thank you so much for stopping by! I appreciate comments and read all of them!