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Since I became a mammy, I have tried to find lots of fun activities, days out, events and holidays for my family. I love being busy and visiting new places and I hope you will enjoy reading them. My blog is jam packed with reviews of places we have been, maybe I get help you with a little inspiration.  We are lucky enough to travel quite a bit so the blog features lots of places in the North East and beyond.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Disneyland Paris - The place of dreams (part one) - The decision making

For a couple of years now, we have talked about taking our children to Disneyland Paris.  I gave up work when Luca was born so money is tight but it was a place we knew we wanted the kids to visit whilst it still was magical.  So in January of this year we finally booked up!  I was so excited, I have been to DLP twice before, but as an adult and obviously without my children, was so looking forward to seeing it through their eyes.

We booked the early morning flight out of Newcastle direct to Charles de Gaulle with Air France, I did it as part of a package booked through Thomas Cook as I wanted the safety of a package holiday incase of flight delays etc.  After much too-ing and fro-ing, we decided on the Hotel Cheyenne, a hotel styled in the form of a wild west town.  It is only a 2 star but I read extensive reviews and asked many people's opinion, originally I had wanted to go for Hotel New York but on this occasion we decided to save a few more pounds and book the cheaper accommodation.

I bought the kids a countdown plaque off Designs by Nikki so they could start counting down the days.  I did delay giving them this until August otherwise we would have driven ourselves mad!


So it was booked, we were booked to leave on 1st December for 4 nights and spend Eva's birthday in Disneyland Paris, perfect.  We also got quite a good deal by going out of season, we got 2 nights free and the kids under 7 were free.  That is my first tip, if at all possible, avoid school holidays and also avoid weekends if you can.  Saturdays in particular are crazy as a lot of local people have annual passes and use them at the weekend.

I agonised over the meal plan situation.  Everyone I know that has been has commented on the price of the food there, it is expensive to eat out in Disneyland Paris and they offer a variety of meal plan options.  We eventually decided to get the Standard Premium Half Board because we could use that in Cafe Mickey which is a character dining restaurant.  In hindsight, I should not have bothered getting the plan as to be quite honest, with our kids it was a bit of a waste of money as they eat like birds and would have been happy eating in the McDonalds in the Disney Village everyday!  If you enjoy eating out and your kids are good eaters, then I would say the plans are a good buy, you have a wide choice of restaurants in both parks to choose from as well as the various Disney hotels.  There are options to suit everyone, it really is a case of personal taste.  You are looking at an average of about 12 euros for an adult meal consisting of cheeseburger, fries, drink and an ice-cream, if you go for that type of food.  An all-you-can-eat buffet is approximately 25 euros per adult, that is a rough guide for you.

Finally, airport transfers, you can book the VEA Disney airport shuttle bus, at todays price it is 20 euros per adult and 16 euros per child (aged 3 - 11) per trip and roughly takes around an hour or so to get round all the hotel drop offs.  I read on tripadvisor about a company called Ezy Shuttle who provide private taxi transfers and there was only brilliant reviews about them.  I enquired and the price was 70 euros for a direct pick up from the arrival hall in CDG and to take us straight to our hotel, a complete no brainer, quick email to John who owns the company and we were booked.  He asked if we need car seats and advised we just pay the driver on the day.  Our driver would be waiting for us in arrivals and that he was.  An absolutely exceptional service both ways and I would  not hesistate to wholeheartedly recommend Ezy Shuttle.

Stay tuned for the next instalment ......


#TravelTales

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Not So Spooky Halloween Ball with Emma Enchanted

Our 3rd! yes 3rd! Halloween party this year was courtesy of the wonderful Emma Enchanted.  This was the Not So Spooky Halloween Ball and this year we were accompanied by our friends Charlotte and Rebecca.

Eva decided that as it was a Halloween party, she would wear her spooky dress again and witches headband and she looks adorable in it although she wants to be a scary vampire!

Upon arrival at the venue, it was magically decorated, complete with spooky spiders webs and low lighting, it looked amazing.  Emma and Amanda always set a wonderful scene and its lovely walking in to see what they have in store for us this time.



At this party were The Mermaid Princess, The Snow Queen, The Arabian Princess and The Flower Princess.  Eva's favourite on this occasion was The Arabian Princess.  Each child always receives a lovely warm and friendly greeting with every princess making sure they talk to every child and share hugs and giggles, it really settles Eva's nerves as she is quite shy really.


We started off with a game where the children were divided up into teams, Eva and Charlotte were with The Mermaid Princess and  Rebecca, The Snow Queen.  They had to design a scary monster/witch/something spooky anyway and they took the task very seriously and had great fun.  Next was pass the skull! Pass the parcel but with a difference, you passed the scary skull round the circle very quickly, whoever it landed on when the music stopped was out and had to go and dance with the princesses, a great punishment in my opinion.  This is one game that Eva takes incredibly seriously and she got to the final, once again. Her competitive streak is hilarious and this was a fun game.


She won a gorgeous snowflake bracelet and was very pleased with herself.  Throughout the games, the mini princesses went to the back to have glitter tattoo's applied, Eva chose a purple glitter cat.

The games were really fun and the children took part with a lot of enthusiasm.  Eva particularly enjoyed the one which involved me being wrapped up in toilet paper as a mummy! Her giggles were wonderful and the kids in my team were brilliant.  We also won, which is an added bonus.  They also did a great game where there was yucky things in witches hats and they had to feel them and guess what they were.  The face says it all...

 

It was then time for a yummy snack, drink and a story.  The children all sat entranced at The Arabian Princess told the story of Sleeping Beauty and Maleficent with lots of enthusiastic audience participation.

Now for the part I love the best, the songs, I cannot help but get very emotional when I watch Eva listening to the singing, she knows pretty much all the songs off by heart and she sings along with such feeling  and adoration I just love it.  I often have a little tear.  We had beautiful songs by the Arabian Princess and The Snow Queen.  All too soon it was time to go.  The princesses handed out beautiful certificates and photographs and posed for lots and lots and LOTS! of photographs.





As usual, we had an absolutely magical time at the Not So Spooky Ball, it never disappoints and Eva always comes away a little bit more in love with the princesses.  We sometimes worry that she might get 'princessed' out, but to be honest, there are no signs of that happening and whilst they continue to enchant and bring her (and me) so much happiness we will continue! 

Thanks Emma, Amanda and your fabulous team once again for delighting my little girl and her friends, one thing she does keep asking however is, 'Where is Tiana?' haha! :0) xx


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Pirate Pumpkins Dastardly Deed

Another day, another party! Today was a pirate adventure with Hopscotch Entertainment which was set in Wallsend Memorial Hall.  We have previously been to an outstanding Superhero party here earlier in the summer, also by Hopscotch (read our blog here A Super Adventure).

Upon entering, our names were ticked off the list by the lovely Stephen and we went into join our friends and to complete our first task, making a pirate hat.  There was lots of stickers for the children to use and I think you will agree, Luca made a particularly fine effort.  


The setting is fantastic and as the room is so huge there is lots of room for the children to run about to waste some energy before the fun begins and they had fun playing hide and seek for a while until it was time for the adventure to start.

This caper was all about the naughty Pirate Pumpkin and his sidekick Bones, who hatched a devious plan to steal the Tinker Fairy's wand.  The children had to help to get it back by completing a series of tasks set by the pirates.  Of course, Tink needed some help in bringing the bad guys to justice and that help arrived in the shape of The Snow Queen.  She enthralled the children by singing a little song, you may well have heard of, the young audience certainly did and joined in wholeheartedly, a fabulous sight!

All the characters were fabulous, they really got all the children excited and involved.  The tasks were great fun, first of all was a spooky obstacle course, then we had to throw spooky beanbags into pumpkins and finally wrap up two unsuspecting 'mummies' in toilet roll! Throughout all the tasks, the characters and other members of staff were on hand to help the children and show them what to do,  









Included in the ticket price was a picnic lunch and also there was unlimited juice available throughout the party.  Our children ate their picnic on the floor next to Tink and Elsa and they both fully interacted with all the kids throughout, as did Pirate Pumpkin and Bones, with all four posing for photographs when asked.  So friendly and enthusiastic, they were really good with the little ones.

After lunch it was time for some party games, everyone played pass the parcel and a game where they all had to be various animals. That was great and one of our kids, Matilda, won a prize and was selected by Elsa, she was extremely happy about that!

All the parents joined in for one massive hokey cokey at the end of the party and then it was time for photographs and party bags.






It was some of my friends first time at a Hopscotch event and they, along with us, were more than impressed, at all aspects of the event from the organisation, to the characters and all the effort that goes into making it one big success. Eva and Luca's favourite was Bones and they were pleased that the naughty pirates had to say sorry and turn into goodies.

We have booked for the Once Upon a Christmas event also and are very much looking forward to what the team have in store for us.  Thank you for a wonderful afternoon and we will see you all again very soon!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Magical Happening

Yesterday saw the first of our many Halloween celebrations.  Each year I organise a Halloween party for my children and their friends.  I adore Halloween, it is so much fun and this is one holiday that the children will definitely never grow out of!

One of the best parts of halloween is the dressing up, my kids love dressing up and getting into the spirit of things.  The shops are absolutely crammed full of Halloween merchandise, sweeties and costumes so we had great fun choosing.  Eva this year is a Gothic vampire and I adore her costume, it is just amazing.  Luca is the most handsome Vampire, he chose himself this year, the previous years have had him as a crazy spider amongst others! 

Halloween through the years
Eva's 1st Halloween, 2009
Luca's 1st Halloween 2011
Eva and her best friend Lily, Halloween 2011

Mean n moody, Halloween 2012
Frankie Baby! Halloween 2012


















I like to do something a bit different for my parties and so the theme this year was magic.  We have seen the wonderful Captain Raggy Beard on many occasions now and last year we saw him at Kirkley Hall as Raggy Potter, a mystical wizard.  Eva loves him in either form and I am always impressed at how he engages with the children and gets them involved and intrigued with his storytelling and games.  

 Raggy Potter and the lovely Mrs Potter arrived to set up and brought with them all manner of props and spells, as well as Halloween decorations, face painting and tattoos.  I arranged a sweet buffet table for the children's trick or treat bags.




When the guests started to arrive, I was amazed, the children all looked magnificent and had made such a huge effort (and some of the mammies and one brave daddy)

Erin, Sophie and Lila-Rose
Lila-Rose and her mammy Gemma
                             

Happiness! Rebecca and her big sister Charlotte
Wanna play with this scary dolly?


What followed was a fun, filled magical two hours.  We had spooky stories, mystical games, dancing, magic spells, everlasting bubbles, piƱata bashing and even a balloon release which we sent up into the sky for some lucky person to find and hopefully return to Raggy Potter. The furthest a balloon has travelled so far is 8 miles so we are hoping to beat that record.  Raggy Potter gave each child a lucky penny which they had to put in their shoe for good luck and he gave them a few spells to try out to bring happy days for them.  Each child also got a mystical witch's tear to keep, I won't reveal any secrets but my two have carried theirs with them ever since the party!

The children had a ball and I think, apart from the odd sugar overdose, they all went home shattered with lots of goodies to enjoy.

Thank you Raggy Potter for a marvellous party, we hope to see you again soon.








Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Elf on the Shelf - Is it time to start your tradition?

Last year I decided that that year would be the year to start our own Elf on the Shelf tradition.  The children, aged 5 and 2 were at the perfect age, I believe to start the magic.  The idea is that on 1st December, one of Santa's Elves comes from the North Pole to your home to keep an eye on the children and make sure they are behaving.  They do not move through the day but at night they leave and report back to Santa Claus advising how the children have been that day.  The elves are quite naughty and get up to lots of mischief but also bring treats, it is entirely up to you what your elf does, there are hundreds of websites and message boards dedicated to this tradition to help you with ideas.  Your Elf will then leave to return to the North Pole to Santa Claus.  I think it is a wonderful family tradition to start, why not make even more of the magic of Christmas whilst your children are young enough to believe.

I looked at the traditional Elf on the Shelf that you can buy but to be honest I found him a bit frightening! I wouldn't want that fella to be peeping down at me from my fireplace!  So I did research, a lot of research and I found the elf that I wanted.  She was a Gund Peppermint Elf that I bought from America.  I instantly fell in love with her as she looks just like a Christmas Elf should, well in my opinion.
I ordered her quite early as in the run up to December it is nigh on impossible to buy an Elf anyway, people have gone crazy!  She arrived mid October and I began researching what she would do.  As I previously said, there is a wealth of information on the internet with wild and wacky ideas for you.  There is also tons of fabulous websites which sell all kinds of paraphernalia which you can buy to make your experience exactly what you want it to be.  Sadly, last year, I found most of these sites far too late so I had to come up with my own.  This year, I have spotted an amazing site Merry Elfmas which I hope to use for all my supplies.  I really enjoyed making my own last year but it took absolutely hours as I am very particular and I just do not have the time this year,

So having all my ideas in my head and having found various websites with stationary I could print and adapt I set about my mammoth task.  I should note here, that in my madness, I also decided to do 2 other elves for my nephew and my godchildren so I had 3 lots of Elfness to sort out! 

On the official Elf on The Shelf website, you can register your Elf formally and there you can print out an adoption certificate complete with your Elf's name and family name, it looks wonderful.

There is even a website in which you can generate your Elf name on, honestly it is crazy what you can find if you have the time (and energy) Elf Name Generator

As you can see, ours is called Twinkle Teensienoggins, a little bit of an homage to the film Elf with Will Ferrell in, one of my all time favourite Christmas movies.

So we had a name and we have an adoption certificate, I just needed to decide how she would arrive.  Ikea to the rescue! They had red cardboard storage boxes on sale and they were perfect, the perfect size and colour so they definitely did the trick.  I sourced Christmas type fonts and designed a postage label for the front of the box.


I was very pleased with my handywork, I think it looks quite good.  I then set to work filling the box with all sorts of things, we had an elf passport, a poem explaining to the children why Twinkle was visiting us, letters from both Twinkle and Santa Claus and a fabulous hanging bauble which I bought from the wonderful Designs by Nikki.  I have bought tons of stuff off Nikki and it is always fabulous, brilliant service and such craftmanship, she was the perfect person to supply our bauble which hung above the fireplace until Twinkle left.
 


Bauble by Designs by Nikki

With the hard work all done, it was time to wait until 1st December for the grand arrival!  She was waiting in her box on the childrens table and she had brought with her two chocolate advent calenders.  The delight on my kids' faces when they met her for the first time was amazing, they absolutely loved her and they promised that they would be on their best behaviour whilst she was staying with us.



Whilst Twinkle was with us she had a fantastic stay, we had a North Pole breakfast, she stole some of the Christmas sweeties, hid in our Christmas Tree, took a nap in Eva's stocking and even a ride in Barbie's car.

 
 



 


Halfway through her stay, she brought us a Magic Key which I got from the amazing Dawn who has the most beautiful items at Poppy Loves Roses and Wellington Boots.  Have a pop over to her page and tell her I sent you, you will be amazed.  She also made me beautiful Santa Sacks which will be used every year.

Key by Dawn at Poppy Loves Roses and Wellington Boots

All too soon it was Christmas Eve and time for Twinkle to return.  She left behind a  Nice Certificate which came from Prints by Tommys Mammy, it even had their photograph on it to show that they definitely had been good.  Her work, is again amazing, nothing is too much of a problem and is always of a extremely high standard.  Again, I have purchased many things from Emily in the past for gifts etc.  Twinkle also left a goodbye letter telling Eva and Luca that she would be back next year.... if they were good throughout the year!

We all had amazing fun with Twinkle, the children loved her and hubby and I had a brilliant time thinking up mischief for her to get up to every night.

I hope I may have inspired you to join in with the Elf fun, let me know if you do!

Elf merchandise provided by