Showing posts with label Tots 100. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tots 100. Show all posts

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Britain's Best Days Out – Woburn Safari Park

We were very lucky to be sent a family ticket to Woburn Safari Park courtesy of Money Saving Expert and Tots 100 and their 'Britain's Best Days Out' promotion. We jumped at the chance for a family day out together during the Christmas break. I was curious to find out how a trip to a safari park in chilly December would work out but my fears of shivering monkeys hiding in their houses were unfounded – turns out winter is the time to go!!

On entering the park we decided to explore the safari element first and started the drive:

On the look out for some friends for giraffe!

We saw rhinos, emus, buffalo and elephants all strolling about and typically my 3 year old was very excited about the ducks on the pond!

We had a great view all the way around, there were hardly any cars there so we could tour at our leisure and stop for as long as we liked next to pacing tigers, lazy bears and curious monkeys. The highlight for me as a child at safari parks was always the monkeys jumping up on the cars. They didn't disappoint! One jumped onto the bonnet then climbed round to the wing mirror to get a closer look at my giggling daughter. Then he jumped on the roof for a ride causing excited squeals inside our car!

We also had a touch of extra excitement at the lion enclosure as the keepers closed the gate and a jeep told us to follow him out the side exit. Oooo we thought... what could be happening??! Luckily as it was so quiet we went round again and this time were allowed into the lions den. Here we found the beautiful (and huge) lionesses up on the hill looking down, just as curious as us, to see what was going on. It seemed as though the male had been taken inside for some reason. Probably something mundane like tea time but we made up some great alternative stories.

We followed our way out of the safari drive but our day was far from over as there is a fantastic foot safari area.

Some zoos, are really spread out but as the animals who need the space here have the safari area, this foot section is compact and the perfect size to explore with little ones. It's nicely laid out for exploring and more like a petting zoo but with exciting animals!

A big fan of the film 'Madagascar' my daughter was desperate to go through the walk through lemurs so we headed there first to avoid any nagging. On the way we saw tortoises and snakes, and were followed along the fence by free roaming marmosets.

The lemur walk through is fantastic, you have to leave buggies outside these enclosures but it's a short walk to retrieve them. You walk down a wooden walkway which in itself is an adventure for a toddler! The lemurs were all lazing about on the handrails looking like they weren't all too impressed with the English weather. It's fantastic just how close you can get to these animals. When they do perk up they make such a racket you wouldn't believe it.

On exiting we were at the base of the penguin pool where we were able to watch them swim underwater, it's not a huge pool but big enough, and at this time of year we had it all to ourselves. We sat here, just us, eating our lunch and watching the penguins play. My little girl adored it - every time she sat at the window, one came down to chat to her!

After a quick walk through the goats and a look at the river hogs we decided it was time to warm up a bit and went into the soft play indoor area. I normally avoid these bits on days out but in the winter it seemed like a good idea! Daddy and I enjoyed a hot cuppa while Squiggle had fun playing in the ball pit.

We had a couple more walk through areas to visit – the squirrel monkeys and wallabies – so once we had finally coaxed her out on we went!

The walk round 'monkey business' area here has to be one of my favourite parts, they are so playful and the staff are happy for a chat and answer questions. Last time we visited we had a slight mishap when one of the cheeky creatures went to the toilet on my daughters head – this time I was prepared and didn't linger under any trees!!

When we had first parked up we purchased tickets to the sea lion and 3d indoor show. Had it not been winter I might have skipped this as there are plenty of other things to do in the park. The sea lion show was great though and the 3D film was Christmas themed so my daughter enjoyed it. If you do go in the winter though don't expect to warm up in there... brrrrrr!!

With an exhausted but happy child it was time to head home and we still hadn't fitted in the walk round bird enclosure where you can feed them nectar, or any of the bird shows.

We had an absolutely wonderful day, completely relaxing, interesting, and full of memories.

I absolutely loved Woburn, there's no 'exit through the gift shop' attitude, it's the perfect size for little ones to explore, and the animals seem well cared for. If you do choose to visit the shop it has a nice selection of relevant toys and there are a couple of places to eat available. I wouldn't rave about these but I'm more of a picnic person and here you are never too far from the car to head back for your sandwiches!

We will visit time and time again I'm sure and I am definitely going to do another Christmas treat visit next year.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Tots 100 Home Decor Challenge

Tots 100 have teamed up with to run an amazing competition where you can win £2,500 home makeover. There are 3 categories into which you can enter and I am very excitedly entering the home decor challenge!

The room in our house I would love to make over is our spare room / computer room / storage cupboard / washroom /... you get the idea!

The embarrassing 'now' shot

I am very excited to be expecting my second baby next year which means Squiggle will be vacating the little nursery and moving on up on the world to the bigger room. I have no idea what I am going to do with all the 'stuff' we are currently keeping in there, if only we had a garage!

My little girl loves her little room but as she gets bigger she may as well have the space so I want to make it an easy and fun transition for her. With all the changes that will be happening, the last thing I want her to feel is that the baby is turfing her out of her lovely room and into the boring one! She in fact lovingly calls it the messy room – oh dear.

I would love the chance to make this into a beautiful, fun space for her. If I could, this is what I would do - step into my dream room bubble...

If you would like to see my chosen products in more detail, visit my pinterest board here.

If you would like to see my dream image bigger, try opening this small image in a new window, sorry that's the limit of my blogger skills!

I'd love to hear what you think of my ideas, good luck if you have entered too, it's been so much fun planning this post! painting and decorating

Monday, 13 August 2012

I'm Not Scared – my perfect summer read

I'm writing this review as part of the Tots 100 summer reading challenge in association with Tesco in which they are rounding up some of our favourite summer reads. I love reading but life is so manic I hardly get a chance to sit down with a book, so I'm going to make sure I pick one from the list and make some time to do so.

I'm delighted to share one of my favourite books with you but I've never reviewed an actual grown up book before so I hope I do it justice!

It took me a while to narrow down my perfect summer read to just one book... I was all ready to write an enthusiastic post on 'The Poisonwood Bible' (an awesome book). It's good and thick and certainly lasted me a summer, but as I know it's not for everyone I decided that didn't really qualify as a summer read... maybe not what people are looking for whilst relaxing on the beach!

The book I have chosen is one I loved and one I think really anyone would enjoy – 'I'm Not Scared' by Niccolo Ammaniti. Set in Italy during a brutal and scorching summer, the story follows 9 year old Michele, his gang of friends, and their childhood antics. The writing sets the scenes so perfectly you feel as though you have been there running through the wheat fields yourself. It captures all the different childhood relationships really well and took me back to my long summers running through fields with all the local kids. All much more innocent, we imagined and invented our dramas and mysteries... Michele's however, soon become all too real.

As Michele tells the story you're with him all the way, and the group's childhood dares and adventures soon lead him to a discovery that sets his world spiralling around him (I don't want to give any more of the story line than that away!). You're soon swept in to a absorbing mystery that will keep you hooked until the end.

I just loved reading this book and as soon as I had finished I tried to get everyone I knew to give it a go! It is so easy to read and completely sucks you in. I didn't want to put it down and, although I'm a pretty slow reader I finished it quickly. It's not too long, so if like me you don't often get time to read, it's not at all daunting to start! Well told, charming, intriguing, exciting and sad, it's a perfect little tale which has it all for a summer's day on the deck chair.

If you do read it I'd love to know what you think... and I'd love to hear from anyone who's read it already? I hope my post tempts you to read it, I'm no great writer myself, which I think is why I love reading what other people have written so much, I just find it amazing!

I'm looking forward to reading the Tots 100 round up and getting some new ideas and inspired for my next read.

Tots100 Parent Blogger Book Club

Thursday, 2 February 2012

My best ever holiday

I love holidays, who doesn't?! Getting away from it all and spending time with the people you really care about for once is about as good as it gets! Most of my favourite memories, which I'm sure will stand the test of time are from my holidays. Tots 100 and Al Fresco Holidays are running a competition asking you to choose your all time favourite, so here's mine... so when you've had a read head over to  to check out their fantastic deals!

A few years before our little one was born, and we were not long engaged, we took a trip to Sardinia. We were saving pennies for the wedding but I was determined to get my holiday! I had heard lots of good things and friends described the beaches as 'exactly like the Caribbean'. I didn't fancy my chances of getting to the Caribbean on our budget so it sounded perfect. Actually it turned out that it was quite an expensive destination itself, so we had to come up with a new plan. We booked some absolute bargain flights to Alghero ourselves and I found a campsite. I've always loved camping and growing up we did this a lot for our family holidays, I was just a bit worried what it would be like in the heat and if our tent would survive the flight!

San Teodoro
Our campsite was fantastic, right on the beach at San Teodoro which is on the east side of the Island. All the plots were in the shade so it wasn't too hot and it had a lovely peaceful air to it. The beach there is a gorgeous long expanse of sand, it was quite busy but I didn't mind that. As English tourists we were in the minority and it was mainly Italians holidaying there. I found it quite relaxing lying on the beach listening to Italian accents!! The people were so friendly and really proud of the Island, asking us, "what do you think of our sea, isn't it clear? How about the beaches?" Yes the sea was crystal clear and the beaches gorgeous. Oh and "have you tried the suckling pig?" sorry I wimped out on that one! 

A HUGE plus of being on an Italian island is indeed the food and wine. Ooooh boy!! I think we spent all the money we saved going out for dinner in the evenings, but San Teodoro had some great restaurants and I had the best meal of my life there. It's bustling in the evening with street markets open late, and lots of people meandering about. The idea of home cooked campsite dinners flew out of the window!

As our campsite was so close to the beach we used to head back at sunset, armed with a bottle of wine and two plastic glasses (classy I know!). By this point the place would be deserted and I felt everyone was missing a trick back at their hotels, it was so perfect.

Party time!
We hadn't realised when we booked it but there was a drum and base festival happening in that resort while we were there. When we found out my heart sank, it's not really my kind of music and I thought it would be a over-run with clubbers. But if you can't beat them, join them they say so we decided to go along a couple of nights and had a blast! It was held in outdoor clubs which were so chilled and fun and I was great to have a bit of a laugh and dance at night.

Knowing we'd have a fair amount of baggage and camping equipment with us, we hired a car which was fantastic as it meant we got to see more of the island. Every beach you want to was different, some with white sand, some red, some pebbles it's an amazing place! There's not as many cultural attractions that you might find on mainland Italy but Alghero is a beautiful old city with lots of streets and the city walls to explore.

We also visited the Costa Smeralda, the designer resorts where the celebs go apparently. They are lovely to walk around but we almost choked on our cokes when we found out how much they cost! I love walking round ports and deciding which boat I'd pick and what I'd name it. At Porto Cervo the boats didn't dissapoint, they are super yachts and some are unbelievably grand! Great to look at before you head back to your little tent :)

The best is yet to come...
So that was my favourite of holidays as a couple, but I really look forward to topping it as a family! It's a holiday I would love to revisit with my little one, we did some camping in September in Northumbria for our holiday. It was lovely cuddling round the fire but a little chilly for a 2 year old. I look forward to a holiday where she can run around in the sand and splash in the sea! xxx