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Me and Mine | April 2017

Sunday, 30 April 2017

April has honestly been the best month of the year.. so far that is! When I woke and saw the date this morning though, I couldn't believe it was over already. These months are whizzing by far too quickly for my liking.

I struggled to decide on what pictures to share this month - for once I had a selection to choose from. As our holiday at Butlin's was one of the highlights of the month, I decided these ones were the best to share. We hired one of the famous peddle bikes and set up the tripod for a family snap. These pictures will always remind me of how we blew the tire on our first bike though... oops!


Although Butlin's was the main part of our holiday, we made so many memories during our whole trip. Exploring Bath in the rain, hiding out in the bathroom of our Travelodge, waiting for the littles to go to sleep, and our first visit to Longleat. This month we also celebrated Jack's birthday, the arrival of our beautiful niece Harleigh (which was actually on Jack's birthday!) and the sun finally arrived.

Having Jack off of work really makes even the simplest of things that much better. I'm happier, the littles are happier, and it really reflects in our day. Thankfully Jack's got another week off in May, and we're off on a sunnier adventure. And I cannot wait!


I was gutted this one was blurry, but had to include it as the littles were actually smiling!


The Me and Mine Project

Discovering Marvellous Monsters at Longleat Safari Park

Saturday, 29 April 2017


I've visited a number of zoos and wildlife parks over the years, but the one I've always wanted to visit was Longleat Safari Park. Especially after watching it on BBC One's Animal Park.

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to do just that! Visiting Longleat to enjoy their Marvellous Monsters event; as well as the safari, Longleat house and all the other attractions.

Located just off the A36 between Bath and Salisbury, Longleat Safari Park is the UK's first, and best safari park. Spread across 900 acres of land, there is so much to see and do! We spent a full day at the park (arriving at 10am and leaving at 5pm) and still didn't fit everything in.

Knowing how busy the safari was going to get, and that it could take up to 3 hours to drive though, we decided to head there first. We made a quick pit stop at the African Village first to see the giraffes and lemurs (and to almost lose Parker's shoe on the wobbly bridge.. oops!).




The lemur walk through was one of Parker's highlights, as you really can get so close to them. The giraffes were amazing too, and although we didn't do this, you can feed them for a little extra charge.

The African Village is also the last stop to grab food and drinks, or visit the loo, before getting back in the car to start the safari. So I'd definitely recommend getting out.

Our next stop was the the bit I was probably most excited about. The safari! I was slightly worried we wouldn't see many animals, but I honestly had nothing to worry about. Jack and I both commented on how lovely the enclosures were too - big, natural and full of areas where the animals could hide away if they wanted to.





Safe in the car (there are areas you can have the windows down, but we kept ours up for most of the safari), we slowly drove though animal spotting. You drive through monkeys, the deer park, past Anne the elephant and the rhinos, and then through the big cats and wolves.

The monkey drive through was just amazing as I'd hoped. We didn't have any monkeys on our car unfortunately - although we were slightly relieved, as they were breaking bits off of others! But we did see lots of mama monkeys with their babies.

Leaving the safari drive-through, we parked up by the main square in search of lunch. Picnics are welcome (and I really wish we were prepared with one), however we bought our lunch from The Tropical Storm Cafe.

Serving hot and cold food, children's lunch boxes and right next to a Costa, it was a lovely spot for lunch. We found a table easily and grabbed some food. I went for soup, Jack had a huuuuge pulled pork roll, and we got the littles a lunch box each. With two drinks and some crisps, the total was around £25. So as well as the food being tasty, it wasn't too badly priced either.



Before we visited I never realised just how much else there was to do at Longleat. Away from the safari park, the Main Square is not only home to over 1000 animals, but you can also hop aboard the Longleat Express train or the Jungle Cruise. Or if you think you need a little break from animal spotting, there's also a fantastic play area, hedge mazes and a Rockin' Rhino ride!

The Jungle Cruise was another highlight of our visit. It's only a short trip along Half Mile Lake, but you can spot hippos, gorillas - including Europe's oldest gorilla Nico - and the sea lions. For £1 you can even feed the sea lions; although be quick as they have limited fish to hand out.




As if there wasn't already enough to see during your visit, from the 8th April Longleat has some exciting new animals to meet - huuuuuge animatronic bugs!
"Marvellous Monsters is going to put the spotlight on bugs and showcase just how amazing they are and really raise awareness for the need to conserve them. You’ll come face to face (or maybe eye to antennae) with these humongous creepy crawlies and get a brand new perspective on these bizarre but fascinating creatures."
Walking into the main square and seeing the gigantic caterpillar was such an amazing site! Both littles were absolutely amazed, and Indie wanted to hunt for more straight away. She loved that they moved, and wanted to learn more about every bug we spotted.

Activity sheets are available for little ones during the event. These include a fun trail to complete to make sure you discover all of the bugs. They're all on accessible paths so the whole family can get involved!







If you head to the Animal Adventure area, you can learn even more. We spotted butterflies in the butterfly house, got up close to a cockroach, and there was the option to hold a snake or a spider (we opted out of this, as the queues were quite long though).

Indiana did get up close and personal with some lovely Lorikeets though. Again it was £1 (per pot of nectar), to head into the lorikeet enclosure. The second we stepped inside the birds flew over, and the look on our little tigers face was so special. A definite must do for sure!

While in this area we also made sure to hop aboard the Longleat Express. The train runs every half an hour which is a little bit of a shame - it doesn't take many people, so you either have to queue for a while to guarantee your spot, or miss out. It was well worth it though, and definitely train mad Parker's highlight. 






Of course no visit to Longleat would be complete without visiting the absolutely stunning Longleat House. One of the finest Elizabethan stately homes in the country, you can explore 15 rooms either at your leisure or through a guided tour.

We unfortunately never made it inside, as pushchairs are understandably not allowed, and we weren't risking wild boy Parker running around freely. The outside was incredible though with a hugeee lion statue and fountains, and the littles had great fun running up and down the stairs.

It's somewhere I'd definitely want to come and explore properly in the future!




We ended our day with ice creams while watching the world go by in the Main Square.. and Parker was asleep before our car had even left the car park! If that's not the sign of a good day, then I don't know what is?

Longleat Safari Park was an exhausting, incredible, and amazingly memorable day out. There are so many moments I know I will remember forever, so I want to thank Longleat for letting us come and visit. We'll definitely by back!

The Marvellous Monsters event is on until October 29th and is included within the price of your ticket.


Disclosure - We recieved our entry in exchange for our review. All opinions are honest and my own.

Mummy and Me | April 2017

Friday, 28 April 2017

April was full of so many mummy and me pictures, I actually struggled picking which ones I wanted to share! With Indie off for 3 weeks over the Easter break, and Jack home too, I grabbed every opportunity I could.

Indie has become my little photo buddy, and was even asking to take them when we were in Butlin's. Parker is probably less keen, but I think he goes along with it for now, poor thing. These were snapped in front of Longleat House, and although neither of them are looking I actually really like them.

We've had so many lovely moments this month, and I think it's definitely down to our holiday. Spending time together a family just lifts my mood so much - if only Jack was always home. Parker is still his clingy little self, but now clambers to give me kisses and cuddles. And he's learnt to properly say 'love youuuu' which he shouts at us all throughout the day.



Pretty Little Liars, Trains & a Primark Haul | #LittleLoves

I almost forgot to write this week's #littleloves post again; I just don't know where the days go! It's been a relatively quiet week for us though, as we settled back into our routine after the Easter break and our holiday.

So here's this week's #littleloves...

Read

I've read some absolutely amazing posts from my fellow bloggers this week.

Alex's (Lamb and Bear) post really hit home with me. If you had a baby, or even a toddler, who didn't sleep and was very demanding, you probably will too. Life with little ones is amazing, but it really is all consuming.

One of my favourite bloggers is Amber (Meet the Wildes). Her writing is stunning, and the pictures she puts alongside the posts are simply beautiful. I could link so many of her posts, but her one this week about her postpartum body was just incredible. Read it!!

Watched

I'm a little late to the party, but I am craaaazy excited that Pretty Little Liars is back. It's been absolutely mad for a few seasons, and honestly I'm still a little confused, but I love it. Anyone have any guesses how it's going to end? I'm lost!

I also watched Indiana and Parker with their cousin - they are still totally mesmerised by her! How sweet is this photo I managed to snap?

Heard

Who else listened to Kate and Wills interview on Radio One? We had no idea they were on, so were so confused when we turned the radio on. It was actually really funny though, and you could just tell how down to earth and 'normal' they are. 

Made

It's all about trains with Parker at the moment.. well, any vehicle really! We made lots of train tracks this week, which he then actually sat and played with for aaaages. He's not one to sit and actually play so it was really lovely to watch.


I'm planning on making some yummy chocolate eggs with the littles tomorrow (better late than never hey?). Wish me luck!

Wore

We're going away again in a couple of weeks, so we did some serious summer clothes shopping last weekend. I filmed a little Primark haul and try on if you fancy seeing what I picked up.

And Lastly...

I'm really enjoying being back in our little routine now, as it makes the days so much easier. I'm still so excited for a three day weekend though! We're planning on hunting down bluebells and doing lots of baking. Fingers crossed the weather improves first though.

Have a lovely week :)

Little Loves Coffee Work Sleep Repeat

Easter at Butlin's Minehead | A Weekend Break with Unders 5s

Wednesday, 26 April 2017


This time last year, we had the most amazing Just for Tots break at Butlin's Bognor Regis. It's all Indiana has spoken about ever since, and she shouts "that's where we went!" every time an advert pops up for Butlin's.

You can imagine how excited she was then, when we told her we'd been spending our Easter weekend at Butlin's by the sea in Minehead! Although not a special Just for Tots break this time, we were all still just as excited.

Minehead is a lovely seaside town in the heart of Exmoor in Somerset. With a beautiful sandy beach right on the doorstep, and plenty of Butlin's fun inside the resort, it really is a fantastic break for all the family.

Arriving on site alongside 7000 other guests (Easter is clearly a VERY busy time to visit), we made our way to check-in. As we were staying in a West Lake's Chalet, we were directed to their dedicated check-in, where there was absolutely no queue at all.



I will be writing a separate post on our accommodation at a later date, with pleeeeenty of pictures to share. But we stayed in Edinburgh 34 - a lakeview chalet right at the back of the resort. The chalets are absolutely gorgeous, as is the whole of the West Lake's area, and we were very pleased with our stay. We were quite far from everything, but the walk was so pretty we didn't mind too much.

Entertainment

As we only had two full days of fun, we had to fit in a lot each day - a possible downside of a weekend break. There was still plenty on each day though, and there was SO much we didn't manage to do.




As it wasn't a Tots break, we also found there were more activities and entertainment catered to older children. This was understandable but still slightly disappointing, as our two (aged 3 and 20 months) did miss out on a few bits.

Activities for toddlers did include:

- Parent and toddler swim session
- Teletubbies, Mr Men, and Skyline Gang shows
- Billy and Bonnie
- Tots Disco
- Tots fairground and soft play
- Tots football (2 - 4 years)
- Puppet show
- Play areas

Of course there is still plenty they can join in with, as a lot of the ages are just guidelines. For example there was a drumming workshop which was advertised as 8+, but Indie was allowed to have a go as she could see over the drums.

Indiana at aged 3, was also able to go on nearly all of the funfair rides at Billy's Fairground, (the majority of the rides require your child to be at least 0.9 metres). This meant we spent the majority of our trip having fun at the fair... not that Jack and I were complaining!





I would 100% recommend downloading the Butlin's App during your stay. There is always so much going on making it so easy to miss something. It has a handy map of the resort so you can see where each activity / show is too, which we definitely needed!

Food and Drink

There are a number of places to eat during your stay, from fast food at Burger King to sit down restaurants and cafes. We had the Premium Dining Plan, which included our breakfast and evening meal at either The Deck or The Yacht Club.

We did find the food to be a little disappointing this visit, but that may have been down to the type of trip. The restaurants were VERY busy, and the queues at the live cooking stations were very long (especially in the evenings). Tables were very slow to be cleared too, so we often had plates all over the place.

The children's food choices were also a little poor and did get repetitive, which was a huge downside. Although they still had the children's cutlery and plates these weren't as nice as the ones at Bognor Regis, and the baby food on offer was behind the food stations instead of available to just grab too.



The food itself was tasty though, and always piping hot and fresh. There was a curry night one evening which was really tasty, and I don't have a bad word to say about the puddings! The joy of a buffet also meant we could keep offering the littles food, until we found something they would eat.

As our chalet was self catering we could have brought our own food for our stay. This would have been ideal for lunches, as the meal plan doesn't cover these. We ended up buying meal deals from the Cornish Pasty Shop most days, which was actually very reasonable priced (£3.95 for a children's lunch box which included a sandwich, packet of crisps, juice, and then either a jelly or fruit).

Drinks in the evenings were also very reasonably priced - although we didn't really have alcohol, so this could be a different story!

Extras

Although nearly everything is included in the break, there are some extras you can pay for separately. For us these really made the holiday that extra bit special. As we didn't leave the resort for day trips out, we also figured the money we spent was worth it.

With both littles now that little bit older, we decided to hire one of the famous peddle bikes this year. At £9 for 30 minutes (plus a £20 deposit) they aren't that cheap, but it was lots of fun. Don't be fooled though - these are a proper work out! We also managed to blow the tire on our first bike within 5 minutes. The staff were fab and brought us a new one really quickly, and let us start our 30 minutes over.


A little treat just for Indiana (although I know Parker would have loved it too), was a fairy princess makeover. Located just outside the Butlin's Store, the makeover package includes: hair, makeup / face paint, nails, a tutu, wings, crown, wand and allllll the glitter! 

It was on the pricier side at £20 (hence why only Indie was treated to it!), but I'd have paid so much more to see her amazed little face. She hasn't stopped talking about it since, and still dresses up as a fairy daily - although mummy isn't quite so good at hair.

The lovely lady who worked there was fantastic, and even managed to get shy Indiana chatting away. I'd definitely get yourself booked in though, as it was VERY popular when we visited.



Final Verdit

Looking back on our trip, all I can think is that 3 nights just wasn't enough. There is just so much to do and see at Butlin's - I'd honestly be amazed if you fit it all in. We wanted to swim again, go to the beach just outside the front gates, enjoy the arts and crafts activities.. but there simply wasn't time!

Visiting over the Easter break was a little crazy too. Yes there were lots of people, but it honestly never really felt that busy. The only place that didn't seem a little crazy was the pool (the queues were mad, and they had time limits in place). We were lucky that we could go to the parent swim, so we never actually experienced this ourselves though.


So would we visit Butlin's Minehead again?

100%

But I think we'd opt for a Tots break next time, just until our two are that little bit older. Although honestly, I'd go back tomorrow if I could!


We are Butlin's Ambassadors which means we received our stay and dining in exchange for our review and vlogs.  All opinions are honest and my own.