Entries Tagged as 'Travel'

Copenhagen with kids

We recently visited Copenhagen and found that it is a really kid-friendly city.  It’s also one of the cleanest cities I’ve been to.    As it is just a 1.5 hour flight away from London, I’m not really sure why I haven’t been before.  It’s a small enough city to explore on foot or on a cycle, if you want to do it the Danish way.  We chose to walk as you always get a great feel of a city when you do this.  We didn’t stick to doing just kids things but mixed it up and decided to do kiddy things as well as things we would enjoy but with kids in tow, if that makes sense. Here’s what we loved and would recommend if you visit Copenhagen with kids:

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snoopy and charlie brown peanuts movie review

A couple of weeks ago we were invited to a private screening of Snoopy and Charlie Brown – the peanuts movie. Growing up I was never much in to cartoon characters but there were two exceptions – Miss Piggy and Snoopy. With snoopy & charlie brown I particularly remember reading the comic strips in the newspapers and really enjoying them.  But as the years went on I forgot about Snoopy and Charlie Brown because you didn’t see much of them.  That was until I received  an invite to see the film and really wanted to go almost for old times sake.

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charlie and the chocolate factory

Last Friday night we were invited to Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical.   Ever since reading the book as a child, I have been fascinated with Mr Willy Wonka and his incredible factory.  Years later, I was excited to re-live this fantastic tale with Anya and Richard.  As of this year, Anya has really gotten in to Roald Dahl books with her favourites being Charlie & the Chocolate Factory and George’s Marvellous Medicine.  We’ve read both at least twice already so Anya & I were really looking forward to the musical while Richard was less so as he can be a little cynical about musical theatre.

From the start, my companion sat gripped, eyes darting from one performer to another in anticipation of their next line or song, welling up as Charlie became the grateful recipient of the last golden ticket.  It came as a big surprise to me that those eyes belonged to Richard, who had clearly checked in his cynicism along with his coat!  But he wasn’t the only one – all three of us sat glued to our seats watching the incredible spectacle of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory unfold before us.

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical review

Visually, Charlie & the Chocolate Factory, the musical is an absolute treat for the eyes.  The sets and special effects are clever and quite stunning.  Imagine seeing Violet Beauregarde balloon in to a blueberry right in front of your eyes. Or the highly strung Mike Teavee transform in to a shrunken version of himself.   But it wasn’t just the amazing special effects that got me.  It was also the performers, each of whom were outstanding. 

charlie and the chocolate factory the musical

Mr Willy Wonka had the right amount of eccentricity without being frightening for kids.  Although personally for me, he could have been a bit more sinister.  Also worth a mention is the relationship between Grandpa Joe and Charlie which was very special and true to the book.  The musical brought tears to my eyes a few times but mostly I throughly enjoyed watching a dazzling show that I think any family with kids older than about 5 years will enjoy.  

charlie and chocolate factory oompa loompas

For the entire performance of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Anya sat forward in her seat, wide-eyed, never once taking her eyes off the stage.   As much as Richard and I found it hard to tear our eyes off the stage, we also delighted in seeing Anya’s little face changing expressions and reacting to this imaginative piece of theatre.

*We were given tickets in exchange for a review.  The review is in my own words and says what I genuinely thought about the show.  

things to do in South Bank London

The Summer holidays are in full swing and we’ve been getting out and enjoying London.  We rarely go away over the Summer because London is such a great place to be at this time of year and there so many Summer activities for kids in London.  This Summers mission is to enjoy as much of our beautiful city as we can and when I find something super fun to do, I thought I would share it here.  Earlier this week, along with some friends, we headed to the Southbank which is always a fun day out.  There is always a fab atmosphere, food, street performers and so much more.  Our plan was to just wander around and soak up the sights and smells but we ended up discovering the Appearing Rooms Fountain.  And once we discovered this, there was no moving the kids away.

free things to do in London with kidsSouth Bank London things to dofree things to do in London for kids

The Appearing Rooms Fountain is no ordinary play fountain.  It’s designed so that jets of water shoot high in to the air creating ‘rooms’ that appear and disappear as quickly as they appeared.  It’s possible to stand in the midst of fountain and not get wet – the trick is finding the ‘room’ where there is no water shooting up or to move super quick when it does come.  But the pattern of the fountain changes each time so you might get unlucky and get drenched.  The kids headed in to the fountain and the joy on their faces was quite unbelievable.  We thought they would play for a few minutes but they ended up playing in the fountain for hours.  They absolutely loved it.  There were kids of all ages there – from 2 to about 12 – and they were all squealing with delight and joy.

play fountains in London

Right next to the Appearing Rooms Fountain is lots of outdoor seating so we sat there, ate and chatted while we kept an eye on the kids who just couldn’t believe their luck at stumbling across this magical play fountain.  It may seem a bit over the top to go on about a fountain but the excitement was so evident on every child’s face so I think this fountain is a must visit for any kid.  And the best part is that it’s free.  Kids can easily spend 2-3 hours in there – just remember to bring a spare set of clothes or a swimsuit for them to wear while in the fountain.  Because they will get drenched!

Have you discovered any London places that are fun and worth a visit?  Do share so we can all check them out.

Anya wears quirky bear tee by ebabee and floral shorts by Zara (past season)
{all photos by ebabee}


With the Summer holidays coming up lots of us are planning a family holiday.  Even though we aren’t going away this Summer travel has always been a huge part of my childhood and adult life for as long as I can remember.  Even when Anya came along, we didn’t stop traveling.  In fact it was the opposite – we realised we just needed to plan a bit better but it was entirely doable.  We also didn’t let long-haul put us off.  She’s only six and has already been to places as far flung as Argentina and Uruguay, San Francisco, India and Nepal (lucky kid!).  Some of these journeys have involved 14-15 hour flights but we managed.

Some people have commented to me that it’s easier for us with only one child and in some ways it’s true – we don’t have squabbles to sort out, no one fights over which plane seat they’d like (except Richard and me who both always want the window seat!).  But on the other hand Anya has no one but us to entertain her.  And sometimes it’s been just her and me on long journeys so that has been a bit trickier but still entirely manageable with a little planning beforehand.

Having been through so many journeys and with the holidays coming up I thought I would share some of my best tips on flying long haul with children.  There are loads of tips out there for flying with toddlers and babies but not as many for slightly older kids who are around 4-7 years old.  I also wanted to share my own experiences of what’s worked and what hasn’t as I’ve tried so many little things to make long flights as bearable as possible.  Long flights can be trying with young children and in some ways a lot harder than flying with babies who don’t move.  So I hope these tips help you if you’re planning a long haul flight with children soon.  And if you’re still thinking about whether you should brave long haul or not,  I hope these tips inspire you and make you go for it!

1. Get them excited not just about the holiday but the journey too.  If they’ve never been on a plane before then this will be a huge excitement in itself.  Even if they have, planes are always exciting – I have taken thousands of flights and I’m still excited every time I get on a plane.  Tell them about what to expect at the airport and on the flight so they know what’s coming – include the good and the bad.

2. Let them pack a little back pack or mini stroller suitcase to take on the flight.  I use the words ‘let them pack’ very loosely.  What I mean is let them believe they are packing a case.  Left up to Anya she would cram the most random things in to her hand luggage (she once tried to pack her collection of pebbles that weigh a ton!) so I keep a sharp eye on what she’s putting in there and subtley guide her towards the things I know we will need.  Try and get the kids to pack their hand luggage a few days in advance of leaving because this not only builds up excitement but it gives you time to see what’s in there and to change things around if needed.   This way you can avoid any last minute panics and arguments.

3.  Buy a few cheap toys from the 99p/dollar store but don’t show it to the kids beforehand.  Keep it hidden away and surprise them with it when they are showing signs of boredom.  In addition to a few toys I also take along surprise snacks and treats which always work like magic.

4.  While I wholeheartedly suggest taking a few surprise toys and treats, you can’t go overboard with these as there is only so much you can carry in hand and you don’t want to end up lugging 50 kilos worth of hand luggage around with you with two tired and whiny children in tow!  The next best thing is an ipad or similar which is fully charged and loaded with games and movies.  I know a lot of parents are against screen time but believe me on a long flight it is a godsend!  If you have two kids and one device then be very clear in advance of the flight as to who get’s it when or let them both watch a movie together if that’s an option.  Besides occupying the kids, ipad’s are lot easier to carry around than toys.  This may sound a bit strange but I have a little calculation I use to decide what entertainment comes along and what doesn’t – minutes/hours of entertainment it can provide divided by weight/space it takes.  The ipad wins every time!

5.  Carry Calpol, iburpfen or similar in your handbag.  When Anya was five and we were flying to India, with no warning she developed a burning high temperature mid-flight.  She was so hot that there was even talk of an emergency landing.  Kids getting sick is bad enough at the best of times but at 30,000 feet above ground, it’s scary!  Luckily there was a doctor on board who checked her out and managed to get Calpol off another passenger.  The doctor suggested waiting to see if the Calpol helped before doing anything else.  Luckily it worked and I learned my lesson. (Even with the no liquid on board rules, you can still take medicines along ).

6.  When flying long haul with children, expect the unexpected like delays, lost luggage and extra long queues.  While you can’t plan for every eventuality, it helps to consider the things that can go wrong.  I tend to keep a spare set of clothes for Anya in her hand luggage which came in very handy when the airline lost our luggage when we landed in Buenos Aires after a 24 hour door to door journey.  Also spare underwear is handy as even at 5-6 years of age, accidents can happen especially if there are long queues to use the inflight loos.

7.  If you too have a fussy eater like Anya (and even if you don’t) it’s a good idea to get the children well fed before a long haul flight.  Meals can be delayed, they may not like the options available, their choice of meal may run out – so many reasons and the last thing you want is bored, tired and hungry kids.  We usually head to the airport early and let Anya have a full meal at one of the restaurants there.  That way she’s fed as late as possible which in theory should keep her full for several hours and then I give her the surprise snacks and treats on board as she won’t eat the airline meals.

8.  Keep the best for last.  In my experience, that last hour of a long haul flight is the most painful.  The last 60 minutes can feel longer than the entire flight!  By that time you’ve probably been traveling for several hours and the kids have just about had enough.  You’re probably tired too and I know I start to lose every bit of patience that I had at the start.  So I keep one special toy or treat, usually the best one for this last hour.  It really helps in taking Anya’s mind of her tiredness and boredom for a little while at least. And every minute of calm at this stage helps.

9.  Lastly, don’t forget to relax and enjoy the journey which is the first part of your holiday.  Once we step inside an airport we are in holiday mode and all normal at home rules are broken from the word go.  It really helps if you focus on the fun side of things and keep your sense of humour because after all if you’re relaxed, your kids will be too.

*I’ve linked up to Honest Mum’s brilliant blog posts and Mums Days the list.

It’s that time of year when many of us start thinking of new year resolutions.  I never make formal lists or even scribble down my resolutions but I do think of a few things in my head.  Recently I’ve been thinking that I’m not having enough family time even at the weekends as we are crazy busy with a house move, work and everything else.  So one of my top priorities for next year is more quality family time.

One way to ensure that we switch off and really have quality time together is to go away somewhere for the weekend which I want to do a lot more of next year.  But in the past whenever I’ve thought of getting away, I always think of going abroad.  It never occurs to me to get away within the UK which is so much more do-able even at short notice.  A little while ago we wanted to get away and of course I started thinking Berlin, Paris or Venice.  But as we had only a couple of free days and couldn’t manage a trip to the continent I almost gave up on the idea of going anywhere when I remembered reading about some wonderful UK breaks over at my my friend Honest Mum’s blog.  That inspired me to think closer to home and after a quick search I thought about visiting Woburn.  It’s not too far from London, has a lovely safari park which I knew Anya would love and some great places to eat which Richard and I would love.

"Woburn family trip giraffe""Woburn family trip zebra""woburn-safari-park-family-trip

We only managed an overnight stay in the end but that was fine.  We got there and had a quick but delicious lunch at The Black Horse.  We would have preferred a slightly more relaxed lunch but someone was desperate to get to the safari park!  So off to the park we went.  And it was fun; really fun for all three of us.  The park has a mixture of animals most of whom roam freely within very large enclosures that you drive through.  You have to stay in your car for obvious safety reasons but it was still so fun to see animals like tigers, bears and lions up close.  No photo’s of these as of course we couldn’t put our car windows down to snap any.  The highlight for me was definitely seeing the big cats which I love.  But for Anya it was the drive around the monkey area.  The monkeys jump on your car and sit there for ages which was really exciting for her.

"kids on the moon Summer""Woburn Abbey family trip ebabee""woburn family trip ebabee"

The next morning we headed to Woburn Abbey and the surrounding gardens which are stunning.  We walked around the place enjoying the gardens and the beautiful architecture.  Anya got to run around, climb on rocks and just enjoy being outdoors as kids do.

"wobirn abbey trip"

After visiting Woburn I knew that next year I would make a conscious effort to get away within the UK more often.  Just quick weekend trips that really allow you to spend quality family time together away from the stresses of everyday life and you get to enjoy the wonderful sites that England has to offer.  With inexpensive hotels like Travelodge dotted around the country and so many wonderful places to see, eat at and relax, there really is no excuse not to.  This short trip really opened my eyes to getting away within the UK and having a burst of pure family time without any distractions.  I can’t wait to get away again and would love some recommendations on where to go as a family?  Where have you been that you think is a must go to within the UK?

This post is brought to you in partnership with Travelodge.  All ideas, words and images are my own.  Thank you for supporting my work with partners that support this blog.

"free summer workshops for kids London"A few weeks ago I attended a bloggers networking event at the National Portrait Gallery.  I got to meet some inspiring bloggers and I also found out that the National Portrait Gallery has loads of free Summer events, workshops and activities for kids.  Most of these events are held on Thursdays, Fridays and the weekend.  So last Friday we decided to check one out.  We attended a clay modelling workshop where kids get to pick a portrait from the gallery, draw it and then create a clay sculpture of it.

"free Summer activities for kids in London"

Even though the workshop was aimed at the kids, I totally got in to the clay modelling part and really enjoyed it too.  And I wasn’t the only mum there that was almost taking over their child’s clay!  Anya wasn’t crazy about the drawing bit but the clay modelling was a huge hit with her.  The clay is cool and soft to the touch so it was lovely to feel and it was really fun to be able to mold and shape it and see a head and shoulders emerging.  I’ll admit our end result looked a bit frightening but we had so much fun making it.

All the free kids activities on offer at the National Portrait Gallery are arty and creative which is why we were drawn to them in the first place.  The clay modelling workshop is only one of many – others include colour workshops, using loom bands to create portraits, drawing sessions and more.  Each year, as I discover more and more of the wonderful free events for kids in London, I feel so lucky that we can take advantage of these.  Have you discovered any?  Please do share in the comments so that others can try them too.

{all photos by ebabee}

"family holiday rental home Amsterdam"We love to travel in this house.  If we ever win the lottery, I know we would spend the rest of our days exploring the world.  Since having Anya, we haven’t given up on travel and neither have we let distance bother us.  We’ve taken her to far flung places like Uruguay, Argentina and San Francisco, all 12 hour flights or longer.   The one thing we have changed is where we stay.  Before it was always about finding a cool boutique hotel but now it’s always apartments.

With a child, I’ve discovered that the convenience of a holiday apartment is unbeatable.  It means plenty of space for everyone, it also means you don’t have to rush out for every meal and often means clothes washing is possible – so handy with a child and you can travel with fewer clothes (in theory at least!).   Richard and I turn in to night birds on holiday and often stay up late in to the night chatting while Anya sleeps in the next room without being disturbed.  Since I’ve started booking holiday apartments, I’ve never looked back.

"family holiday rental home paris""family holiday rental home Odense Denmark""family holiday rental home London"

A while ago I discovered a beautifully curated holiday home rental site which I have been meaning to share with you ever since.  All the homes on this site are real family homes that are rented out while the families are holidaying elsewhere.    The added bonus of renting a home where someone lives means that you have all the stuff you could possibly need.  There are kids rooms with toys, living rooms full of books and kitchens with all the equipment to cook up anything you want.  All the homes are full of charm and character and look so welcoming.

"family holiday rental home near Paris""family holiday rental home Brighton"

Kid & Coe have so many beautiful homes on offer that include city residences, country cottages as well as beach retreats and mountain chalets.  Their list of holiday properties is always growing but even now there is a very good choice.  I’m hoping to get away to the Continent this Summer and if I do I would love to stay at one of these holiday homes because the idea of staying in a real home really appeals to me.  What do you prefer?  Holiday apartment or hotel?

"family Summer holiday ideas"

I recently met up with a friend who has grown up kids and she was lamenting the fact that this would be her last Summer vacation with all her kids as they’re off to university in Autumn.  That got me thinking that I only have (at best) 13 family Summer holidays left with Anya and that just doesn’t sound like a lot.  I definitely need to make each one count!  With the first of my 13 Summer holidays coming up very soon, I started thinking about all the wonderful places I want to return to as well as new places I want to see.  Both Richard and I dream of exploring every corner of the world one day.  We did a lot of traveling before Anya came along but now since Anya is only 5, the same holidays have a different focus as they need to cater to her entertainment as well as ours so I started thinking about my top 3 choices for now:

"family villas to rent in Tuscany"

1. Beautiful Tuscany
I visited Tuscany for the first time about 3 years ago and it was love.  We hired a villa and went on a big family vacation so there was loads of fun and company for everybody.  Tuscany truly is a beautiful and very relaxing place and I can’t wait to go back there.  In case we can’t manage a full on extended family holiday with our own villa (which can be a nightmare to co-ordinate) I’d love to stay somewhere like Villa Pia.  With 17 bedrooms, there are lots of families staying in the villa at the same time so Anya will always have ready made company which matters as she is an only child.  There are also loads of kiddy activities from the more usual swimming and playgrounds to the more unusual like cooking and art classes for kids.  And for the adults too there’s plenty of lounging, socialising and eating on offer as well as fun activity day trips for all the family.  It’s rare to find a place that genuinely caters to both adults and kids equally so it’s definitely top of my list.

"Summer holiday ideas for family"

2.  Gorgeous Goa
Nothing beats a beach Summer holiday.  Which kid doesn’t like to spend time splashing by the sea side and building sandcastles galore?  There are lots of places to choose from across the world but our last beach vacation was a glorious week in Goa a couple of years ago where we couldn’t get enough of all the sun, sand and seafood.  We chose a family friendly resort so there were plenty of other families and kids around.  Anya was never short of company and made friends wherever we went.  Much like the Italians, Indians tend to be very relaxed about kids running around and enjoying themselves around the adults even at restaurants.  Most of the restaurants are open air so that helps a lot.  I can’t wait to get back to Goa as not only is it one of the most chilled out family friendly places but the food is to die for.

"city breaks with kids"

3. Vibrant cities
Even though Anya is only 5, we have taken her on many a city break which works as long as we make sure we have one thing planned for her each day.  Sometimes a full on 2 week holiday isn’t possible due to budgets or work pressures so I find even getting away for 5 or 6 days feels like a break.  My one top tip for a city break with kids is to stay in an apartment over a hotel.  This holiday isn’t as social as the others but during our last city break to San Francisco, we found lots to do for both Anya and us.  We took her to many playgrounds, fed her ice-cream and pizza and visited museums that would appeal to her.  Every city has something to offer kids so I think it’s a shame to miss out on the culture and vibrancy that this kind of a holiday offers just because you have kids.  We can’t get away for long this Summer so we’re thinking of a city break to Berlin.  Do you have any tips for child-freindly places in Berlin? 

Where do you Summer holiday?  I’m always looking for new ideas especially recommendations so I’d love to hear where you holiday in the Summer.

This post if brought to you in partnership with Villa Pia.  All content, words and ideas are my own.  thank you for supporting my work with carefully selected partners that support my blog.

{Top, 3rd and 4th photo by ebabee, 2nd photo by Villa Pia}

"view of himalayas from Pokhara"

Even though I had lived in India for many years, I never made the trip to neighbouring Nepal.  Over the Easter break we made the trip because we had a close family wedding to attend and I’m so glad we did.  We didn’t have long there but still managed to pack in a huge amount.  The capital city Kathmandu didn’t wow me although it does have some beautiful world heritage sites.  But we made an overnight trip to Pokhara (22 minute flight from Kathmandu), a town that sits in the valley of the Himalayas.  The views of the Himalayas from Pokhara were breathtaking and I highly recommend a visit if you’re ever in Nepal.   I thought it would be fun to share a few photos of our trip and highlight a few unmissable places in Nepal.

"pokhara fulbari resort views"In Pokhara we were invited to stay at The Fulbari Resort which has the most incredible setting.  If mountains are your thing then this is the place to stay as you wake up with views like these photos each morning.  Trekking isn’t my thing but we took some mountain drives and visited the beautiful Phewa lake where we took a boat ride.  Everywhere we went in Nepal we were presented with a traditional ceremonial scarf called a Khata which is what Anya is wearing in the photo above.

"Indian wedding baraat"

It was an Indo-Nepalese wedding so being the Indian side, we did the traditional Indian baraat where all the guests from the grooms side dance alongside him as they escort him in to the ceremony.   There was a loud band playing the best of Bollywood to add to the already amazing atmosphere.  The ceremony was held at the Hyatt Kathmandu which is a lovely hotel and a comfortable haven away from the hustle and bustle of the city.  Another Kathmandu hotel that we spent time at was Dwarika’s Hotel – a beautiful boutique property which is worth having a meal at or staying at if you want to splurge!

"Patan Durbar Square Kathmandu"

We visited the beautiful Patan Durbar Square and many of the temples in Kathmandu.  Anya’s favourite temple was Swayambhu, a Buddhist temple perched on top of a hill that had the most amazing views of Kathmandu.  But it wasn’t the views that enchanted Anya, it was the monkeys.  The temple was full of monkeys – old and young, big and small – all roaming around freely.  One of them almost jumped on her which was a bit scary but then it thankfully moved on elsewhere!

"monkeys at Swayambhu temple"

Nepal is a beautiful country and the people are so warm and welcoming.  I’m so glad we had the opportunity to visit and I can’t wait till we go back and spend a bit more time there.

"poking a scarecrow"

Have you been to Nepal?  I’d love to hear what you thought and where you went…

Have a wonderful bank holiday weekend full of new adventures x

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