Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Oh, I do love a trip to the SeaLife Centre Brighton! We’ve been meaning to take Violet for a couple of months now although had been holding on as we wanted to take her once we knew she’d actually be interested in the fish and have a bit more of an understanding on what is going on so we could all enjoy the experience.

I think we timed it just right as now Violet is just about to turn 8 months (I know, WHAT!) and she absolutely loves animals of all kinds. From previous trips to the farm we’ve seen that she is clearly watching the animals as her eyes will follow them around their enclosures – so we knew she’d just love the SeaLife Centre. She had never seen fish like this before, so it was going to be a real treat!

Also, this October, Sea Life Brighton has a spooky Halloween theme going on in the ‘Fear Forest’ which is the rainforest section – with decorations, scary creatures (and handling sessions of creatures like hissing cockroaches and african land snails!), a ‘Yucky Dip’ and face painting so we thought it would be fun added extra to check that out too!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

From the moment we stepped through the doors, Violet was just mesmerised by the beautiful aquariums, lights and colours. In fact in the first picture, she is literally trying to break out of my arms to get back to the fish tanks as she was just in awe. I just thought maybe she liked the lights but holding her up to each tank, you could see she would be staring intently at the creatures inside, her little mind visibly taking it all in. She also loved the bright rainbow colours of the Victorian Arcade, although who doesn’t! It’s so pretty in there.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

We headed into the Fear Forest, where some Halloween decorations have added to the experience – although I have to say the decorations were a little on the sparse side for what I was expecting, but we didn’t come for the Halloween bits really and Violet was too mesmerised by the aquariums to really notice any other bits of decoration. I’m sure the Halloween activities would be fun for slightly older children though!

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

My favourite part of the SeaLife Centre (and I’m sure Violet’s too!) was the Ocean Tunnel –  with giant sea turtles, sharks, rays and tropical fish there is so much to see!  We spent quite a while in here, watching the ginormous turtle gliding so close over our heads, so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween! Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

We’ve always enjoyed going to the SeaLife Centre and have been a few times now, but this was our first trip as a family and honestly, it makes all the difference! It was such a lovely feeling watching Violet’s face as she stared in astonishment at the creatures, squeaking and kicking her legs in excitement as they came closer to her! There was so much for her to see, even at the tender age of (almost) 8 months she was taking it all in and I know when we come back when she’s a little older, she’ll love getting involved with the activities like face painting, animal handling and treasure hunts too, so this is a place we can keep returning to over time too.

I’d highly recommend a trip if you are looking for something to do this Half Term, plus kids in Halloween costumes will receive free entry too!

Sea Life Brighton is open from 10 am every day apart from Christmas Day. Visitors can save up to 40% by booking in advance online. For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit www.visitsealife.com/brighton or call 01273 604234.

Days Out: SeaLife Centre Brighton at Halloween!

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

I do love an Afternoon Tea – There is something decadent about working through the layers whilst copious cups of tea and wiling away an afternoon. So, a couple of weekends ago we headed down to the newly opened Patisserie Valerie in Brighton. I always think of London when I see Patisserie Valerie, so knowing I have one close to home now is too exciting (or dangerous!). Funny enough, I actually did a brunch review last year, when this property was Baker & Spice, so when we turned up looking for the new Patisserie Valerie I had no idea they’d taken over that very spot. Thinking back, I don’t think Baker & Spice ever really took to Brighton, seeing as we are overwhelmed with great brunch cafes already so I can’t say I am surprised. I think with Patisserie Valerie, being an established and well-known chain will have more of a chance of survival in an oversaturated area as it is.

The venue is ideal for Brighton’s changeable weather, with indoor and outdoor seating plus a suntrap conservatory.  It was a sunny day so we sat in the bright and airy conservatory area to watch the world go by, but also have a little bit of privacy with a baby who’s newfound love is to bang her hands on the table, scream for no reason and grab everything in sight!

The Afternoon Tea itself is one of the best value for money in Brighton – at only £25 for two it’s very reasonably priced, many places charge this per person! I was eager to see if it would live up to it’s competitors, or if the quality would be reflected in the lower price.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

The Patisserie Valerie Afternoon Tea includes:a selection of finger sandwiches, mini quiches, scones with jam & clotted cream all topped off with a selection of mini cakes and accompanied by a refillable pot of tea. You can also add a glass of Prosecco for an extra £5. As we are both Vegetarian, we asked for the veggie option. I was completely impressed that we were also advised which cakes contained gelatine and given options to replace them as this is often overlooked as a vegetarian. One of the cakes we couldn’t have so they gave us a full-sized Apple Tart in it’s place!

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie BrightonReview: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

Needing an extra caffeine boost with a baby who just wants to sit up, crawl, look at everything, touch everything we ordered coffee’s instead of tea which they were able to swap with no extra charge.

The first course – the savoury layer was fine for a vegetarian option and did the trick for a quick lunch, but I wouldn’t say they were the most interesting sandwiches I’ve ever eaten!  They were tasty and fresh but the fillings were quite basic, fillings such as egg mayo, cheese, humous – I think they could have been a little more inventive on this front, maybe the meat sandwiches are more interesting. One of our sandwiches just had some spinach leaves in with a slick of mustard – an interesting combo, I skipped that one.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

I wasn’t too disappointed in the savoury course, in my heart-of-hearts I’m just there for the cakes. I just like to act like I’m eating something sensible by entertaining the savoury course. As soon as we were done I was more than excited to move on up a layer, to the traditional scones with clotted cream and jam.

The scones were clearly freshly made and baked to perfection – with a generous serving of clotted cream and as many pots of Bonne Maman jam as we could manage.

Review: Afternoon Tea at Patisserie Valerie Brighton

Lastly, onto the cakes section – my favourite and I think this was the best part of the whole experience. Eclairs, Victoria Sponge, chocolate gateaux and a carrot cake were on our selection – plus we had our full sized apple tart on the side (where we replaced one of the cakes for containing gelatine). By this point we were getting rather full so we did our best but most of them came home in a little box with us to enjoy later. The staff were helpful in boxing them up for us and gave us a nicely wrappy ‘doggy bag’ as we left!

One of my only criticisms of the experience was not anything to do with the food, but I thought the restaurant itself wasn’t great for accessibility. To use the toilets there is a flight of stairs and to get to the baby change there are two flights of stairs! I negotiated my way down the stairs with a wiggly baby and change bag and it wasn’t the safest of options and I think someone who hasn’t had a baby had obviously thought that was a good place for the change table!

All in all, I thought our Afternoon Tea experience was rather lovely, especially for the price of £25 for two people. I wouldn’t say it was the most elaborate I’ve ever had but for the price it was delicious and well worth a visit. If you are looking for something really special or unique there are lots of other places in Brighton like The Salt Room, Terre a Terre or The Grand, but those all come with a different price tag so really they shouldn’t be compared! A lovely experience all round that can’t really be faulted for the price tag – give it a go!

If you are looking for Afternoon Tea in Brighton, see my reviews on:

The Salt Room

The Harbour Hotel

 

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

Violet is at such a lovely age where she just wants to see and do anything and everything. The world has opened up to her and you can see her soaking everything up and taking it all in. So, this weekend we decided to take her for her very first circus experience as I was kindly invited along to sit ringside at Zippo’s Circus, which is pitched up on Hove Lawns at the moment. I really wasn’t sure how it was going to go with Violet as we were worried that she might be a little too small to enjoy it but we decided there was only one way to find out – so we went along to see what she’d make of it all!

It was a beautifully sunny day in Brighton, after a leisurely morning and some food in town we strolled along Brighton seafront to Hove lawns where we met up with some friends Kirstie and Lauren (of Scrapbook Blog) for our circus experience. As we took our seats, I could see Violet was instantly mesmerised – the lights, the colours, the sounds and smells overloading her senses, but she was in awe! Especially when she saw Lauren’s son Arlo’s flashing light-sabre and we knew we’d have to get her one too (that ‘guilt’ buying thing started way earlier than I thought it would).

The circus was every bit as exciting as I remember it as a child, the smell of sawdust and popcorn with the anticipation building as we waited for the show to begin. I felt like I’d been whisked back to my childhood as memories of circus trips from years gone by came flooding back, it hasn’t changed a bit and I wouldn’t want it to.

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

This year the Zippos show is called ‘Jigit’ which means courageous or brave and that was a fitting description for the show. Each of the acts so different to the next, I felt like the show kept me on the edge of my seat from the word go. I don’t even know where to start telling you about all of the acts, there was everything you’d expect and more – trapeze artists dangling precariously above our heads, flame throwers, crazy knife throwers that took my breath away (he was SO quick), amazingly talented horse riders with beautiful stallions, juggling, hula-hooping, a contortionist (who I couldn’t look at without wincing!) and the grande finale – 5 motorbikes in a giant metal orb, you have to see it to believe it!

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

The show is a two hour sitting, with an interval halfway and I was amazed by the interval that Violet was still loving every moment of it, standing on our laps, she’d bounce up and down with excitement as she watched each act – I think her favourite was the horse riding as she LOVES animals, as they circled the ring I’d feel her jiggle with excitement as the horse came past our seats. During the interval we had the chance to get a ‘souvenir photograph’ with her and one of the beautiful horses, so of course we did (guilt buying strikes again!) She patted and stroked the horse, then decided to lick it’s saddle for good measure as the picture was taken! Towards the second half of the show, as much as she wanted to watch it all she got way too tired and had to be taken out for a little walk about in the baby carrier for a snooze – it was a long performance for someone so little but she did so well to watch over an hour at least. She wasn’t phased at all by the loud noises or rounds of applause – she loved every minute and absorbed the magic of the circus, even at her tender age.

I left the big top absolutely buzzing – my heart had been in my chest watching each act, it was immense to say the least. I also loved that Violet enjoyed it so much, getting to share those first moments with her are so magical too. After the show we decided the only thing to do would be to enjoy the sunset over an ice cream from the best parlour in town, Marrocco’s. Of course, I had my favourite combo – Lemon Sorbet and Chocolate, people tell me thats a weird combination but I love it and always order it! It didn’t let me down….. I mean look!

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

I also popped into the shop for two moments and came back to this – Violet being led astray and taught bad habits already. She was reaching out and grabbing at the ice cream, she LOVES it and covered herself in thick chocolate ice cream, all over her face, bib, sleeves – I think she’d bathe in it if she could and I don’t blame her!

Zippos Circus & ice cream by the sea

All in all, we had a lovely family day out at the circus! Zippos Circus is in town until the 3rd September, so if you are a Brighton local I’d highly recommend popping down and watching a show before they leave (and if you aren’t local check the website as they may be coming to you soon too!) We will most definitely taking Violet again next summer as I’m sure by then she’ll just love it even more by then! 🙂

Family Days Out: Raystede Centre for Animal Welfare

Family Days Out: Raystede Centre for Animal Welfar

It’s fast becoming apparent that Violet is an animal lover. She will put her arms out to stroke Robbie, gently patting his head and giggles if she see’s his ‘windmill tail’ circling in excitement. Last week we decided we’d go on our first family adventure to visit some animals and see how she’d react, seeing as she’s only actually seen a dog before! As this was our first day trip of this kind we didn’t want to spend lots on a zoo, which might be a bit overwhelming and a really long day for Violet – she is only 6 months old after all! We decided to go to Raystede, a lovely local animal welfare centre about 20 minutes drive from us that is also practically free to get in, all you need to do is leave a donation. This seemed the perfect place for a gentle introduction into visiting farms and seeing lots of animals, without spending a fortune!

Raystede is predominantly an animal rehoming centre – there are sections for dogs, cats and rabbits where all of the animals are looking for their forever homes (too tempting, I wanted to adopt them all!). There are then some farm animals – donkeys, goats, geese just to name a few, there is an exotic bird section, tortoises and they even keep alpacas too! The centre is quite small but they do lots of family activities like ‘meet the animal‘ talks, opportunities to feed the animals and ‘animal detective trails‘ – although Violet is too small for these yet, I’m sure she’ll enjoy these in the future!

We had a good meander through all of the sections, pointing out all of the animals to Violet. I know she enjoyed seeing them all as she’d kick her legs and bounce with excitement with every new species she saw!

After a good hour or so spotting animals we decided it was time for some lunch and stopped in the cafe. The food was pretty standard cafe food, but tasty nonetheless, plus we had cream tea for pudding so that’s always a win in my books! After lunch there is a visitor centre, charity shop and pet shop so we had a mooch around and bought Robbie a new bed, seeing as his old one had become tired and tatty to the point he has started to refuse to sit on it!

Overall, we had a lovely day at Raystede. I would say if you are looking to see LOTS of animals, you might be disappointed at Raystede as its quite small and they do put lots of the animals away during the day (we didn’t see many of the cats or dogs) but for a fun, cheap family day out it’s perfect and it was certainly ideal for us for a gentle introduction for Violet to see some animals too. I’m sure we’ll return many times as there is so much more for her to see and do when she’s a little bit older as well!

For more information on visiting Raystede, see their website here.

Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!

Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!

I love supporting local businesses and living in Brighton I really am spoiled for choice. However one of my all time favourites has got to be Posh Totty, as a blogger I’ve collaborated with them numerous times now and been to their fab craft classes – they just keep coming up with new and exciting stuff, so it’s time for another update! They have some of the most beautiful, personalised jewellery. It’s the kind of shop I walk into and I just want everything – It’s just right up my street. The fab thing about Posh Totty is nearly all of their pieces are fully personalised, so they make perfect gifts or just a little treat to yourself too.

I was recently invited down to visit their brand new ‘pop-up’ stand which is located in the hugggeeee Topshop in Churchill Square, Brighton. The stand offers personalisation as you wait which is really cool if you are impatient like me as usually you have to order bits from Posh Totty then wait a couple of days for your design to be created. They have a lovely selection of necklaces and bracelets – in all different finishes, silver, rose gold and gold. I also thought the pieces were reasonably priced too for such high quality items being between £15-49 depending on what you choose!

Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!

So, I had a little look at the pieces and choose the one I wanted to be personalised. Luckily, the fab Posh Totty team were on hand to keep Violet busy (I think she won their hearts in a second!) so I had a few moments of baby-free shopping too! I chose the Double Hoop Necklace and of course, being a cliché blogger I am, I opted for rose gold (it had to be done, right?). I had one ring stamped with Violet’s name and have left the other blank for another day… you can get things added to your jewellery, so maybe one day I’ll get that one stamped too. I also enjoyed watching it being stamped and seeing how things would usually be done ‘behind the scenes’.

So, here it is! My beautiful necklace and the photo really doesn’t do it justice as my camera just hasn’t picked out the letters very well, but it looks beautiful in on – the personalisation is subtle and delicate which makes it look elegant as I find some personalised things can look a bit tacky.

Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!

Thank you so much for inviting me down to visit you Posh Totty – the personalisation station will be back in Topshop on the 24th July 2017 for 6 weeks, so make sure you head down and give them a visit. If you can’t get to Topshop they also have the shop on Sydney Street or you can order online if you aren’t local to Brighton too – and if you are looking for some inspiration, here are some of my favourite designs:

Posh Totty pops up in Topshop!