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!

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.

A Springtime adventure in London #ad

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

I love nothing more than a spontaneous day out. Before Violet was born, we’d always be hopping on and off the train to London, going for days out to explore the museums, catching a West End show or the odd cheeky shopping spree. However, since Violet arrived, life is a little different and it’s not quite that easy – I mean it took me 5 weeks to pluck up the courage to get out of the door on my own, so the thought of a family day out further than our sweet safe zone of Brighton seemed like a big step… but a tempting one.

So, this weekend we decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. I’ve always said that when I had a family, I wanted to be the kind of person who gets on with life as it was before, doing all the things we would have done, just this time taking the baby along for the ride too. This seemed the perfect opportunity to start our days of fun days out for all the family.

Looking at the weather forecast, it wasn’t looking great but we were determined to keep going regardless – Good old British springtime weather! We decided the best plan was to opt for a sightseeing trip to The Tower of London – I haven’t been since I went on a school trip so I couldn’t wait to see it again and view everything through adult eyes (I think as a child you just remember the grizzly bits, like where they cut people’s heads off – right?). That way we could enjoy the things outside, but there would be somewhere to run for cover – should the weather turn on us.

So we got up nice and early and headed down to Brighton train station to board our train.

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

Now, after all my apprehension around travelling with the baby, honestly – this has been the easiest journey to London I’ve ever done. We hopped on the Thameslink service from Brighton – this goes straight into London Bridge which is right in the heart of London and the perfect place for getting to so many of the sights, without having to use the underground. As I went to buy our tickets I was also surprised as it’s such great value for money too – with the Super Off-Peak tickets at the weekend, we only paid £10.80 return too and little one went free (although they also do a Kids travel for £2 offer for bigger children too). Plus, can you believe it, our carriage was totally empty! A few more people joined us on the way to London, but everyone had a seat and there was plenty of room for the pushchair and I saw lots of people with luggage as the train stops at Gatwick airport too.

An Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #adAs we whizzed through the beautiful Sussex countryside, Violet was absolutely mesmerised looking out of the windows, all the flashes of sunlight, the colours and the scenery left her wide-eyed as she took it all in. She actually stayed awake most of the journey (I thought the movement would send her to sleep) as I think it was all pretty new and exciting for her, she wanted to just take everything in.

We arrived into London Bridge around mid-morning – this was the perfect base for us as there are so many sights you can visit from London Bridge without having to catch the tube and worrying about whether there would be lift access for the pushchair. From London Bridge some fab places to visit within walking distance are: HMS Belfast, River Cruises, Borough Market, Tower Bridge, The Shard, Tate Modern, the Jack the Ripper Tour – and of course The Tower of London, that just to name a few, there are plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy as well.

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

Checking the time – it took us just over an hour to get from Brighton to London, not bad at all! (Watch – Ice Lo)

We then headed to our destination for the day – The Tower of London. One of England’s most historical sights, the Tower of London dates back as far 1066, when it was founded as part of the Norman Conquest of England. From then, it’s been in the hands of many different monarchs, used as an armoury, the royal mint, a prison to Elizabeth I and Sir Walter Raleigh and also a place of torture and death – as Ann Boleyn and many others were beheaded within the grounds. The White Tower is said to be haunted by Henry VI, Lady Jane Grey and Ann Boleyn has been spotted walking along the corridors with her head under her arm. Nowadays, thankfully – it’s a tourist destination and the home to the Crown Jewels. With so much to see and do, you can easily spend a full day taking in everything the Tower has to offer.

We bought our tickets, which were 2-4-1 when you travel on the train and of course I had to buy a guide book too!

An Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #ad

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

Two buildings, centuries apart.

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

An Springtime adventure in London #ad

We spent a good couple of hours at least exploring everything the Tower has to offer. The weather was so changeable, one minute it would be sunny, the next raining! I’m sure we spent more time putting Violet’s rain hood over the pushchair and taking it off than doing anything anything else. We found the Tower relatively easy to get about with the pushchair, although it took a bit of planning as most areas are accessed by steps but the guide book helped to point us in the direction of the step-free access points. Highlight of our trip to the Tower has got to be seeing the Crown Jewels – we queued for so long (luckily in the sunshine!) and once it was our turn, we boarded the travelator that goes past the main exhibit and lifted Violet up to see the Crown Jewels too. The Beefeater guarding the room laughed at us as she’s so little, but I think she was interested in the jewels for sure! Maybe it was the colours or the sparkles (she is my daughter after all), but one day we’ll tell her about her adventure to see the Crown Jewels and I’m sure she’ll be pleased we included her.

After a good look around the grounds at The Ravens, the guardsmen, the beefeaters and the Bloody Tower it all became a bit much for Violet and she got a bit overtired, so we retreated to the cafe for a well earned cream tea and a bottle of milk (for Violet, not us!). Feeling refreshed after a spot of calm, we continued with our day…

An Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #ad

As we left the Tower, the weather turned and it was so stormy overhead – kind of made the Tower even more spooky and atmospheric with those looming grey clouds. It was time to make our escape!

We decided to carry on our day with a little ‘walking tour’ of London along the River Thames. I say a little tour as we didn’t join an official one we just plodded along, taking in the sights and snapping away as we went. Shame the weather wasn’t great as we did get caught in a torrential downpour at this point, but luckily it passed pretty quickly and we carried on, Violet asleep in her pram was none the wiser, so thats all that mattered!

An Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #ad

For us, no trip to London would be complete without a trip to Wahaca to round the day off with tacos and mojitos! I was so excited to have my first mojito since before I was pregnant (well, and before I did IVF so maybe 18 months ago now!) and it was worth every sip! They are SO GOOD. Exhausted from our day of adventure around London we finally rested up and and enjoyed a Mexican feast, we even had a few friends who live in London turn up to join us, which was a lovely surprise!

An Springtime adventure in London #adAn Springtime adventure in London #adAfter our meal we headed back to London Bridge Station on foot again, stopping as we passed a Nespresso Cafe which has a robot that collects your order of Nespresso pods and delivers them through a little hatch for you – honestly, I kid you not, a robot! I was well impressed. We also did a final bit of sightseeing, taking the scenic path through St Paul’s Cathedral gardens and we even walked by the First Dates Restaurant which was a fun little spot, I love that TV show.

All in all, we had a fabulous first family day out with Violet – she was good as gold and loved just taking in the scenery, the sights, sounds and movements kept her interested all day. When we needed places to sit and feed or change her, it was so easy – there are places everywhere! The train journey was quick and easy and much cheaper than I expected – plus we got a discount on our tickets for the The Tower of London which made it much more affordable too. I’m glad we decided to have a spontaneous adventure out and no doubt we’ll be planning the next one too.

Lastly, just for a bit of added fun, I vlogged our day out in London so here is a little video of us all as well – enjoy!

 

Post written in collaboration with Thameslink Rail, all words opinions and photography is my own.

 

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

A couple of weeks ago, we took Violet out for her first official trip out of the house. We headed into Brighton to register Violet’s birth at the Town Hall and to celebrate afterwards, we headed to The Jetty for Afternoon Tea to toast Violet’s birth over tea, cake and prosecco. Plus, with a baby of less than two weeks old at the time – we were in dire need of the caffeine and sugar hit too!

The Jetty is located within the newly refurbished Harbour Hotel, located in prime position on Brighton’s seafront. With gorgeous sea views, The Jetty is the perfect setting for meals and drinks at any time of day – Brunch, Afternoon Tea, Cocktails or dinner with a bottle of wine, they cater for it all. Inside is bright, airy and spacious, with a clean, modern vibe. For a more intimate feel, there is also a cute ‘snug’ area tucked away with comfy sofas and a bit more privacy too.

Registering Violet’s Birth

We opted for the Harbour High Tea (priced at £19.95 per person) which comes with a bottomless selection of Teapigs tea, plus we ordered a glass of prosecco on the side too, as you know it would be rude not to raise a glass to our daughter, even if I did risk falling asleep on the spot from my first sip of alcohol in over a year!

The afternoon tea includes a lovely selection of both sweet and savoury treats, beautifully presented with side serving bowls containing jams and clotted cream for the scones. As we are both vegetarian, they also amended the menu to cater for our requirements, offering a selection of sandwiches with cheese based fillings, rather than chicken/ham/salmon options on the menu, plus a couple of cheese scones (which were SO delicious) and a guacamole and sundried tomato canapes too.

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

Our sweet treats were my favourite part (of course!). I was pleased to see there were two plump buttermilk scones, which came with plenty of clotted cream and jam on the side, it wouldn’t be afternoon tea without a good old British scone. There were also two dark chocolate praline eclairs, which were utterly divine, a refreshing twist on a classic eclair. The White Chocolate and Passionfruit trifle added a burst of zingy flavour and lastly, the cherry bakewell, another classic and baked to perfection.

I really enjoyed our Afternoon Tea experience at The Jetty, although if I’m honest my favourite part was just great to get out of the house and eat something other than takeaway pizza and wear clothes that weren’t pajamas! We found the staff friendly and accommodating, they changed the menu for us and also gave us a secluded spot with room for the pushchair and privacy as this was my first attempt at breastfeeding in public too.

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

Brighton: Afternoon Tea at The Jetty

Whilst we were at The Jetty, I was given an exclusive behind the scenes peek at the new spa that has opened at the hotel. Located in the original regency building cellars, the spa is an absolute hidden gem away from the hustle and bustle of the busy hotel. The Spa offers extensive range of luxurious spa treatments along with everyday beauty needs, including facials, manicures, pedicures and massages. I think as soon as Violet is old enough to be babysat for the day, I might treat myself to a spa day there – what do you think?

The Harbour Hotel is located on the Kings Road Brighton (just on the corner of West Street) – to book Afternoon Tea at The Jetty call 01273 916916 or email brighton.jetty@harbourhotels.co.uk

Post written in collaboration with The Jetty