A 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.

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.

As 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.

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!

Two buildings, centuries apart.

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…

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!

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!

After 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.

 

10 little things that make me happy (that are NOT baby related!)

The Fourth Trimester – it’s all consuming, right? Everything in my world has been baby, baby, baby and although obviously, Violet is my world now, I’ve realised that a really important part of being a happy Mum is remembering who you were before babies.

I feel like a different person now, my body feels different, my daily life is totally different – it’s so easy to lose touch of who you were beforehand. So, in the last week, two of my favourite Mummy bloggers have given me a much-needed nudge in the right direction into remembering who I am, underneath the maternity sized stripy tops and messy Mum-bun.

Firstly, I attended a styling event with Bethanie Lunn, who got me trying on clothes to flatter my new body shape and although I felt hideously embarrassed of my lumps and bumps at first, she really gave me a boost and showed me a few new styles that suit my new figure. It was also fab to have a baby-free night out with my blogger friend Aine, we always have a giggle together, I shall miss her when she whizzes off to Bali very soon!

Secondly, Lauren has tagged me in this post to write 10 little things that make me happy – so I thought this would be a good time to write 10 non-baby related things to remind myself of the little joys outside of being a mother. So, here goes!

  1. Wearing my Rose Gold trainers with glittery toes and watching my feet sparkle in the sunshine as I walk along.
  2. Salted Caramel Ice Cream
  3. Being on maternity leave during the summer and living right on the beach – I know what I’m going to be doing every day once the weather warms up! 
  4. Pouring my heart and soul into my blog again – I missed it during my break, I realised how much of an outlet it is.
  5. The smell of a burnt out sparkler (or party popper!) – sort of stealing this one from Lauren, but she reminded me in her post talking about matches!
  6. Looking back at holiday snaps and reliving the happy memories of the places we have been
  7. Mojitos – I haven’t had one in over a year, I think the time has come!
  8. Wearing bright lipstick – even if I’m feeling low, a slick of colour always perks me up
  9. Robbie’s biscuit paws – yes, his feet paws like cookies baking in the oven (really)
  10. Striking everything off my to do list and putting my feet up to some trashy TV

To carry on the happiness tag, I tag the following bloggers:

Maisie of Love, Maisie

Aine of Honestly Aine

Holly of ClosingWinter

Sarah of SunshineSarah

Bethanie of Bethanie Lunn

Plus anyone who’d like to join in!

 

What little things make you happy?

 

Our first Mother’s Day – Gift Ideas for a new Mum

In just ten days time (on the 26th March if you need a little reminder!) it’ll be Mothering Sunday. Usually, I’d be popping out and buying my Mum a card and a little something, but this year will be different as both V and I will be celebrating becoming Mother’s for the first time! As we knew things would be crazily busy with Violet at this time, we got ahead of the game and planned a few presents for each other, obviously from Violet – before she even arrived! Isn’t she clever?! 🙂 I know we are a bit too organised and it takes away the surprise, but I’m so pleased I did as I haven’t braved the shops on my own with her yet, plus in my tired sleep deprived state, I’m so glad I made it easy for myself!

So with our ‘new Mum status’ we wanted to get gifts that would come in handy with a new baby as this time is all about being practical, we need all the help we can get! So, here are the gifts that Violet got us, maybe you might find some inspiration for a present for your Mum too!

As we are going to be spending a lot of time on the sofa feeding, napping and playing with Violet, we got these lovely super soft Pets Rock Cushions (£24.99 each). The designs are just hilarious and go fabulously with our union jack ‘thrones’ in the living room!

Next up, I found this gorgeous Personalised Heart Map (£49.00 with 10% off using code MUM10). We absolutely love the village where we live so this is a keepsake we can treasure forever, it’s also the first house Violet lived in so it’ll be a special place we’ll keep in our hearts, even if we move away one day. On the website you just input your postcode and they do the rest, so it’s really quick and easy to create.

As new Mum’s we’ve basically been living on coffee (thank goodness for the Nespresso Machine!) so we thought these matching ‘I really love my Mummy‘ mugs were cute gifts and will be well used too! We personalised each mug with our drink of choice (there is a smaller text on the back) so that all our visitors know what drinks to make us. 😉  Of course all mugs need coasters, so lastly these Marbletree Heart Coasters (£19.99 for two) were a lovely touch, they go so well in our nursery and will be used many a time for those early morning feeds, I’m sure!

So, those are the gifts we will be giving, hopefully we will do something lovely as a family too (or maybe just let each other sleep -that would be FAB!)

What will you be buying your Mum this year? 

Post contains PR samples, words and opinions my own

Valentines Day Gift Guide 2017

We don’t really ‘do‘ Valentines Day in our house – we never really have as it’s just not our thing. However, as the days count down before Baby Peaches arrival, it’s got me in the mood to celebrate our last Valentines Day together as a couple, before we become a little family. We aren’t exchanging cards but as little gestures to each other we are giving sweet (but useful) gifts – things that  will pamper and make each other feel special and to celebrate a day of just being ‘us’ before baby. So, with this in mind – I’ve put together a few gift ideas along the same lines. Here are a few of my favourite picks this year:

Pampering before baby is high on my agenda at the moment, so this lovely bundle of treats from Crabtree and Evelyn is my perfect gift right now. The All Butter Rose and White Chocolate Biscuits (£5.00) are rich and delicious and with the Ultra Moisturising Hand Therapy (£6.00 per tube) so fragrant and luxurious – a real treat after all that busy nesting and scrubbing around the house!

I absolutely love flowers, but always feel a bit sad when my lovely, beautiful bouquet withers and dies. That’s why I was so excited to find these beautiful faux flowers by Cote Noire. These Oriental Lillies in Clear Glass (£50.00) are so realistic, but will last forever, so we can enjoy them time and time again. The arrangement also comes with a 10ml Spring Flower Scent bottle so you can refresh your flowers at any time. The scent is light and pretty and adds a touch of freshness to any room.

I absolutely love long, hot, baths – so having my own Personalised Towels from Christy (various prices) is the perfect gift for me. We have a lovely heated towel rail in our bathroom, so getting out of the bath into a warm, fluffy towel is just a dream. I love Christy towels as they are such great quality and are so lovely and cosy – We have a green set too, you might have recently seen them in our New Bathroom Tour!

With our baby due on 20th Feb, Valentines Day is the perfect last moment for us to reflect on life as a couple before we expand into a little family. To remember all of our favourite moments in 2016, I put together this sweet Favourite Memories Box (£22.00) from Love Give Ink for Vee. It has 4 photo memories and 8 sealed notecards, you can completely personalise every last detail, making this a really lovely keepsake gift and something a bit different.

Hope this list has given you a little inspiration for a gift for your loved one this year! Have a fabulous day, whether you are staying in or going out – I hope you are spoiled or pampered and treated like a King or Queen. Happy Valentines Day! 

Post contains PR samples – opinions are my own

8 tips on caring for your dog during the winter

Taking Robbie out for his daily walk has got to be one of my favourite times of the day. As I work from home a lot, I always make sure I take him out on my lunchbreak, that way I can get away from my laptop, get some fresh air and come back feeling invigorated and inspired for the rest of the afternoon – it’s a great way to clear out the cobwebs, although since I entered the third trimester our usual walk has turned into a slow plod, but we get there!

We have a beautiful nature reserve right by our house, with a huge, tall windmill that overlooks the sea. It’s such a beautiful spot, you just can never get bored on looking at that view – although I have to say just recently, Robbie isn’t too keen as the sheep have recently moved back in with their evil electric fence that gave Robbie the shock of his life back in the summer. He clearly still remembers as he won’t go anywhere near the sheep pen! So, even though we’ve changed our route to avoid the sheep and plod along, stopping to catch our breath every few minutes –  our walks may change over time, but we still enjoy them just the same.

 

So this post today is to talk about dog care tips for the winter, there are a few extra steps we need to think about when taking our little mutts out as the weather gets chilly, so I hope you’ll find this helpful! Luckily for us in Brighton we’ve not yet had snow or ice, however I’m sure the temperature is going to drop at some point, and when it does – we will be prepared!

WINTER COAT

Buy your pup a gorgeous coat, doesn’t Robbie look smart in his? He has really thick fur so doesn’t suffer from the cold unless it’s really chilly, however his coat keeps the mud and rain at bay, keeping him dry and easy to clean up when we get home.

LIGHT UP YOUR PUP

As it gets dark so early, make sure you can see your pup in low light or in the mist and fog. You can buy clip on lights for their collar, although I’ve found the most reliable product is a flashing or fully illuminated collar or harness. We have to be really careful as when it gets dark, Robbie can easily disappear into the distance so he wears a light at all times. Keep an extra eye on them and only let them off the lead when it gets dark in safe areas like fenced fields and parks.

COSY, WARM BEDDING

Make sure your dog has a cosy, warm space they can sleep in that is away from draughts. Robbie gets really chilly at night, his little ears are like ice cubes, so he often sleeps on our bed as thats the warmest place in the house (plus he’s like a little hot water bottle for us – win, win!). Ensure the room your dog is is warm, even in the coldest parts of the night.

CLEAN THOSE FEET!

Dogs feet need lots of extra care during the winter months, after all they aren’t wearing snowboots and thick socks like us. So, the first thing to do is to trim the hair that grows between the pads on your dogs paws, this helps to stop any build up of grit or salt, plus if it’s snowing this can get compacted between their toes and quite painful. If the skin is cracked or sore, coconut oil is a great moisturiser for little sore doggy feet.

NO SOGGY PAWS

If it’s been raining or your dog likes to jump in puddles and streams, always dry them after a walk with a big, warm doggy towel. After all that running about they can get quite cold if they are left to dry out naturally, so give them a hand to get comfy again, and scrub behind those ears and feet.

ICE, ICE, BABY

When your dog is off the lead, be careful of frozen lakes or ponds. Be careful they don’t scurry off for a spot of ice skating, the ice may be thinner than you think.

OVERFEEDING

I know we all like to eat a bit more in the winter, but the thing your pet does not need is an extra layer of fat, so stick to their normal dog food and try not to give them too many treats, especially if they are going to be home and sleeping a little more than in the summer.

ANTI-FREEZE

Keep your dog away from toxins during the winter months – the most common one to avoid is Anti-Freeze. This has a sweet taste to dogs, so keep them away from the garage or places this is likely to have spilled – even the smallest sip can be fatal!

 

I hope these tips have been helpful! Enjoy your winter walks with your pooch, I’d love to hear your top tips or doggy products you couldn’t be without – so tweet me or comment below! 

Pin for later:

This post is a collaboration with PEDIGREE®, but all thoughts are my own. For additional pet care information you can read the following PEDIGREE® Reviews for tips and advice