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.

Violet’s First Holiday

Bonjour! We have just arrived home from our first ever family holiday and we all had such a wonderful time! Seeing as we drove 900 miles with a 4 month old baby, we had a pretty relaxing time – all things considered! For our first holiday we headed down to France to stay with family who live near Bordeaux as we thought that a driving holiday might be easier. We’d have our own car and plenty of space for luggage, plus we could travel at our own pace, which seemed to work really well for us. So today on the blog I thought I’d share some little snippets of our holiday and what we’ve been up to. Being a family holiday, I realised I didn’t really have time to get my blog camera out to snap the perfect ‘blog photography’, so  hope you enjoy these raw snaps mainly caught on my phone camera too!

We left Newhaven on the ferry early on the Saturday morning – Violet was up so early we kept her in her pjs so she’d feel comfy on the journey, we thought she’d sleep more but it was clearly too exciting and different to nap.

The ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe is around 4.5 hours and it was pretty choppy as we set sail. I started to feel pretty seasick and thought we were going to be in for a really long, rough journey but after about 30 minutes things settled down and I started to feel a bit better. I didn’t really enjoy the ferry though, it’s pretty slow and boring! I would have spent the time reading or writing blog posts, but Violet was quite unsettled so we mainly walked round and round in circles with her in the Ergobaby 360 Carrier – I couldn’t wait to get to the other side!

When we arrived in France, our first stop was Le Mans – around 3.5 hours drive away. Violet was so good on the journey down, mainly sleeping the whole way. If she grizzled a bit I put loads of nursery rhymes and the Moana soundtrack on my phone, that calmed her instantly – she loves music! We made a few stops to stretch our legs and get her out her car seat but we got to our hotel about 6pm, just in time for dinner and for our first night in a hotel with Violet. We thought she’d be really unsettled after such a long day of travelling, but we put up her travel cot with the Sleepyhead pod so it felt snuggly and familiar and she slept all night through. She is honestly such a good baby and a natural traveller! (Wonder where she gets that from… 😉 )

The hotel we stayed at was fantastic – in the middle of nowhere, but that didn’t matter as we were hitting the road again the following morning. Breakfast was amazing – I love a hotel breakfast, scrambled eggs, pancakes with Nutella, fresh fruit and stacks of coffee – perfect!

After breakfast, we got back on the road and headed down to my relatives house which is in Gemozac, a tiny village around an hour away from Bordeaux. Again, Violet coped brilliantly with the journey – sleeping most of the way. The French motorways are just so long and straight, I was able to write blog posts on my laptop all the way down which was fab to get some bits done on the go!  This is the third time I’ve visited this part of France and it’s just beautiful – this year, we timed our visit with the sunflower season. I couldn’t wait to see huge fields filled with cheery, bright sunflowers and as we arrived into the area, the fields were just filled with yellow blooms as far as the eye could see (and we were a little early for the season this year, apparently half of the fields had not flowered yet) but it still looked amazing to me. My relatives have such a beautiful house and we stay in their gite, a renovated barn dating back to the 18th century which they rent out as a self-catering holiday apartment (if you are thinking of a holiday in France or want to see more about the place we stayed have a look at their website!). The area they live is perfect for exploring, with towns like Cognac, Bordeaux and La Rochelle a drive away, so I always get excited about going as there is always something new to see and do, plus it’s lovely for us to spend time with family too.

During our 4 night stay with relatives we spent most of the time relaxing and unwinding. On our last visit we were out and about most days but this time we decided to keep things simple for Violet and just enjoyed the sunshine in the garden, played in the paddling pool and enjoyed each others company. We did pop into Royan for some lunch and a trip to the famous wool shop though – that is a must! During our stay the temperatures soared to over 34 degrees, so we became consumed by keeping Violet cool – at one point we had 3 fans on, wet towels hanging in the room and all the windows open and it was still 28 degrees in her bedroom. I think we might have been worrying too much though as she still slept really well – in fact she spent so much time asleep on holiday and by the end of the week had quite obviously grown a lot as her clothes were tight, she’s our little sunflower growing in the sunshine!

I was excited to have some time to read for the first time since Violet’s birth – I got into my newest book ‘The Cows’ by Dawn O’Porter – I haven’t finished it yet but I was hooked and haven’t enjoyed a book so much for a long time.

One of the ‘must-have’ things that we couldn’t have been without on this trip was Violet’s Travel Essentials UV tent, its light, easy to carry about and pops up within seconds. We used it both inside and outside as a safe play space which was invaluable as she is rolling now so we needed a place she couldn’t escape from easily! It has a soft mat inside which made it the perfect area for her to play outside and be protected from the sun (the fabric provides SPF35 protection). It can also be used as a travel cot, so we used it for her to nap during the day and in the early evenings too so we could still enjoy dinner on the balcony and keep and eye on her as she slept.

Finally we got to visit the Sunflower fields which was a dream come true, I have been wanting to see them in bloom for years now! As you can see from the photos, they certainly didn’t disappoint – a sea of yellow as far as the eye can see. Of course, we had to have a little photo shoot – I don’t think Violet quite knew what to make of it all!

After 4 nights staying with my relatives we started making our way towards home, with two night stops along the way to break the journey. Our first stop on the way back was the beautiful town of Saumur. We had the most beautiful view from our hotel room looking out over the river. We had a late lunch, followed by a salted caramel crepe and glass of wine in town before heading back to the hotel for about 6pm to bath Violet and put her to bed, we then just chilled out in our hotel room for the evening, watching the sun set over the river. Going on holiday with a baby certainly is a different pace of life, I’d never be in bed by 7pm on holiday but it was actually really nice to have an excuse to just relax and be, rather than rushing about seeing and doing everything.

Our last stop and final night in France was in Rouen, another 3 hour drive away. This drive was a tricky one – if you’ve ever been to Rouen, the one-way system is horrific! We got lost and ended up driving around 3 times before we found our hotel with Violet crying in the back, we had ‘Humpty Dumpty’ on a loop and honestly, trying to navigate and sing Humpty Dumpty with a hysterically screaming baby will be etched in my mind forever! ‘Humpty Dumpty had a great….. TURN LEFT!’ 

We got to our hotel and settled in before popping Violet in her pushchair to explore the local area. Rouen was a fantastic town to explore – the medieval streets and cathedral were just stunning. We ate lunch in a restaurant in the square and watched the world go by – I didn’t want to leave and wished we had longer here.

Back in the hotel for our last night we gave Violet a present from our holiday – Sophie La Girafe, an authentic French Sophie! She loved it and played with her for hours, laying on our double bed rolling all over the place. That night she slept on her own bed for the first time ever (without the travel cot) and looked so grown up, she barely fits in her sleepyhead these days either – eek!

So on our last day we bid farewell to France and boarded the ferry home. The weather was better so the crossing was smooth and I didn’t feel as seasick on the return, phew!

And here we are, approaching home – doesn’t the sea look beautiful! So all in all, we had a lovely trip and managed to relax and unwind, even travelling with a 4 month old. I think we learned a few things along the way…

  • Babies don’t actually need that much stuff, we didn’t use half her clothes, half the formula or things we packed, next time I’d pack lighter, you can get most things abroad so we didn’t need to worry too much.
  • If you are having just one night in a hotel, pack an overnight pack – the first hotel we unloaded our whole car into the room and it was full to the brim! On the way home we packed specific bags just for the hotel room with essentials and just enough clothes for us all, that worked so much better.
  • Evian water spray is your friend for cooling a hot baby
  • Nursery rhymes are also great for calming if you are in the car with a stressed out baby
  • Be ready to do a lot less when you are travelling with a baby as it’s all so new and overwhelming to them, enjoy lots of time chilling out instead of being out and about all the time
  • Bottled water has a baby bottle symbol if it’s low in minerals and suitable to be used to make babies bottles (who knew?)
  • Cold water sterilising bags are great for cleaning bottles on the go
  • Try and make their bedding as close as it is at home, take the same sleepyhead, blankets and gro bag so bedtime feels familiar, even in a totally different environment.
  • You can create a baby monitor, using a phone and ipad and connecting them both (either using an app or just via face time)
  • Babies love new experiences so don’t be put off by travelling with a baby – it’s so worth it to see their little face wide-eyed and to explore together as a family!

Are you going away this summer? If so where are you off to? If you are thinking of travelling with a baby, I have another post of top tips here and also if you are thinking of a holiday in France, please do check out the gite where we stayed, it’s BEAUTIFUL and they still have a few spaces for bookings this year too 🙂

I was kindly sent the UV tent to review – all thoughts an opinions are my own

Top tips for travelling with baby

Before we thought about having babies, travel was ‘our thing’ we liked to do. We were always plotting our next adventure, usually something including a trek off the beaten track or somewhere you wouldn’t normally think of going. We’ve been to some amazing places. So, with the arrival of baby Violet our travel plans have screeched to a sudden holt. We knew this would happen and it’s fine, she is worth it! But now it’s now time to come out of our comfort zone and take her on her first trip. This time we’ve planned something super easy for first-timers and will be visiting family in France, making some stops along the way to break up the long drive.

As this is our first trip away with a baby I’m suddenly finding it incredibly daunting! I mean, a couple of the many questions in my mind have been – How do we survive the hot weather? How do we sterilise bottles on the go (and make formula!)  and how do we keep Violet busy in her car seat for the long drives? There is SO MUCH TO THINK ABOUT. Luckily our travel plans will be super easy though, so that’s all taken care of (Thanks Clickstay!) – Now all I need to do is organise the challenging task of packing for our journey.

So, following the success of my previous post about babyproofing, I turned to my same expert team of Mummy bloggers to share their top tips for travelling with little ones, as they’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt when it comes to travelling with little ones. They have shared amazingly helpful tips, not just on travelling by car but by air too, so if you are planning a trip with a baby this summer, I hope you’ll find this helpful. Here is what they had to say:

Use your hand-luggage wisely, leave any unnecessary bits for adults in the suitcases and prioritise things for your little one in hand-luggage. Make sure you have a ‘just in case’ bag of medicines and teething essentials, in the case of any unexpected illnesses on the flight. Distractions are key! Books, colouring books and crayons, magazine, small toys and even downloading your little ones favourite TV show to play on aeroplane mode will all help make the flight shorter for them. Tattooed Tealady

Snacks!! Lots of snacks. Both for the plane and the hotel. Also, spare change of clothes in the hand luggage for baby if you are going somewhere hot as you can change them straight away then so they aren’t irritable with the heat. If they’re weaned the pre-book meals for them, as a lot of airlines don’t assume you want them and wait for you to book them. Usually they need a few days notice too Then There Were Three

Pack extra nappies/spare clothes as the pressure in the cabin is likely to lead to explosions! Scandi Mummy

Pack plenty of nappies in your hand luggage just in case of delays, plus a spare outfit or two incase of accidents! My sister in laws baby had a poo explosion at the airport and had no spare clothes! Lylia Rose

Calpol an hour or so before you fly to pre-empt any discomfort from take off. I also made sure I gave them a bottle/dummy etc to suck on too.  Suburban Mum

Definitely spare clothing…. sitting in the car for long times can cause ‘leakage’. My son always timed accidents to the “perfect” moment, normally in public, miles away from a toilet..!  Planes, Trains and Meltdowns

Our little girl gets travel sick and GP recommended taking Piriton to relieve travel sickness. If you are hiring a car take a car seat with you, they are stupidly expensive to hire and you can check them in. For baby essentials I find it easier to find a local super market and stock up when we get there. I take enough stuff for a day or two. Part of the fun of exploring a new place is finding out what pampers are called in their country. 😜 The Tantrum Times

Pack a spare change of clothes (sleep suit etc) to get baby changed into for a comfortable sleep. Katy Kicker

If using bottles, a plastic tub and cold water steriliser tablets are really handy! The ready made cartons are also SO handy for travelling, as there’s no fear of powdery mess everywhere! Emily and Indiana

Ziplock bags – for packing changes of clothes for baby ( easy to grab one and know everything is all in there), also for ice cubes to keep milk/food cold ( refill after security and on plane) Spare change of clothes for YOU too ( or at least a top) Small Calpol sachets 5ml, Plenty of snacks and food if weaning/ post weaning ( most major airlines have baby purée in jars which you can pre request as a BBML. Something with a familiar smell or scent, CoziGo bassinet cover ( also great for prams too plus UV 50 and breathable) if your flight has a bassinet. A GALT ring is handy if you have a non mover- easy to pack, lightweight and very useful for a villa, or hotel room to keep baby in a safe spot or even by the pool. UV play tent – again very handy for the pool or beach. Flying with a baby

A baby carrier – far easier for dealing with airports and security (especially if it’s metal free as then you can wear your child THROUGH the scanners).
A handful of new toys to get out along the route when you need to provide some new entertainment. Just small things; a toy car, a small maraca (that type of thing. Devon Mama

We found our Snoozeshade invaluable – whether it’s sunny or not, it’s so helpful for even trying to get them to grab a quick nap in the pram. Life with Boys

Super helpful tips! Thank you so much to everyone that contributed – so basically I need a lot of spare changes of clothes, nappies and distractions! Luckily Violet isn’t weaning yet, so at least we only have one form of ‘food’ to worry about for her too.  These tips have really given me a good place to start with our packing so hopefully you’ll find them helpful too. We’ll be blogging about our trip as we go, so watch out for those updates too!

 

Post written in collaboration with Clickstay 

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Top Tips for Travelling with a Baby