The Adventures of Lou, Gary, Ethan and Noah

A blog recording our journey in parenting and family life...

Posts tagged fun

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Meeting Santa - 2011

We have met quite a few Santa’s this year. The first one was very special however and took place at the East Midlands shopping outlet. Santa arrived on a sleigh pulled by reindeers which trotted along the road, down the hill and into the carpark - it was awesome! We had just arrived and they trotted right past us! Santa was very jolly and waved hello to the kids. He looked like a proper Santa - even his beard looked authentic!

We had a walk around whilst Santa set up his stand and listened to the brass bands and children singing carols. There were some very friendly elves who made balloon space guns and swords for the boys. As this was about the third week in November it was a good way to get into the festive spirit!

We queued in line looking at the reindeers to visit Santa sat on his sleigh. Ethan’s first words to him were “ey up my duck” which made me laugh.

Santa said to Ethan “ah i remember you from last year, i tickled your nose but you didnt wake up” Ethan looks perplexed!

Later on, he brought it up again “I cant remember Santa tickling my nose” No? “Did he have gloves on?, ah no i think he probably used a feather because cos (on a picture in the shopping centre) i saw he had a pen with a feather on!” Classic!

Since then we have seen numerous Santa’s, two within an hour of each other and even a carpark full on Santa’s on scooters! So, we are defintely going down the “Santa has lots of helpers” route. I have a feeling this first one was the real one though :)

Filed under christmas fun boys

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An afternoon at Sherwood Pines

Just before we went back to school I met up with my sister and niece at the lovely Sherwood Pines. It was a beautiful autumnal afternoon with the sun peeking through the trees. We parked up (£4 for the day- and actually buying it on a Friday gave us parking till the Sunday night!) and made our way to the picnic area to get set up! As soon as you arrive you get the “chilled out” feeling that only nature can give you. The park is next to Sherwood Forest Center Parks and it reminds me of there lots. The main reason for going to Sherwood Pines is for the cycling routes although some people just go for the playarea or nature walks. It is also the location for Go Ape.

We made a spontaneous decision to hire  bikes not really thinking what we would do or where we would go! Anyway I got a bike with a buggy thing on the bag for the 2 boys to sit in as, although both can ride bikes, it would be a very slow process! They loved the idea of being strapped in and pulled along like little kings. The bikes cost £7 each for a adult bike and it was £6 for the buggy.


We set off on the 3 mile family trail (green). There is also a 10 mile red route for the super fit! If you have a buggy on the back you can only go on the family trail but that suited us fine. My sister and niece had a go at pulling the boys in their buggy as although the hills were gentle I was very unfit!

It was a beautiful ride through the forest and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It took us about an hour to complete and was just about right to be honest. The boys were getting twitchy in their buggy and we were ready for a cuppa!

On our return we headed to the fantastic play area which kept the boys amused for ages - a huge sandpit with wooden houses featuring rope climbing walls, slides, buckets etc plus a tree top walkway. Loads of fun for all!

I think next time we will go with Daddy and get seats for the back of each bike so he can share the weight!

Filed under dayout fun

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Whenever anyone mentions “Butlins" I get giddy with excitement as it takes me back to a fabulous weekend we had at Skegness in September 09. Butlins really are the pro’s and know how to make a great family holiday. Here are some of the highlights in pics (though these don’t even include the amazing swimming pool, great food, lovely apartment, wonderful nightime entertainment and fantastic Redcoats!) What topped it all was it was totally free with our wonderfully wonderful Tesco Reward tokens (ok, we do spend rather a lot in Tesco!).

Filed under travel fun

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Camping fun!!

Kids love the great outdoors there is no doubt about it and my two boys are no exception. Basically give them a field to run around in and you have made their day.

To make the most of this passion we started going camping with them in summer 2009 when the youngest was still only a tiny 3 months! We went to Callow Top Holiday Park in the depths of the Peak District (which is only about an hour from home but you really feel a million miles from anywhere there). The facilities the site offers for families are second to none - great playarea, hot showers, swimming pool and its own pub and brewery! There was even a kid’s disco on the “village green” outside the pub which Ethan at 2 years old loved!

Here is a pic of Noah and myself in a nearby pub garden. Ok so camping doesn’t do anything for your hair! And Ethan having a great adventure in the play area.

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Filed under adventures camping fun kids travel

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Mini break with the minis

Good ol’ Tesco treated us to a weekend away with Clubcard rewards, vouchers whatever they are called these days. We stayed at the Bobsleigh Hotel in Hemel Hempstead in a suite which was fantastic for us – plenty of room, separate sleeping area for kids, quiet (at least once the smalls were asleep that is). Breakfast was delicious – a great selection of cereals, fruit, pastries, cold meats and cheese followed by a freshly cooked to order Full English for us, and beans and scrambled eggs on toast for the boys. Anyway, enough about the hotel!

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Filed under London fun kids travel

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First blogging event!

Last Thursday was a very exciting day for me. Not only was I taking a trip to London, without my adorable children, but it was also to be my first parent blogging event!

I was invited to a new venture between Sainsbury’s and British Gas – a collaboration called Sainsburys Energy . This union gives customers reassurance from two giants in their field with their strong brand identity and customer loyalty. It also offers a chance for British Gas to be seen back on the High street for the first time in 20 years!  It was held at the sustainable restaurant, Walnut  located in West Hampstead.

The event was kicked off by the fabulous Lucy Siegle (The One Show, The Guardian) presenting an overview on the current agenda for the green cause with practical suggestions how home users can make small, or big, changes.  For some very obvious reasons it is clear that environmental issues are a matter high on the agenda for government and local authorities with the great steps that are being taken with regards recycling. However, there are lots more things that can be done to use less energy and thus help take the strain off the earth’s depleting resources. Although I like to think I am a keen recycler and consider green issues on a daily basis, I have to say I learnt a thing or two from her talk such as:

·         Leaving electrical appliances such as the TV, set top box  on standby can waste up to £15 per year in electricity

·         Tumble dryers cost four times more to dry clothes than it uses to wash them

·         Turning down the thermostat just 1 degree can save pounds every year

·         Be conscious of the over packaging on supermarket products and try to buy products that use less unrecyclable waste

·         Composting your decomposable waste is a great way to make a big difference.

British Gas and Sainsbury’s made their presentation on what they could offer to help consumers make a difference to the bigger picture in the form of offering Home Energy Assessments that could help save a household £200 a year. Sainsbury’s Energy also offers a solar panels installation service, allowing customers the ability to earn money generating their own electricity for the next 25 years.

The presentations were excellent food for thought to everyone who attended and it was fantastic to meet other parent bloggers who were as enthusiastic, if not more, as I was. The food was delicious as was the service. Special hellos go to Karen Cannard at The Rubbish Diet, Karin at Café Bebe, Carol at New Mummy, Emma and Erin at Emma and 3, Ella at Notes from Home, Tim at Bringing up charlie and everyone else I met there. Thanks to Natalie and Rory at TVC for arranging.

Filed under blogging fun

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las vegas

At the end of September Gary and I went to la viva Las Vegas!! Without children!!!

We headed to Heathrow on Sat night for flight Sun am.. All going great so far. Flight stopped off at JFK where there were huge queues for immigration. Note: do not enter America at one of their busiest airports! Just as well we had 4 hours to kill anyway. Eventually set off but then had to stop off at Kansas City for a medical emergency where a 78 yo guy sat behind us wasn’t feeling well and Drs on board thought he needed to be seen at a hospital. I was beginning to think we would never arrive in Las Vegas.. does it really exist this place!?

Anyway woohoo got there just a few hours behind schedule and all smooth. Checked into Bellagio and walked over to Vdara and Aria hotels to explore, Ker-ching (that is btw the sound you hear ALL around the Vegas hotels)!

Next morning we walked up to the Venetian hotel for breakfast at Bouchon. Yummmmmm. Then we hit the fashion show mall for some retail therapy without small people. Bliss… Stopped off for cocktails and nachos, hey why not then back to hotel to change for our evening out! 

Firstly we went to Bobby Flay’s restaurant Mesa Grill (he apparently is the US’s equvalent to Jamie Oliver) in Caesars Palace. Caesars is like a city in itself to be honest with malls of shops. shops. shops, restaurants and bars. You can see why Vegas is know as Disneyland for adults. Anyway it was a delicious fish-cajun type combo meal.. yummmmmm

The entertainment for our evening was no less than Penn and Teller at the Rio hotel. Although this hotel was literally around the corner from ours it literally was dicing with death getting there as we decided to walk. Basically crossing freeways that are the equivalent of the M1! Anyway got there safely and noted that we would be getting a taxi home. Amazing, amazing, amazing is the best description of the evening. We had great seats and Gary noticed that Penn was actually playing in the band who were on before the main show (a sort of background music thing going on), noone else seems to pick that up but then again we were sat next to them. I have no idea how they did any of their tricks and that is the way I would like it to stay.. it was magic! Afterwards the boys were in the foyer for us to have our pics taken with them (well not me, Gary actually!). Anyway after a few more drinks in the hotel we headed back to our hotel. 

Next day (my birthday!) we went to Miracle Mile shops across the road for breakfast at a Mexican restaurant. Had a wander around the shops then a walk up the Strip towards New York, New York hotel and its wicked roller coaster. The roller coaster doesn’t actually look that high, until that is you are actually on it! When it is crawling very slowly for what feels like forever… After all that fun we had a burger in the hotel then carried on walking up the Strip towards MGM, Excaliber, Luxor and Mandalay Bay. For some very strange reason I hadn’t actually brought out with me on my actual 39th birthday, my passport meaning I had no proof of age (thinking perhaps I wouldnt actually need it!). Oh how wrong was I! Arrived very thirsty from such a long walk at Mandalay Bay hoping for a long cold cocktail in the Ice Bar we couldn’t get in because we didn’t have any ID! ROAR! Instead went round the Shark Reef Aquarium where I sulked like a teenager, and an alcoholic one at that. Thinking this might be a one-off we also tried to get a drink in MGM but again was asked for ID. I know I should have taken this as a compliment but it was just plain annoying in 100 degree heat on your birthday! Anyway a quick taxi ride to get my ID and back to MGM for dinner at Emerils yummy restaurant. Very very nice and worth all the hassle. I never got asked for ID when I actually had it! 

After all the walking we decided to spend Wednesday chilling out in the sun at the many pools the Bellagio had to offer and this was a fab idea. Had breakfast at the hotel pattiserie and swam and sunbathed the day away. Mid afternoon we headed to the infamous Wynn hotel for their champagne buffet where we dined on crabs legs, curry, steak and lots and lots of delicious desserts. Also went to see the pirate show at Treasure Island and the exploding volcano at the Mirage hotel before heading downtown to Fremont Street where the whole Las Vegas thing started. This was a real highlight as we were able to play $1 blackjack, drink $1 beers and generally get into the spirit of the place with lots of showgirls and Elvis’ hanging around. We even got some extra tips from our fellow blackjack players which was very useful! 

Thursday and our last full day sob sob! Started off with breakfast in Cafe Bellagio which was nice but nothing special. The sun was so hot we had another relaxing day by the pool, popped over to get some more suncream from the Miracle Mile shops and just had a nice relax. We had a table booked at Cut a fancy restaurant by Wolfgang Puck in Palazzo so headed up there mid afternoon. Bought some perfume at Jo Malone en route. Had a delicious meal followed by birthday surprise dessert and then headed to the Mirage hotel to see the Cirque de Solei “Love” show a magical mystery display of dancing and acting set to Beatles hits although that doesn’t really describe the amazing display that we saw - fantastic show and another highlight! Had a few cocktails in the Revolution bar before which were very yummy. Anyway what a way to end an amazing holiday!

Flew home without incident, thankfully, and back to pick up our gorgeous little boys who by now I was going crazy missing. It was really good to have some quality time with Gary and a break from the routine of motherhood but I don’t think I will be rushing off leaving them again in a hurry. It was hard and I think next time they will have to come with us, though perhaps not to Las Vegas!

Filed under travel USA fun