Thursday, 30 June 2016
I always look forward to June as the month when we can take a breath; birthday season is officially over and we've got just under 7 weeks of the school term left before the summer holidays hit and I've got to try and juggle freelance working with entertaining Meg and Eli in weather which, inevitably, refuses to comply.
For some reason it hasn't felt all that chilled out this month. Our weekends have been stuffed full with busyness although I don't know that I could really tell you what we have done. James has been working a lot this month so my smug face from last month when my house sparkled and the washing basket lay empty has well and truly been wiped away.
We spent a wonderful two days at the end of half term down in Windsor at Legoland. This was something that Meg and Eli had wanted to do for the longest time so we decided to take advantage of differing school holidays to visit; the park was very quiet on the Friday and rammed on the Saturday so I think we made the right decision.
We also celebrated enjoyed Father's Day celebrations, a local heritage day, the school summer fair, sports day and Meg's assembly...just reading that list back makes me feel worn out.
Oh and plenty of cheeky after-school ice creams as well.
My freelance work got turned up a major notch this month and whilst I am so lucky to be able to work from home I have definitely been floundering a little trying to do everything I usually do and handle triple the workload. If I wasn't looking forward to the summer break before, I definitely am now. Even just having no uniform to wash will be a big win.
I feel as though I am moaning about the month of June more than celebrating it and whilst it's true that we've been busier than I would have liked, and the glorious weather seems to have disappeared, it's still been a pretty wonderful month.
Those snatched moments of family time that we have squeezed in, in between all the hectic moments have felt all the more sweeter. Getting to spend two whole days with James, away from the stresses of work were amazing and the knowledge that we now only have 3 weeks left at school is even nicer. I can't wait until there are no more school runs, no more homework and no more uniform to wash.
For 6 weeks at least!
Wednesday, 29 June 2016
Have you ever had a moment where you do something, semi absentmindedly and then you have to take a second look when the information finally sinks in?! I had a moment exactly like that this month when I flicked open the front cover of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone and realised that it was first released in 1997...making it 19 years old!
I read the Harry Potter books when they were first released, waiting with bated breath each year for the next one to come out. We even spent two summers in a row hunting out an English book shop in Spain because we were on holiday on the release date. That is dedication for you.
But then, somehow, I just sort of let my love of the books dwindle. I think with the release of the films I felt like I was still connected to the books and I didn't need to re-read them again. In fact, despite badgering from James, I have never re-read the Harry Potter books. Until now.
Firstly, I'm not much for re-reading. I remember things in such minute detail that re-reading for me often ends up with skim reading and my eyes glossing over. I have to really focus hard to absorb the words because my brain is busy shouting 'we've already read this.' Imagine how hard I found it editing the manuscript for my novel...that took some serious commitment!
I was given a beautiful set of HP books for my birthday and that, really, is what prompted my decision to re-read but oh my goodness am I glad that I did. I had completely forgotten how much rich detail and beautiful structure there was. So much that you don't capture from the films, not to mention all the small magical details which J.K.Rowling included but which didn't make it into the films in the first place.
If I could physically fall back into the world of Harry Potter then I absolutely have. I devoured the first book and am now racing through the second. I find it difficult to believe that I haven't re-read them before now to be honest.
A favourite booktuber of mine; Katie from Life Between Words recently shared a video on some books she wanted to re-read and she commented on how re-reading a book when you are at a different stage of life from the first time around can have a real impact so I'm excited to see how that will apply here. I was a teenager when I read the books for the first time and now I'm an adult and a parent.
I'm sure it will often me the chance to look at the books from a slightly different perspective.
Tuesday, 28 June 2016
I recently shared Part One of our trip to Legoland Windsor on the blog which you can read about here. We had an overnight stay as part of our visit as we were booking a package break and we chose the Savill Court Hotel & Spa which is located just outside Windsor.
Savill Court is a 4 star hotel set in a beautiful red brick Georgian building and was just a 15 minute drive from Legoland and very easy to get to. When you arrive you drive up a sweeping driveway before being directed to the car park.
As we had spent the day at Legoland and then headed to a local pub for something to eat it was around 8.30pm when we made it to the hotel. The staff were very welcoming and handed out little activity bags to Meg and Eli (which went down a treat) and offered to send up some milk and cookies in about 30 minutes time, giving us chance to get up to our room, unpack and get the kids ready for bed.
Savill Court is a stunning building with a lot of history; there has been a house on the land from as early as 1815 and the current building has stood since 1910. It was even used as a service hospital during the Second World War which got my spine tingling; I have to admit I love anything like that!
We had booked a family room which was a double bed with a double sofa bed.
The room was fairly spacious and had lovely views looking out over some of the vast 22 acres in which the hotel is set. Each room has been individually styled and although it was pretty standard decor, it was nice and clean and well made.
The milk and cookies was a brilliant little extra and arrived 20 minutes after we checked in, just about giving us time to get the kids into their PJ's and ready for bed.
The only element which tarnished what was otherwise a pretty perfect hotel stay was the fact that the sofa bed had not been made up on arrival. We had asked staff when we checked in whether the bed would be made up and were told that it should have been but to call down if not. We immediately called down to Reception when we arrived in the room but it took another phone call and a 45 minute wait before someone came up, meaning the kids didn't end up going to bed until 9.30pm which was a little disappointing.
The following morning we headed down to breakfast and enjoyed a great spread.
Breakfast is served in The Orchid Restaurant and next door there is a lounge area with a bar. There was a good mixture of cooked breakfast items and continental breakfast and we nabbed a few extra pieces of fruit for the kids to enjoy on the way back to Legoland.
We didn't manage to make use of the leisure and spa facilities as we had an early start but flicking through the hotel information it was nice to see that the pool had specific family swimming times; it was good to know that we wouldn't be disturbing other guests if we took the children for a dip as they could easily make use of the pool outside of those times.
The gym and the spa all looked great too and I really wish there had been time for me to enjoy a treatment!
Whilst James packed the car up, I took the kids for a walk through the grounds so they could burn off some energy and we could have a little explore. There is a beautiful landscaped lawn at the back of the hotel which you can see from the terrace outside of the Orchid Restaurant.
It looked like Savill Court held a lot of events too and we had a little peek in at the extension which was set up for a wedding. It looked like the perfect space.
After a quick explore it was back in the car for day two of our Legoland adventures which I will share the final installment of next week.
Tuesday, 21 June 2016
At the start of the year we sat down as a family and wrote down some of the things we wanted to achieve this year. This list was then stuck on our fridge and has been a constant reminder to me every time I go and get something out...
One thing which both kids were unanimous about was the fact they wanted to go to the Legoland Windsor Resort.
'I've heard there's an elephant which squirts you with water!' cried Eli.
'...and rides which go really, really fast!' replied Meg.
So on the list it went but there just never seemed to be the right time. Over Easter we visited the Legoland Discovery Centre in Manchester which was great but Windsor is pretty much on the other side of the country for us and justifying such a long drive...the long and short being that we kept putting it off!
Then we realised that the perfect time to go would be over the May school holidays; we are lucky enough to get two weeks off and the second week is usually when the rest of England are back at school so it made sense. It would be quieter than during the holidays and cheaper too.
We booked our tickets and received an extra free day in the park which was actually incredibly helpful.
It meant that we could section off what we wanted to see and we didn't need to rush around trying to fit everything in to one day. Although our second day was a Saturday (and was SO much busier) we had done the lion's share the day before which meant we didn't need to stress about long queues.
We arrived on Friday a little after opening time, which was 10am. Pretty much waltzing straight through we headed down the long, winding path (there's a train which will take you up and down this hill but it's not all that obvious) and Eli spotted the attraction which, for him, would make his entire trip. Star Wars Miniland Model Display.
He was so enamored that we had to make sure it was the last thing that we did before we headed home on the Saturday too! And he wasn't the only one who loved it...
As with most theme parks of a similar nature, Legoland is divided into 'lands' which each offer something new to explore. There are 11 lands altogether and they all have a good mix of rides, attractions and somewhere to eat and drink.
We took each land individually and had a good wander around, making sure that we went on everything we wanted to. Our favourite by far was Kingdom of the Pharoahs although they were all good.
The only land which I thought was a slight letdown was Heartlake City; the Pirates of Skeleton Bay show which takes place there was great but there wasn't much else to do; and the only 'ride' we could find (Mia's Riding Adventure), neither Meg nor Eli were tall enough to ride which was a shame.
We also decided to make sure we visited Duplo® Valley; more specifically, Drench Towers and Splash Safari. Thankfully the day was quite warm but the water was bitterly cold, something to bear in mind if you don't visit on a hot day. It was also possibly the busiest part of the park with lengthy queues for the changing rooms. It's worth making sure you take a £1 coin for a locker as you can't go into this area without getting wet, even if you stand on the very edge.
Alternatively you can do as James did and accidentally stand over the sprinklers, thereby ensuring that you get a royal soaking when they turn on!
Duplo® Valley was also a really enjoyable land for us; it's a bit more slow-paced than some of the others but that worked quite well after the kids have burned off a load of energy running and shrieking through the water.
Another element of the day we really liked was the Atlantis Submarine Voyage. Again, this was something which we ended up doing on the Saturday as well because the kids really enjoyed it. You hop into a submarine and then get taken along a little underwater journey; there are clear panels for you to see out of and there is all kinds of marine life from sharks to sting rays. Plus Lego fish!
The park shut at 5pm on the Friday so once we had checked out the playground and Miniland we went for a quick bite to eat before heading back to our hotel (more on that later...)