Friday, 24 February 2017

Gilmore Girls, Creepy Books and Chicago... #LittleLoves

Thank goodness it's Friday!  This week has been so hard.  The first week after half term always just seems that little bit more difficult; I think after enjoying not having to get up and out it takes a bit of adjustment and the kids have seemed really tired this week as well which hasn't helped.  

To say we are looking forward to the weekend would be an understatement!

This week I finished Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne; you can see the full review here and there's a nice giveaway running as well.  Basically it is set across the two world wars and into the 1950's and is a family saga.  It touches on quite a few things and I thik it reads more like a group of snapshot moments rather than a novel but I did enjoy it.  I also started (and am so close to finishing) I'm Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork which has to be one of the the creepiest books I've read in a while.  It's a Nordic thriller and is quite dark, but I'm really loving it.  If it ends as well as I think it might, it will definitely be a new favourite.

I've been feeling quite rundown this week so I've been having early nights, going to bed right after the kids; watching an episode or two of the Gilmore Girls and then reading for a bit so I haven't watched much more than that.

Going sideways a little with this one and I'm going to say that we made a fuss of my Dad.  It was his birthday over the weekend so we went down to the East Midlands to spend some time with my parents.  It was a really lovely, chilled out time and the kids absolutely loved it.  I've made a resolution that we are going to try and get down there this year more often than we did last year as it's so important to spend time together as a family.

Who would have thought we'd be digging out hats and gloves again this week?  We have been right in the path of Storm Doris so Thursday particularly was rough.  Think me, chasing our recycling down the road where our bin had blown over and watching as our trampoline was slowly blown to pieces.  It was a good excuse though to come home and stick our pyjamas on after the school run and cuddle up watching Trolls.  Yep, still a firm favourite here.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the plunge and book a flight to Chicago.  I have become quite good friends with some other Youtubers and we were talking about a meet-up so I decided to go along.  I've never been to the US and I'm very excited (and nervous).  This week we've been chatting about accommodation which has suddenly made it seem very real and now the nerves and excitement have gone up a notch.  I can't wait!

And Lastly...
I know I've mentioned my Youtube channel a fair bit recently but it's probably the social media platform I've been putting the most effort into building and I am now only 1 subscriber away from 900!  It's probably my favourite platform at the moment and I love challenging myself to be creative with our videos and I feel as though I've got a real little community over there now of people who love to chat after watching my videos and share life together.  Getting such a positive response just makes it totally worthwhile.  I'd love to have broken the 900 mark by the end of the month so let's see!

Have a great week all!

Thursday, 23 February 2017

PizzaExpress, Formby ǀ Review

Living in such a small place it is always exciting news when you hear about a new restaurant opening nearby.  We love to eat out as a family but finding different options to try which are also family-friendly and not a 45 minute drive can be a little tricky unless we want to go to the same place each time!

So when we were invited down to visit the new PizzaExpress restaurant which has just opened in Formby you can bet we were down there like a shot.

The restaurant is located right in the heart of Formby and we visited on a Thursday evening; we were warmly greeted on arrival and although the restaurant was incredibly busy and we had a little wait for our table, it was fine and it gave us the opportunity to have a quick look around at the decor.

In keeping with the fact that Formby is on the seafront, the restaurant has been decorated in a nautical style, with reclaimed timber planks making up the counter areas as well.  We adored the sailor-style hats which Meg and Eli were presented with on arrival too and thought it went with the style of the restaurant perfectly.

Our waitress was Megan and she was very attentive throughout our meal, introducing herself to us and the kids, asking their names and engaging with them the entire time we were there.

The PizzaExpress menu is fairly extensive and we had a hard time choosing what we wanted!  I was impressed with the variety and the price of the children's menu; £6.95 for 3 courses and a Bambinoccino to round off with at the end was great and neither of the kids could eat their dinner fast enough, which is always a good sign!

For starters James opted for the Bruschetta Originale 'PizzaExpress' and I had the Roasted Tomatoes; both of which were very tasty and a great start to our meal.  For our mains James chose the Sloppy Giuseppe; hot spiced beef and peppers and I went for the Pollo Pesto; chicken and pennette pasta in a béchamel and pesto sauce.  James' pizza was absolutely huge and, like the kids, he made short work of eating it.  I wasn't too enthused about the pasta, it was a little dry for my taste but that might just be my personal preference.

For dessert Meg and Eli both had sundaes from the Piccolo menu and as we were both pretty stuffed, James and I shared a PizzaExpress Chocolate Fondant which in hindsight may have been a mistake as we ended up fighting over the last mouthful.  It was absolutely delicious with a soft melting centre served with vanilla gelato.  Yum!

All the serving staff, and in particular Megan, were very attentive and although the restaurant was busy, we didn't feel like we were left waiting for our food.  As anyone with children will tell you, this is a very important thing!  Eli just does not understand the concept of waiting at all and expects his dinner to arrive like magic as soon as he has ordered it.  So anywhere which has fast service is a winner with us.

The kids were given crayons and an activity sheet to help keep them occupied, although they also enjoyed the fact that the kitchen area was open and they could see the pizzas being shaped and made.  We didn't manage to see one getting thrown in the air though which was a shame!

The restaurant is very well positioned in Formby and I can see it proving to be a very popular addition.  There was a real ambience and an inviting atmosphere; it'll definitely be our first choice the next time we pop over to Formby for the day.

Overall we had a very enjoyable evening, and are very pleased that a PizzaExpress has opened up so close to us!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne ǀ Book Review

Welcome to my post for the blog tour of Anna Franklin Osborne's 'Walking Wounded'.  I was kindly sent a copy of the book in order to write the following review...

Anyone who has been here before will know that I have a real love of stories set during the First and Second World Wars so when I heard about 'Walking Wounded' I was immediately intrigued.  This is a book which shines the spotlight on those who were left behind whilst the men went off to war as well as touching a little bit on the soldiers as well.

It is a family saga which predominantly follows the story of one young woman, born at the end of the First World War into a big family, trying to find her place, surviving through the Second World War and ending with emigration to Australia as part of the 'Ten Pound Poms' exodus which took place during the 1950s.

I believe that the story is based, in part, upon the experiences of the author's own family and there are certainly plenty of interesting facts to keep you turning the pages.  

The book is incredibly short at just 156 pages and for me, I would say that it reads more like a collection of polaroid moments rather than a novel.  The paragraphs are short and snappy and jump through the various time periods fairly rapidly which gives it that 'snapshot' feel.  Additionally, you don't just follow the main character, May, but other members of the family including May's older sister Lydia who has her own battles to face, Lydia's husband who is left behind when the men go off to war, several of May and Lydia's brothers who go to fight overseas and May's husband, Jimmy as well.

Due to the fact that you are following the story of many different characters, it could be so easy to get lost in who is who and what is happening but the author manages to give each one an individual voice, and although they are all experiencing the same awful situations, their reactions and their ways of coping and keeping on are all incredibly different.

This is a moving story about how people's lives were impacted by the eruption of the First and Second World Wars and how the decisions that were made in such trying circumstances had far-reaching and long-lasting consequences.  It wasn't just the men who suffered but also the women who were left behind to keep on going, and to pick up the pieces when the soldiers returned.

Overall I found the story to be an incredibly fast read and an enjoyable one, however one thing I do wish is that the book had been longer!  I think Anna Franklin Osborne has such a readable and relatable writing style and I could easily have got swept up in the story.  I would have loved even more detail about the characters and how their lives were during this time in history, and some more depth on some of the harder topics she touched on.  I certainly hope she continues writing so I can keep an eye out for future work!

Now some exciting news, you can win one of two signed copies of 'Walking Wounded', just use the rafflecopter below to enter.  And make sure you hop over to some of the other blogs also taking part in the tour.  Information on this is also below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I was provided with a free e-book version of Walking Wounded for the purpose of this review. 

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Long Car Journeys with Kids ǀ Travel

Over the past few years we have made several long car journeys with Meg and Eli; having family who live all over the country means that we are fairly used to hopping in the car and driving for 2-3 hours at a time.

However, we have also attempted a number of fairly insane mammoth journeys with them when we have driven down to the South of France.  We have (stupidly some might say) done this twice, and despite the fact that both times we have said never again it's something we are currently looking into for this year as well!

Our first excursion down to France was a 36 hour round trip and our second wasn't far off that although we did break this up with an overnight stay in a hotel (an adventure in itself when James got lost trying to park the car and I had to go looking for him...).  

Both times we thought we were setting off fairly well prepared. 

We had bags full of colouring books/stickers/magazines/new toys and we had a couple of tablets loaded with games and movies for when things got desperate. We had snacks, drinks, car seat tables and generally felt good about how things were going to pan out.  Oh how we laugh...

...because there are something things you just can't prepare for, right?

We weren't leaving them at the side of the road.  Honestly...

Here are some of the lessons we learned:-

'Are we there yet?' conversations
Young children have absolutely no concept of time. If you say 'yes, in 3 hours' that means zero to them and they will probably count to 3 and then throw a tantrum because you haven't arrived yet.

Neither should you answer with 'No' as James has repeatedly discovered to his detriment. This will entice your children to continously ask 'why not' for the next 2 hours until you are glaring daggers at your husband for being so ridiculous and the tension in the car has risen to boiling point.

Distraction techniques work better than direct answers in this situation: 'Oh look, there's a cow/cloud/red car' etc etc

Back Up Supplies
You will discover that your children have the uncanny knack of throwing their things into the 'place of no return' during the journey. Even once you've arrived and the car is empty, good luck finding where those 4 dummies/brand new tsums-tsums/colouring pencils disappeared to.

Have a back up supply and then a back up supply for your back up supply. Trust me, listening to your toddler screaming for their dummy at the top of their voice for a prolonged period of time is enough to give anyone a twitch in their eye.

Don't attempt to unfasten yourself and root around in the back of the car whilst your other half is driving either. Not only is it incredibly dangerous but you will probably receive a poke in the eye from your youngest child for your efforts, not find the item in question and bang your elbow on the cool box nestled between your loving offspring. The plus side is that they will find your squeals of discomfort hilarious and will be distracted from thinking about the lost item for approximately 5 minutes.

Toilet Habits
Service stations in France are either FAB or TERRIBLE.  Many of them have adventure playgrounds which can be brilliant for burning off energy and stretching legs when you stop for that all important toilet break.  However, the bad ones (and I think we all know which ones I mean...) can also introduce your child to some pretty awful toilet habits.  Such as the moment when you are driving down a remote country lane and your child announces they need the toilet.  No problem, just pull over to the side of the road and get them out.

Of course whilst you are busy checking that you aren't breaking any obscure French laws about pulling over, your child may decide to take matters into their own hands, and, left to their own devices will squat down and wee into their pants, shorts and shoes before announcing they have been to the toilet the 'French Way'.  Best to make sure you only visit those service stations with 'real' bathroom facilities instead.

Kids Can Hear In Their Sleep
You might think it's safe at 4am in the morning when the kids are certain to be fast asleep to talk about important stuff but trust me, they are either pretending or they have super skills and can hear even in dreamland. Don't have serious conversations about other people/intimate moments/life changing decisions as your children will pipe up about them the next day at the most inappropriate moment they can think of. The owner of your home for the next 2 weeks probably doesn't want to know what you really think about your best friends.

Movie Moments
Let's be honest, at some point during your lengthy car journey, you are going to bring out the screens.  Absolutely no judgement here.  You might even download a few favourite films to keep your children well and truly occupied.  Great thinking!  Just make sure you have invested in a really good pair of headphones for your children otherwise you will be listening to them play the same movie on repeat for the remainder of the journey...

Experience tells us that it's a sign you've been in the car for too long when your husband can quote the lines of the film word for word and you laugh hysterically at the one liners you've already heard 10 times. Take a break.

Plan To Stop!
We have tried so many variations of the long drive and how best to factor in a break.  In all our naivety on our first trip to France we thought that if we took it in turns we could drive through the night without stopping.  Let me tell you that when you finally drop off in the passenger seat and then stir in the early hours to discover that your husband is, in fact, driving directly towards a line of confused French cars, it's a bit of a wake up call.  A 3 point turn on a French dual carriageway is enough to wake anybody up.

Equally, we have tried simply pulling over into a service station and attempting to catch 40 winks.  This is great if you have children who will get on board and go to sleep.  Not so much if you have a child like Eli.  The one time we tried this, I kept waking to the heart-stopping fear that he had somehow opened the car door, climbed out and disappeared into the night. In fact, he was just in the boot of the car rooting around for food or at one point on the dashboard kissing the windscreen.

And our final lesson in this category is that it IS best to plan an overnight stop but you should make absolutely sure you have booked the hotel for the right night to avoid having to drive around an unfamiliar French town at 10pm, after hours already spent in the car, desperately trying to find 3G signal so you can find somewhere to sleep for the night.

The Journey Home
It is likely that everyone will be super tired and fed up on the journey home. After all, there's not much to look forward to at the end of it.  This can be the most draining as you have to try and keep everyone occupied and happy.  If you are planning to stop late at night then be aware that French shops will probably not be open at 9pm when you've arrived at your hotel for the night.  Luckily, a lot of the motels in France also offer vending machine dinners (yes, you have indeed read that correctly...)

You should do your best to not be offended when your children intimate that the grey looking slop in front of them is the best meal they've ever had.  It'll have been a long day.

Make Those Memories
My final lesson is that in everything, you just have to keep smiling.  Unfortunately for us, all of the above has happened at some point and although at the time I wanted to back into a corner and weep, now I can look back and laugh.  And maybe cry a little too...

Whether it's listening to the same soundtrack 8 times in a row, or turning up the radio to drown out the sounds of your children squabbling for just a short period, or taking the wrong turn or not being able to find your accommodation...try to face it with a smile and think of all the wonderful memories you are making in the process.  It will be worth it in the end!

This is my entry for the GoEuro #travellessons competition.

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Little Live Pets Lil' Hedgehog House ǀ Review

A couple of years ago we were sent a Little Live Pets Talking Owl and Baby for review, March 2015 to be precise and to this day, it is still something which Meg enjoys playing with.  So when we were asked whether we would to review a new Little Live Pets toy, this time the Lil' Hedgehog House I was absolutely certain it would go down a treat.

The Little Live Pets Hedgehog and House retails at £22.99 and comes with an exclusive hedgehog called 'Shy Sky' as well as a little house with a carry handle so you can take it out and about.

Shy Sky will roll into a ball if you touch their nose, will walk along the floor and around the house and will even back up if they get themselves stuck in a corner.  There is an elevator in the house which you can lift up and then watch as Shy Sky rolls down the slide and back into the house again.  The nose depresses so you can watch the hedgehog curl in on itself and then, if you wait a couple of seconds, they will unroll and continue to wander and explore.

Meg seemed absolutely thrilled by the hedgehog itself; she enjoyed watching them curl into a ball before popping back out again and watching as they trundled across the floor.  I would say that it is absolutely for ages 5+, the mechanism involved to make the hedgehog roll in and out is quite delicate and even Eli at 5 years old was a little rough with it and almost detached the pieces when he had a quick play with it.

The outer 'shell' is quite soft to the touch although the hedgehog themselves is a hard plastic and there is an off and off switch so you can make sure your hedgehog doesn't escape when you are finished playing with them!

The house is a cute addition to the product; Meg did enjoy using the elevator and the slide but I was a bit disappointed that there weren't more elements to the house itself, and that there was nowhere to store Shy Sky when in transit; the hedgehog just rolled around the house and easily fell out when on the move.  A bed or a little pocket inside the house would have been perfect for this.  There is also a little flap on the side of the house which was a sweet addition.

Of course, if your child is anything like Meg then they will almost certainly rise to the challenge of rooting out things from around the house to add into the Hedgehog house to create the ideal home.  Socks, scarves, bits of fabric and felt...nothing was off limits and so, in many ways, this was nice as it also stretched Meg's imagination and got her talking and thinking about what a hedgehog might want or need in real life.

Overall we thought this was a sweet toy; it it possible to purchase the hedgehogs individually without the house and I can certainly see that being something Meg would enjoy; creating her own little hedgehog family and watching them play together would definitely enhance her enjoyment of the product in the future.  I would also be interested to see Little Live Pets will release any additional products, such as items to furnish the hedgehog house with.

We were sent this product for review.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Project Mc2 is back! ǀ Brand New Episode

We were first introduced to Project Mc2 last year and since then it's fair to say that Meg has been a firm fan.  She loves the geek-chic and that there are six girls who are all incredibly different but each one is super-smart and into all things STEM related (Science-Technology-Engineering-Maths) as well.

The show is a Netflix original series and on February 14 a brand new bonus episode was released.  This new episode saw us catching up with the girls at NOV8 headquarters where they were given a brand new mission.  Things began to heat up between McKeyla and Kyle but something strange was going on and the girls discovered it involved an old friend...

The six girls in the show are: McKeyla McAlister, Adrienne Attoms, Camryn Coyle, Bryden Bandweth, Ember Evergreen and Devon D'Marco and the whole premise is that the girls must use their love of science (as well as their kick-ass spy skills) to undertake missions for a top-secret organisation called NOV8.

To go along with the release of the new episode we were also sent a Project Mc2 doll, in our case, Adrienne, who also comes with an exciting bath fizz experiment which Meg has been very excited to try out.  

The brand launched in August 2015 and since then has developed a whole range of products to go along with the Netflix show, including fashion dolls and accessories.

This spring they will be adding to the collection with some new product releases, something we are very interested to see!  These include a new set of Project Mc2 Experiments with Dolls, a Nail Science Lab, a Crayon Makeup Science Set and of course the return of the Ultimate Spy Bag which we were sent for review last year.  Given how much play the Ultimate Spy Bag has had in this house we will definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for the new products (and hope they are released in time for Meg's birthday in May!)

The thing which really strikes us about these products and the show, and which we have mentioned before, is that it seeks to encourage girls into exploring STEM subjects, showing them that science and technology, maths and engineering, can all be incredibly cool and if it's what you love then you should absolutely go for it.

And that you can equally have a love of making up your face and making things explode...wanting to paint your nails doesn't exclude you from also wanting to spend time in a science lab; the two things don't have to be mutually exclusive.  Which certainly seems to suit Meg down to the ground!

We were provided with a Project Mc2 doll to coincide with the release of the brand new episode.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Kind Hearts, Movie Nights and Valentines... #LittleLoves

Can I just take a moment to is it the end of half term already?!  I know that school holidays always seem to go in the blink of an eye but this one has just rushed past!  I suppose that means I can honestly say we didn't have too many days of staring at rain hitting the windows and wondering how we were going to occupy ourselves for the next 10 hours but still...

All in all, this week has been a pretty good one and I've had a tough time whittling down just a few of my favourite moments to share with you in this week's Little Loves:-

I finally finished The Goldfinch.  Can I get a hallelujah?!  It is definitely one of the longest books I have read, coming in at something like 855 pages but it's a beautiful read.  I am not totally sold on the story line but the writing was impeccable and as I said last week, I can completely understand why so many people love it.  After I finished The Goldfinch I picked up Walking Wounded by Anna Franklin Osborne which, by comparison is just about the quickest read I think I've ever come across!  I've only spent an hour or two reading and I've almost finished.  More on that when I've got to the end though.

I've said it before and I know I will say it again but I am always the last one on the train and this time it's all about the Gilmore Girls.  I remember my sister being obsessed with it when it was first shown but I wasn't all that bothered.  This week I started on season one though and I am LOVING it.  Better late than never.

We also watched Keeping Up With The Joneses as our date night movie and honestly, it has to be one of the funniest films I've watched in ages.  So many cliched moments throughout but I still had tears of laughter running down my face.  Brilliant.

The kids were definitely feeling the love this week and wanted to make both of us a Valentines card so I had to hover (but not look) in the background whilst they completed their creations and then we also made some heart biscuits in honour of Valentines as well.  We have such a basic shortbread recipe that is so easy to follow I can pretty much just leave the kids to get on with it now which is great...and they tasted pretty good too.

I had an excuse to get dressed up twice this week; once on Wednesday when I went out for a drink with the mums from school and once when we went to visit the new Pizza Express which has just opened down the road from us.  Wednesday night was such a laugh; isn't it great when you can just have a few glasses of wine, a chat and no drama?  Of course I didn't think to take any pictures until afterwards and I certainly won't be airing those here!

Same old same old from me here, I've been listening to a lot of Daily Mixes on Spotify and I've been quite enjoying Halsey's music as well, although it's not necessarily suitable for Meg and Eli so I haven't had it on quite as much during the day!

And Lastly...
You know that video I was so nervous about sharing last week?  Well it went live on Sunday and I immediately had a minor panic and went to take it down; suddenly though I had a flurry of messages, comments and texts from people who had watched and wanted to offer their support.  I can only say that this community is amazing and I am so pleased that I let it stay and that maybe it will be able to help someone else in the future who might be going through something similar.  I've popped it below if you are interested to watch.

Have a great week all!

Thursday, 16 February 2017

How to Boost Your Credit Score ǀ Finance

There are many reasons why you might need to build or boost your credit score.  You might have made some poor financial decisions in the past or, as a friend of mine recently discovered (having never had a line of credit until she was in her 30s) she had no real credit imprint to speak of and therefore no credit score!

Most lenders will check your credit score if you are making an application for credit so it's worth knowing whether yours is healthy, not to mention the fact that if you were to try and apply for credit, the better your score, the better the deal you would be able to secure be it a mortgage application or finance for a new car.  If you need help to improve your credit score then here are just a few things you could try:-

Close inactive or unused accounts
If you've transferred current accounts or have an old store card you haven't used in the last 5 years then it is going to appear on your credit score as though you aren't financially active.  Make sure you close any accounts you no longer use and ensure they only accounts showing on your score are those you currently use.

Pay your bills on time
It seems obvious but even a late payment on your mobile phone bill will show on your credit score and this could have a negative impact.  It is good practice to pay your bills on time in general to avoid late fees but it also will help to boost your credit score.

Take out a small loan or credit card with a low limit
If things are pretty bad and you are serious about improving your credit rating then you could use a small payday loan or credit card to try to improve your credit score.  I think that this is a solution only for those who are really having trouble finding ways to boost their score and I would certainly only suggest using a loan company who have a respectable reputation, such as Cash Lady; who try to be clear and upfront about the process of their quick loans and what it means to commit to a short-term loan.  Alternatively you could use a credit card (there are a number available for people with low or poor credit history) and ensure that you clear it each month to slowly rebuild your credit score.  The risk here however is that you could just make the minimum payment and so it would take a lot longer to build up your credit score.  You would have to be extremely disciplined about it.

Keep your details up to date
If you have moved around a lot or recently changed address then make sure that you go back and update all the details for any accounts you have open.  It might seem silly but you can be turned down for a line of credit if addresses and names don't match on all the accounts linked to your credit report.

Get on the electoral register
It surprised me but for the longest time after we had moved up to Southport, we weren't on the electoral register.  It wasn't until a guy turned up at my front door with a clipboard and a slip of paper that I even remembered we needed to register!  Not only is it vital if you want to be able to vote but it can also help you if you decide to apply for credit.

Obviously I am not a financial expert but these are just tips and tricks I have picked up over the last few years.  I would always recommend regularly reviewing your finances and your financial situation and seeking professional advice if you are in any doubt.

*This is a collaborative post

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

London with Kids ǀ Travel

Welcome to the second part of my mini-series about travelling with kids.  For my first post, dedicated to Malaga you can click here.

I spend a lot of my working life writing about amazing things you can see and do in London so I feel fairly confident in being able to say what a fantastic city London is for those who want a city break.  Having recently tackled it with the kids as well, I can also now offer some advice on how to make the most of a trip when you have small people in tow.

The first thing to say is that London is an amazing place to go if you have children.  For some reason, people are put off by the idea of London; perhaps it is the size or the idea of navigating public transport...but there is literally so much to see and do that you will have a fantastic time.  If you plan properly of course!

It was hard to come up with just a handful of things I would recommend doing whilst you are in the city but, after some thought, here are my top 5:-

An Open-top Bus Tour
If you want to get a lot of major landmarks ticked off then an open-top bus tour is a fantastic way to do this.  Not only can you rest little legs, but adults can enjoy the on-board commentary and learn some new things about the city and many give you the choice to hop-on and off at your leisure.  The only downside we found to this was that traffic can be quite bad in the city and you can feel as though you are spending much of your time sitting in traffic jams.  For first time visitors or those who feel less confident about using the tube however, it can be a great option.

Head to Greenwich
I wrote a whole post last year on a day spent in Greenwich and I would still consider it one of the best things we did whilst in London.  We caught a MBNA Thames Clipper across the Thames which was fantastic and is a budget way of crossing the Thames without paying for a cruise.  You don't get on-board commentary but you do get to see some of the city's famous buildings without having to pay a steep price.  You could also follow the Greenwich Foot Tunnel which goes directly underneath the River Thames and would be a pretty cool experience.  Attractions in Greenwich include the National Maritime Museum (which has some fantastic interactive galleries for kids), the Cutty Sark, Greenwich Market, the Old Royal Naval College and the Royal Observatory.

Buckingham Palace
Almost every child the country over will have heard of Buckingham Palace and it is well worth factoring in some time to go and see this royal landmark.  It does get busy, especially around the time of the Changing of the Guard (which happens daily at 11.30am) so if you can arrive before then or late afternoon then it shouldn't be so crowded.  It's worth bearing in mind that people don't hang about for long however so you might need to wait to grab your photo in front of the railings but there should be plenty of opportunity for you to do so.

Parks and Gardens
I don't know about the rest of you, but one thing we always have to keep in mind when we are travelling is allowing Eli the opportunity to burn off energy before we try and return to our hotel or accommodation at the end of the day.  Walking around doesn't count; it has to be full blast, high-energy, no restrictions running around so we always look up the local parks before we visit a city.  Luckily London has some brilliant options from Hyde Park and Kensington Garden (with that famous giant wooden pirate ship) to Crystal Palace Park with its gigantic Victorian dinosaurs and Regent's Park which is home to Primrose Hill and offers some stunning views over the city.

Free Attractions
It is absolutely no secret that London has some world-class attractions, many of which offer free entry to the general public and it is definitely worth taking advantage of these, whether you are visiting on a tight budget or not.  From well known museums and art galleries such as the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery to lesser known options such as the Horniman Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology; whatever your little one's interests there will almost certainly be somewhere to take them which doesn't cost anything to enter and which offers a couple of hours entertainment at the very least.

What are your top tips for travelling with children?  Have you ever visited London?