It’s been so long since I last reviewed a beauty box. I still subscribe every now and then but either I have been too lazy/busy/not great enough to publish a review or I just lost interest in writing it. However since the lockdown, I have had more time to myself and able to show some love on the blog again… especially now that I have had a big influx of people passing by since quarantine, it’s nice to keep busy whilst I’m off work. I also purchased March’s Birchbox which you can read here.
April’s Birchbox Review
First of all, I have to give a huge kudos points for Birchbox’s packaging for April’s box. It’s stunning. Photos actually do not do it any justice, it’s really amazing. This May’s box packaging is also fantastic and totally unique so check that out too.
The design was created in collaboration with Anthropologie – a lifestyle-fashion brand that sells everything from clothing and jewellery to homeware, beauty and gifts. Their designs are funky, unique and fun. I’m a big fan of their homeware and gifts section, I really like their fun and colourful prints. It’s one of the reasons why I really wanted to try out this April’s box.
Can I just say… I am really excited to try all of the products in this box! Apart from This Works and Percy & Reed, I’ve not heard of the other brands before. It might just be because I’ve been away from beauty boxes for a while but it’s a nice treat for me.
So what’s inside…
KNDR Mood Balm in Positivity Pink
Huygens Infusion Blanche Purifying Face Wash
Brushworks Silicone Cleansing Pad (Birchbox exclusive!)
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
Percy & Reed Eau My Goodness No-Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo
KNDR Mood Balm
I received this lip balm in Positivity Pink which is actually a bright purple colour. Once you apply the lip balm, the colour changes according to your lip’s natural pH level and adjusts to your very own tone of pink. Mine came out a light, bright pink. When Little Miss put hers on more, she came out with a subtle fuchsia colour. Very pretty and fun to use. It glides on smoothly and left my lips feeling soft. It’s also very hydrating, I got a few hour’s wear out of it before needing to re-apply.
My new fave lip balm
We love the colour-changing lip balm
KNDR mood balm in positivity pink
I really love the packaging of the mood balm – the feminine design is super cute! The outer packaging is made from card and the inside packaging is card with a plastic applicator. It seems like a good idea but if water gets onto the balm, I’m not sure it’ll last! I’m also not the neatest with lip colours and you can see from the image, I already smudged the colour onto the white bit of the packaging already! I also chipped the top of the lip balm but let’s pretend you don’t see that. 🙂
Huygens Infusion Blanche Purifying Face Wash
During summer my skin tends to produce a little more oil than normal so I usually swap out my creamy cleanser for a gel cleanser or wash. I will be trying this one out and let you know how it goes. The face wash states that cleanses effectively without stripping essential moisture from the skin and is suitable for all skin types. Containing a blend of tea-tree (anti-bacterial), aloe vera (skin repairing) and glycerine (hydrating), this purifying face wash looks like it will re-balance skin types and leaves skin cleansed and clear. It does remove makeup but I’m not sure if it’s suitable for eyes.
Brushworks Silicone Cleansing Pad
This is a Birchbox exclusive product and one of the products I was really looking forward to use. Made from ultra-hygienic, flexible silicone with tiny bristles, it’s designed to lift away impurities and makeup whilst gently exfoliate the skin. Definitely gentle enough to use every day. Again, another product great for all skin types especially dull and dehydrated skin. I’ll be using this in conjunction with my Huygens face wash but also with my Aromatherapy Associations creamy rose cleanser.
This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray
This stuff smells super calming. The relaxing scent of lavender, chamomile and vetivert will definitely help to soothe your senses. It’s also been clinically proven to help you sleep quicker than usual and wake up feeling more refreshed. I’ll try it and let you know as I already have a product which I use when I’m feeling restless (Aromatherapy Associates Deep Relax roller ball). It’s the sedative aroma of vetivert that sends you off to sleep and it’ll take a lot to sway me from my AA roller ball, however I will say that a spray is definitely easier to dispense.
Percy & Reed Eau My Goodness No-Fuss Fabulousness Dry Shampoo
This product is not CG-friendly as it contains alcohol denat but I might give it a try near to the next time I’m doing a clarifying wash just to see how it works on my hair. I’m not usually a fan of dry shampoo but they do come in handy if you’re spending a night out or away from home ie on a city break, camping, glamping or on a trip where you aren’t able to take all your haircare with you.
So.. yay or nay?
Definitely YAY! I am so glad that Birchbox’s April beauty box was a hit with me. I remember a time when I loved beauty boxes so much but then what happens is the products start accumulating and I also end up receiving a lot of doubles from the boxes.
I love the fact that with the beauty boxes you can subscribe and un-subscribe whenever you want. There’s no contract to tie you down and if you want to save even more on your boxes, you can choose to pay for 3, 6 or 12 boxes in advance. If you’ve never given Birchbox a try but have tried other brands, let me know what you think of the box. Would you ever give it a try or do you think they’re all too samey-samey?
I hope you enjoyed this review, if you’d like to see more please do leave me a comment or click the like button if you’re also on WordPress! 🙂
Since London went into lockdown, a lot of us have been able to slow down in our busy lives and take things at a slower pace. For me that means being able to jump back onto this blog and show it some good love! I’ve missed writing and it has been a while since I could sit down and type it all out, especially where we’ve been needing the PC for Little Man to do his home school work.
I’ve been able to FINALLY review my Birchbox boxes for March and April 2020. You can find a link to the April box review at the end of this post. March’s beauty box design was inspired by International Women’s Day, which falls on March 8th this year. Women around the world celebrated, empowered and paid homage to each other.
This was my first re-subscribed box of 2020 and the main reason why I had to get it was because of the cute packaging AND the beautiful Elizabeth Scarlett palm beauty bag. It was too beautiful to be without it.
The box packaging is super sweet! I love the diversity of women on the cover – a perfect theme for IWD; it encompasses all ages, ethnicity, hair type and even fashion styles. My Birchbox arrived on time as it was slightly just before COVID-19 had everything on lockdown. My April box was late and I’m sure subsequent boxes will also be slightly delayed as the BB team are hard at work making sure that all boxes are packed safely and arrive to us safely.
Elizabeth Scarlett Palmier make-up bag (BONUS gift!)
Forgive Me Suzie Liquid Eyeshadow**fave product** This creamy, lightweight eyeshadow out easily with a brush or fingers (I use fingers!) and stays put without creasing or smudging. I got the shade ‘Fairy Dust’ which is a bright colour colour that looks fabulous on my skin tone, which is light olive/medium colour. In the summer I usually get a bit of a glow and I’m sure I’ll still be able to carry this colour off well on tanned skin. It’s a beautiful matte-shimmer tone. With a dewy makeup face, this eyeshadow will stand out nicely.
Balance Me Vitamin C Repair Serum**fave product** Brighten up your beauty routine with a daily dose of vitamin C in the form of this innovative serum. Vitamin C helps to combat signs of ageing and minimise fine lines. My skin feels super hydrated after using this, thanks to the hyaluronic acid ingredient. I love layering my skincare and after cleansing, I’ll always use a toner, serum and moisturiser, oil (sometimes both if skin is really dry) on top. Eye cream is an added step I sometimes do if I’m bothered as I don’t really have bags, dark circles or puffiness. The serum sinks in fast and has a refreshing citrus smell – like orange zest. The serum leaves my skin so smooth I can go without moisturiser or oil on top but because my skin is quite dehydrated I always make sure I layer-up.
Daily Concepts Multi-Functional Soap Sponge Charcoal This 2-in-1 soap-sponge-hybrid tool combines detoxifying charcoal body wash with a mild, exfoliating scrubber to really cleanse your skin. Slough off those dead skin cells and leave your skin looking brighter and more radiant. The charcoal soap is sooo gorgeous – somewhat reminds me of the African black soap smell which is really nice. This soap does contain SLES but not SLS so not great for really sensitive or very dry skin. I was using it regularly but then stopped as my skin’s a little drier than normal now. You can’t see it in my photo above as I’ve been using it and it’s been well used haha! You can check it out here: https://www.birchbox.co.uk/product/24117/daily-concept-charcoal-soap-sponge
BOD Everyday Body Boosting Sorbet Petite This hydrating body lotion contains moisturising ingredients such as sweet almond oil and shea butter. It melts into skin quickly and delivers intense hydration. It’s said to have a tightening effect on the body (formulated with natural sugars) but I’m not convinced with the whole skin-tightening effect from a bottle… no matter how great the marketing is. Sure it can ‘feel’ tighter and toned but that feeling is gone once it wears off or you wash it off. IMO, the best way to a tighter and toned body? Exercise, plenty of water and healthy eating.
The Beauty Crop Wing Woman Liquid Eyeliner No matter the look you’re going for, “the deep black formula will help you define your eyes without flaking or smudging”. I am a big fan of liquid eyeliner since my early twenties and I have not gone back to kohl pencil since. As much as I love the colour intensity of kohl pencils, I could never get the lines neat however I would still prefer to use pencil on my lower eyeline and if I wanted to do smokey eye but for an everyday look, I choose liquid liner all the time. This Beauty Crop one lasts well on my eyes and is easy to use. It’s a medium-thickness brush, not too fat nor thin.
BONUS GIFT: Elizabeth Scarlett Palmier make-up bag**fave product** I LOVE LOVE this bonus gift from Birchbox. It’s sooo beautiful the photos do not do it any justice. The pink velvet is super soft and a pretty shade of pink. The cute palm tree print is embroidered and finished with glitter-gold thread to make it look really magical. I’d never heard of Elizabeth Scarlett before so it’s really nice to be introduced to a new brand. All of her designs are just as gorgeous as each other, with prices starting from £14 you can treat yourself to a bit of affordable luxury. 🙂
I first met mumpreneur Nahdia @Nahdz_Adventures from a Paint & Slurp event that was ran by her and London artist @artsybeaumont which was super fun. This was a few years ago and the craft event is all about bonding with your child making art together on canvas whilst enjoying a healthy smoothie. Since then, I’ve been going to Nahdia’s amazing sensory workshops, Sensory Sunday with Nahdz.
The now-mum-of-three is an amazing, a real supermum – she blogs, runs her own business, takes care of her boys and travels with the kids in between. Mumspiration right there! She’s also supports lots of small businesses; when I first qualified for my kids yoga teacher training, she came along to my classes with her boys without fail. I’ve since moved away from there so haven’t been able to yoga with her and her boys as much anymore but I’m so glad I got to spend a good few months with teaching them family yoga. I could see the boys progressing in their yoga poses and strength every week.
What is Sensory Sunday with Nahdz?
Sensory Sunday with Nahdz is a monthly workshop that allows children to explore, play, and experience sensory stimulation (messy play) in a fun and safe environment. Parents can sit back and mingle with other parents or get just as involved with their children. The children can play to their heart’s content without anyone telling them “don’t make a mess” – every child’s dream. At the end, parents can walk away happy whilst Nahdz and her team work their magic clearing everything away. It’s guilt-free fun!
It’s a very inclusive event and is suitable for any child that likes sensory/messy play or you’d like to introduce your child to sensory/messy play. Little Man and my nephew loved the one I took them to a couple years ago. I haven’t taken Little Miss before so I think she will really enjoy the event. As I now work weekends, this makes it harder to do things with the kids when I’m not around. Daddy P is not really the best at looking out for these fun things to do.
Play, play and more play!
Nahdia usually sets up around 4 different trays (depending on number of children attending, PS parents/carers go free!) each with a different sensory element. The one we attended we had a dinosaur tray filled with pulses, rocks and plastic dinosaurs, another table had coloured rice and magnetic numbers and letters. It was even fun for me to plunge my hands into so I know the kids loved it. There’s also usually a special guest (ie. a book reading with an author) at the end of the workshop too which is a perfect way to wrap up the event.
The workshop is for children as young as pre-walking babies and toddlers up to primary school age. I took Little Man when he was 5 and he really couldn’t get enough of it!
Okay, where do I sign up?
Check out @Nahdz_Adventures instagram page or Eventbrite for upcoming Sensory Sunday dates. So far, the events have been held at Space@61 in Dulwich which is a cosy space that can be hired for events. I love the venue, it’s super family-friendly. It’s quite easy to get to with parking spaces nearby and outside the venue.
I wish I could tell you half of the things. Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase ‘Let’s pretend.‘
– Through the Looking-Glass, ch.1 ‘Looking-Glass house’
How can I sum up the ROH performance of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground? It was like a whirlwind of CRAZY! Just like Alice falling down the dizzying rabbit hole, the performance was a spiralling sensation. I really did not expect the performance to turn out the way it did, but am so happy I got to watch it.
I was invited to attend the press evening performance (Feb 4) with Little Man but unfortunately he was ill that week so I took Little Miss along with me instead. I wasn’t sure what to expect as she is only turning four so I thought it might be a little overwhelming for her but surprisingly she lasted well. You could hear the animated voices of other children in the auditorium who seemed to love it. What’s not to like about a chaotic performance from giant ‘eat me’ cakes, blue ‘drink me’ bottles, four giant crying baby heads and Humpty Dumpty?
A cheeky selfie before the show starts
The spectacular view of the ROH auditorium
We arrived slightly later than planned and the queue to collect tickets was much longer than expected – I was unfortunately not in the right queue! How was I to know?! LOL We made it to our seats in the auditorium stalls (row L) which had great views of the stage. We took a few selfies before settling down for the performance to start.
My thoughts on Alice’s Adventures Under Ground…
This opera is unlike any other; it breaks all the rules. Singers are pushed to the extremes with their vocal ranges (hitting over 30 top ‘C’ notes in the first five minutes of the performance!), Jabberwocky sung in English, Russian and German, and Humpty Dumpty recounts his tragic tale to a rendition of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy… all thanks to Gerald Barry and his clever mish-mash of Alice in wonderland and Alice through the looking-glass.
Alice: Claudia Boyle
The Red Queen: Clare Presland
The White Queen: Hilary Summers
The White Rabbit: Sam Furness
The March Hare: Peter Tantsits
The Cheshire Cat: Mark Stone
Humpty Dumpty : Joshua Bloom
All of the cast above also played various other roles.
A big well done to the cast for their vibrant performance. The fifty-five minute show was a little too short for my liking but at the same time, it was just the right amount of time for families with younger children to enjoy. I really enjoyed it but for Little Miss, she just didn’t get it which was disappointing. I guess it was just too much going on at one time for her. It was her first time watching an opera performance and I’m sure if it was Little Man, he’d probably would’ve thought the same thing. However for him, he’d be able to get by from reading the surtitles – that’s what he did when we went to watch The Lost Thing.
There were also moments that made me burst into laughter. My favourite scene was after Alice went through the looking glass and witnessed the battle between the red knight and white knight. It was hilarious watching the two duelling then falling off their horses, only to apologetically help each other get back on to battle again. Little Miss’ favourite (and recognisable scene) Alice falling d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-d-down the endless rabbit hole that even she had to catch her breath before meeting the rabbit and the four ‘eat me’ cakes. The four baby heads which represented the four bottles totally threw us both off which was quite funny very weird! I really don’t remember that scene from Alice in Wonderland at all!
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bit, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
“When Alice tumbles down into the Rabbit Hole into Wonderland… she meets a successions of strange characters in unusual situations… Following the trial of the Knave of Hearts – accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts – Alice finds herself in Looking Glass Land…
Here, Alice becomes a Queen herself.”
The story is told in a most peculiar yet enchanting way. Lewis Carroll would’ve been appreciative of this wonderful approach. There’s singing, shouting, speaking, growling and squealing alongside the orchestra accompaniment. With two performances a night for 6 nights, it’s pretty intense. The show itself was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of performance. It’s fast, it’s wild and it’s fantastic. If you missed it (it went by as quickly as its performance dates) then I hope the Royal Opera House will put this opera on again next year.
It’s definitely one not to be missed. 🙂
For a more formal take on the show, you can check out British Theatre Guide’s review from Vera Liber who I met at the last ROH performance I’d attended. Unfortunately I didn’t bump into her that night but if she’s reading this, I send my love and warm greetings!
So you want to hear a story? Yrots a raeh ot tnaw uoy os?
Last week we were invited along to attend a showing of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House. As the show was suitable for children aged 6+ I was allowed to bring a plus one and naturally, I took Little Man with me. We don’t go to the theatre regularly and normally when we do go, it’s usually to our local Greenwich Theatre (which is fantastic for families!) so going to a fancy one like the Royal Opera House, I had to make sure my little monster was going to be on his best behaviour.
We attended the evening performance (7.15PM) but there are days when a matinee performance is showing. We made our way from North Greenwich to Covent Garden easily and just missed the rush hour period as we set off around 5PM. When we arrived at the Royal Opera House, we were ‘greeted’ by the doorman (they just opened the door, no smiles and we were the first to initiate the actual greeting, but hey ho) who showed us the way to the reception desk. Looking around I could see why we were not as warmly welcomed as we would be at our little Greenwich Theatre. The majority of the ROH attendees are mostly older, mostly middle-class and attended without children. A totally different demographic than what we’re used to seeing.
As we headed downstairs to the Linbury Theatre, it was a little less intimidating as we saw more families and young children. Little Man didn’t notice anything but as a parent, I feel like the theatre should be a more welcoming place for those with young children. Perhaps if we had attended a matinee performance it would’ve probably felt less judging as we usually associate evening shows with adult guests rather than young families.
As we were a little early, we decided to head back up and have a look around the small gift shop. We bought a laser-light keyring and a ballet pump keyring for Little Miss. We then headed back downstairs to the cafe outside the Linbury Theatre and had a hot chocolate and a brownie which satisfied our sweet craving.
What is The Lost Thing?
The Lost Thing is a picture book written and illustrated by Shaun Tan. It became one of his bestselling books worldwide and well-recognised in the literature world. The story is about a boy who discovers ‘The Thing’ which doesn’t seem to belong to anything in particular, making it ‘lost’. In the book, The Thing looks very mechanical and is orange-red with greenish metal claws and legs whereas in the theatre production, it’s more organic and living with a green, moss-like body and ever-changing number of legs.
In this theatrical adaptation by Ben Wright and Jules Maxwell (from Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company) we are treated to a different kind of storytelling; one that’s filled with not only music but also theatrical singing, opera and dance along the way. ‘Mixing it up’ is definitely a good way of exposing children of this new generation to a variety of performing arts.
Review: The Lost Thing at Royal Opera House
Despite the lukewarm review of the show being “too static and slow” from The Guardian online, I much agree with the reviews from Culture Whisper and British Theatre Guide. The performance was pleasantly executed, and provided both children and adults with some true thought-provoking moments. In the programme booklet they gave me, it mentions that The Thing in the performance is not meant to replicate Tan’s illustration but instead, represents something living and organic. The Thing can shape-shift changing from two legs to eight legs, growing larger or smaller depending on its mood.
“We wanted to take it in a completely different direction and build on the skeleton of the story, which is about celebrating difference, supporting what is lost, and potentially contemplating what we are losing. We decided to shift the nature of The Thing itself to be this odd, biodiverse, many-limbed organism…“ –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
I can understand why there may be some disappointment as to why the original story was never followed through completely but then again, adapting a picture book into an opera/theatrical performance is not ordinary neither. The story lines is minimal but I think that makes it easy for children to understand. There’s also surtitles and audio description for those hard of hearing. The diverse cast are fantastic – all extremely talents and a good mix of both disabled and non-disabled dancers, musicians, singers.
I thought the interpretation of The Thing as something organic and living, familiar yet somehow forgotten, was like a metaphorical example of the world we live in today. There is a scene where The Boy almost hands The Thing over to the odds and ends department, but then a janitor appears and strongly advises against it, saying that things left there get permanently forgotten. We then see the janitor being comforted by The Thing and feeling happy that it’s in his presence. It reminded me of how happy and content we once were to just enjoy simple things ie. nature but now we’re constantly fixated on our phones and devices.
“In the book, the denouement is that it finds a place where it belongs. In our version that place is a very saturated, green, mossy jungle…” –Ben Wright, interviewed by Lyndsey Winship
Summary: my thoughts on The Lost Thing
Little Man loved the performance and has asked to go back to watch The Thing come to life again. We will aim to go before the new year. He also lost his thing (a small toy) there at the theatre, which has now become his ‘lost thing’ – now isn’t that a story within a story for you?
I loved the story so much that I ordered the picture book online for Little Man, he instantly recognised the book from the ochre colour scheme and enjoyed reading it however he told me that he much prefers the ending that he saw in the opera adaptation.
The Lost Thing is showing until January 4th 2020 and tickets are between £7.00-£35.00 for a seat, how can you resist a familiar yet story?
You can watch the video of Shaun Tan’s story here:
P I N T H I S P O S T
[AD] We were given complimentary tickets to attend the performance of The Lost Thing at the Royal Opera House in exchange for this review post. All opinions and content are in my own words and photos that have been used are credited to their sources respectively.
This winter is the best time for us to get our skates on and unleash our inner figure skater vibes! I cannot skate but that doesn’t stop me getting on the ice. I try to go at least once every year and each year I tell myself that I will take up skating and get better… but like NY resolutions, the feeling and motivation disperses and I’m left saying the same thing year on year.
I’ve taken it upon myself to give myself a Christmas mission and visit 5 beautiful and magical ice rinks in London. Below are my favourite five rinks which are all outdoors so you can enjoy the stunning views of majestic surrounding buildings.
There are so many ice skating rinks in London to visit but here are a few a good places to start you off…
Somerset House is mainly known for hosting London Fashion Week/Weekend events but every winter they also put on a spectacular ice skating arena, especially if you visit late afternoon/evening time when the lights are on. There’s a big Christmas tree as the centrepiece, plus having the building as a backdrop for your skate is simply amazing.
A few days I went with one of my work girls to skate and we really enjoyed ourselves. It really is a stunning location but get ready to see a lot of couples skating together, a lot of newbies clinging onto the edge of the rink and more experienced skaters showing off their moves in the middle of the rink. There’s no skate aids here apart from for young children so I wouldn’t recommend skating here if you’ve never been on the ice as you will just be clinging onto the sides of the rink for the whole session. I am not great on the ice and found it quite challenging without any skate aids but managed to get by a little although I had to have lots of resting time in between because my legs got tired… Real quick. Also it gets quite busy on the ice but really feels festive and enjoyable.
They play good music on the ice and the lights change colour which creates a lovely skating atmosphere. Sessions are 45 mins which is a good amount of skate time. The skates for hire are really good quality and I’ve found lace-up skates to be extremely comfy compared to the standard clip-in ones.
Adult tickets are from £11 for the 45mins session which includes skate hire. Arrive at least 15mins early to drop off your bags at the hut (first bag/item is free, £2 per item thereafter). Then go into the other hut to collect your skates. There’s also Skate Lates from 8pm where you can enjoy skating listen to the latest hits and some classics from the venue’s DJ. Good vibes!
Based at the foot of a UNESCO Heritage site, voted as UK’s Top 10 visitors attraction the Queen’s House in Greenwich is one of the most beautiful places in London. The ice rink here is the only outdoor rink in South East London and is beautiful to skate around. This year, the rink at Canary Wharf has not been brought back so this is currently our closest ice skating rink.
We had the pleasure of skating here on its launch event (you can read our ice skating review here) which was fantastic. The kids had such a wonderful time and I am so glad to have an ice rink so local to us! For me, this rink comes in as a close second behind Somerset House because even though it is an amazing rink with really magical views, the skates let me down – they are the really cheap clip on ones which hurt my feet so bad. The good thing about this rink is that they have not one, but TWO types of skate aids for you to choose from. A penguin aid for less confident skaters and the banana aid (seen below) which is ideal for tiny skaters and complete first-timers. The banana aid is really fun but for those pushing the aid around, it’s hard work! Get ready to burn extra calories with that thing.
A night – or late afternoon skate here would be stunning. As you can see from the image above, the Queen’s House lit up at night is really something. It looks magical and so festive! The rink doesn’t get overly busy too which is great as it means more space on the ice to go round. Tickets are from £13.50 for adults and from £6.75 for kids, unfortunately there are no family tickets but if you’re a Royal Musuems Greenwich member, you can take advantage of their discounted tickets.
South Kensington is well known for their museums and now every winter, for their ice skating too! Passing here last winter with Little Man I thought about taking him on the ice but unfortunately he’s not a big fan as I am with ice skating so we gave it a miss. I’m planning to head out this year with Little Miss as the ice rink is small but good enough for parents with young families. There is a morning parent & toddler skating session which includes skating, skate hire and a free hot drink for both… of course we will opt for the hot chocolate option! 🙂
This rink is on my list to take the kids once we break up for Christmas holidays. It looks like it’ll be a good one and a skate by the NHM would be a delight! Naturally, we’ll head into the museum after for a little look around and lunch at their cafe or a nearby restaurant. Adult tickets are from £12.65 and tickets for children start from £8.80. There’s also a reduced family ticket for four cost from £39.60.
Every Friday evening from 7-8pm, fragrance brand Viktor&Rolf will be transforming the ice rink into a Flowerbomb fantasy. Join in as they turn the ice pink, hang sparkling baubles from the Christmas tree and the infuse the air with their new Flowerbomb fragrance.
Situated in the gardens of Henry VIII’s historic home, the Hampton Court Palace outdoor rink offers you the chance to glide across the ice whilst being surrounded by spectacular views of the amazing Tudor palace. This scenic skate is perfect for all skaters from complete beginners to the advanced. Skate aids are available, and just like at Queen’s House you can choose from the penguin or the banana.
Tickets are slightly pricier than the other rinks already mentioned (apart from Somerset House) from £15.00 per adult and £10.50 per child. This will have to be a solo skate for me or with friends as it’s slightly out of reach for us and to be frank, the prices are a little more dear. From the images on their website, I can see that people are wearing the blue clip-on skates… a big turn off for me however that view does look really appealing. There’s also a cafe bar by the rink so you can grab a hot drink and something to eat before or after your time on the ice. 🙂
Skating around an outdoor bandstand playing live music? What more could you ask for! This rink looks pretty amazing in the day time and at night, even more special. When I visited this rink with my girl friends, unfortunately it was a very wet evening and we all got caught in the rain. It was only a mist but so much water pooled onto the ice, it made me really nervous with skating on it. However it wasn’t all bad – the wet ice actually made it easier to glide and skate but it was certainly more slippery in some areas of the ice as the rain froze over.
There are penguin skate aids at this rink for hire £5 per aid which I bought but ended up not using. There were many families on the ice that couldn’t really skate but didn’t want to put money out to get an aid and were really struggling. I ended up giving my penguin to a young child who skated with his mum and sister who were also inexperienced skaters.
There was a professional photographer on the ice when we skated so be aware that staff will tell you that you can’t take photos on the ice – because they want you to obviously purchase theirs so if you must take a photo like we did, make it snappy and do it discreetly.There was also live music; we had a singer performing with her guitar. Her acoustic renditions of Christmas songs were mellow, festive and added perfect ambience to our wet skating session. We enjoyed our 45 minute skate and of course, my feet got blistered from the clip-on skates which were in really bad condition. They had the worst skates compared to the rinks at Somerset House and the Queen’s House.
Apparently Hyde Park’s rink prides itself as the largest outdoor rink in the UK I can’t tell you for certain. From photos, I thought the Hampton Court rink looks bigger but I won’t know until I go there myself. As soon as I can tell you, I’ll let you guys know. 😉
Okay, I know my post title says Top 5 but think of this as your bonus ice rink location because I couldn’t disregard it.
Tower of London is one of the Historic Royal Palaces in London (like Hampton Court Palace) and a very popular attraction for visitors in the UK and overseas. You can skate outside the fortress and admire the beautiful ambience as it’s lit up in the evening.
Prices are similar to Hampton Court; from £15 for adults and from £10.50 for children. For me, this one will be a miss but I’m sure it’ll be a great visit if you’re a History buff. Skate aids can also be hired here (must be booked in advance) but their website doesn’t specify what kind of skate aids are available.
I hope you enjoyed this little round-up posts of my top 5 magical outdoor ice rinks in London. Have you visited any ice skating rinks this year or perhaps you’re looking to go soon before Christmas? Leave me a comment if you have any other recommendations of open-air ice rinks in London too! x
When I was a young girl, my father decided that he wanted me to develop musical talent. Lucky for him, I wasn’t too bad at it and was able to pick up playing piano quite easily. Unfortunately, I stopped playing piano around the time I was doing my GCSEs because I felt like it was all too overwhelming for me. In hindsight I am a gutted I didn’t carry on but that’s life and my priorities were different to what my dad wanted/expected them to be. To this day however, I still enjoy listening to piano music and admire those who play it.
The Aurora Orchestra at King’s Place
The Aurora Orchestra create interactive, musical storytelling concerts aimed at under 5s. This was something unheard of to me but I thought the chance to exposing my little ones to classical music early on would be a great idea. The only other time the kids got close to hearing classical music was when they were still inside the womb and I’d occasionally put on classic.fm for them to listen to.
The Aurora Orchestra are currently performing their new storytelling concert, Beethoven and the Dinosaurs at King’s Place in Kings Cross and last week, I went along with Little Man. He’s six so older than the recommended age but I didn’t mind and neither did he! The Orchestra will be there until the end of this week then they’ll be back again in February to perform Chopin and the Dragonfly. You can also go on Youtube and have a little look at how the concerts are performed: https://youtu.be/GPjSTd-moZ4
A little bit of participation from the grown-ups is always good fun but the Aurora Orchestra team are really good at retaining the children’s attention. The concert was 45mins long was was definitely long enough. Each musician had their own solo part to play which was lovely; our musician trio was made up of the flute, the cello and the piano.
The following pieces by Beethoven had been specially arranged for the concert:
Symphony No. 4
Symphony No. 6
Bagatelle Op. 33 No. 2
Symphony No. 6
Piano Concerto No. 3
Moonlight Sonata pt. 1 & 2
Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major
Symphony No. 7 (adapted)
Piano trio Op. 1 No. 1
All of the children really loved the concert. They were all so attentive, there was only one outburst from a teary child but he soon settled after seeing some more dinosaurs appear. We had moments of dancing and laughter especially towards the end when the storyteller asked the children what dance move could the dinosaurs do and a little girl shouted out “pooing” it was refreshing to see the storyteller going along with it. 🙂
The concert is on show from December 1-8 so don’t miss out on booking your tickets for Sunday if you want to check it out. As it’s in King’s Cross you can make a day out of it with the family by heading over to the British Library. Check their website for timings and prices. A family ticket for 4 (2 adults 2 kids, or 1 adult 3 kids) cost just £23.50 which is great value.
I am really looking forward to the next concert, Chopin and the Dragonfly (in February) so I can take Little Miss with me to experience the concert. I think it’s brilliant how they can weave these classical pieces into stories and make it fun and immersive for the children. We’ll be going on a weekday as I’m at work on the weekends but hopefully that should mean less crowds for us to battle on our commute!
About: Far, Far Away series
Far, Far Awayis Aurora Orchestra’s series of immersive storytelling concerts for young children aged 0–5 and their families. These interactive musical adventures bring to life music by a particular composer or style of music, weaving together live performance, an original story by critically-acclaimed poet Kate Wakeling (Aurora Writer-in-Residence), and a set design built around the audience and musicians. Audiences are invited to step inside each story through guided listening, singing, dancing, holding props and much more, becoming immersed in a magical world of music, language, discovery and play. Some past Far, Far Away productions have been Beethoven and the Dinosaurs, Tchaikovsky and the Marvellous Kingdom, and Bach and the Noisy Night-time.
Queen’s House Greenwich Ice Rink
Dates: 29 November 2019 – 12 January 2020
(closed Dec 25)
Winter time is the only season where I need no excuses to drink my body weight in hot chocolate and look like a Michelin-man. I’m loving all of the fluffy layers, borg-lined jackets and teddy-fleece fabrics this year. It’s been a real long time since I’ve skated however this past week I have been going regularly to ice skating rinks around London. In an upcoming review, I’ll be sharing my favourite outdoor ice rinks in London with you so look out for that soon.
For the past few years living in the area, there’s always been an ice rink in Greenwich. Greenwich is a lovely little town that draws people from near and far to come and sample its culture and cuisine. The Queen’s House is a part of the Royal Museums Greenwich, one of the UK’s Top 10 visitor attractions. It’s also a UNESCO protected Heritage site and has been beautifully preserved.
The National Maritime Museum is next door and they have a wonderful under 5s play area that’s free to drop-in. Across the road is the Old Royal Naval College where you’ll find the newly renovated Painted Hall. Just behind the attraction is Greenwich Park and a short but steep climb up the hill, you’ll find The Royal Observatory. The last remaining tea-clipper, the Cutty Sark, is a short walk away and so is the popular Greenwich Market. On Wednesdays, there’s a toddlers soft-play session under the ship.
If you have a young child, you can really make a day out of your visit by combining a few things to do together. Check out this post of when we went along to the Toddler Time session at Cutty Sark. There’s also lots of interesting events going on at Greenwich market over the Christmas period so be sure to check out their website.
Ice skating in Greenwich
We were kindly invited along to the opening launch of the Queen’s House Ice Rink. Apparently this Greenwich outdoor ice rink is the only one in South London There wasn’t many of us there which made it a lovely first experience for the kids, despite the rainy weather. We will definitely be back in the next week or so for more skating!
We left school and arrived at the National Maritime Museum at 3.40pm, as we were a little early we popped into the museum for a little look around. We could see from the outside that the lighthouse beacon was on and like boats to a lighthouse, we were pulled in by the light. We had a little look around the souvenir shop before heading back out and across over to the Queen’s House. The weather was not too cold but I’d highly recommend dressing the kids up warm for the ice. We warmed up with delicious hot chocolates before or our session but you can also choose from teas, coffees and mulled wine. Snacks and sweet treats are also available.
Skating sessions can be booked in advance online. Prices are from £13.50 for adults and £6.75 for children. The skating sessions are 45 minutes which is pretty standard timing. The prices are also similar to other London outdoor ice rinks. If you add in the benefits of the rink being stunning and on the doorstep of two museums, it’s decent value-for-money. After checking in we went to change into our skates, children’s size starts from infant UK 9, if your child’s feet is smaller than this they offer bob skates which go over your child’s actual footwear.
Skate aids are also available to hire for £5. They have two types of skate aids to choose from; the penguin which is suitable for single beginner skaters and the banana skate aid which is a godsend if you have more than one child. Just pop your little ones on and push them around the ice but be aware, it’s tiring work especially if your kids are older as their weight makes it harder to push and steer if you are also a beginner skater.
Our best moments & highlights…
The stunning background views
When it comes to outdoor ice skating venues, the view has to be one of the highlights. I can confirm that the Queen’s House lit up after dark for our session was truly amazing. It really added to the magical experience. Even if you skated here during daylight hours, I think it would still look just as beautiful. I will be back very soon for a solo skate and will definitely opt for a morning session. During the daytime, the Queen’s House Greenwich is always open and free to enter so make sure you pop in and have a look around at the wonderful artwork and don’t forget to check out its stunning Tulip spiral staircase.
Unfortunately, I get blisters on my feet each time I skate because my feet are flat and over-pronated. If you have a similar condition, make sure you wear thick socks and/or bring some gel cushion pads to avoid excessive rubbing. For me it’s also self-inflicted as even though I can feel my feet are over-rubbing I never get off the ice. Quitting is for losers… haha!
The family-friendly size
The Greenwich ice rink is on the smaller side compared to the likes of Winter Wonderland and Somerset House however I personally think this is much better and safer especially if you have a young family and/or you’re not that confident on the ice. A smaller rink usually means staff can be more attentive and approachable for handy tips and help on the ice. As it’s a newly opened rink, there’s less of a crowd on the ice which gives you a better skating experience however I am yet to go here on a weekend so it might start getting busier as the days go by.
If it’s your first time on the ice, I’d recommend watching some Youtube videos on how to fall safely and how to skate. It’s always important to learn how to fall safely as a bad fall on the ice can really do some damage to your body especially your back and even head. If you’re an experienced skater you can still enjoy the beauty of the rink but may find yourself doing several laps pretty quickly. Not a problem as there’s also less people on the ice so you can practice those backward swizzles and turns. 🙂
A priceless first-time experience
Little Man and Little Miss thoroughly enjoyed their first time on the ice. The laughter and fun and giant smiles on their faces was priceless! For Little Man, it’s technically his second time on the ice but the first time he actually skated. As much as they loved Daddy P and I pushing them around, they were brave enough to get up on the ice and skate with one of us holding their hand. Little Miss seems a natural on the ice, Little Man needs a little more practice to find his feet and his balance.
A local attraction for us
Lucky for us, we now have an ice rink a short walk or bus ride away from us which is fantastic. There’s always so much on offer in Greenwich and I am more that grateful to live in such a wonderful area. I’ll be taking the kids to see Santa once December hits and we’ll surely be back for another skate and visit to the museums. Schools around here break up on December 19th so we’ll have the Friday free to get out and do things.
If you live further afield, Greenwich is only 10 minutes from London Bridge and is very well connected with public transport. I’d advise leaving your car at home as there’s hardly any parking spaces available. You’ve got the national rail close by as well as the DLR, the river boat (Thames Clipper), numerous buses and the underground (Jubilee line) at North Greenwich which is a bus ride away, approx. 2 miles away.
Perfect for intimate skate dates
A smaller, intimate rink also makes a great place to skate for couples wanting a skate date. Daddy P and I have said that we’d like to return to skate together, probably on a school day when both of the kids are still in school so we can have a little bonding time together.
This rink is a great venue for couples however, I wouldn’t recommend considering a skate date if it’s your first time on the ice as what happens is you’ll end up just clinging onto the side of the rink instead of actually skating and having a good time together. Although saying this, at least here you can hire a banana skate aid to help you move so if one of you can skate… you can push the non-skater. 🙂 The other romantic place to skate is Somerset House however they don’t offer any skate aids so avoid going there if you’ve both never skated.
NB. We were invited to the press launch and compensated for our time on the ice in exchange for this blog review. All words, opinions and content are my own and photos must not be used without my consent.
We are back from Paris and our day trip to Disneyland Paris. It was an amazing experience, now looking back at it, but at the time it felt chaotic. In this Disneyland Paris 2019 review I’ll write about our overall experience so you can make up your own mind on what to expect, what to bring, and give you some helpful tips which I did’t know about before our trip that could help you.
Book Disneyland Park Tickets in advance
Booking your park tickets in advance will save you a lot of money. If you do plan to visit the park more than once in the year, an annual pass is worth a consideration as you get a better deal. We booked our tickets directly on the Disneyland Paris website however there are many online websites that offer Disneyland ticket deals. For example, after booking ours I found tickets for one day park, hotel and Eurostar for £99 per person. Much cheaper than what we paid however we did go during the SUPER MAGIC (super-peak) period. You can have a look for ticket deals on 365 Tickets which is great site for theme park ticket deals.
We departed from London St. Pancras Thursday evening at 6.01pm and arrived in Paris at 9.35pm local time so about 2.5hrs train journey ride. The children were a little restless by the end of the train ride but did good enough to stay seated. Children under 3 do not need a ticket as they can sit on your lap however if the train is empty you can be cheeky and place them on a sit next to you if no-one takes the seat. Eurostar staff are incredibly courteous and I have never had a bad experience on it – staff speak both French and English fluently and you can use card or cash (euros or pounds) at the refreshments cafe on board. There’s a toilet on every coach and air conditioning throughout the train. There’s also wifi on board but I couldn’t figure out how to connect on it as my phone would’t connect so can’t comment on that but free wifi – what’s not to like?
Save ££: purchase tickets when Eurostar are doing promotions on their tickets, you could book as cheap as £29 one way per person and under 3s are free.
Top Tip: Download a few movies or shows for the kids onto the tablet before hand and bring some books or activity packs to keep them entertained for the ride. That way you can minimise any tantrums and/or tears.
We arrived at Paris, Gare du Nord around 9.35pm local time. Leaving the station was very straightforward and easy. We got hungry and decided we wanted to eat before heading to the hotel so we stopped off at a restaurant opposite the station. Big mistake. I already knew in the back of my mind it would be a bad idea but I couldn’t bring myself to take us to McDonalds but in hindsight, I wish I did. At the restaurant we ordered, one margherita pizza, one salmon dish, one lamb confit, two glasses of orange juice and a hot chocolate… the bill came to 60 EUROS! WTF?! Note to self, food is expensive in Paris! Now, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal had the food been really tasty and value for money, the food was bland, not cooked well and seriously BASIC. I’m not expecting fine dining standards at a cafe/restaurant however I know the French like their food so I expect good quality food for that price. If we had gone to Mcdonalds, it would’ve tasted better and cost half that much.
The hotel: Renaissance La Défense hotel
We stayed at the Renaissace La Defense in the finance district of Paris. An urbanised area complete with its own shopping centre, restaurants, metro, train and bus station. It’s very easy to get around via public transport but man! It’s a different story via taxi – none of our taxi drivers were familiar with the area and one even said to us “c’est compliqué” – all of the hotels are built up a level above ground whilst the street level is below ground. What this means is that if you arrive by car you’ll need to head upstairs onto the upper level to get access to the hotels.
On our arrival night we weren’t aware and walked through a labyrinth to find our hotel. Lucky our driver spoke English and Daddy P spoke French fluently. I’m sure if I was alone with my minimal, broken French I may not have been able to navigate the way. Once we arrived, we felt much better – the hotel was stunning. The staircase was beautiful and the reception area was clean and bright.
Staff were very courteous even though it was past 10pm, we were greeted like we were the first people they had seen all day. Check-in was smooth and within 10 minutes we were given our room keys and on our way to enjoy our room. Our room was clean and spacious, we had tea/coffee making facilities, a good amount of toiletries and clean towels enough for all four of us. Blackout curtains to keep the light out let us sleep for longer which was great. The massive flat screen TV kept the kids occupied in the morning evening before bedtime. Morning shower was great but I wish the water pressure was a bit stronger.
Save ££: Have a look on Booking.com for hotel deals or if you prefer more privacy, check out Airbnb.com for great one or two bedroom apartments you can rent in Paris. Sometimes you’d get a better deal on these than the hotels. You can save more money by shopping at the local supermarkets to make home-cooked meals instead of eating out.
Top Tip: stay central if you want to visit the main landmarks or see more of the city. The further out into the suburbs you go, the more time you will spend travelling and you’ll also spend more on travelling costs buying train tickets.
Travel: getting to Disneyland by train
After a good night’s sleep we woke up around 9am to leave the hotel around 11am. We went to buy snacks and food at the local Monoprix before heading to Disneyland Paris. Unfortunately for us, there was no direct RER train to DLP in Paris due to train engineering works which was going on all day from August 10-18. This was something we didn’t know about until we got there so make sure you check the train schedules online a few days before leaving so you can plan your route effectively. Using the Metro and RER trains were very easy and buying a ticket was also very easy. Ticket machines are available at metro station and offer different languages so you don’t have to work it out in French. Our RER ticket cost us €30.00 one way (2 adults, 2 children) which covered our journey for zones 1-3. I’d definitely recommend travelling to Disneyland via train – it takes around 1-1.5hr normally and is the cheapest option compared to taxi, Uber or coach. Driving is another option but be aware it’s about 26 euros to park your car there.
We probably would’ve gotten away with buying just 1 child ticket as Little Miss was in her pram and I just pushed her through the gates with me. Unlike London, the metro staff do not frequently regulate the gates and you will see people jumping them or walking through without a ticket.
We started our journey at 12.00 and got to Marne-la-Vallée (Disneyland’s station) at 2pm. This is because part of our journey (from Auber to Vincennes) required us to exit the metro, walk 10mins to the next station (chateaux de vincennes) to resume our journey. During that walk we stopped off at a McDonalds for lunch. Children’s Happy Meals in Paris are great! The kids got a nugget happy meal each and it came with the toy, 4 nuggets, small chips, apple juice and a strawberry yoghurt drink. Amazing.
Park rides, parades and that ‘fast pass’ ticket
The main park was spectacular but man the crowds… soooo many people! I wasn’t ready for how busy it was. I should’ve known better as we arrived in the afternoon. We ended up only going on about 3-4 rides in total but for us, it wasn’t a bad thing. The kids just simply preferred the experience of being at DLP than concerned over going on the rides. Originally, I had wanted to arrive at the park as early as 10am but I am so glad we decided on a later afternoon time. I guess that’s because they are younger – I think if you have older children, they will want to queue up for as many rides as possible!
With our entry ticket, we were given ‘fast pass’ access – I think Disneyland will continue to offer this for a while yet. Simply head over to the rides that are available with the fast pass and print out your advance tickets. Unfortunately you can’t select the times but the ticket will allow you to skip the queue when it comes to the time for you to go on the ride. We printed out our Buzz Lightyear laser blast tickets at 2.30pm but was given fast pass for 7.30pm – we didn’t mind but just trying to give you an idea of the timings the tickets give you.
Save ££: Bring food, snacks, drinks and water with you. If you have younger children it’s not to bad but if you have big eaters or older children they will get very hungry and want to eat/snack constantly so stock up on these things by visiting a local Lidl, Auchan, Carrefour or Monoprix before entering the park. You’ll also save time queuing for food at the park’s restaurants.
Top Tip: If you’re not staying at the parks, travel to the park via train – it’s cheap and easy. The station is right outside the entrance and it’s hassle-free. Another tip, if you have young children, bring a stroller! Your feet, legs and sanity will thank you for it later.
I was extremely close to not bringing our stroller but a friend of mine who went a week before said don’t even think about not bringing one. The park is large and little legs will tire fast. Also they’re bound to fall asleep at least once during the day. You’ll also save around 30 euros not hiring one there!
We queued up for a mini boat cruise in Fantasyland which was enjoyable and relaxing once we got on the ride. The queue was about 30-40mins which was pretty long for one ride – some of the other rides had even longer wait times. The longest wait time I noticed was 90mins – my advice would be to check out the rides you want to go on online ahead of the visit. Anticipate long queues and wait times so plan to go on about 4-8 rides if you are there for a day visit. It’s impossible to complete the park in one day no matter what season you go.
After we finished our boat cruise, we went to check out Sleeping Beauty’s castle and the sleeping dragon underneath the castle. The boys went on the Pirate tree house and Phantom Manor ride whilst Little Miss and I went over to the town square to watch the street parade at 5.30pm which was fantastic.
If you think you’re not going to be able to see all the Disney characters or only have a day ticket like I did, I’d highly recommend watching the street parade – it is one of the best things you can do and you can easily get a good spot. You will be able to see all the Disney characters in one sitting. The parade is approx. 30 mins and you will be able to see all the characters clearly; Donald and Daisy duck, Mickey and Minnie mouse, all the princesses, the Lion King characters, Buzz Lightyear, Woody and friends, Anna and Elsa from Frozen.
Character Meets: Mickey Mouse
This was the only character meet that we queued for – we tried to look for Toy Story’s Jessie and friends in the Western World part of the park but we were too late. At the Princess Pavilion, it was Rapunzel from Tangled that we could see in the afternoon but the queue for her was even longer so Daddy P and I made the decision to go and see Mickey as we thought both of the kids will enjoy it more. We weren’t disappointed.
Even though the wait was 1.5-2hrs long and we even missed our fast pass entry for Buzz Lightyear’s laser blast ride, it was SO WORTH IT! The kids were kept entertained in Mickey’s theatre with short movie clips that were on a loop. I loved the concept they developed for it – like it was a special backstage meet with Mickey. Just before it was out turn to see Mickey, one of the animation team saw Little Man’s tshirt and noticed it was his birthday – they made a quick call and was able to get Mickey Mouse on the phone to him before our meet! Little Man said Mickey wished him Happy Birthday and just seeing his face lit up was an unforgettable moment.
We took our photos with Mickey – you are free to take your own photos using your phone of your Mickey meet but Daddy P and I were too filled with awe from seeing him with the kids we couldn’t move much haha! The photographer took the photos for us and gave us a little card so at the end of the meet we can purchase the photos if we wanted to. As we didn’t take any of our own photos, I bought them but they looked amazing so it was hard not to buy them. You can purchase just the images or with a photo frame. Of course they offer a deal for multi purchases and I bought two photos with frames for 25.99 euros which is around £23 – not bad for two beautiful photos but if you do want to save money, don’t forget to take your own photos at the meet! The staff will even help you take the photo on your phone if you want to get a full family shot, no charge.
Staff at Disneyland were incredibly friendly, smiley and very talented. They are able to switch seamlessly from one language to another; from what I gathered all staff speak French, English, Spanish and German. In that order. And I’m sure they can speak Italian and possibly Mandarin too as there was a lot of Asian people there. Just amazing! Language barrier is really the least of your concerns at DLP.
The Fireworks: Disney Illuminations
This has to be the real highlight of my Disneyland trip and I am so so glad we didn’t leave before it. Everyone gathers in the centre around 9pm onwards for a good spot and I don’t blame them. However we decided to head back to the Western World and go for our dinner. We dined at The Lucky Nugget Saloon which was affordable and tasty. A meal deal for dinner was 21.99 euros and for that you get a main dish, side, dessert and soft drink. The service was quick and super easy – we queue to order, pay and get seated shortly after. That took around 15mins and our food arrived at our table around 5mins after being seated. We took our time to enjoy our meal which was delicious – I had the rack of ribs and Daddy P and co had the fish with chips. We didn’t opt for dessert. We left the restaurant around 10.30pm and by then the park will filled with people waiting for the fireworks display. We walked all the way to the park entrance as we wanted to be one of the first to leave and had a decent spot watching the illuminations. We didn’t stay for the whole thing which is around 30mins but we watched the majority before running off to catch the train home. If we were staying at the park’s resort we wouldn’t be in a rush and take our time to find a good spot close to the Sleeping Beauty castle which is where they project the illuminations from. All I can say is whatever you do, stay for the show. Don’t miss it because it really does highlight your whole experience.
Top Tip: If you want to make it home before the crowd, leave the park slightly before the end of the illuminations. You can do this by choosing a good viewing spot close to the park entrance so you can make a quick escape.
Depature Day: back home to London
We decided to have another lie-in as we didn’t get home until 1am the night before from DLP so we woke up 9am and checked out by 11am. We stopped off at McDonalds for ‘brunch’ – I forgot to mention that McDs in Paris offers macarons as a dessert! They are delicious and quite cheap, around 95 cents per maracon but I’m sure you can get a pack of 6 or 8 for a discounted rate. It was pouring down with rain on Saturday so our plans for going to see the Eiffel tower and Montmartre was out of the question. Not when we hadn’t packed any weather-proof or warm coats with us, we didn’t want to risk getting wet and coming down with colds when we get back home. We managed to get the metro to the Louvre Museum and hid there most of the day. After here, we made it to the station where we waited until it was our time to go home.
Top Tip: there are no free toilet facilities at the Louvre – it cost between 1.10-2.00 euros to use the toilet here so make sure you have some change with you.
We got to Gare du Nord by catching the metro from Louvre to Gare d’lest then changing at the station for the train to Gare du Nord. After spending a few hours wandering around the station, we headed upstairs to check into our Eurostar journey. There is a small children’s corner on the platform for kids to burn off some of their energy. Little Man did some reading, some colouring in and Little Miss joined in every now and then. There’s also a Paul’s Bakery and Costa Coffee on the platform for you to enjoy – yay!
The highlights of Disneyland:
A chance to see all of the characters at the parades
No need to pay for additional rides
Fast-pass ticket with every admission ticket
Public transport nearby (train station is opposite the park)
Ample car parking spaces
The downside of Disneyland:
Very long queues and wait times
Expensive and limited food choices
Expensive car parking charges (around 26 euros)
Expensive buggy hire (around 30 euros)
In summary, I definitely recommend going if you’ve never been before. It really is a wonderful experience despite the negatives. Yes, it can cost a fortune but the magic is still there and you’d see it in your children’s eyes. Just make sure you take them at an age that they can actually enjoy it (3 years and above) otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it unless you can really afford to spend at least £800+ on a few days. Booking during off season is a very good idea – avoid UK and French school holidays and you should find cheaper park prices and low park capacity.
I hope you enjoyed this blog review. We are looking forward to going back but whether that’ll be next year or in a few year’s time we’re not sure yet. It was definitely a memorable experience and we all enjoyed it thoroughly. 🙂 You can watch a video of our day trip on Youtube:youtu.be/Kgxoc1K3_gc
Bank Holidays are fantastic because it’s a day when school’s out and I don’t have to take a day off work to spend it with the kids. We haven’t been able to spend a lot of family time like we used to because I work both weekends now so Last Monday we decided to make the most of it. We headed out to the new VUE cinema that opened up on Eltham high street.
We were invited along to watch a film – we chose Wonder Park. It’s 1hr 28mins long which is a perfect length for two kids under 5. Daddy P and I really wanted to watch Avengers: End Game with the kids but after seeing that the film was 3hrs long, we decided to give that a miss.
From our home in Greenwich, the 286 bus takes us directly outside the cinema in 25-30 mins. If you’re coming from Eltham station it’s a 10mins walk (0.5mi) or short bus ride up the hill. For those that drive, are a few car parking bays on the high street but the nearest car park is at Sainsbury’s directly behind the cinema (£1 p/hr and free after 6.30pm). I really like Eltham as it’s just like Greenwich – totally accessible in south east London. Also, there’s a cheeky Nandos restaurant door which is a bonus!
The cinema is one of the smallest I’ve been to with only six screens however its size doesn’t compromise on its quality and standard. Bank Holidays are really busy so it was only natural to expect lots of people and queues.
The location of VUE Eltham is superb because it’s right on the high street and is so easy to find. You really can’t miss it. If you’re a local, you’ll have no problem finding it. If you’re not then just take any bus that will get you to Eltham high street and it’s a short walk – you can see the big VUE sign anywhere on the high street so you really can’t miss it.
The queues were not that long but it did take us a while to get served. I’m pretty sure it’s because the cinema had just opened and the staff had to quickly deal with the influx of people coming through the doors. I pondered on the choice of snacks to pick for our film but decided to keep it simple. I got a regular soft drink for Daddy P, Kids combo pack for Little Man and a mixed slush puppy for Little Miss. I decided not to buy anything for myself but was very tempted to get nachos with cheese because they looked so good! The price was not bad too, all of our snacks and refreshments came up to nearly £20 which was a bargain in my eyes. I’m sure we’d normally spend £40 in another cinema.
Little Man and I also eyed up the pick and mix bar but decided to be good for the day. 🙂
The VUE cinema in Eltham has two floors and is accessed by the stairs or the lift. My only little niggle is that there are no signs in the lift to point out which screens are on which floor – this would’ve helped us a lot as we ended up heading up onto level 1 only to realise our screen 4 is on level 2. With a total of six screens and 857 seats, all screens are fitted with two wheelchair bays per screen which is great for those who require accessible seating.
All screens are fitted with Digital Dolby 7.1 Surround Sound and Sony 4K Digital projection for that clear picture quality and audio. We got to sit really close when we watched Wonder Park which was amazing! You can really see all the tiny details very clearly on the screen. Our seats were also super comfy and pretty spacious. There were also booster seats available just outside of our screen which would come in handy if you have young children.
Our chosen film, Wonder Park was absolutely amazing! Splendiferous, you could say. I won’t spoil it for you but I can tell you there’s no super sad ending like in other animations and there’s no talk of death but there are some sad moments quickly erased with lots of happiness and laughter. If you’ve not seen the trailer, definitely have a look.
Yay or Nay? …100% YAY
I can say it’s definitely worth a watch and the kids have already asked to watch it again and for just £6.99 a ticket you can’t really go wrong. It’s the cheapest cinema ticket around and Vue Eltham does offers the best value in seat, screen and sound. They also do morning special screening for toddlers (Mini-Mornings) and autism-friendly screenings. Check their website for more details on showings.
Our family experience at Vue Eltham was smooth and very enjoyable. I feel like it has more of a family vibe than most of the other cinemas I’ve been to. Whether that’s because it’s smaller and intimate, or because it just seems more tolerable for us all, I loved the family-friendly atmosphere.
The closest cinema to us is actually just a 10 mins walk from home but we’d happily make this Vue my new go-to cinema location for £6.99 and short bus ride. I still owe Daddy P a cheeky movie night and dinner for his birthday last weekend and the kids have been pestering to go back and watch Detective Pikachu!
UPDATE: We went back to Vue Eltham during the May half-term holidays and watched The Secret Life of Pets 2 – highly recommended!! It was a great storyline and the short clip after the credits was hilarious!
NB. We were gifted family tickets to VUE Eltham in exchange for this blog review. All content, opinions and photos in this post are my own and cannot be used without permission.
I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by! New Year celebrations are a great way of getting everyone together, especially if it’s with family and loved ones. I’ve been actively trying to be less consumed by social media but it’s pretty hard when as soon as you open instagram, a million and one fabulous places pop up and then your bucket list of places to go just gets longer.
I created this post because I wanted to share some of my favourite places and some insta-famous places in London where you can get something to eat (or perhaps drink). I’ve only been to a couple but committed to getting out more and exploring these wonderful places.
The most instagrammable places & restaurants to eat in London
Bob Bob Ricard, Soho Best known for… the champagne button
After being introduced to this restaurant by my best friend it’s now become one of my favourite restaurants. It’s fine dining so slightly pricey but the portions are generous. It’s not child-friendly so be aware if you have young children and wanted to dine with them,. Under 14s are not permitted at BBR however if you’re planning a meal with friends or a loved one, it’s a fabulous place to eat. The food cuisine is Russian and British which threw me off at the beginning but it’s fantastic and everything is cooked with perfection.
We went here for Daddy P’s 30th birthday (see photos of our day) and I was blown away again by the opulent decor and good food. Our favourite thing to order was the pelmeni for the starter, mariner’s fish pie and lobster mash for the mains and for dessert, the BBR signature chocolate glory which looks amazing and eating it is really a little experience in itself! The waiter/waitress comes over to drizzle hot chocolate sauce over your beautiful gold ball to reveal the delicious goodness inside… amazing!
The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea Best known for… the floral installations
I’m sure anyone who passes the doors of The Ivy Chelsea Garden is bound to be tempted to take a photo. Look at the glorious arrangement – it always looks so opulent and beautiful! For this festive season, they’ve kitted it out in the style of a gingerbread house – check it out on their instagram page, @ivychelsgarden
I have been to the Ivy Cafe in Blackheath and really loved the environment. The Chelsea Garden branch is like a super-magnified version of that – all the photos of the interior decor is amazing and so beautiful. However if you’re not a big fan of botanical plants and flowers, it may not be the best place to eat for you. It really does feel like you’re dining in a garden at The Ivy.
Élan Cafe, various locations Best known for… the pretty pink flower wall
Élan cafe, also known as EL&N (Eat, Love & Nourish) must be one of the ULTIMATE pink cafes that is known for it’s insta-worthy status. I love the style of this cafe and it really is one of the prettiest cafe in London – it’s definitely the pinkest! It’s a great place to go for an all girls catch-up.
As they don’t have a reservation system, you can end up queuing for a while as it’s really popular with models, influencers, bloggers and anyone wanting a piece of the insta-worthy-selfie-pie. Turnover for your table for 1.5-2hrs max so don’t think that you’ll be able to spend a whole afternoon at this gorgeous place.
8. Little Miss’ bday brunch at Elan Cafe
The prices are really high (somewhat extortionate for some drinks) so it’s a place for a treat than a regular coffee spot. You’re looking at £6 for a matcha latte, £4.50-4.80 for a regular latte or cappuccino and snack bites start from £5. I’m not a massive fan of their food, drinks are okay but the winning dessert has to be their giant strawberry macaron which actually tastes as good as it looks. They are almost everywhere with their 8th store opening at Bicester Village shopping outlet.
SushiSamba, Bishopsgate Best known for… the bamboo ceiling & the drinks
A great place to eat, drink, and party! Sushi Samba is a very popular place to go after work and even more so on the weekends. The decor is simple but very stylish – I really love the bamboo ceiling, it’s something you don’t normally see with London architecture. I haven’t been here yet so hard to comment on the nightlife here but everyone has told me the atmosphere is very lively and amazing.
Sky Garden, Fenchurch Street Best known for… the rooftop garden
Sky Garden is a rooftop garden in the middle of the city which you can visit for free but entry needs to be pre-booked online. You also need to make sure you have a valid form of photo identification to enter. Families and children are permitted to enter but under 16s are not permitted to enter without an accompanying adult. There are several restaurants and bars at Sky Garden including the Fenchurch restaurant and the Darwin Brasserie which overlooks the garden.
It’s a great place to visit which is on my to-do list but as the entry is so popular, the free tickets always sell out before I can book them. Admissions go live on their website every Monday for two weeks ahead. It’s only an hour’s admission but if you can book yourself into one of the bars or restaurants, your entry to the Sky Garden is free. Be aware, the temperature is similar to the weather outside so if it’s a cold day, wrap up warm as it’ll be chilly inside the Sky Garden too.
Aqua Shard, London Bridge Best known for… the views of London
I have only been here once for a friend’s birthday but the food was great and the views were even better. Service was good and the food tasted delicious but slightly on the small side for me. It’s not a place where you can arrive hungry and expect to leave feeling full or with a food baby. You need to have something light to eat beforehand to leave feeling ‘content’. The tables are lovely and even if you’ve not got a window seat you can still catch a glimpse of the skyline.
If you’re planning to head here for just the drinks, the bar area gets really busy. Not ideal if you’re short like me because everyone else felt like they were towering over me with their sky-high stilettos. Some advice – if you’re dining in the evening, dress to impress. It’s a formal dress code so make sure you’re looking glamorous!
Clos Maggiore, Covent Garden Best known for… the romantic setting
A restaurant after my own heart. Look at that romantic atmosphere, the ceiling is adorned with fairy lights and cheery blossoms… and with the fireplace blazing… absolutely beautiful! It’s been dubbed as ‘World’s Most Romantic Restaurant’ and it’s not hard to see why!
Clos Maggiore serves contemporary French cuisine. I haven’t dined here but my sister has and she said she loved the setting but not a fan of the food. Check out their menu before booking so you’re not disappointed because it’s not the cheapest place to dine either.
Palm Vaults, Hackney Best known for… the vegan cakes, hanging plants & rainbow lattes
I first came across this cafe through a friend – she posted an instagram story of her pink latte and I instantly fell in love… after that I was on the hunt for pink lattes. I love matcha lattes and before rainbow lattes were popular, the hulk-looking latte was the only coffee alternative you could get. At the cafe, I tried either the velvet rose or pink velvet tonic latte (the difference is rosewater in the velvet rose one) which tasted okay but not what I expected. However, their pink latte was so so much better than the one at Élan cafe and for a cheaper price too!
I also tried the ‘blue moon’ tea latte (Thai butterfly tea, lavender, oat milk) and it was AMAZING! I would definitely order this one again as it tasted like a mild lavender latte – really delicious and it tastes nice. The vegan cakes are delicious and the icing doesn’t taste overly sweet. Check out Sweet Monday’s review of Palm Vaults for an idea of what to expect. This place is currently one of my favourite vegan cafes.
The Oval at the Wellesley, Knightsbridge Best known for… the fine dining experience
I’ve only just discovered this place and it looks amazing. It looks really fancy so I don’t think it’s a place you’d feel comfortable cam-whoring at but a shot like the one above would be dreamy!
The Wellesley also have a jazz lounge where they have live piano music playing daily and serve afternoon tea. Again, it’s another pricey place to eat but the menu looks good.
Sketch London, Mayfair Best known for… The Gallery aka David Shrigley’s pink room
This is one place I am dying to go! According to Secret London, Sketch is one of the most beautiful restaurants in London. Again, not a cheap eaterie but it’s different compared to your usual dining experience. Afternoon tea here in The Gallery aka the pink room, surrounded with artwork and crockery commissioned by David Shrigley is amazing. The cute little tea cups, tea pots and plates are labelled with creative text (they are also available to buy!) and the sandwiches and pastries look good… and very instagrammable indeed!
9. Afternoon tea at Sketch London
*updated review* I went here with a girl friend for afternoon tea and I can say it was a lovely experience, the food was very tasty and you can get endless refills on teas and sandwiches however I wasn’t a big fan of the atmosphere – slightly pretentious and everyone seemed more concerned with taking selfies or photos of their food than actually eating it.
Tonight Josephine, Waterloo Best known for… the cocktails & THAT neon sign
Okay, so this one is not really a restaurant or place to eat but it is DEFINITELY one of the most instagrammable places in London! Tonight Josephine is a new and trendy bar that popped up in Waterloo. They have another trendy bar opening soon in Shoreditch which will also be kitted out in the same pink glitzy glamour.
I’m not a drinker so I haven’t been but my other sister went for a night out with her girls here and they absolutely loved it. Banging tunes, fantastic cocktails and mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails) and of course, loads of chances to cam-whore with the surroundings and especially those insta-famous neon signs. Just type in the hashtag #tonightjosephine on instagram and you’ll see what I’m on about!
I hope you like the list!
If you have any suggestions of other instagrammable places to eat in London, let me know. I’ll add it to my bucket list of restaurants to visit!
I LOVE British brands when it comes to beauty. Especially now that we’ve been able to step up our game in offering high quality, natural products that actually work! I’ve become a convert with my skincare and have left a lot of my beloved Dermalogica products behind, swapping it for more natural brands like Neal’s Yard Remedies and Australian skincare brand, A’Kin because I also really like Aussie skincare and haircare brands.
I recently got my hands on some lovely samples of the Noughty Wave Hello range. I’m no newbie to the products, I’ve used them before and fell in love with some instantly but then moved away to try others, so it was nice to give them a go again. There’s also a vlog review which you can watch at the end of this post.
I love experimenting with products but there are a few ranges that I really can’t be without and these definitely include the Noughty Hair care products. So without further ado, here’s my review on Noughty’s Wave Hello haircare range. If you don’t fancy reading, you can watch the video review instead. 🙂
My Noughty Wave Hello Haircare review…
For my loose wavy type 2A hair, I really love it! It’s nice and lightweight, cleanses my hair properly but still remains gentle and smells lovely and fresh. I used the Wave Hello shampoo, conditioner and curl creme in a number of different variations and can say after two weeks, I prefer using just the shampoo and conditioner as I found the curl creme just too heavy for my hair.
Wave Hello Shampoo/Low-poo Enriched with sea kelp (to help soothe the scalp) and avocado oil (locks in moisture, strengthens hair), this low-poo gently cleanses the scalp to leave it fresh and clean without stripping it of natural oils.
As I only wash my hair twice a week maximum, I tend to get oil buildup on my scalp but just one application (sometimes two if it’s VERY OILY) and my scalp is squeaky clean. I feel like the shampoo lathers up much more than when I first tried out the range but that might be due to my hair now being used to non-sulfate/non-silicone cleansers. When I first used this range my hair was still getting used to changing over to the natural products so maybe it was more greasy then making it seem like there was less lather during each wash.
Post-washed hair (left) and 1st day after washing (right)
I cleanse my hair either in the bath if I’m having a soak or over it if it’s just a hair-wash day. I run warm water down the hair and lather up with this low-poo once or twice depending on how much buildup I’ve got. I concentrate the low-poo on my roots and spread the lather to the ends to keep them from being over-cleansed. I then rinse and always follow up with conditioner. When I am doing a clarifying wash, I would follow up with an intensive hair treatment/deep conditioner instead.
Wave Hello Conditioner
Definitely one of my favourite conditioners. The conditioner contains the same active ingredients as the shampoo. The two that I think really comes out in this product is something called ‘Quinoxy’ which somehow reminds me of ‘quinoa’. It’s similar – quinoxy is Noughty’s “blend of wheat extract, camellia oil and linoleic acid to blitz flyaways, decrease volume, boost smoothness and retain shape”. My fine to medium hair always seems less frizzy with the shampoo and when I mix it with water as part of my 2nd day hair refresh mist (1 part water, 1 part conditioner) it really revives my waves and keeps it as frizz-free as possible…
I also really like Shea Moisture’s weightless coconut-fusion range and find it a great alternative to my Noughty Wave Hello collection. I alternate between these two as Shea Moisture products contain protein-based ingredients, Noughty doesn’t.
Wave Hello Curl Taming Creme
As much as I wanted to love it, it wasn’t for me. It made my hair feel heavy and just weighed down my sensitive, loose waves. From the video, you can see that my waves will literally straighten out if you brush them with your fingers. I think curlier hair or wavies with a tighter pattern will benefit from this cream, especially curlier hair as it’s a rich cream. It’s just too heavy for my fine and sensitive waves. My daughter’s 3A/3B curls really loves this cream and so I use it for her instead.
**Get a third off all Noughty hair care products on Boots.com** shop here
So… do I recommend Noughty?
Hell yes! If you’re based in UK and following CGM, you will love this brand. It’s curly girl friendly and whether you have fine, loose waves like me or super curly hair like my daughter, there’s going to be a product that you will love. And with most products priced at £6.99 what’s not to love?! They have just launched their Christmas gift sets so you can even try a whole range for less. There’s also a promo on at Boots (see above link) and if we’re lucky we might see a half price promo on their website like we did on Black Friday! 🙂
What’s the ONE Noughty product I can’t live without?
This one I can answer hands down, without a doubt.. the To The Rescue intensive conditioning mask. O. M. G. I have not had anything like it! Super weightless but super hydrating and moisturising! The closest consistency I could measure it to would be the Shea Moisture JBCO leave-in conditioner; super creamy but super light like a whip.
It’s definitely going to stay on my shelf for many more years. A little goes a long way so I don’t need more than a scoop for my long hair. I love using the deep conditioning mask straight after a clarifying cleanse or whenever my hair seems a little dehydrated.
… et voila!
And that’s my Noughty Wave Hello haircare review done!
If you’re planning to give Noughty a try, go for it. They’re an affordable range (all around £6.99 per 250ml bottle), 97% natural which is pretty damn good, cruelty-free (no testing on animals), vegan-based ingredients, and free from all those chemical nasties ie. silicones, sulfates and parabens.
– Watch the vlog review:
NB. I received a sample of Noughty Wave Hello haircare collection (shampoo, conditioner and curl creme) in exchange for an unbiased review on this blog and vlog post. All opinions, photos and content are my own and shouldn’t be used without my consent.