Birthday trip to London 

Birthday trip to London 

We’ve just returned from 2 days (child free) in London to celebrate my birthday so I thought I’d share my favourite places we visited. 

Hotel Indigo Tower Hill 

We stayed at The Hotel Indigo about 5 minutes walk from The Tower of London and a few minutes from Aldgate Tube Station. I wanted to be close to the City/ Southbank area and this was in a good location. We got a good deal with it being a Sunday and were really lucky to get an upgrade, the views were amazing. The room was fairly big with a super comfy bed, amazing  rainfall shower and even a complimentary mini bar with Water, soft drinks & cereal bars (especially appreciated after sampling the Gin bars around Bermondsey the evening before). 

I’d definitely recommend this hotel for exploring this area of London and hopefully we will be able to return soon.

View from our room
View from our room
Hotel Room


Maltby Street Market 

The first place we headed to was Maltby Street Market in Bermondsey. This is a street food market with a few bars that let you eat your food at their tables if you are having a drink there. We loved it! There was such a wide variety of food and a great atmosphere. We had an amazing burrito, Gyozo from ‘ the Gyozo Guys’ & sampled some Gins from Jensen and Little Bird Gin both of which I loved. If you love street food Maltby Street is definitely one to put on your list. 

Maltby Street Market
The Gyozo Guys
Little Bird Gin
Little Bird Gin

José Tapas Bar  

On Saturday evening we went to José tapas bar on Bermondsey Street. We love tapas so I’d researched the tapas bars in the area and I wasn’t disappointed. Every dish we tried was extremely tasty & Fresh. We had the Croquetas Caseras, Mussels ,Mixed Cheese with quince & Jamón Ibérico. The portions were quite big so we found this plenty. Along with the food, two glasses of Rioja and two beers the bill come to £56 (including service charge) which was really good considering we both agreed it was some of the best tapas we’ve had both here and in Spain. It’s quite small and you can’t book so be prepared to wait but it’s definitely worth it. 

José Tapas Bar
José Tapas Bar
José Tapas Bar
José Tapas Bar
214 Bermondsey

After our Tapas we went to 214 Bermondsey, on Bermondsey Street a few minutes from José. As part of their Sunday Social offer they have a gin flight for £11 (usually £18). I’m a recent convert to gin so loved the idea of tasting different gins and guessing the different flavours in each.We had the Orient Express, you are given 3 different gins (Colombo, Ophir and Star of Bombay) and Bermondsey tonic water without being told which is which. The answers are in an envelope to be opened once you have made your guesses. It was a fun way to taste the different drinks. The staff were really knowledgable and friendly and their was a really good choice of drinks. 

214 Bermondsey

The Breakfast Club 

On Monday morning we headed to The  Breakfast Club on Southwark Street, near London Bridge. We visited 2 of their other restaurants when were in London last time so definitely wanted to try this one. There was a big queue even on a Monday morning, it was definitely worth the wait though and shows how good the food is. I had the Huevos Al Benny with Home style potatoes & Stu The full Monty, we were both really impressed. It was Definitely needed after sampling the gins the evening before. 

The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club
The Breakfast Club

Borough Market 

We visited on a Monday so Borough wasn’t fully open but what we did see we loved. There was a street food market with lots of different stalls, but we visited just after breakfast. Next time we go to London we will make sure we visit when everything is open as the range and quality of stalls is amazing. 

Borough Market
Borough Market

Monmouth Coffee 

I’m a coffee lover and quite a few people recommend Monmouth to me, I loved their coffee and the range is so wide. We went for the blend of the day and really enjoyed it. Well worth a visit if you are a coffee fan. 

Monmouth Coffee

Tate Modern

We then headed along the Southbank to the Tate to check out their new viewing terrace on the top floor or the Blavatnik building.The views across London are amazing I’d definitely say it’s must visit. It’s free to enter the Tate but their is donation points around the building. 

Tate Modern Viewing Terrace
Tate Modern Viewing Terrace
Tate Modern Viewing Terrace
Tate Modern Viewing Terrace

Sky Garden

We went to the Sky Garden twice we were that impressed by it. Once at our pre booked slot of 3pm (book a week in advance) and once in the evening where you can just walk up. Although booking for a table in the evening needs to be done in advance so I’d recommend checking out the website for the best advice on how far in advance to book. There are also restaurants that are bookable. The views are incredible and we were lucky enough to see sunset which was amazing, we then went back a few hours later to see London at night. The bar was expensive a glass of prosecco & a pint was around £16 but I think the views more than make up for this and it’s worth it as a treat. You obviously don’t have to buy any food or drink while you are there but it was a lovely way to toast my birthday. 

Sunset at Sky Garden
Sky Garden
Sky Garden
Sunset at Sky Garden
Sunset at Sky Garden
Sky Garden
Sky Garden
Sky Garden at Night
Sky Garden
Sky Garden

Pizza Union

We wanted something quick for tea before our train home and after a quick look on trip advisor decided on the Spitalfields branch of Pizza Union. We loved the Pizza and it was extremely good value at around £21 for 2 12 inch pizzas, a Nutella dough ring dessert & a large Peroni. The ingredients were really fresh & both pizzas were full of flavour. The service was extremely quick as well. Definitely worth a visit if you fancy a pizza and are close by. 

Pizza Union
Pizza Union

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Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

Swan Hotel & The Lake District 

This August Bank holiday weekend we headed to the Lakes to stay at The Swan Hotel in Newby Bridge near Lake Windemere.  We love this hotel and have visited a few times. I always leave feeling totally relaxed. this time we went with my parents.

 

Me and my Mum started the break with an Espa Intensive facial. This treatment was so relaxing and totally worth every penny. As a Beauty Therapist I don’t always enjoy treatments as I  often think how I would do them different or what I can add to my treatments  but I was able to totally switch off during my facial. The Pool is also a lovely place to relax with a sauna, steam room and hot tub.

One of my favourite things about the Hotel is the riverside location,it is so peaceful. We were lucky to have nice weather so we were able to enjoy a drink in the afternoon sat by the side of the river.

 

We stayed in a ground floor room called a ‘lovely room’ this had everything we needed including some lovely ESPA toiletries for us to use thoughout our stay. There was plenty of room to put Finn’s travel cot.

I love the different  lounges in The Swan and we made full use of the playroom, there was a TV, books and toys Finn loved it. Following the recent refurbishment there is now a pool table which is a lovely touch when staying as a family.


Every time we visit we always notice how warm and welcoming the staff are, every member of staff you pass will greet you and they always make time for conversation. If we ever have any requests I always feel like they go out of their way for you.

 

In the evening we ate at the Swan Inn and all of us really enjoyed our meals, I had the ‘on toasts’ to start which included various toppings like avocado, egg and capers. I then had the chicken and chorizo paella. Both were really tasty. Another thing I love about The Swan is the breakfast. There is a buffet with cereal, fruit, yogurt, pastries etc.. then there is a selection of cooked food to pick from.

 


We took advantage of the lovely weather on the Bank Holiday Monday to visit some of the local area before we headed home. The first place we visited was Hawkshead a lovely pedestriansed village. There are plenty of shops,cafes and pubs to visit. We then headed to Coniston, the lake here is stunning, defintrly worth a visit. We could have happily spent a day by the lake if we didn’t have to get back as there was so much going on.

At luch time we headed to Chesters by the River an amazing cafe, deli and shop. we sat on the terrace which has beautiul views over the river. My parents had stumbled across this the last time they were in the area, it was a bit out of the way for us to visit but was defintely worth it.

The last stop on our trip was Kirkby Lonsdale, to see  the beautiful Ruskin’s view. this was well worth the drive and walk and I loved photographing such a stunning landscape.

 

I can’t wait for our next visit to the Lake District, which places do you love to visit when you are there?

 

Camping in Llangollen 

Camping in Llangollen 

A few weeks ago we camped  in Llangollen for 3 nights. It is only 40 minutes away from us but it is a lovely town to visit to get away. 

We have stayed at the same campsite  Tower Farm quite a few times, it is basic but really peaceful. It is also a lovely 10 minute walk along the canal into town. 


The reason we stayed for the weekend was for the Day Out With Thomas event that was running at the station. We didn’t really enjoy the event or find it value for money so I won’t go into too much detail. Finn did really enjoy meeting Thomas though. 

We loved The Cornmill Pub located on the banks of the river. We ate there twice and both times the food was really good. The views were amazing as well. Finn loved the pasta. 

There was a lovely park , Riverside Park, located in town. There’s a play park, miniature golf and there was children paddling in the river. Definitely worth a visit if you are in the area. 

I really enjoyed seeing Finn playing with the other children on the campsite. I think the fact that all the children were playing on one big field gave him the confidence to approach them and join in with their game of football. 


Cornwall, Day’s 5 & 6 and the journey home. 

Cornwall, Day’s 5 & 6 and the journey home. 

Day 5

Today we headed to Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm, about 30 minutes from where we were staying. We didn’t do the full tour as we thought Finn would get fed up but we did the tractor tour. He loved this , he cried when we had to get off. This was £9 for the 3 of us and lasted about 15/20 minutes. Finn also loved the animals there. We stocked up on scrumpy & rattler Cyder for ourselves and to give as presents. Driving back we drove through Fistral Beach and Hollywell Bay, Finn was sleeping so we didn’t get out. They both looked like beautiful beaches so we will definitely visit here again when we return. 


In the evening we returned to The Old Custom House, we normally like to try different places but we knew they had tables and are child friendly. We really enjoyed our meals. I had a crab sandwich as I read it was a must try when in Cornwall. I wasn’t disappointed. We finished the evening with ice – creams by the harbour. 



Day 6 

We wanted a BBQ on our last evening so we headed to Padstow Farm Shop to stock up. I really wish we would have found this earlier in the week. The food was amazing, the meat was all really high quality and good prices. If you’re in the area it’s well worth paying a visit. 


In the afternoon we visited another beautiful beach, Tregirls Bay. This is another beach with nothing there but it was stunning. The views make it worth the walk. 


The Journey Home 

Before we made the journey home we had breakfast at Victorian Tea Room. We had a lovely breakfast at a reasonable price. I loved all the decor it was really quirky. 


The journey home took 10 hours, Finn slept a lot of the way as I think the week had tired him out. At times though it got quite stressful as the trafic was bad and it was quite hot. I think with hindsight we would enjoy a day out have  tea and then travel back early evening  after rush hour. 


Cornwall Camping Trip- Day’s 2, 3 & 4. 

Cornwall Camping Trip- Day’s 2, 3 & 4. 

We spent the week exploring the local town and a bit further afield. Finn slept surprisingly well in the tent, the only thing is he didn’t go to sleep until we went to bed. As we went to bed early anyway this wasn’t an issue. 



Day 2 

Finn woke early but he loved wondering round the campsite, in search of muddy puddles. We then drove to Newquay, I loved the beach but much preferred the quieter towns. We then went to Watergate Bay, this was a stunning beach. I could see why this is popular with surfers  I would definitely  visit here again. 


We finished the day off  with a visit to Rick Stein’s Fish and Chip shop in Padstow. This was expensive but definitely worth it. For 2 adult meals, 1 child’s a portion of curry sauce, mushy peas and bread it came to around £30. It was definitely the best fish and chips we have ever had. 

Day 3 

Today we visited Lands End, it took  about an hour and a half from Padstow. Lands End is free to enter but car parking is £6 this goes towards the preservation of the site. Lands End is stunning it is definitely worth a visit for the scenery alone. 
We then headed to St. Ives, this is another beautiful town. As it was late in the day we didn’t spend long here but I would definitely return. 


We then returned to Padstow for tea, we went to this pub Old Custom House. We all really enjoyed our meals, we had a Camembert starter to share, I had mussels and Stu had a pulled pork burger. Finn loved his macaroni and cheese. 


Day 4 

Today we got the ferry from Padstow to Rock, it only takes a few minutes but is well worth doing for the views alone. The beach is beautiful, it’s very quiet  but Finn loved just building sand castles and playing football! We stocked up from Chough Bakery before we went, the best Cornish Pasty we tasted in the week we were in Cornwall  (and we had an addiction). We then walked to the Mariner’s a lovely pub with amazing views back to Padstow. 


Cornwall Camping Trip- Packing, the Journey & Day 1. 

Cornwall Camping Trip- Packing, the Journey & Day 1. 

We have just returned from a Saturday- Friday camping trip in Padstow. We fell in love with the area, I’ve broke the trip up into 3 blog posts. 

Packing 

As I have mentioned in previous posts I am a massive overpacker, even more so knowing you can’t rely on the British weather. I packed about 11 outfits for Finn for 7 days, but we got really lucky with the weather and he could wear shorts and t-shirts mainly. The main things I found invaluable and would recommend to anyone camping with a toddler is a puddle suit. 
We had this mothercare one


This was perfect for when it had been raining, or for putting on first thing in the morning when the ground was still wet. Wellies were also a must as well.

Another item we found essential was a fleecey onesie, Finn doesn’t really like sleeping bags and kicks the blankets off. I knew this would keep him warm at night. 


This was the only one we could find, it was £9 from asda. We just cut the hood off for night time sleeping. 

The only thing I didn’t take enough are was pyjamas I thought Finn could re wear some but I’d definitely take a pair for each night. 

The Journey

It ended up taking us about 7 hours with 3 stops. We set off about 3.30 am which was perfect as Finn slept most of the way. We just stopped for nappy changes and a longer stop to let Finn have a walk round. I’d definitely do a late night or early hours drive again as it was so much easier than the drive home in the day coming back. We made it to Padstow for breakfast meaning we didn’t have to spend a fortune at service stations. 


When Finn wasn’t sleeping  in the car Peppa Pig on the iPad, or programs from BBC Iplayer kids helped to pass the time. 


The Campsite

We stayed at Padstow Touring Park which was a really good campsite with brilliant  facilities. It was about 1 mile from Padstow but the walk was through farmer’s fields. We did this once but it was difficult with the buggy. We tended to get the bus or drive. 

The shower facilities were spotless, there was always someone cleaning. There was also plenty of shower cubicles so we never had to queue. There was a family cubicle with baby bath. 

There was a small shop onsite which sold fresh pastries every morning. They also had different food trucks visiting in the evening and a few mornings a week. 

The whole campsite was really relaxed and peaceful. We will definitely stay here again when we return. 


Day 1 

The first day was quite relaxed as we had such a long journey down so we just got the bus into Padstow and wandered around the town. We had a bbq tea, the local tesco was a couple of minutes drive away so we could stock up. 

Family Travel Wish List 

Family Travel Wish List 

I love holidays, travel and discovering new places  so decided to write my Family Dream Destinations. I stopped myself at 20, I could have gone on forever. These are all places I would love to visit with Finn as I want him to visit as many places as possible growing up. 

London 

We have been without Finn but I can’t wait to return with him. I love the history, the parks and the diversity.  I’d love to take Finn to the Tower of London when he’s a bit older as we have always talked about going.

Edinburgh 

I have been when I was younger and for the day on a college trip. I remember Edinburgh being a beautiful city. I’d love to take Finn to the castle and as we are Chester Zoo members we are able to visit Edinburgh  Zoo for free. 

Brighton 

I always think Brighton looks so pretty on pictures I’d love to wander around all the quirky shops in the lanes. 

Cornwall 

We are camping in Cornwall in July, I can’t wait , I went on a family holiday when I was younger and am looking forward to re visiting.

Isle of Wight 

I recently read about a company that hires out camper vans for you to travel around the Isle of Wight. I think this will be a really cool way to discover a new place when Finn’s a bit older. 

Tour Ireland 

We have only been to Dublin but would love to see more of Ireland. We plan to get the ferry over and drive round for a week or 2. 

New York 

I went to New York for my 21st and can’t wait to go back with Stu and Finn. I never really thought of it as a toddler friendly destination but have been doing my research and there’s loads for younger children to do. 

Disneyland Paris 

I’m not massively into Disney or theme parks but have been told by so many people that Florida is a dream kids holiday. I thought Paris would be a good intro to see if it is something we would enjoy. 

Safari

This would be my ultimate dream, it would be amazing to see animals in their natural habitats. 

Lapland

This is another dream holiday, it would be brilliant to meet Santa, ride a husky sled and soak up the whole atmosphere. 

Borneo 

I love Orangutan’s and would love to visit one of the sanctuarys. 

Santorini

This island just looks so beautiful I’d love to experience it for myself. 

Croatia

Another place I just love looking at pictures of, I’d love to visit Dubrovnik and the islands. 

Australia 

Somewhere I’ve always dreamt of visiting I hope one day we can take Finn and travel around for a few months.

America 

Like Australia I’d love to tour America. If I won the lottery one of the first things I’d do is travel America visiting every state. I’ve always been fascinated. 

Iceland 

I’d love to go and see the Northern lights and swim in one of the thermal pools. 

Thailand 

I’ve always wished I would have done some travelling in my student days and Thailand is always where I dreamt of going. I’d love to experience the beautiful beaches, culture and Thai food. 

Italy 

We recently went to Rome and this was my first time to Italy, I fell in love. I really want to discover more of this country. 

Vietnam 

This is another country I love looking at pictures of. A beautiful country I’d love to explore. 

Brazil

I’d love to visit Rio during the carnival. 

What would be on your family travel wish list?