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This Half Term we decided to book a family holiday to Center Parcs and this time we picked Woburn Forest as we hadn’t visited this location before. We particularly liked the fact that it takes just over one hour to drive there from Ealing and as our little one tends to suffer with travel sickness, so this really suited us.

So let me walk you through what we got up to this October Half Term and also share with you my top tips for a successful break!

Accommodation

We stayed in an Woodland Lodge and found it was worth spending that bit extra on the accommodation this time. Not only do you get the added bonus of a daily maid service, but generally the decor and furniture was much more modern and fresh. I really loved some of the extras such as a coffee machine and there was even a refrigerated wine cooler! Ok, so Centre Parcs are not cheapest holiday, but you get what you pay for. For me when I go away, I want to stay somewhere that is as good as or nicer than my own home.

Our lodge had a large open plan living and kitchen area, two bedrooms both with en-suite bathrooms. You also have Wi-Fi included, flat screen TV’s in the lounge and both bedrooms, an outside patio area with seating, plus your bed linen and towels are included. We didn’t get to use it, but there is also an open fire place which I’m sure would be so cosy on a Winter’s evening. Over all I was very impressed with the accommodation the rooms were spotless and extras were provided such as toiletries, washing up liquid, dishwasher tablets, hairdryer and pods for the coffee machine.

Activities 

There are so many activities to choose from during your stay. There is something for everyone and we found for our five year old there was plenty to keep her occupied. We tend not to book too much as we want to enjoy all that the park has to offer without rushing around. As went stayed around Halloween there was lots of activities based around this theme.

Our Daughter did pumpkin hunting and also attended a spooky princesses and wizards party which she enjoyed a lot. I noticed that the staff really made an effort and dressed up in costumes, which also added to the Halloween atmosphere!

We also did pony riding, which is a real treat and pottery painting which I absolutely loved, as you can see from the photo I was totally lost in concentration.

 

What You Can Do For Free?

Yes, there are things to do that are totally free! You can bring your own bikes and then cycle around the forest’s numerous paths. Once everyone has parked their cars it is really safe to cycle and very relaxing too. Or you could get on your scooter and have a whiz around.

Of course the Subtropical Swimming Paradise is included in the price of your stay. You will find that the lockers work with your electronic wrist bands and there are buoyancy aids available free of charge for children. Our little one particularly liked the wave machine and the lazy river.

You could also enjoy a walk or jog in the forest, there are lots of paths and there are also two lovely adventure playgrounds.

There is always soft play, if you can handle the chaos! Available in The Sports Bar and in various restaurants.

We were lucky enough to be there the week before Bonfire night, so got to experience a wonderful free fireworks display down by the lake. It was a great atmosphere with entertainers and open air food stalls too.

Eating & Drinking

We like to eat out in the evenings and there are plenty of restaurants to choose from. Most of them have children’s play areas, which for us is a real bonus. We can sit and relax while our daughter gets to burn off some energy.

This time we tried Strada, Cafe Rouge, Hucks (Hucks has the biggest and best play area) and Las Iguanas. We found the staff to be really friendly and helpful and so geared towards children. There were always colouring activities to keep her busy!

There are other options for lunch and more informal dinning, such as Starbucks, The Sports Cafe and The Pancake House.

The Ealing Mummy’s Top Tips When Staying At Centre Parcs

  • Make sure you book all your activities well in advance of your holiday, especially at peak times they will get booked up and you don’t want to be disappointed!
  • Try to take your basic food essentials such as: bread, milk, cereals, cooking oil, tea bags. It will save on time and money going to the on site shop.
  • Don’t forget your wellies, waterproofs and umbrellas. Some lodges are a fair old walk to the Village Centre or Sub Tropical Swimming Pool.
  • You will need to bring towels for use at the swimming pool, as you are not meant to use your accommodation towels for this purpose. You can however hire towels too for a price.
  • I would also advice making any restaurant bookings in advance too, because there are limited tables available early evening when everyone with children wants to eat.
  • Think about arriving before the official check in time for your lodge (which is 3pm), you can park your car and use all the facilities it make your holiday that bit longer!

Will We Be Going Back?

Yes! most definitely! The thing with Center Parcs is it has so many benefits and what ever the British weather throws at you there is always plenty to keep us occupied. There is so much to do and the activities fit a variety of age ranges, so I can see us going back for many years to come!

The other thing I love is that they really do make an effort to make the forest look magical for Christmas. While we were there I saw staff putting up numerous lights, features, Christmas trees (with artificial snow) and even a wooden grotto. I think a Christmas stay could be on my bucket list!

Disclaimer

All comments and opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of our recent stay at Center Parcs. This review is completely independent and I have not been paid by Center Parcs or given anything for free.

 

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I wish that there had been such a thing as Mush when I had my Daughter in 2012. Let me take you back just five years ago, of course we had Facebook, all the usual NCT meet ups and playgroups that were an opportunity to make new Mum friends, but there certainly wasn’t an app quite like Mush.

Take a look at this photo below. What comes to your mind when you see this image? Happy first time Mum? Friendly, sociable Mum who has lots of friends? Well, no that wasn’t actually the case.

In reality when I first had my Daughter I didn’t actually know any other Mums in the Ealing area. I felt isolated and lonely. You see before I was a Mum my life did not revolve around my local neighbourhood at all. I worked in another part of London and commuted on a daily basis, so actually my network of friends were spread out all over London.

When I became a Mum it was definitely a shock to my system. I realised it was not feasible to be meeting up with friends on the other side of London with a young baby. What I really needed was a local support network of like minded Mums. Some people might say well surely that is easy you just turn up at your local baby group and connect with another Mum over coffee and cake? Well actually it wasn’t that simple if I am honest.

Sometimes when I went to baby groups or classes the Mums who were already there had their own little clique and weren’t really that interested in me. Or on other occasions my Daughter was either crying or when she was a bit older was all over the place, I felt like I couldn’t take my eyes off her. It was hard to concentrate and actually hold a decent conversation with another Mum.

In the end I was lucky and met my perfect Mum friend in a random meeting in a Marks & Spencer Cafe and that was the solution to my situation. However not everyone can find friends that way. According to a recent poll conducted by ChannelMum.com 90% of Mums feel lonely.

This is where Mush comes in. It is a free app that you can download from the App Store or Google Play. From the comfort of your sofa you can search for a local Mum who has a similar age child to you or even a Mum who is pregnant. You can send them a message and arrange to meet up and you will also find Mush-ups where groups of Mums might meet up at a local coffee shop or child friendly venue.

The app has a great facility where other Mums can write a review about child friendly venues from cafes, playgroups and shops. That way you can find out where other Mush Mums like to hang out and what top tips they have. You will also find Mush Guides which provide entertaining reading on a wide variety of topics.

I’m currently in the process of organising an event for local Mush Mums to get together in Ealing. So keep your eyes peeled for details on social media and over on the Mush app

Disclaimer – I am currently a Mush Mum Ambassador and I am championing the app in my local area of Ealing, West London.

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Saturday evening is usually our family night out where we like to enjoy a meal together, so we are always looking for somewhere new to try. So when Bob’s Cafe opened in Ealing we couldn’t wait to try out their menu!

One of the most important factors for us is that any resturant we go to has to be child friendly and Bob’s definitely is. It is an all day bistro serving a variety of food in an American/French style. On arrival my Daughter was given a colouring sheet and crayons and the staff made an effort to speak to all of us and made us feel very welcome. They offer a menu specially designed for children and my Daughter was very pleased with her beef burger served with veggies and fries priced at £4.95 I thought that was good value.

The atmosphere was lively and perfect for a casual Saturday evening meal. We loved the fact the front doors were wide open and were lucky the evening was warm and sunny. We almost felt like we were dining al fresco on the continent! We decided on an appetiser to share and were impressed with the tasty crunch tiger prawns (£5.95).

Our main courses arrived swiftly afterwards and we all really enjoyed what we ordered. I couldn’t resist the buttermilk chicken kiev schnitzel (£12.95) and my husband enjoyed a tasty salmon, black sesame and sushi rice salad (£12.95).

To finish my Daughter tucked into the simply delicious churros served with chocolate dipping sauce (£2.95). The portion was perfect for a child, plus I have to admit I did try one! Both myself and my Husband had a coffee to finish the meal off and I have to say it was excellent! Served hot and strong just how I like it!

We had a lovely family evening at Bob’s Cafe, Ealing. I would highly recommend it for a relaxed family meal out, plus I could see there were highchairs available for younger children and I also noticed there were good clean baby changing facilitates too, this is something that I know when my Daughter was younger was really important to me.

Bob’s Cafe is at 31 Haven Green, Ealing, W5 2NX, just a short walk from Ealing Broadway train station. They also have branches in Queen’s Park and Muswell Hill.

Don’t forget to follow them on social media too!

Twitter @bobscafes

Facebook @bobscafes

Instagram @bobscafes

Disclosure: I was given a complimentory voucher by the cafe which covered payment for part of my meal. The above is an honest review of my experience and reflects my own opinions.

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If there is one activity that my Daughter is always asking to do it is trampolining! We have a trampoline in our garden and it gets a lot of use, but she seems to enjoy this activity even more when we visit a trampoline park. There is a new venue to try out and it is only a short journey from Ealing. So we put on our jumping socks this Half Term and decided to go and try Flip Out.

Situated at Staples Corner Retail Park there is plenty of free parking right outside the venue. I would recommend booking online as this way you can ensure you are booked for the most convienent time for you, plus it is at this point you can sign the waiver form online which saves you time at the venue. However you can just turn up on the day, but do bear in mind that sessions start on the hour.

The park has a variety of different sessions to suit age range and ability. For example they offer sessions for children under the age of 5 called Mini Flippers, this is where toddlers and parents can bounce together learning new skills and gaining confidence on the trampolines. For older children they offer a class called Little Ninjas. Then for anyone over the age of 15 there is Flip Fit a great way to burn calories. On the day we attended it was a standard free jumping session, which is priced at £12.50 per person.

We loved Flip Out because it had some different features to some of the other trampoline parks we have been to. Of course there were absolutely loads of different trampolines to bounce on, plus bars to balance on with soft foam to fall in. For older children/adults there is the stunt box area and wall runners.

We also couldn’t get enough of the laser maze challenge, which is included in the price and you really do feel like you are staring in Mission Impossible dodging the laser beams! After all this adventure we enjoyed a drink and snack in the cafe. It is also worth pointing out there is free Wifi, baby changing facilities and the lockers are also complimentary.

While we were there we also looked at the party rooms. They have two rooms one has an underwater theme and the other one is woodland themed, so could be a great option for a birthday party next year.

We really enjoyed our morning at Flip Out and are looking forward to our next visit very soon!

You can follow Flip Out on social media to stay up to date with their latest offers
Facebook @flipoutbrentcross
Twitter @flipoutbrebtcross
Instagram @flipoutbrentcross

Disclaimer
We received free entry to Flip Out in return for a review. Everything you read is an honest reflection of our visit and all opinions are my own.

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What do you do on a rainy day in London? Well, visit one of the many wonderful Museums of course! We are so lucky to live so near to all that London has to offer children and one of my personal favourites is The London Transport Museum. It is situated just a short walk from Covent Garden Tube station. It is great value for two reasons, firstly children go free and the adult ticket entitles you to come back for free as many times as you like for the next twelve months.

The Museum is an excellent choice for children aged two years and up, because there is so much for them to do and is really interactive. Along with all the wonderful vintage vehicles (many of which you can actually get into) I particularly liked the All Abroad Family Play Zone. Your child can really get involved from actually driving a simulated tube train, to helping out in the lost property office and even repairing a train as you can see my Daughter really got into her roles below!

Another part of the museum I thought was great is that they have a large wooden train track and London related landmarks models available for children to sit down on the floor and play. My little one really enjoyed this and could have happily sat there for hours. The museum puts on special activities during school holiday, so be sure to check out the website for that.

After our visit to the Museum we were looking for somewhere family friendly to have a spot of lunch, when we stumbled across The Wildwood Restaurant. I would really recommend it as it was really set up for children. A good children’s menu, child sized cutlery and cups. Plus they provided colouring/puzzle sheets and pencils. The staff were very friendly and welcoming. They genuinely seemed to enjoying interacting with us. All of these little touches make for a relaxing meal, as it can be stressful sometimes taking your child out in a central London restaurant. Wildwood is somewhere I would return to and look  out for other branches elsewhere in the country.

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One of our highlights this Bank Holiday weekend was a trip to KidZania at Westfield Shopping Centre, White City, London I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I have to say the experience totally exceeded my expectations.

We arrived at ‘check in’ and it was just like we were about to board a flight at the airport. From the signs, to the costumes of the staff, it really did look like a real life airport. We were given a map and an excellent explanation of what KidZania was all about.

We were all fitted with wrist tags. These tags are used throughout the experience not only to track which of the experiences your child is involved in, but also if at anytime your child looses sight of you the device is able to tell you where they are. Also your child can not leave the premises without being with you, this is a brilliant safety feature. A child of over the age of eight years can be left at KidZania without an adult in attendance while you go about your shopping. You get a total of four hours there, it seems like a lot of time but in reality it went really fast and we didn’t mange to complete even half of the activities.

How does it work?

When you arrive your child is given 50 Kidzos (this is the currency used in KidZania), you can earn or buy more if you wish.

There are a total of 60 different establishments your child can get involved in. The thing to remember from the start is that you are not generally permitted in the room that the activities are going on in. You can watch from the sidelines or can look in from the large glass windows. It is really great that you are not in there distracting your child. You are getting a rare glimpse by seeing them being completely immersed in an activity and for my Daughter she was totally enjoying the moment and almost forgot we were there!

Each job or activity either has a cost to participate or your child is paid a salary when completed. I think this is teaching them a very valuable lesson that to do something fun you first have to work for your money.

Extra facilities:

  • Designated parents room that is only for over 18’s. Here you will find a cafe, that even serves alcohol, lots of comfortable sitting and even some aeroplane flat beds that you can relax on! Myself and my Husband made good use of them!
  • An area for children under the age of 4 years, so younger siblings can come in too.
  • There are various cafe and restaurants within KidZania, we had our lunch at GBK.
  • Your child can have their Birthday Party here and they have a designated party room,which when we were there was all set up for a party, there was even a throne for the party child! (I’m already eyeing this up for our next party).
  • Professional photographers around within the activities and can take pictures of your child that can be purchased on leaving. These are good to have as you can not take photographs in the activities room.

We did the Following Activities:

Fire and Rescue Department, Fire Fighter and Fire Inspector – This is great fun, costumes on and the children get into actual mini fire engine that drives them to a building on fire! They then use hoses with real water to put the fire out.

Mission Deli – Making Wraps. The children are shown how to make this product from scratch and you even receive your own pack of wraps to take home.

British Airway Aviation Training, Cabin Crew and Pilot – your child can dressed up in a Pilot costume and get to experience flying a plane, plus they can also learn about being Cabin Crew too.

Chocolate Factory, Chocolatiers – My little one could hardly wait to get to this experience. Children learn how chocolate is made.

Dance Club, Singer – My little singer performed ‘Shake It Off’ by Taylor Swift and won the Karaoke competition!

Beauty Salon, Stylist and Customer – Each child gets to use a dummy head to style hair, something like a Girls World from the 1980’s a toy that I always wanted!

Supermarket, Cashier and Customer – this reminded me of the Supermarket Sweep game that was once on TV. Each child got a list of groceries and zoomed around the shop with their own mini trolley looking for items.

Face Painting/Temporary Tattoos – by this time she was getting very tired but she managed to get a cute ladybird tattoo and a lovely cat face paint.

Citizen Passport (cost £5) – this involves getting stamps in your Passport and in turn you will end up with discounts and priority access to KidsZania in the future. For more information see B.kidzanian

My Top Tips

  • Get there early, otherwise the queue can be longer at check in.
  • Buy tickets online to be sure that you will get entry that day and use any potential discounts.
  • Remember your child has to be four years old to participate in most activities and it helps if they are confident enough to cope with going into a room on their own.
  • Take a good look at the map when you arrive or before on the website and work out which jobs your child is really interested in doing and head to them first, otherwise it can be a bit overwhelming. Remember some activities are height or age restricted.
  • Allow at least four hours for your trip, take my word for it you won’t want to leave any earlier!
  • Make sure your child does plenty of jobs that earn them money.

My overall opinion

I absolutely loved this place and so did my Daughter and Husband. By the end of the day I felt that we had a really fun-filled day out. The place was very clean and the staff could not be more helpful.

I saw some real enthusiasm from the staff this included the Town Crier who made an announcement involving us. There was flash mob style dancing from other staff and even the general music playing in the background was upbeat and added to the fun atmosphere. I will definitely planning another visit soon and my Daughter is already asking when we are going back!

Disclosure

I was lucky enough to receive tickets in return for my review. All opinions are my own and are an honest reflection of our visit in August 2016.

Keep in contact……

If you like my review then please do comment and if you have been to Kidzania let me know what your opinion was?

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