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Articles tagged with: Photography

Stockholm with Kids- Part One!

on Tuesday, 21 July 2015.

Everyone has a travel bucket list, those far flung isles that you dream of flying away to, or those places slightly closer to home that you haven't yet got round to visiting. I have a fair few, some I doubt I'll ever visit unless there's a lottery win in my future and some I've been lucky enough to tick off over the years before having the girls. One of those places, in my Top 5 places that I have always wanted to visit is Sweden, more specifically Stockholm. I don't know what it was about this Nordic city that meant I was desperate to explore, but for a long time now I have dreamt of going, so imagine my excitement when we finally booked a weekend away there as a family. We decided that these weekend breaks won't be so easy when Mads starts school so it seemed like a perfect time.

I love a city break. I am a huge fan of sitting by a pool with a cocktail and feeling the sun on my shoulders, in fact when I'm on a 'beach' holiday that's pretty much all I like to do, (although that has changed a lot with the arrival of two little people!) but I do love a city break too, and I don't think that has to stop just because you have children. Yes the boozy lunches, long lay in's and late nights enjoying the not so ordinary food and drink a different city has to offer have stopped, but visiting a city and experiencing new culture's and exploring the sights with the girls is actually great fun.

And so a couple of weekends ago after a stressful check in at Ryanair at Stansted, we found ourselves on a short two hour flight to Stockholm Stavska airport. Then it was an 90 minute long bus ride to the city of Stockholm. We packed lots into our three days and according to the app on Mr E's phone walked 26 miles, the equivalent of a marathon- here's the first part of our trip to Stockholm in words, photos and a video...

THURSDAY

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We were really impressed when we arrived at our hotel, The Best Western Premier Hotell Kung Carl, a family run hotel situated by Stureplan Square, right in the middle of an upmarket shopping area in Stockholm. We were really impressed with our family room, (the girls loved the bunk beds) and the hotel in general- it was really eclectic in terms of it's interiors, mixing old with modern, and lots of Swedish art and antiques. 

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The quirky reception area and bar in the Hotell Kung Carl.

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Planning and plotting what we were going to do, Visit Stockholm kindly gave us a big pack full of information, but I also spent ages looking at the Visit Stockholm website before we left. I like to be prepared on a city break and know exactly what we are doing, so I spent a while before our trip sussing out where we should go. 

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We headed straight out to stretch our legs and get our bearings. Stockholm is full of green areas, more about that later, amazingly so in fact, and we sat in a little park and had some juice and shared an ice cream. Love this photo of my three.

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I think the key to a good city break is letting them loose every now and again. I know my two get fed up if they are constantly in the buggy, or being told to hold our hands. A little green space where they can run around does wonders.

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I love this photo of the two of them snuggling back at our hotel. They had bunk beds which they loved and because they were so worn out from all the walking and later nights, they slept soundly even though they were in the room with us.

FRIDAY

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First thing Friday after a yummy hotel breakfast we headed to Junibacken which is in the Djurgarden area of the city, a very green island (Stockholm is made up of islands) housing a lot of the cities museums and attractions. Junibacken is without a doubt the best family attraction we have been too since having the girls. It's based on the books of Astrid Lindgren who wrote Pippi Longstocking, but to be honest children don't need to know the books to have an amazing time. It's interactive, fun, full of play zones like slides, swings, things to climb on, and at the end you go on the Story Train which takes you on a magical fairy tale ride. There's also a Moomins play area there too which excited us all a little too much! 

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The restaurant at Junibacken was circus themed and we all loved it, the food was great too. The girls had pancakes finished off with Moomins chocolates, while myself and Mr E had meatballs. When in Sweden after all...

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We bought them each a little present from Junibacken, of course Moomin related. Mads got some collectors cards (she loves any sort of card) and LL got a little cuddly Moomin. 

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Super chuffed with her Moomin.

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The next stop of the day was to the Spirit Museum which Mr E wanted to quickly look at. Luckily even though it was obviously for adults, the girl's still had fun looking around at all the spirits and taking part in some of the interactive elements. There was a great Absolute Vodka exhibition on there.

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A photo of the amazing Grona Lund theme park as taken from the ferry we were on. We actually went here on Saturday so more on that later, but it's a fantastic small city theme park on the edge of the water. It's kitsch, retro and kind of reminded me what Coney Island in New York would be like, although I haven't been there myself. 

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As I mentioned above Stockholm is made up of fourteen islands meaning that the ideal way of getting around is by boat, it's as normal over there as hoping on a bus, and the ferry transport system is really easy to navigate as a tourist too. After visiting the Spirit Museum we hopped on the Slussen ferry to take us over to the Old Town part of the city. Here they are looking out the window at the Grona Lunc park above.

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Beautiful Stockholm taken from the boat. It really is this beautiful everywhere you go and it's so clean too.

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The 'Old Town' (Gamla Stan) part of the city houses a lot of the historic buildings in Stockholm and was the original city centre. It's a beautiful labyrinth of rust coloured houses, old stone buildings and cobbled streets. The Royal Palace is there plus a whole host of galleries and museums. We stopped off for an ice cream the size of our heads in a little tourist area of the Old Town.

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I absolutely love this photo of the two of them. I must admit out of all the areas of Stockholm, the Old Town wasn't our favourite. We appreciated the beauty of the cobbled streets, but we must have stumbled right into the tourist area and it was a little too busy for me as I am not keen on crowds. We did go back somewhere different on the Saturday and loved it, but I took this photo as we went down to the waters edge to escape the busy streets.

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When we decided to go to Stockholm, I must admit to being a little worried about eating there. After all everyone has heard the stories about how it's one of the most expensive places to live. And there's no denying it is expensive- BUT you have to know where to look. I stumbled across K25 on a Swedish blog before we left and it looked right up our street- it's basically a big, stylish food hall serving all different types of food, including Mexican, Sushi, street food, Italian etc. All these different businesses have little areas, but it's all kitted out with industrial and edgy interiors. We were pleased to find it was just down the road from our hotel and so we went to try it out. It was perfect and the food was really reasonably priced. (Top tip- always ask for child portions as even if they don't advertise them the Swedish are exceptionally child friendly- our meals were about 100 SEK each (about £7.50) whereas two kids meals were 60 SEK (about £5) for both.)

Here is a little video that I made of our time in Stockholm...

I took so many photos that I still have Saturday and Sunday to talk about, Saturday was our favourite day by far, so they will be up either later this week or early next week. We absolutely loved our time in Stockholm so can't wait to share some more...

 

NB: Visit Stockholm very kindly invited us to Stockholm and gave us Stockholm Cards which entitled us to free entry to a lot of attractions plus free transport around the city. They also gave us complimentary accomodation, all flights and other costs were paid for by us. 

 

 

 

My Sisters in July 2015...

on Wednesday, 15 July 2015.

June and July have been ridiculously busy months for us, with trips away, things on during the weekends, school visits and a bit of drama in relation to Mads school place, and lots of work on too. But as I write this, the pace of life slows down a little for us all. We still have a few different things on here and there, but it's not nearly as hectic as it was. I am looking forward to a slightly slower pace of life, and enjoying these last couple of months before our big girl starts school. 

I am interested to see what LL will think of Mads going to school in September. I have no doubt she will miss her, but I also think that she will enjoy the one on one time with me as well, it's something she hasn't had properly before. We did try and put Mads in nursery on a Friday morning so I could have some time with her, but we ended up stopping it partly down to wanting to spend as much time with Mads as possible before school and partly because we were always paying for it and then she didn't end up going as we were busy with going away or wanting to see friends. 

My 'Siblings' photos for this month are of our recent trip to Stockholm, we spent a few days there exploring during the weekend just gone. Stockholm has been in my top 5 wish list of places I would love to go for such a long time now so I was over the moon and excited that we finally got a chance to go as a family. It was great fun and the girls were so incredibly good considering it was a really full on trip. 

We bought our single buggy with us, even though we rarely use it at home, knowing from our previous adventure to Amsterdam last year that both would take turns in sitting in it, with either myself or Mr E holding a hand or carrying the other one. But in turns out that they both actually sat in it pretty well together which helped us no end, with Mads holding LL on her lap for the majority of the weekend. Of course there was the odd arguement when one of them wanted to sit at the back not the front, or if they were feeling particularly cross at that point in time about the possiblity of sharing, but for the most part we were really impressed with the fact they sat together so well on our full on and long days walking about. 

I've got lots of photos from our trip to Stockholm that I have to go through and sort out when I get a minute but I just thought I would share a couple of the Saturday we were there. That was my favourite day out of the three, the sun was out for the majority of the day, and we got to explore a lot. These photos were taken at the end of the day, we climbed up some cobbled roads to get to a beautiful viewing gallery and on the way back down we took some photos on one of the pretty streets. 

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I love their faces and how they are looking at each other. 

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I love this one as I think it looks like they are having a good old chat. 

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*****

This month I am sending you over to have a look at my lovely friend Keri-Anne's beautiful blog. Her photography is stunning and dreamy, so be sure to head over to see what her and her girl's have been up too.  

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #28 'Shall We Be Best Friends?'

on Sunday, 12 July 2015.

Every morning the girl's come running into our room and jump into bed for what we call a 'family cuddle' before we get up to start the day. On Wednesday morning we were all snuggling together and LL asked her big sister for a 'Mads love' which is what she calls a cuddle. As they were embracing in the elaborate and OTT way that little people do when they ask for a cuddle, Mads said to LL 'Shall we be best friends again now?' to which LL said 'Yes please.' When I asked her why they weren't best friends, Mads said that when they were in still in bed in their room she had asked her sister to pass her something and she hadn't. So for that reason they were 'no longer best friends.' Except now they were and were happily cuddling each other. This little exchange actually made me smile to myself, as to me it sums up completely what a sibling relationship should be. 

For the most part, these girls really are the best of friends. They have a really strong and fierce bond, and it's clear to see to anyone who meets them. Even through photos and videos, I think you can see the connection they have, but it really truly is a firm friendship. From the second LL was born and they met in the hospital for the first time Mads has made me the proudest parent ever, she has constantly looked out for her, loved her and has never even had a hint of jealousy, even in the early days. I've written a few times over the years about the relationship they have, (and indeed most months in my Siblings posts) but recently it really has stepped up a gear. 

They can now play together and LL can now communicate and chatter back to Mads, although she still doesn't always make much sense. Every day she is learning more words and therefore interacting more with Mads. LL also now stands up to her sister, in fact she is the more feisty and stubborn of the two and so we sometimes now get full on scraps if they both want the same toy. But in a strange sort of way I actually quite like to see them having a squabble because that's just part and parcel of life with a sister. They don't argue for long, before they are straight back to cuddling again or playing together nicely. I think having a sibling helps them to learn and understand more about compromising, not always being the centre of attention, sharing, or any other life lessons. 

Since they began sharing a room a few months ago, it really has made them even closer. We put them to bed between 7 and 7.30pm and go downstairs, and it often makes us laugh as we hear them constantly chatting, giggling and generally causing mischief. They chatter non stop, which is pretty amazing considering that LL still isn't always the clearest or chattiest yet, but somehow her big sister seems to know exactly what she is saying, in fact Mads often has to tell me what she is saying as I don't understand her and she does. The sound of their giggles coming from upstairs truly makes us smile and often we have to go and tell them to quieten down as it's getting late. Whenever I go in the room, LL has usually got all the books out the bookcase and given half of them to Mads who is on the top bunk and therefore can't reach, and they always look guilty and full of mischief when I come through the door. 

When I thought about the ideal family for us, I always said I wanted two children, both myself and Mr E come from two sibling families, but there's still a part of me that would love a third baby. One thing I often think about if I am going through a particularly broody period is how a third sibling would fit into the dynamics of our family. I wouldn't want to lessen the bond that my two girls have, or I would worry that a third child would get really left out as these girl's really do everything together. If they are sat on the sofa, they have to be sat practically on top of each other, if one goes upstairs, the other will follow. But we will cross that bridge if, and when, we come to it. At the moment I am just enjoying their bond, their squabbles, their fierce love for each other, and ultimately that special relationship that can only coming from having a sibling. I love that they are now both big enough to really take part in our adventures and it's such a pleasure to watch them growing up together. I hope they will always cherish the gift we have given them- a best friend.

There's this quote I found the other day which I think really sums up their relationship, even at this young age...

'She is your mirror, shining back at you with a world of possibilities. She is your witness, who sees you at your worst and best, and loves you anyway. She is your partner in crime, your midnight companion, someone who knows when you are smiling, even in the dark. She is your teacher, your defence attorney, your personal press agent, even your shrink. Some days, she’s the reason you wish you were an only child. - {Barbara Alpert}


These photos were taken on our recent holiday to Rhodes, but I absolutely love them and they were too cute just to put in my holiday posts. I think again they show what a mischevious little pair they are. And of course there is my favourite golden light there too!

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Our Holiday to Rhodes 2015- Mark Warner Levante Beach Hotel- Part Two...

on Tuesday, 07 July 2015.

I love writing these posts and thinking back to our holiday to Rhodes. Although it was only a couple of weeks ago, our tans are already fading, our holiday clothes have been washed, ironed (thanks Mum!) and returned to their respective wardrobes, and we are back in our same old routine. But it's great to look through the photos and remember our special time at Levante Beach Hotel. If I close my eyes I can almost imagine the heat on my shoulders or that feeling of icy cold shivers when you first jumped in the pool, and the deliciously sweet smell of waffles cooking on the grill in the morning. And that's exactly why we go on holiday- to make those memories that will last a lifetime.

Here is the second part of our holiday to Rhodes in (far too many) photos and another little video...

 

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I was so proud of my little girl as she decided she wanted to go kayaking with her Daddy. She looked so little sat there in the front but absolutely loved it and they were out on the water for ages.

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She took after her Mummy and sat there letting Mr E do all the work. Although I am guessing she is lighter than me. ;) 

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This crazy lady and I sat on the shore throwing stones and waving at them kayaking further and further away from us.

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She loves sand, stones and generally making a mess! She's also in her PJ's in this picture as she woke up from her nap to go and watch Daddy and her sister. If a girl can't wear her PJ's down to the beach, when can she? 

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I often just sat for a few minutes and watched the Mark Warner boats. The watersports is a huge part of life at Levante and the waterfront team are so fun and nice. Everything is included in the price, unless you want private tuition. I tried my hand at paddle boarding and also went on an organised kayak safari. On the kayak safari we were meant to go to a nearby cove and do some snorkelling but sadly on the day we went it was so windy that we ended up having to be taken back in the safety boat as it was so hard paddling against the wind. I thought the safety boat was just as fun though!

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Sharing a 'cocktail' together. I have the exact same photo of last year in the same spot.

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So proud these babies are mine.

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She asked every evening if we could go for a cocktail. We were on a half board basis at Levante meaning we paid extra for drinks. But the drinks prices are incredibly reasonable. 

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My smiling, happy girl.

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Golden light again- I will never tire of taking these kind of photos.

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We loved dropping the girls off at the evening film and childcare service and having dinner together, it was such a wonderful luxury. We didn't keep them in for long, at the most two hours, but it was just enough time to eat our meal in peace, knowing the girls were having a whale of a time watching films and snuggling. 

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Mads windsurfing in the pool when I snuck up on her at one of her mini club sessions. I was so proud watching her doing things way out of her comfort zone and just like last year her time at Levante seemed to make her grow so much in confidence.

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I am the luckiest lady in the world to have these three.

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Every evening they wanted a 'disco party' on the lawn outside our hotel room.

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They were looking at each other's knees and kissing each others 'sores' better.

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They do argue on and off (some days more than others) but they truly are the best of friends.

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The hotel has three restaurants- the main restaurant, the Pan Asian restaurant and the pool snack bar. For a small supplement you can eat in the Pan Asian restaurant by one of the pools which we did one night. The food was delicious- we had beef, mango and lime salad, spring rolls, crispy chicken and sweet and sour beef amongst other things. It was nice for a bit of a change from the buffet in the main restaurant and the view of the sun setting was gorgeous. (Which is also delicious!)

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I adore this photo taken one evening before we went out to dinner- Mr E was pretending to be a monkey in the background. 

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Plus this one too. I love it when photos go according to plan and they give us genuinely happy smiles.

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 And this might be my new favourite of LL. She also seemed to grow up lots more while we were away too. I think we can all safely say Levante brings out the happiness in our family, look at those twinkly, sparkly eyes. It really is our happy place and we are so thankful that we found Mark Warner last year and that they invested in our family to make us ambassadors, plus I am glad we decided to book again for this year. I think we have found somewhere that we will hopefully return to year upon year. 

Here is another little video of our time at Levante. It's the last one I have made but I have one more post of photos coming up at some point too. (SO many photos!)

 

 

NB: Mark Warner were really fantastic and gave us a discount off our holiday as we were their ambassadors last year, but they haven't asked me to write about our holiday, although of course I would have done anyway. (thank you MW!) They are also offering a discount to any of my readers who are interested in booking a holiday with them. It will run for two weeks and you need to quote KatieBlog50 when booking- the offer entitles you to a £50 discount per person excluding free child places. It can't be used in conjunction with any other offer and Mark Warner booking conditions apply. You can find out more about amazing Levante and their other properties here.

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