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A Wet and Windy Trip To Scarborough...

on Tuesday, 18 November 2014.

When LL was just a few months old, we went on our first family holiday to Scarborough in North Yorkshire.  I randomly found via google a gorgeous cottage just outside of the little seaside town at a place called Humble Bee Farm.  We booked and paid for it before LL was born and when we eventually did visit we had a great time-  I have such fond memories of our first little break away as a family of four.  Humble Bee Farm is a working farm with lots of animals to see, it's perfect for little ones- you can even collect an egg for breakfast each morning from the hens which we did the first time we were there.  It's home to three amazing cottages, some pretty cool wigwams which our friend's have stayed in before, and also camping pitches too.  We really loved our adventure there back in May 2013.

Therefore a few weeks ago I was really excited to receive an email asking if we would like to go back to stay at Humble Bee Farm for a couple of nights.  We jumped at the chance to go back there but sadly due to Mr E having to work he wasn't able to come with us.  Still we got my second favourite big person in the form of my little sister Anna, who kindly said she would come along.  We were all really looking forward to our sisterly break.

We set off on Wednesday morning and didn't arrive in Scarborough until late afternoon as we unfortunately had car trouble- my car decided to break down on the side of the A1 in the pouring rain which was quite a scary experience.  Luckily a knight in shining armour (in the form of the RAC man) came to our rescue, and although the car wasn't completely better, he said it was ok to go on our merry way as long as we took it slow.  

Our cottage 'Merry Dale' was as gorgeous as I remembered- cosy, warm and inviting with a rather fabulous hot tub in the garden.  The girls were so excited to be there with their Auntie Anna and Mummy and after a dinner out at ASK, we all settled down in front of the fire for the evening.  We didn't actually end up doing all that much during our stay, it was just so wet and windy, so we spent a lot of time snuggling in the cottage and taking advantage of the 'bubbly swimming pool.'  In actual fact it was just what I needed- just to chill out for a bit and not rush around.

As usual, I thought because we didn't do that much, I hadn't taken that many photos but it turns out I still have a fair few that I love.

Here is our trip to Scarborough in photos and a little video...

 

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As soon as they woke up on our first morning they were straight in the hot tub- they loved splashing around- such a great idea for families as a little extra bonus to your stay at the cottage.

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There is nothing better than watching them giggle.

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They absolutely loved the bubbles.

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Funnily enough when we were here last time I got a photo of Mads in the hot tub that is one of my favourites of her ever, and this one is also now one of my all time favourites too- I think it's the fact she is completely happy and natural.  

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She was telling the duck off for splashing.

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LL is growing up so quickly all of a sudden- she still isn't talking much but is now saying about ten words.  I am willing time to slow down a little.

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Even though it was really cold we had to go out and visit these amazing rainbow beach huts again.

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I love this one of my girlies- I think I may get it framed for somewhere, although we are running out of space on our walls!

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Also looking rather grown up- and very, very cheeky!

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They had so much fun running up and down, playing games and being silly.  

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They are really playing with each other a lot at the moment, it's very sweet to see.

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 We went down on to the beach for a bit as quite frankly you can't go to the seaside without going and having a little paddle in the water.

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She always has a look of mischief on her face.

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It got so cold so quickly, our hands and fingers went so numb.  Why is the seaside in Winter always so cold?

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Writing their names in the sand.

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We had to go and warm up in a little tea room- and of course cake was compulsory too.

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We went back and had a snuggly afternoon back at our cottage- we got these cute little gingerbread snowmen to decorate as a little rainy day activity to do while away.

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Our creations.

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It was such a treat having the hot tub in the evenings when the girls were in bed- that really is the beauty of a cottage and the fact you don't have to hide out in the bathroom or go to bed at 8.30pm like you so often have to do in hotels.  One night we shared a bottle of bubbles in the bubbles. ;) 

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One great thing about Humble Bee Farm is how child friendly it is- they had a big box full of toys and books to keep them amused. 

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My children are like little magpies and are attracted to anything sparkly and bright- they love going to the 2p slot machines when we go to the seaside and to be fair I love it too, it reminds me of being little.

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Having fun even though it was pouring down outside.

 

Here is a little video of our adventures in Scarborough...

 

 

NB: We were invited back to stay at Humble Bee Farm free of charge for two nights after paying full price for a seven night stay the previous year.  Thanks so much to Humble Bee for inviting us- we loved our stay and will definitely be back again in the future.  Check out their website as they have some amazing winter rates if you fancy a little break away., especially in their wigwams.

 

A Child Friendly Weekend In Amsterdam- Part Two.

on Thursday, 06 November 2014.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to visit the beautiful city of Amsterdam.  We had the most amazing weekend as a family and were so surprised about just how child friendly and relaxed the culture is over there.  We loved exploring and making memories together, and we are already talking about booking another stay for the Spring of next year as I would love to visit and see the tulips- it is such a colourful city even in Autumn, I can only imagine what it is like when it is in bloom.

 If you missed it here is Part One of our adventures.  We packed so much in to our stay that I have had to split my posts into separate parts.


Day Two

 

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Our junior suite room at the Movenpick Amsterdam City was large, with a separate lounge area with a sofa bed.  The large windows meant that in the morning the room was flooded with the most beautiful light.

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My happy girl waiting for the ferry.

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Everywhere you look there are bikes in Amsterdam and I didn't see one person wearing a helmet the whole time we were there, it's a little crazy to cycle there yet apparently it's one of the safest places in Europe to cycle.

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When we go to a new place we don't always want to do typical tourist things, and prefer to go off the beaten track a little.  My husband and I love colourful street art so when I read about the Amsterdam Noord area online I knew we had to visit it.  It's a bizarre area, with derelict buildings, abandoned boats and a real urban gritty scene, yet it houses some of the city's most creative and artistic communities, even MTV have a headquarters here.  It was quiet and there were lots of graffiti artists working while we were there.  It was amazing and it was definitely the highlight of our trip.  To get to Amsterdam Noord you need to hop on a ferry going to NSDM behind Centraal Station, they run 24 hours a day and are free.

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While we were there there I got asked to have my photo taken and had a little interview with the Dutch newspaper NRC Hardelsblad because they thought what I was wearing was stylish.  Definitely the first time I have ever, ever been called that!  I had to get the girls to pose with me because I hate posing for photographs on my own, I am so unconfident in front of the camera and prefer to hide behind it.  These guys do it better than me! ;)

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The girls loved running around the big open space in Amsterdam Noord.

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It was so quiet and deserted bar the odd street artist. 

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We didn't want to eat in a touristy place so headed to Pllek, a crazy looking restaurant made out out of old shipping containers.  

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Pllek had a really cool vibe, we sat on wooden blocks and cushions which the girls thought was really fun and meant they weren't confined to the table so much.

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I had falafel, Mr E had a burger and the girls had a sandwich which the barman translated as 'brown sugar'- it arrived and literally was that, bread and butter with little cereal sugar biscuits on top.  Needless to say they loved it.

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We decided to hire bikes to really explore the city- the girls went on the front and it was so long and a little scary!  But we loved exploring the city this way and they giggled non stop the whole time.

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A quaint little open space we found while cycling- there was such a mix in Amsterdam of little parks, open green spaces, traditional old buildings and new urban zones.  And it was just so colourful and bright.

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We hired our bikes from Mac Bike, which we found to be excellent and they were great with the girls.  We were also pleased they had helmets in stock as because as mentioned above we hadn't seen anyone else wearing them.

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I love the way she is looking at her big sister.  She was so tired she fell asleep while we were cycling and Mads held her against her shoulder for the whole trip.  She really is the best big sister. 

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I feel so lucky to be able to give my girl's adventures and to experience them as a family. 

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Our hotel was about ten minutes walk from the centre which suited us perfectly as it meant we were out of the tourist hectic bit.  There was a nice walk back along the river.

 

Day Three

 

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After seeing the big I Amsterdam sign on our first day, we spotted this mini one from the ferry when we were heading over to Amsterdam Noord.  We therefore started our final day by jumping on another boat to check this one out out.

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We then headed over to Dam Square to do the tourist thing and people watch by eating delicious Nutella and whipped cream waffles outside.  We were so lucky with the weather, the sun shined our whole trip.

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Soon it was time to head back to our hotel ready to catch our plane home.  If you book a junior suite at the Movenpick Hotel you get 24 access to the executive lounge with complimentary snacks, drinks and newspapers. This actually saved us a fair bit of money, the mini bar in your room is complimentary as well.

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We headed back to Centraal station to catch our train to Schiphol airport, but not before having one last stroll by the canals.  I love this picture of this beautiful city.

 

All in all we had the most incredible weekend in Amsterdam and we have all fallen a little in love with this colourful, vibrant city.  We felt incredibly safe there which is important to us when travelling with the girls, and the Dutch were so friendly, indeed Mads and LL were in their element as whereever we went they got little gifts from locals, such as stickers, keyrings and a little toy car.  There's a really eclectic mix of traditional culture, mixed in with the bright colours and new modern structures associated with large cities.  The flight with KLM was so quick and easy, and to be in a European city within 35 minutes is just spectacular really, it's definitely opened our eyes to flying from our regional airports rather than going to the larger ones.  

My photos don't do this beautiful place justice, but if you are looking for a short weekend trip away with little ones, I can one hundred percent recommend it.  We have come away with lots of happy memories of our adventures and will definitely be going back soon.

My final post of our Amsterdam trip is coming tomorrow- photos captured by my iPhone.

(And in case you missed it here is a video of our adventures in Amsterdam)

 

NB: Thanks to KLM for flying us to Amsterdam as part of their #KLMFlyLocal campaign, we feel honoured and very lucky to be a part of it.  Be sure to check them out as they have some really brilliant deals from 16 local regional airports.  As always, all content and words are my own.  We love you Amsterdam!

 

A Child Friendly Weekend In Amsterdam- Part One.

on Tuesday, 04 November 2014.

When you think of Amsterdam what do you think of?  Stag and Hen parties stumbling out of 'coffee shops'?  Men dressed as Borat roaming widely along the red light district?  Or perhaps slightly prettier things such as tulips or clogs?  I thought all of these things about Amsterdam until this past weekend, although I knew it was beautiful I didn't exactly imagine it to be a particularly family friendly city.  Having been briefly before, staying one night in my early 20's, and a couple of times because my old head office was there for work where I literally saw a desk and my hotel room, I didn't really know exactly what the city had to offer.  Therefore when we were invited to stay for the weekend on behalf of KLM and their #KLMFlyLocal campaign we jumped at the chance to get to know the real Amsterdam.

I hadn't flown KLM before but we were so impressed.  Flying from Norwich airport to Schiphol airport (KLM's original home!), our check in was smooth, easy and without the hassle often attached to larger airports.  Once on the plane our flight only took 35 minutes, which is pretty amazing and even within that time we got a biscuit and a drink included.  Whenever I fly I always think of the larger airports, but we will definitely fly from our regional airports again, in fact KLM fly from 16 local cities including Aberdeen, Manchester, London City and Newcastle.  It was just so easy and much less stressful with two young children.

All I can say is Wow.  Amsterdam is one of the most beautiful, vibrant, colourful and quite frankly amazing cities I have ever been to.  It is relaxed, the Dutch are so incredibly friendly and it is so family friendly, with my girls having the time of our lives over the course of our long weekend.  Both myself and Mr E were blown away with the city and wished we could have stayed longer.  Obviously travelling with small people can sometimes be stressful, but our girls were impeccably behaved all weekend, with us not having to have one cross word with them.  They loved it and so did we, we made so many memories as a family and we will remember it for a long time.  I have taken so, so, so many photos that I am going to have to split this into a few posts, but here is our wonderful weekend in photos...

Day One...

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We arrived into Amsterdam really early and by 9.30am were in our hotel room which is quite frankly so quick and amazing.  We were thrilled with our Junior Suite at the Movenpick Amsterdam City, especially because they allowed us to check in when we arrived and not wait until the usual time.  This meant we could have a freshen up and a relax in our room after a 4am start.

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Our first morning was spent walking around the canal area and getting our bearings.  The canals are just so beautiful, with street after street of waterside shops, restaurants and quaint coffee shops.  We spent hours looking at the old Dutch buildings and the girls waved at all the boats going past. 

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We took our single buggy and a buggy board but Mads decided to have a really long sleep in the buggy on the first day so this little one walked a lot.  She was in her element, waving at people, smiling and loving the attention from passers by.

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As a family we have a *little* obsession for pancakes, so were excited to try out some Dutch ones as they are a speciality over there.  I had heard the best place to go was Pancakes! Amsterdam so after much map orientation we managed to find it.  

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We had to queue outside for almost an hour as it is so small inside.  LL wasn't sure whether it was worth the wait!

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But it most definitely was!  We shared a traditional savoury ham and cheese Dutch Pancake, plus two sweet chocolate, whipped cream and ice cream ones, with a little sneaky American style maple syrup and bacon stack as well.  They were honestly the most delicious things I have ever eaten, definitely worth a trip if you are ever in the area. 

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 We were so lucky with the weather, the sun shined the whole time and it was so beautiful in the afternoons when it began to set.  I love this photo of Mr E and LL.

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I absolutely love this photo of us- she really is a ray of sunshine.

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We got on a tram and went to the area behind the Rijksmuseum so the girls could run around in the park area and we could see the 'I amsterdam' sign.

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 They loved running around and playing on the sign.

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I love the light in this photo.

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Peeking.

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M is for Mads.  And random Man.

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 Throwing stones in the water.  As you do.

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I love this photo of us- I feel so incredibly lucky to be able to take them on adventures.

 

The rest of the day passed in a blur of sightseeing in the beautiful streets, before we headed back to our hotel bar for dinner as the girls were so tired after their early start.  A couple of other families were also there at the same time as us, so it was lovely to meet Fritha and Laura's family for a drink in the Executive Lounge at the Movenpick, where snacks and complimentary drinks are served for Executive Room guests.  We all went to bed really early, with Mr E falling asleep at 8.30pm!  

Here is a little video of our adventures in Amsterdam and Day 2 and 3 of our photos coming up soon!

NB: Thanks to KLM for flying us to Amsterdam as part of their #KLMFlyLocal campaign, as always opinions and content are completely my own.

 

 

A Sisterly Trip To Brighton...

on Thursday, 25 September 2014.

As I am writing this, we were supposed to be in Portugal for a last bit of sunshine before we officially call it Autumn and start putting the heating on.  However due to a number of different reasons we sadly had to postpone our break away.  With a house still turned upside down from our bathroom renovation, my little sister and I decided at the last minute to go away for a couple of nights in Brighton with my girls.

If I could live anywhere else in the UK, I think it would be Brighton.  I don't know what it is, most probably the combination of the seaside, the culture and the amazing shops, I just love it.  Anna my sister, hadn't been before, so we waved goodbye to Mr E and set off on our journey.  We booked a last minute room at the Queens Hotel over looking the sea front, and were excited to see when we arrived that we had an amazing view of the pier and the beach.  Although the decor was traditionally 'British seaside (i.e a little tired), the room was large, comfy and in the most perfect location.

We had a fantastic time.  We ate far too much, relishing in lots of sweet treats, hotel breakfasts and lunch and dinner out.  We spent far too much money, but it was worth it, as the four of us had lots of fun and relished the rare opportunity of undivided sister time.  Anna is ten years younger than me, whether it's the fact that she is mature, (or I am immature!) or the fact that we have the exact same sense of humour- but we get on great.  

We did the traditional seaside thing of going on the pier, riding the Brighton wheel, walking and skimming stones on the beach and wandering round the gorgeous Lanes area. (shoppers paradise!)  We made lots of memories and were all sad to come home, although we missed Mr E!  We will definitely go away together again soon, I am surprised we haven't done it sooner.

Here is rather a lot of photos and a little video of our sister time in Brighton...

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When we got there on the Sunday evening we went down to the beach- the light was beautiful and the girls spent a good half an hour just playing with the stones.  As you do.

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Beautiful light- it was lovely watching the sun go down on the beach.

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Slightly messy beach hair.  

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Still playing with stones.

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Just one more, I can't get enough of this light clearly.

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Yay for the Brighton deckchairs.

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Loving the girly sleepover! We went out to dinner late the first night and then I decided they could stay up later still so I could watch X Factor- Big mistake as they were so grumpy the following morning and we had to go back to the hotel halfway through the day so they could nap!

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The Lanes area of Brighton is a pedestrian only zone and these two loved running around there together causing mischief. 

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So cute.

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Stopping for a little snack- shopping is hard work ya know.

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We stopped off at a little cake shop called Cloud 9, which was gorgeous.  Mads had the most amazing  rainbow cake, while the rest of us had cupcakes which were equally delicious.

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My beautiful girly walking along the pier with her balloon.  

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Such a cutie and growing up so quickly.

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My sister took this one of myself and Mads and I just love it so much.  I normally hate photos of myself but this one makes me so proud I have such a gorgeous little lady.

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You can't go to the seaside without visting some beach huts.

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Lovely beach huts.

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Cheeky smiles while chilling on the pier deckchairs.

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We did the typical tourist thing and went on the Brighton wheel- the girls loved it.

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Posing on the pier.

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A last final walk on the beach and some donuts to share!

 

And here is a little video of our time in Brighton...

 

 

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