Sneaky Experience: Pirates & Mermaids

This weekends activity was Sneaky Experience’s Pirates and Mermaids Family Experience. It was at Kirkstall Abbey, which I had actually never been to before, but it was a great location for it, plenty of space and lots of ruins to climb over (not so ideal if you need to take a pushchair), but you could leave that in the main film showing area.

What was it?
It was a showing of Peter Pan & The Little Mermaid on the big screen, accompanied by various different activities for the children and FOOD!
Parking was easy, there were lots of spaces nearby and it was free.
As we walked up there was a huge queue, but this disappeared very quickly and we were soon in front of the big screen watching Peter Pan. We took some blankets, but some people took chairs, which was also allowed, it was a very casual atmosphere.

There was the Little Mermaid, Tinkerbell singing songs, an inflatable pirate ship, a sailor school, and a hula hoop class.

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Under the sea!

Captain Hook put on a good performance with Peter Pan every hour. The kids seemed to love this one. Some of the activities were better than others – Captain Hook & The sailor were very engaging, the kids flocked to them. A lot of kids seemed to be enjoying climbing the ruins and racing around with Peter Pan.

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A pirates life for me

What we loved
We enjoyed chilling watching the films on the big screen. They had a nice pizza stall, it was pretty delicious and we also indulged in a crepe with Nutella, which was also very yummy! And if you need it – they were selling alcoholic beverages! I would say a plus point to the event was that you could bring your own food in, so if you wanted to keep it cheap, you could bring a picnic.

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Peter Pan on the big screen

I heard people say they had been to one of these events before and the activities were better, I have to agree that was probably the area it was lacking, but for £9, I did think it was good value for money. Maybe it would be better if they had more character/staff dressed up to help, as just one adult at each activity is tough when there are lots of kids needing entertaining.

What to wear
Dress up! You won’t be out of place if you dress up, we went with fairy wings and a wand, but some people had gone full on pirate family! I ordered Hallie’s from Amazon, but we picked some up from Pound World for a quid, bargain. Another outfit addition I would recommend is wellies, if it looks like rain or it has been raining then pack them, as it looks like it could get very muddy out there.

I have seen they have a Harry Potter themed one over the summer, now that could be VERY good.. I would go to one again, as Hallie really enjoyed it and I think most of the other younger kids did as well. I am not sure how long they have been doing it, but I am sure the more that the word gets out and more people go, they better they will be.

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Normanby Hall Country Park: A family day out

Normanby Hall was my childhood spot, my family always took me there to feed the ducks, or climb the big old tree and visit the walled gardens. I love it, and love taking Hallie there as well, especially now it is even better than it was back then!

It is however a lot more expensive than it used to be, but I would say you get value for money, especially if you get a membership. Standard pricing is £7 per adult and free for the under 5’s or you could have a family membership for the year from £25, which is great if you plan on going a lot.

Our highlights;

The land train
When we were in Rhodes a couple of weeks ago we went on a land train and Hallie loved it, so when she saw something similar riding round the park, she was very excited! It’s only a pound each and doesn’t last too long, you might even spot some deer on the way round. It went passed the new Go Ape which looked like a lot of fun, everyone seemed to be enjoying it, I like to think I could do it, but it did look high.

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Feeding the ducks
This is still my favourite activity at the park, I loved it as a kid and I still love it now. They have a lovely little gift shop where you can buy some bird seed (and the land train tickets). Hallie is a massive fan of ducks and enjoyed calling them over to eat the seed. Hallie’s aunties got a bit jealous and had to have a handful, followed by her Grammie (Grandma) needing a go!

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Picnic on the grass
There is a cafe you can eat at, but it’s nice (and cheaper) to take your own and eat on the lovely lawn. You can have views of the trees, the pond, the train and the Hall itself. It is idyllic and there is plenty of room. Don’t forget to put your rubbish in the bin when you have finished, that is the only thing that could spoil it, people leaving their rubbish.

The new play area
We were lucky, as the day we went, was the day the new play area opened. There is still a play area for smaller children across the other side of the park, with a splash pad as well, but this is a whole new one! There is a pirate ship, lots of swings, a big sandpit with climbing frames in it. Plenty for children of all ages to enjoy, and all on some lovely soft, bouncy flooring.

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You really could spend the whole day there, there is the Hall to explore, the walled garden, the deer park, the woods (with some hidden gems), and on Sundays they have the miniature train you can ride. There is lots of space so you can take your own activities as well, bat & ball etc.
It is safe to say this will be one of our number one spots this summer!

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Babymoon idea: NYC the last hurrah!

You’re pregnant and want a last trip away with your partner or friends before the baby arrives, but where should you go? NYC that’s where! Well that’s where we went.
We decided on NYC as we love it but also knew we wouldn’t be back for a while once the baby was here – yes you can travel with a baby, but NYC with a baby is a bit different to NYC without a baby.

It was a bit of a treat, a last hurrah before we became parents, so we did have a few treats, like flying business class – which was the dream whilst pregnant, I wish I could have spent my entire pregnancy up there. Anyway here are a few tips on places to go for your Babymoon in NYC

Where to stay…

We stayed at The Viceroy near the Central Park area, a bit pricier but there was a deal at the time. We wanted something nearer Central Park so it wouldn’t be a long walk there for a pregnant lady who likes to spend a lot of time there.
The hotel was amazing, very modern but with tasteful dark woods and leathers. It had an incredible smell, that I think was the only smell I took pleasure in during my entire pregnancy.

Smells are an important consideration when pregnant.

Where to eat…

Another important consideration when you are pregnant and want all the foods because you have just got over all day ‘morning sickness’ at 22 weeks pregnant.

Breakfast

Rue 57 is really lovely for breakfast, it is near Central Park and has a nice vibe about on a weekend morning, not too pricey either. 

Brooklyn Diner is perfect for a casual diner breakfast, when you just need pancakes and bacon with lashings of syrup – YUM!

Sarabeth’s has a Central Park option right on the park, it is slightly fancier but ideal on a Saturday morning and I surprisingly saw some kids in there – but they were very well behaved. If you like Gossip Girl this is a place for you. 

Lunch

Serendipity 3 well, not much needs to be said here, other than order this…
Sadly I was feeling ill this day so didn’t have much – biggest regret of MY LIFE.

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Olive Garden is great when pregnant, when you need to carb up for walking around and want a cheap massive pasta dish.

Dos Caminos has to be one of my faves (great for a boozy brunch when you are not pregnant), but the food is so yummy, and the massive bowl of guacamole you get is enough to feed a family of ten – perfect!

Dinner 

Sparks is a very well known steak house and they made me a beautiful steak, even though it was well done to suit my preggers needs. Really welcoming and great atmosphere. 

River Cruises are one of the best ways to get amazing pics of NYC, but also great when you want to see the sites but not be on your feet all the time. A nice romantic time together, whilst relaxing and taking in the gorgeous views of NYC and the Statue of Liberty.

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What to watch…

Last time I went to NYC I saw Groundhog Day and I was sceptical, but I soon realised it was going to be one of my fave shows of all time! I don’t want to give anything away because there are some great surprises. The acting was brilliant, it was funny and it was jaw droppingly impressive! 

I have also seen Wicked in NYC and that was equally as impressive. On our Babymoon we saw Jersey Boys which my partner loved, and the baby loved too as she kicked throughout! The music for that and the singing – just WOW.

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Where to go…

Walk the Highline, it isn’t too long and there are plenty of nice places to stop and sit along the way, they also have toilets up there. It is a disused rail line so you get some great views and a perfect way to walk down the city.

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Talk a walk in Central Park and enjoy the Zoo, we went to the Zoo for the first time there on our babymoon and I loved it. There is a great shop where I bought some soft toys, books and baby stuff to take home for our new arrival. Walk around Central Park as well and sit on the Met steps Xoxo

Met steps

Top Tips!

  • If you get tired of walking take an Uber, download the app before you go to save money on Taxis there.
  • Tell the hotel you are pregnant and you may get a pregnancy pillow on your bed
  • Take your pregnancy notes with you just in case
  • Duane Reade stock all the medicines you need and often have a doctor there too that you can make appointments with should you need it. They are on pretty much every corner.
  • Download the app Open Table to book your restaurants.
  • Book a car with Dial 7 from the airport, same price as cab and you get more room, with no waiting around.

I would just say if you are thinking of taking a Babymoon then DO IT. Nothing will be the same for you and your partner again, in a good and not so good way (in terms of time together), so it is worth having that special time together before it is all about the baby.

Not that I am moaning, my partner and I are going to a 5pm showing of the Jurassic Park tonight – rock and roll!

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Ready, Set, BAKE!

The weather is crazy up and down at the moment, so we planned for rain yesterday and bought some baking stuff!

For Mother’s Day, Matt got Hallie & I a baking cookbook, and we hadn’t yet used it, so I let Hallie pick two recipes (one savoury and one sweet 😉 ) and away we went.

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Now I am all for these parent & child cookbooks, BUT as good as they are, there is usually a lot of prep that is more adult stuff before you can get into the kid nitty gritty of mixing etc.
Hallie chose Focaccia (you can take the girl out of London) & chocolate brownies (winner!). But hang the heck on – a two year old making bread? no, no, no, Mummy kneading bread then letting it rise, then rolling it and then letting it rise again in the tray AND THEN letting your daughter decorate with tomatoes & basil etc – yes, the reality.

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Step one – Make it & bake it

To make a Focaccia you can use your own bread recipe – or just got for the standard; strong white flour, yeast, little bit of salt, little bit of sugar and water – hey presto!

Then you just let it rise like you do with any dough, then roll it and stretch it to your baking tray shape and let it rise again, until you poke your holes in and add whatever toppings you like (if we had black olives they would have been great on there!).

Don’t forget to drizzle with olive oil & then BAKE!

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Step 2 – Admire it (we used tomatoes, basil & rosemary)

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Step 3 – Eat it

Brownies was slightly more catered to kids, apart from the melting the butter & chocolate part, the rest was steps Hallie could join in with and the chocolate fun began. Pouring the chocolate chunks in was a particular fave.

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The struggle not to eat the brownie mixture is real!

Pretty impressed that both items turned out pretty good. Hallie clearly has a talent for this sort of thing.
I melted the butter and the chocolate, then we mixed it all in together; the eggs, the plain flour, the caster sugar, vanilla extract, the chocolate & butter and then whatever you fancy throwing in.
We went for standard chocolate chunks – the fear of Hallie not liking anything else was strong and I didn’t want to have to do it again :).
I think nuts & chocolate chunks would have been yummy!

We don’t bake together enough and this is something I want to change. Hallie enjoyed it so much and is still telling us she ‘cooked this’, she is very proud – well worth the mess.

Rainy(ish) day complete!

A fun lunch to make with your toddlers are pinwheels! https://disorganisedharmony.com/yummy-toddler-pinwheels-quick-win/

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My top 5 box sets to get you through your baby’s first year

Ah the newborn days, they sleep a lot, but they wake up at the most random times. You try and sleep when they sleep, but you can’t always get to sleep, but you do need to chill, this is where the box sets come in. I watched a fair bit of TV when Hallie was asleep, especially as I couldn’t do much after my c-section. 

For the best viewing experience I use a Google Chromecast. You can cast from Google Play app or from the Chrome browser on your laptop.

  1. Mount Pleasant – the perfect box set for the newborn days, there is no point getting into something heavy, you will never stay awake or alert enough to take it in. Mount Pleasant is funny, easy going but still very addictive.
    They have stopped making it now, so you can watch it from start to finish.
    Where: Now TV 
  2. Stella – Again very funny, but still has that drama edge. It is written by Ruth Jones and she stars as the main character Stella, if you loved Gavin & Stacey, you will love this. The perfect tonic for long newborn nights.
    This has also just finished (although there are rumours of a Christmas Special).
    Where: Now TV
  3. Power – well, what can I say, I wasn’t expecting to like it, but I really did. It is produced by 50 cent (stay with me) and centres around the New York drug & club scene. I won’t give too much away, but it can leave you feeling a bit hot under the collar. 
    Season 5 is released in the summer, so plenty of time to catch up.
    Where: Netflix
  4. Shetland – I love a crime drama, and while I will never tire of The Bill reruns, I do like something a bit grittier but with heart. It will put you off ever moving to Shetland, but there’s not as many murders as Midsomer…
    The current series is on BBC1 Tuesday nights.
    Where: iPlayer for current series, you might have to buy the others.
  5. Outlander – A journey back in time and then back further. It took a few episodes but then I was hooked. Mainly set in Scotland, around 1743 onwards, you are drawn into love, war & a lot of drama. Maybe not one for the newborn days as it does get very intense!
    The next series is due in autumn and can’t come soon enough.
    Where: Amazon Prime

I am on the look out for a new box set – so please leave suggestions in the comments!

Oh and word of warning – if someone recommends ‘This is us’ do.not.listen, it is amazing but way too emotional! Save it for later down the line.

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