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BACK | TO | BLIGHTY.

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The first weekend back in England and we had a forage in our new back garden, where we found the most marvellous rhubarb! 

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…and just like that, we’re back in Blighty.

For me, our secondment to Berlin feels like such a whirlwind. A total blur. We were there 9 months, and for the most part, I loved it. Loved being at work, loved the people, the culture, the places to see and the things to do. Berlin was incredible for kids. Which I had never anticipated! Even restaurants will go out of their way for children. It’s a highly child-friendly City.

But the truth is, England is home. And in Essex, we’ve found a county that I’m not sure I could ever move away from again.

Also, just wanted to shout out to some new friends. I felt majorly disconnected and really quite lonely when we were living out in Berlin. Whilst this may, or may not, come as a surprise, I found the Insta-Community to be ERRRRRRRRYTHING. I can’t tell you how much the chatter and support helped me. Even if I wasn’t mustering the energies to join in – just keeping abreast of how everyone else was getting on, also helped. Never underestimate the power of a Digital-shoulder, and how it can impact on others! I look forward to meeting you all IRL soon.

It feels good to be back.

I have started writing a Things I Missed list, in true Mother Of All Lists (aka and/or Clemmie @Peckham_Mamma) style! Might be helpful for prospective/current Ex-Pat’s living in all different corners of this lovely globe of ours.

So here is to being back in Blighty. I’ve missed you, you gorgeous thing.

MM.

 

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What Eli Wore: Bollywood Party!

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What Eli Wore>>> Traditional Indian children’s outfit.

Where from?>>> India; gift from friends.

Last weekend Eli went to a ‘Bollywood’ themed soft play party! His lovely friend Layla was the last of our group to turn the big the ONE! Layla went on a trip to India to visit her family earlier in the year and brought back traditional outfits back for all the girls and boys! This outfit is just so lovely. The cotton is thin, so lovely and cool. I just wanted to highlight that every outfit was completely handmade – including the all-over bleach print. It was a really lovely day – so unique!

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MM.

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REVIEW: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

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Location: Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest.

Length of stay: Monday-Friday, May 2013.

Lodge: New Executive Lodge, 653 (Cedar).

Number of people: 6 Adults, 2 Children, 2 Infants.

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Back in May we went on our first family holiday to Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest. There was a total of 10 of us going so stayed in one of the New Executive Lodge’s, 653 in Cedar to be precise. We were overwhelmed by just how cool the lodge was when we pulled up outside it! My OH’s family have been visiting several Center Parc’s locations since OH was VERY young. But they all confirmed that this was “the very best lodge we’ve ever stayed in!” as soon as we were through the door.

Once inside the door there is space for coats and shoes; plus space for 2 (large) prams to fit in nicely. There was also a huge broom cupboard to house all our suitcases and umbrellas, plus additional bedding, hoover, dustpan and brush, iron, ironing board etc.  There was a dining table to seat 8 plus we had 2 high chairs brought to the lodge in advance. The highchairs were the same as the ones we found right across Center Parcs in the restaurants and places. This meant we didn’t have to figure out how to use a new highchair every time we went somewhere new, but it also meant that Eli knew it was dinner time as he recognised the highchair. This really helped with consistency. The highchairs are all easy clean, but the tray cannot be removed, or even moved closer to your little one. So there was quite a lot of space between Eli and his tray. He managed ok though. We had maid service who replenished bedding and towels and cleaned the lodge daily.

SO! A little look around Lodge 653…

There were 2 double bedrooms and 2 twin bedrooms. We were brought 2 good size cots for the baba’s too. Albeit, we had been told by friends to take our own cot bedding as this is not provided.

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Bedroom’s were very nice sizes, lots of space for a cot. Not a lot of hangers in the wardrobe though! But we made-do. Would have to mention here that the bedding was atrociously LOUD! Never ever tried sleeping in anything like it! The bed was really comfy but the duvet sounded like crisp packets, every time you BREATHED! Huge let down as it looked wonderful! After the first night we ended up taking taking the sheets off the duvet and slept in those instead. Would recommend taking your own sheets/blankets.

Each bedroom has it’s own en-suite, which is absolutely perfect when sharing with so many people! We had an amazing shower in ours. Upstairs, there were also two balconies off the bedrooms, complete with bistro set, overlooking the woodland. The living room was just lovely, huge ‘L’ shaped sofa, that I fell asleep on every night. It was just so comfy! We also had an open fire, which marked my first experience with a real indoor fire! OH led the log-burning ceremony every night. We weren’t blessed with good weather for the duration of our stay (in true British fashion!) so the wood burner was well-used! The kitchen was really spacious, with ton’s of cupboards and two fridges, an oven, hob, microwave and even a dishwasher! You are provided with a tiny amount of washing liquid, so best to take your own too. There was also a really nice breakfast bar, that the kids loved sitting at!

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We had a great patio with dining set and BBQ – we also had regular visits from the local wildlife too! We were lucky enough to have a Lodge with not only it’s own Games Room (PERFECT for the kids and Grandad!) that had a Pool table, huge TV with PS3 and a ton of board games; but we also had our own Sauna! Bliss!

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Eli is such a water baby it’s untrue – he LOVES his swimming. The Sub-Tropical Paradise was amazing. Loads of slides and play areas for children of all ages! We’ve never seen Eli happier than when he was splashing about in the baby pool. He absolutely loved it! OH and I also frequented the Rapids and new water slide. We had a particularly wonderful moment, when we were all in the outdoor pool and it began raining so so ferociously. The water in the outdoor pool was steaming hot and the rain droplets were ice cold. Very memorable and VERY refreshing! This may also have contributed to the Post-CP cold we all had! oops….

I’d also point out that you cannot take a pram or buggy into the swimming area. Eli will only sleep in his pram so this was a huge downside for us, plus our iCandy Strawberry was not cheap! We did however purchase a padlock and locked our pram in the outdoor buggy park. We purchased the padlock for £3 at the Bike Hire shed. I keep the padlock in Eli’s changing bag now, incase we’re ever faced with a similar situation anywhere else. There are ‘cots’ (more like play pens!) for your children but we struggled to get Eli to sleep in one. Could have been that it was so warm and noisy in the Dome too.

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The food was great at every restaurant we visited. The staff at all restaurants really went out of their way to accomodate us, it was an absolute pleasure to eat out! I can really recommend the French Onion soup from Cafe Rouge – I had it twice, it was so good! Equally, their English Breakfast went down a storm as we prepared for the big drive home on our last day. The ribs at Huck’s American Diner were melt in the mouth, just so tasty. I’d also recommend the Indian take away. BEST Indian take away I think we’ve ever had. Very low-cost too!

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Mid-week, OH and I indulged on our first night out since welllllll before Eli arrived. We had a few drinks at the Lodge and then went onto Strada. The manager even brought over a glass of Prosecco as it was almost my birthday! Such a lovely touch. Our table overlooked the Dome, which was just incredible by night with all the trees and tropical plants lit up in the dark. We then went onto Cafe Rouge for a glass of red outside, under a heater. It was so so lovely to catch up with OH and have a proper date night. It was long overdue. We then went for a few cocktails and to the ‘adult disco’. We thoroughly enjoyed dancing to the horrendously cheesy (mostly 90s) music, it was great fun!

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We all had an amazing time at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest and would go back in a heartbeat. There is a TON of stuff to do, especially if you have a family. There’s also a spa, if you’re in the mood for some R & R. Center Parcs is great if you’re thinking about planning a family break, I seriously cannot recommend it enough!

I have just noted a few things that might come in handy if you’re going to visit a Center Parcs soon…

– Take your own food and drink. The Parc Market is a little bit more expensive than your usual supermarket. You can easily add £1-£2 on the price of what you would pay at home. But, of course, the Parc Market is great if you do forget something – it’s VERY well stocked.

– Take washing up liquid, especially if you’re still washing umpteen bottles like us!

– Take your own cot bedding.

– Likewise, take your own bedding if you don’t want to be disturbed by the crispy sheets provided!

– Be prepared to leave your pram/buggy outside in the Buggy Park. If you have an expensive pram, take a padlock with you so you’re not worrying the entire time about leaving it!

– Would really recommend the Dine In service. The Indian take away was just amazing. SO authentic, so tasty. Very affordable.

– Aside from the take away service, you must book all restaurants and any other activities you’d like to do on your trip. You also need to hand over a £5 deposit, per person, for every single restaurant reservation. This came out quite costly when we booked all our meals all at the same time. The deposit is deducted from your meal however, Bare this in mind if you want to dine out or partake in any activities. At Sherwood Forest, you make your reservations at the desk by the Bowling alley.

– At this particular location, we found that the Family changing cubicles were very few, so had to wait quite a while for one to become available. They were hit-and-miss on size too. We struggled at times with Eli; the changing ‘area’ for babies is made from quite a hard, evasive material, almost like concrete, so not particularly comfortable or easy on the eye. This definitely upset Eli, he didn’t like the cold concrete or the look of it, I don’t think! The entire changing experience wasn’t great, the lockers by the Family changing were miles away from the showers and were also quite far from the pool entrance. The changing area is a MAZE.

MM.

I was not endorsed for this review in any way. All opinions are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Silent Sunday: 25th November 2012.

MM.
Love All Blogs
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Silent Sunday: 11th November 2012.

MM.
Love All Blogs
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Silent Sunday: 4th November 2012.

MM.
Love All Blogs
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Mr Eli and Mini Boden: Outfit #6.

Today is the final instalment of Mr Eli’s Mini Boden Adventure! Today is Outfit #6.

It is absolutely FREEZING today. I can’t believe how chilly it is, even in the house! So Mr Eli got snuggled up in this incredible Winter jumper and cosy cords. We’ve already decided that this just has to be Eli’s Christmas Day outfit – how cool is this for a Christmas Day jumper?

So what is Eli wearing today?

Click here to purchase>> Winter Jumper (Snowflake), Red, £24-26; from Boden.co.uk

Click here to purchase>> Lined Cord Trousers, Cadet Blue, £16-£18; from Boden.co.uk

As I mentioned, this jumper is just awesome. It’s the perfect Christmas Day jumper. But with a twist… this is a COOL Christmas Day jumper! Like the other Winter jumper from my previous post, this one is also cashmere blend so is super cosy and warm. The bright red is a great colour and the snow flake pattern gives it the true festive feel. Mr Eli particularly enjoyed eating the rolled up cuffs for some reason… but the rolled up cuff does mean you can make this style shorter if your little one still has space to grow into it. Unlike traditional knitted jumpers, this one is not itchy against your little ones soft skin, so you can be safe in the knowledge they’ll be having an excellent time wearing it! As opposed to when we were kids and HATED wearing knitted jumpers for that reason alone! This style is a definite must-purchase for the festive season, your child will be so warm and look beyond adorable in it; plus it will make for a conversation piece, as you all reminisce over festive jumpers from years gone by.

I would suggest you get your order in soon mind; because I just know that this jumper will be flying out!

Click here to purchase>> Winter Jumper (Snowflake), Red, £24-26; from Boden.co.uk

MM.

 

* I am partaking in a Boden Bloggers competition. Head over to the Boden Facebook page to vote for my blog posts as your favourite :)

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Mr Eli and Mini Boden: Outfit #5.

Today we played in the garden and displayed some signs of ‘post Halloween blues’. Today is also Mini Boden Outfit #5 Day*

Eli enjoyed his pumpkins so much yesterday that we took them into the garden today 🙂 It’s a pretty chilly start to November, good job Mr Eli was suitably dressed!

So what is Eli wearing today?

Click here to purchase>>  Jersey Duffle Jacket, Navy, £22-£24; from Boden.co.uk

Click here to purchase>> Winter Jumper (Snowflake), Red, £24-26; from Boden.co.uk

Click here to purchase>> Lined Simple Trousers, Blue Ticking Stripe, £16-£18; from Boden.co.uk

I’m going to focus on the amazing Jersey Duffle Jacket for this post! I’ve always wanted my little boy to have a cute navy duffle coat and this one from Mini Boden is just perfect. While this jacket is made of jersey, it is quite a nice thickness, great for layering up on chilly days. Eli is wearing another Mini Boden Winter jumper underneath his jacket here; it’s cashmere blend so it kept him so cosy whilst we played outside! Mini Boden keeps this style traditional with a hood, wooden toggle fastening to the front, as well as front pockets and cuff detailing. Again, Mini Boden make sure that childrens’ clothing is kept interesting by adding the stripey lining, which can be seen when the jacket is left unfastened and of course from the inside of the hood too.

 

MM.

 

* I am partaking in a Boden Bloggers competition. Head over to the Boden Facebook page to vote for my blog posts as your favourite :)

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Happy Halloween!

Happy FIRST Halloween from Mr Eli!

Last week Mr Eli went to his first Halloween party with all his friends 🙂

Obviously, I’m going to be slightly biased… but Mr Eli does make a pretty cool skeleton! Have you and your children joined in with Halloween for the first time, this year?

Mr Eli wears:

Click here to purchase>> Skeleton Baby-gro, WAS £8, NOW £4 from Mothercare.

Click here to purchase>> Baby Converse in Navy, £21 from Office.

Click here to purchase>> Sherpa Hat, £9.99 from Baby Gap.

Click here to purchase>> Jellycat Doppy the Dinosaur, £13, from John Lewis.

MM.

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Mr Eli and Mini Boden: Outfit #4.

Today is Mini Boden Outfit #4 Day* and today we have a poorly boy 🙁 Boo 🙁

Mr Eli had his 12-week immunisations this afternoon, so is enjoying a well deserved nap. I’m pretty jealous that Mr Rex is getting all the cuddles mind!

So what is Eli wearing today?
Click here to purchase>> Cosy Romper, Grey, £18; from Boden.co.uk

This has got to be the cosiest romper ever! So ‘Cosy Romper’ is definitely a very fitting product name. First of all, I liked this style because it’s nice and bright… but not *too* bright. It’s a trendy and grown up romper that is great for casual days out and about. I love the cute kangaroo pouch at the front, which is finished off with a contrast navy top-stitch. The poppers on the leg inseams make for easy nappy-changing access, while the cuffs all extend which means your little one will get quite a lot of wear out of it, before they’re too big. Best of all, this romper is fleece lined so I know that Mr Eli will be all cosy and warm when we’re off out for walks on those chilly days!

 

MM.

 

* I am partaking in a Boden Bloggers competition. Head over to the Boden Facebook page to vote for my blog posts as your favourite :)