Family activities with your toddler

We recently hit a bit of a lull in inspiration of thigs to do as a family on a weekend that both Jake, now 2 and Jamie and I all enjoy. So I took to google, and I wrote a list! Now whenever the weather is fairly nice we have a look at my list of ideas and can easil pick somthing fun for us to do, it’s also nice to tick off things as we go and keep track of all the fun thigs we do as a family.

The list is based primarily in Derbyshire as this is where we live, but hopefully it will spark some ideas for others if you are in need of a bit of inspiration.

  1. Rosliston forestry center
  2. Visit Dovedale
  3. Markeaton Park in Derby
  4. Thomas land
  5. Alton towers
  6. Alton towers splash landings
  7. Twin lakes
  8. Burton adventure farm
  9. Sinibson museum 
  10. Barton Marina
  11. Go swimming
  12. Local park
  13. Visit family / friends
  14. Canal walk
  15. Sea life center
  16. Trentham gardens
  17. Twycross zoo
  18. Conkers
  19. Soft play
  20. Snow dome
  21. Guilders kingdom

If anyone else in the local area can think of any I’ve missed please let me know, we love discovering new places! 

How to get the most of your Center Parcs holiday

How to get the most of your Center Parcs holiday

I’ve have blogged about our visits to Center Parcs before so it should be no secret that I am a big Center Parcs fan, I have visited almost every year since I was about 4 years olds! I therefore like to think I am somewhat of an expert in how to get the most out of your stay, so here are my top tips:

1: Look for the cheapest weeks and best accommodation for your money.

When you are booking try to be as flexible as possible on the weeks you can go as sometimes even going one week earlier can save you a good chunk of money, of course avoiding the school holidays is always cheaper but sometimes some non school holiday weeks are cheaper then others. Also some weeks of the year the same price is listed for up to three different grades of accommodation, so obviously always go for the best grade possible!

2. Expect it to be busy on arrival and departure days:

We always enter the park at the earliest time possible on arrival day to get the most out of our money, and leave late on departure day, and so do lots of other people. Therefore these days the park is always much busier. Usually the busiest places are the restaurants that are closest to the car parks as people arrive and then think they will kill time before they can get into their accommodation buy having a drink or lunch. If you want to do this too head for the restaurants that are furthest fro the car parks as they will be quieter, usually this is the country club. Or alternatively take a packed lunch for this day and enjoy it on one of the many picnic benches around the park.

Or if you are very organised, you will have packed you swimming bags already, and can head straight to the pool. Must people won’t have done this so they won’t be able to go to the pool until after they have unpacked their car at 2 or 3pm so heading for a morning or early afternoon swim on arrival/departure day can actually be a really good idea, and there is food available in the pool too.

3. Book activities and restaurant reservations in advance.

Popular activities and restaurants can book up very fast for the best times so book these in advance of your trip. This also helps you to plan your trip better and make the most of your time. Remember if you are doing something crafty, like paint a pot you will need to go early enough in the week for your creation to be dried out so you can collect it before you leave.

4. Take your own…

There are lots of things you can buy or hire at the park but if you have enough car space and you want to save some pennies then I would recommend you take your own bike (will save you £25 hire fee) bike chain (£2 hire fee) groceries ( will certainly be cheaper then the on site supermarket) as well as sports equipment ie badminton rackets etc (will save you a couple of pounds) also take your own disposable BBQ’s and logs for the fire as both come at a premium on site.

5. Be prepared for a long day at the pool:

Especially if you have kids, you will easily be able to spend the best part of a day at the pool. In order to get the most out of this go prepared, take your own drinks and food etc in a cooler bag ( vital as the pool area is very warm) and set up a base of towels and some t shirts to sit on at the pool side. I would also recommend taking some magazines to flick through while you are having a rest from all the pool activities. The pool is the best activity for kids on the park and it is free so make the most of it and use it to its fullest! If it’s a wet day on the park, it will be busy, so wear your costume to the pool so you can strip off in the changing rooms without the need of a cubicle as family changing rooms in particular can be hard to get.

6. Know what services are availible:

There are loads of extra services that the parks offer that not everyone is aware of such as a baby sitting service, take away and delivery service from the restaurants, early check in, baby feeding stations in restaurants and a driver service for people with disabilities. So make sure you read all the literature when you arrive as there might be something really handy that you don’t know about!

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A day at the beach

Last week when we went to Mablethorpe we had a lovely day enjoying Mablethorpe’s wonderful beach. This is the second time we have taken Jake to the sea side but really the first time that he has been old enough to appreciate it.  It was a really lovely afternoon even though it wasn’t the best weather in the world, it was dry and calm and not too cold.DSC05621

After tracking through the sand dunes with Jamie carrying Jake in his baby carrier (so glad we took it with us!) we finally got to the beach, the tide was out so the beach seam absolutely massive!  We selected our patch of sand, put down the picnic blanket and took off our shoes and socks. It was really lovely to watch Jake exploring the sand, he was a bit hesitant at first, just staring down at his toes as he scrunched them in the sand. He then sat down so he could pick up some sand in his fingers, you could tell he was really intrigued by the whole experience and it took quite a lot of effort to stop him trying to eat the sand, which we weren’t exactly 100 % successful with!DSC05619

Was Jake was used to the sand he “helped” daddy to make / destroy a sandcastle and had a little play with his football, which is fast becoming one of his favourite things to do. DSC05644

We then took Jake on his next adventure – to stand in the sea for the very first time! as the tide was out it was quite a long walk to the waters edge and Jake was starting to get a bit tired. When we got to the sea we had a quick dip of our toes in the wet sand and let the waves wash over them. It was quite funny that Jake was so confused as to what was happening that it must have took about three waves for him to decide that he didn’t like it very much, so promptly burst into tears. It was an important experience for him to have and I’m really glad we made the effort to take him down to the sea and watch him experience something so special for the very first time. DSC05660

By the time we walked back up to our picnic blanket the tiredness and excitement of the afternoon caught up to Jake and after a couple of minutes of mummy cuddles whilst watching  daddy build another sandcastle he fell asleep. Jamie and I then had chance to sit down together next to our beautiful sleeping baby and enjoy the peace and calm of being by the sea side as a family.

I really enjoyed our day at the beach, watching Jake take one of his first steps to experiencing the world around him. It felt like such a special moment and one I hope to remember forever.



This is my entry to the Center Parcs and Tots100 May challenge. If I’m chosen, I would like to visit Sherwood Forest. The tip that inspired me was to take some selfies to document our family time together.

A day out in Lincoln

On our way to our Haven Holiday (read about it here) we stopped off for a day in Lincoln, a city neither of us has ever visited before. We parked by the waterfront in an NCP carpark which cost us £10 for the day, I’m sure cheaper car parks are available if you are in the know, but this was really central and easy for us so we just went with it. DSC05520

The waterfront is a lovely area to walk around and is where all of the nice bars and restaurants are, there is also a holiday inn which is in such a great location we both said if we came for an overnight visit we would stay there. The town centre was a short walk from the waterfront as was easily signposted, it looked like all of you usual high street shops were represented but we didn’t spend any time shopping.

We went straight up Steep Hill (which certainly lives up to its name) which is a lovely old cobbled street with some lovely little boutique style shops, cafe’s and bakery’s. At the top of the hill is the castle and the cathedral, both of which are well worth a visit. The castle is currently being renovated and as such large portions of it are shut, though you can still enjoy the grounds, as result of this they have lowered their prices to just £2 per adult which we felt was worth it just to have a wander around the grounds.DSC05552

The cathedral is quite stunning and we would have loved to look around but unfortunately there was a special service happening so we were unable to go in, so just had to admire it from the outside.

We were only in Lincoln for  few hours but we had a lovely day and there was more we would have done if we had more time, its well worth a day out and I think it would make a lovely weekend break.

Review: Haven caravan hoiday in Mablethorpe

We’ve just come back from a four night Haven holiday at the Golden Sands resort in Mablethorpe. We got the holiday through the Sun’s holiday for £9.99 offer, though with all the added extras and upgrading the caravan it cost us about £100 I’m going to do a separate post in more detail about how the offer works, this post is about our Haven experience and what we got up to.DSC05562

The drive to Mablethorpe took us about two and a half hours and we got to the Haven site at about midday, checking was quick and easy, we couldn’t get into our caravan until 3pm but were welcome to explore the site in the meantime. So we had a wander round and explored the site and had a leisurely lunch while we waited to get into the caravan and read al the literature on “whats on” on site etc.

The site itself consists of the entertainment lounge’s and bars where all of the camps entertainment takes place, a modern friendly pub style restaurant with a soft play area, an arcade, a small outdoor fairground, a park area and the swimming pool as well as a well equipped SPA shop and laundrette. We found the facilities to be really clean and well maintained, with the restaurant, park and swimming pool looking particularly new. All of the staff were friendly, helpful and very chatty which is always something I appreciated.

On the site in general there are only a few small niggles that I think need improvement, the main one being the soft play area in the restaurant was upstairs, and the one lift they had didn’t work properly – at one point we actually got trapped inside it. So this made it quite difficult to get to the soft play as we had Jake’s pram with us. The only other annoyance I had was that on the three baby changing rooms I used none of them had the strap that helps you secure your child to the changing table, despite showing instructions telling you to use the safety strap, as a result as Jake is such a wriggle bum I had to change him on the floor which is less then ideal.DSC05621

When we got into the caravan we were really impressed, it was spacious (as far as caravans go) and perfectly clean and tidy, it wasn’t the most modern décor, but we were aware that we had one of the cheaper caravans so for the money we were perfectly happy. We also saw some of the higher grade caravans and thought the décor in these were lovely. The caravan was large enough for us to fits Jakes travel cot in our bed room very comfortably, as we used the twin room to store all our bags, we also had an en suite as well as a bathroom. All of the cooking implements that we needed were provided and all were in perfect working condition, although the electrical appliances were on the cheaper side.

The Haven site is located a short walk from Mablethorpe. Mablethorpe itself is a very small place, there is a promenade to walk down and do all the sea side type things, fish and chips, ice cream and crazy golf etc. as well as handful of arcades. However there isn’t too much else to do, so if you wanted to go out for meals etc. you would have to drive a bit further afield. Mablethorpe does however have a lovely big clean sandy beach which is of course the main attraction and really didn’t disappoint, it’s the best UK beach I’ve ever been to. We had a lovely day playing on the beach, and would have spent even more time on it if the weather had been better.DSC05609

The only other attraction in Mablethorpe is the seal sanctuary, this cost £6 per Adult and we spent a nice couple of hours looking around, they have a large amount of animals to look at and a small café and gift shop so we thought it was well worth the money, and again the staff were really friendly and welcoming.

We didn’t do too much else on our holiday as we were determined to have as relaxing a time as possible with an 11 month old. We went swimming a couple of times which Jake loved and went on lots off walks on the beach or the promenade. All in all for a weeks holiday on such a small budget I couldn’t have asked for any more, and the Haven site and facilities and the Mablethorpe beach exceeded my expectations so I’m sure we’ll be back for more in the future!