Saturday, 18 June 2016

48 hours in Amsterdam

Music is my e v e r y t h i n g

A few years ago I stumbled upon Lord of the Lost during a youtube browsing session and after listening to just one song, I hopped straight over to Amazon and placed an order for their latest CD. Over the next few months I bought or was gifted the rest of their back catalogue and it wasn't long before they firmly wedged themselves in my list of my *favourite ever bands*. I've never fallen so hard for a band so quickly, I blummin' adore them.

This year I made it my mission to see them live, one way or another. So when their latest tour was announced, I pounced on tickets for their show in the Netherlands like a crazy person!

As this trip would be our first time in Amsterdam, we decided to make the whole thing into a bit of a mini break. Emilia stayed with her grandma, the first time I've ever spent more than an evening away from her but it was so good to 'adult' and also to catch up on some sleep. We missed her so much though!

The trip was a bit of a whirlwind but I wanted to share some of my highlights....

The hotel. We stayed at the newly opened Hilton hotel at Schipol airport and it was probably one of the most architecturally beautiful, super clean, comfortable and insanely welcoming hotels we've ever stayed at. The hotel was super quiet, we found that it was such a relaxing stay.... very impressive when you consider the hotel is located just a few minutes walk from all the hustle and bustle of the airport. I've been yearning for that comfortable king size bed ever since we got home... it was beautiful!

Sipping cocktails gone midnight at the hotel bar. So good. And of course, Heineken.... all the Heineken. Everywhere. All weekend. Even on the plane.

Lord of the Lost. Combichrist. Of course. Absolute bloody dream come true. Falling in love with a band I've never actually seen live before is a bit of a new one for me but my word, Lord of the Lost absolutely did not disappoint. They were everything I had imagined they'd be, their enthusiasm and energy is so infectious. They certainly know how to put on a show. I love them even more now and I didn't think that was possible!
Combichrist were absolutely amazing too (so glad I get to see them again in a few weeks!), this goes without saying. So good. So, so good! I probably should mention that Filter were also playing although i'm not really a fan, the husband is and he really enjoyed seeing them!

Canal cruising. We spent the morning seeing the main sights of Amsterdam via canal boat which was a super way to see as much as possible in the short amount of time we had. The tour lasted a good couple of hours complete with an English speaking guide which I thought was superb for the 9 euros we each paid!

Shopping. Shopping in Amsterdam was ace. The range of shops in Schipol airport was fantastic too. We didn't buy much, or indeed have much time to spend money but from what we saw... we loved! I love a good souvenir and so we stocked up on Miffy goodies and chocolate for Emilia and some Delftware bits for us.

I can't deny that we spent a much of our trip eating and drinking our way round both Amsterdam and Amstelveen. My favourites were the Dutch breakfasts in the airport and sitting out on the terrace of a cafe in Dam Square devouring the most amazing baguettes and freshly squeezed juices whilst people watching. Lovely! Also, the locals were ace. Everyone we met and talked to was so friendly, helpful and polite!

Finally, transport! We found navigating our way around Amsterdam very, very easy! Everything was so straightforward and the journeys we experienced were calm, clean, reliable and very enjoyable. We hopped on bus in the evening from the airport into Amstelveen to get to P60, the venue where we saw Lord of the Lost. Relatively cheap and super speedy.... it was all so surprisingly simple!

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Our holiday in Pembrokeshire // Day five // Saundersfoot, Tenby & Lydstep

Our last full day in Pembrokeshire was a super laid-back kinda day. We pottered round Saundersfoot in the morning, buying a few souvenirs and enjoying morning coffee (or more precisely, banana and fudge ice cream!) overlooking the beach.

Saundersfoot is quite a small place but there are some really nice little shops there. I made a start on Emilia’s birthday shopping as some of the things were too cute to miss out on purchasing.

Lunch was courtesy of the bakery in Saundersfoot. The name of it completely escapes me at the moment but if you've visited then you’ll instantly recognise all the colourful and delicious looking cupcakes in the window! Of course, we couldn't leave without buying one each. They didn't last long at all!

Our afternoon was spent back at Tenby. We had aimed to pop to the Caldey Island shop there to stock up on the chocolate to bring home but alas, we got there too late and the shop had closed! Instead, we strolled round admiring all the pretty pastel buildings before popping down to the beach so that Emilia could get her sand and sea fix for the day. That girl loves her beaches!

Our final evening was spent back at Lydstep Tavern where we met with the rest of my family to enjoy another delicious meal together. The perfect end to our trip away!

As a side note, I am pretty sure it sounds like all we did was eat food during this break but I can assure you that this wasn't the case haha!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Our holiday in Pembrokeshire // Day four // Manorbier, Blue Lagoon & Sunsets

Thursday was a beautifully sunny day so after another lovely night’s sleep, we got ready and popped out to Manorbier which is about a 15 minute drive from where we were staying in Saundersfoot.

The beach at Manorbier is absolutely beautiful and has no dog restrictions so it’s a wonderful place to spend time with your pooch! Elsie wasn’t really in the mood for walking however and much preferred people watching or being fussed by folk walking past (#puglife).

After a morning of sandcastle making and relaxing, we headed up back into the village where we lunched at the Beach Break Tearooms. The garden at the back of the tearoom is dog friendly and it was such a lovely place to eat. The baguette I ordered was just what I was craving and the children’s snack box containing a sandwich, yoghurt, crisps, vegetable sticks and a jam tart was really good value for money too!

We had pre-booked an afternoon swimming session at the Blue Lagoon water park so after lunch, it was time to jump in the car to head over to Bluestone. The session lasted 3 hours which we found was just the right amount of time to experience everything on offer. Emilia is a lot more confident in the water these days and she had a blast in Nippers Cove, an area dedicated to small children complete with ‘rock pools’ to explore and more inflatable balls than you could shake a stick at! 

My favourite? The lazy river (ha!). My brother also talked me into trying out the slides too which are very much not my kinda thing and after riding them? My opinion remains the same! Overall though, a super place to spend the afternoon…. Even if you’re not staying onsite at Bluestone.

The weather in the evening was super lovely so we all enjoyed our meal outside back at the cottage overlooking fields full of sheep whilst Emilia bounced herself silly on the trampoline (Oh, I wish we had space in the garden for one at home!).

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Our holiday in Pembrokeshire // Day three // Folly Farm

Following a really good night’s sleep (kiddo included!), the third day of our holiday was dedicated to all things Folly Farm! You might remember we visited last year whilst staying at Bluestone and we had such a good time, we couldn’t wait to return.

We used Tesco Clubcard vouchers to put towards the entry so it was pretty much a free day out…. Always good!

Also, don’t be fooled by the name. Folly Farm isn’t just a farm, it is also home to Europe’s largest undercover vintage funfair, zoo animals, playgrounds, rides and so much more. You could easily spend a few days here if you really want to see everything on offer.

It really is an excellent family day out!

Our first stop this year was the Jolly Barn & Farm which is entirely undercover and houses all kinds of animals including sheep, pigs, ponies and rabbits. There are opportunities throughout the day to handle, interact with and learn about the animals. 

The barn also provides access via an underpass to the other side of the farm where you’ll find the land train ride and piggery. Emilia was quite fond of the land train and loved seeing all the animals whilst being towed round the track by a huge tractor!

After a fairly unsatisfactory lunch at the burger bar near the indoor funfair (barely edible, I wouldn’t recommend it at all!), Emilia spent a while on some of the vintage rides. She fell in love with the miniature carousel and rode it a fair few times before we could coax her from it!

In the afternoon we pottered around the zoo part of Folly Farm. My favourites were the rhinos which are possibly new to the park this year; I don’t remember seeing them during our last visit anyway! They were absolutely beautiful
Folly Farm are only the fifth zoo in the UK to hold this critically endangered species so well worth a visit to see what wonderful work they are doing and how well they are looked after.

The zoo is bigger than you might think so after a good few hours walking, we were knackered! We stopped by the new coffee shop at the park entrance for a well earned rest and a delicious cream tea! The coffee shop has super fast free wifi and nice little children’s corner too! All in all, it made for a lovely place to relax a while before heading back to our accommodation.

We had a lovely day at Folly Farm and I hope that it isn’t too long before we are back for another visit!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Our holiday in Pembrokeshire // Day two // Tenby wanders & Lydstep Tavern

On Tuesday we woke up to wonderfully sunny weather so we all headed out for a morning on Tenby’s South Beach which stretches out a mile and a half and is covered in super soft sand complete with twinkly sea.

The beach allows dogs to one side too which is ace. We met plenty of other happy dogs along the way and it was lovely to see them all having fun on the sand…. Elsie included!

Emilia had an absolute blast playing on the beach. She’s still not sure about the sea and much preferred burying her toes in the sand and building heaps of castles. Such good fun!

Afterwards, we enjoyed the most incredible ice cream at the coffee shop by the beach. I had the mango sorbet which was heavenly, I've been craving another one ever since.

When lunchtime arrived, we hopped in the car and headed to Lydstep Tavern which is about a 10 minute drive away. I was very much craving proper pub grub at this point and I was certainly not disappointed with what I ordered. I opted for the burger which came complete with a tiny Welsh flag in the top….. so cute! We sat in the beer garden which was amazingly warm and summery, it was lovely.

After lunch we popped back to Tenby for an afternoon of pottering around the shops, posting some eBay bits and seeing the sights. I’ll never tire of those pretty pastel buildings!

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Our holiday in Pembrokeshire // Day one // Travel, Saundersfoot & all the toys

Our whole-family trip to Pembrokeshire in Wales had been booked for quite a few months and we were really, really ready for a holiday. Especially considering it has been almost half a year since we've properly been away anywhere! Disaster struck however the very evening before we were due to depart when Ben was briskly taken to hospital with what we later found out was food poisoning.

Not the best start to our trip, for sure!

We were pretty sure that we wouldn't be going anywhere but after few restful days and with Ben feeling a little better, we decided to try and make the most of the remainder of the week and attempt the 5 hour car journey to Wales.

Thankfully, the journey was completely fine! Two breaks and plenty of snacks later, we arrived in Pembrokeshire to our wonderful accommodation where the rest of my family were already staying.

By the way, if you've ever tried to find somewhere to stay with a small child, extended family and a dog then you’ll know how damn hard it is! My mum stumbled upon the place we stayed and it was a real gem. A lovely farm house perfectly suited for families and dog owners alike. Literally everything a child could want from outdoor playgrounds to a sand pit, trampoline, plenty of farm animals to befriend, an entire building crammed full of toys and even a car shaped bed to sleep in. Emilia was in heaven!

We spent the remainder of the afternoon exploring our accommodation and watching Emilia getting to grips with the trampoline and building millions of sandcastles in the sandpit before enjoying a delicious evening meal back at the cottage.

In the evening we headed out to Saundersfoot just a few minutes away to enjoy a while pottering on the beach, a spot of window shopping and buying plenty of Caldey Island chocolate from the sweet shop near the harbour (which didn't last long!).

Afterwards, it was back to the cottage for a much needed early night!

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Emilia at 2.5 years old

I've wanted to post a half year update for Emilia for a little while now but things have been crazy busy round here recently. I wanted to share this, if only for myself.... To document how much she's changing, to remember the little things. Time passes so quickly and I am so thankful for every day that we get to spend together, she's the most amazing little girl!

At 2.5 years old, Emilia is energetic, spirited and happy. Her brain is sharp, her memory is incredible and she loves nothing more than learning and discovering the world around her. She takes after her daddy in terms of brainpower, she's one smart cookie already!

Emilia is a tomboy, for sure. She loves being outdoors, open spaces and room to play. She loves sticks, sand, mud and worms. She loves digging holes and getting messy. She's not super keen on cuddles and prefers using mummy and daddy as climbing frames instead! 

That being said, Emilia is caring and loving. Kisses are plentiful. She is surprisingly thoughtful for her age too, Her bond with Elsie is magical and I am so grateful that she gets to grow up knowing the love of a dog. Emilia is helpful and is always keen to help in any way she can. She's very methodical and thorough. Keen to learn right from wrong and will (mostly!) do what she is asked.

In terms of likes, Emilia loves stories. Books are her favourite thing and we read piles and piles of them each day. She loves her Mr Men books and anything with numbers, flaps or the alphabet in. We could read and read to her and I doubt she would ever get bored! 

Music is another true love of hers. She loves everything from nursery rhymes and Disney to chart stuff and metal. She will let us know when there's a song or band she dislikes too, she's very sure about her tastes already!  

She learns by watching and listening intently, wanting mummy or daddy to try things first to check they are ok before she proceeds.

We take her to sports classes every week too which is something she really enjoys and gets so much out of. She's quite shy but still sociable, friendly and kind. Other favourite activities of hers include swimming, trips to the park or library and absolutely anything involving animals!

I look forwards to seeing what the next few months will bring but if it's anything like recent times, then it will be magical.

Happy 2.5 years, my princess!