Tag Archives: London

Family Weekend in London – part2

Last week I wrote about our family weekend in London, staying at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington and enjoying great things to do with 2 for 1 offers using The Entertainer app.

 Read Part 1 here

On the Sunday we borrowed Micro Scooters from the hotel and spent some time scooting around Kensington gardens. I haven’t been on a scooter since I was about 8 years old so this provided much hilarity for Ed and G. We also visited the Diana Memorial Playground which was just as amazing as ever, a truly magical place for children in the heart of the capital.

IMG_1369 After building up an appetite in Kensington Gardens we  met up with some friends for an early supper. Our friends live near The City so using The Entertainer app we looked for restaurants with offers near to them. We chose to go to Belgo in Holborn (about to undergo a major refurb) as I can remember reading once that they had a great menu for children.

Belgo

G absolutely loves mussels since our holiday to the Ile D’Oleron  so anywhere with them on the menu is always going to be popular. The food at Belgo was superb and a big hit with the 5 and 3 year old of our party. They also have a great range of beers for the grown ups too (but be warned an awful lot of them are very boozy!) The 2 for 1 offer with the app meant we received one main course free when we used the code and paid for one.

Using the app was really easy, you simply look up the offer you would like to use, input your unique code (that you create when you purchase the app) then hand it over to the vendor who has their own key. These two codes then generate the code for the vendor needs to apply the deals to your bill. A meal for 6 of us (4 adults, 2 children) with two courses and drinks came in at £80 which we all agreed was superb value for such an excellent meal. The next time we are in town we will definitely be going back to Belgo.

We were able to spend some quality time together during our family weekend in London, catching up with friends and family and creating some amazing memories. We were able to pack so much in and save money too, which is always a bonus. So are next issue is when can we fit in our next weekend away?


Family Weekend in London – part 1

We spent this weekend in London enjoying my prize from the blog post I wrote back in April on A Day Enjoying London Life. Our prize was a 2 night stay in an Executive Room at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington.

The hotel was fabulous and we were treated like royalty! We were upgraded to a suite with the most fantastic views over Kensington Garden (which my iPhone could not do justice through the glass). We had so much space that we each had our own little living area. The view was mesmerising and we all just sat for ages watching the coming and goings of life in Kensington Gardens.

Royal Garden Hotel suite

Kensington, London

Kensington, London

london

One of the really special touches from The Royal Garden Hotel is their children’s rucksack that is packed with goodies. G was thrilled with his and we had to take it all over town with us!

Whilst we were in London we took the opportunity to try out the new ENTERTAINER London app which is being launched in 2016 but has a selection of the buy one get one free offers that the app will be packed with in 2016.

We chose an Open Top vintage bus Christmas Lights tour with Premium Tours who were offering a 2 for 1 ticket price with the ENTERTAINER London. Although we know London pretty well (I lived there in the late 90’s) we had never done one of these tours and thought it would be a fun way to take in the Christmas Lights. the tour was extremely informative and we found out loads of really interesting facts about London, the famous sights and some of the less famous but equally fascinating sites.

IMG_1315 - Copy IMG_1318 - Copy

A few of the pictures from the tour…….

London eye Premium tours

London at night, Thames

Oxford Circus Xmas LightsLondon lights

untitled (25 of 25) London lights


The ENTERTAINER London App

App logo JPGThe ENTERTAINER London 2016 – www.theentertainerme.com/London – is a new app featuring over 900 Buy One Get One Free offers for restaurants, bars, nightclubs, attractions and spas across the capital. Whilst my nightclub days in the big smoke are well and truly behind me the rest of the offers certainly piqued my interest.

Although the app may seem to be for those living and working in the city, The ENTERTAINER London can bring a ton of savings to those visiting the capital too, especially families. (Check out my post on money saving ideas for enjoying London life here)

TOP 20 Merchants

With a one off payment of £40, the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is valid for one calendar year with no weekend exclusions.

Over 50 of the available buy-one-get-one-free offers on the new app have an estimated savings value that is higher than the cost of the app itself, so it is pretty easy to make your money back by redeeming just one or two offers.

London App Face

We trialled some of the features of the app this weekend and have to say that from the two offers we selected we already saved the price of the app itself. (My next post is going to be about the fab time we had whilst in London this weekend.)

London-merchants_benefit-banner_emarsys

The app offers customers a location-based search to find the best deals close to them and a savings calculator that shows how much cash has been saved throughout the year.

the ENTERTAINER London 2016 product is available to download from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps.

Another great part to purchasing the ENTERTAINER London 2016 is that you will receive a free copy of the ENTERTAINER Travel, which features over 300 ‘Buy One Room Night, Get One Free’ offers in hotels including Fairmont, InterContinental, Shangri-La, Hyatt, Radisson, Sofitel and Sheraton throughout the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Asia & Indian Ocean and North America. These are all redeemable through the same app.

With each offer being Buy One Get One Free, the app is a real money saver so you can enjoy spending time with friends and family making your cash go a lot further during your time in the city.

The ENTERTAINER London 2016 is available to download for free from the App Store, Google Play and Samsung Apps websites now. For further information please visit www.theentertainerme.com/London

(DISCLAIMER; We have been gifted a subscription to the app)

 


The Family Travel Show Ticket Giveaway Comp

The family Travel Show, Olympia, London 2015

The Family Travel Show

Discovering the World Together

Olympia, London, 31st October – 1st November 2015

 

The end of this month sees The Family Travel Show being held in London. It is the UK’s first ever event totally dedicated to family travel adventures.

One of my best experiences travelling was when I visited South America and I know Ed loved Australia. One day we really want to go back to these places as a family to share how much we loved them and create new memories together. However time and finances mean this will probably be a long way off yet so events like The Family Travel Show are great places to get inspiration and ideas for travelling with your family be it in the UK, Europe or further afield. (You can read more about our camping experiences in the UK and France here)

The Family Travel Show will give you the chance to get face-to-face with the best family holiday providers and specialist operators all under one roof, take advantage of exclusive show-only offers and competitions, gather impartial advice and inspiration, and of course quiz the experts on those all important questions.

 

So if you’re looking to just research, plan or book your ideal family adventure, you can do all this and more at The Family Travel Show!

 

SAVE THE DATE – 31ST OCTOBER – 1ST NOVEMBER 2015

 

For more show information please visit www.familytravelshow.com

 

In association with The Family Travel we are giving 3 pairs of tickets to the show. Simply enter the giveaway below for your chance to win a pair.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

 

 

**Competition winners will receive their tickets ahead of the show**

***THIS COMPETITION WILL END ON SUNDAY 18TH OCTOBER 2015 TO MAKE SURE WINNERS CAN GET THEIR TICKETS AND TRAVEL PLANS AHEAD OF TIME*****


My blogging marathon

blogging is like a marathon

With today being the London Marathon, it got me thinking that blogging can be a bit like marathon running…….

Creating a blog is easy but maintaining your blog and sticking with it is the hard part! I am constantly on a learning journey that requires me to master a variety of skills I am discovering. You don’t just need to be a good writer or photographer, you need to be good at both these things. You need to master tech stuff like SEO and basic website stuff to do with code. You need to be great at self-promotion, have the guts to get out there and shout ‘Hey look at me’ if you want to get noticed. People tell you not to, but you can’t help but compare yourself to other bloggers out there. You ask yourself ‘how are they more successful than me?’ ‘What am I doing wrong?’

Recently I was toying with the idea of giving up my blog as I just felt it wasn’t going anywhere, I couldn’t work out what I really wanted from my blog. Was it just a space to record my thoughts and feelings or was I hoping to get more out of it and be able to make some sort of living from this hobby? I was lost in the blogosphere – but then I something amazing happened, I won a prize. Not a box of washing powder or a packet of biscuits but something really special. I entered a Tots 100 competition on how you would enjoy a ‘taste of London Life’ and your suggestions for things to do with your family in London. I looked through all the entries after the competition had closed and was really impressed with all the amazing posts, so held no aspirations for mine.

Last week as I was thinking of how fed up I was with all my efforts and so little return, a pingback from Tots 100 was posted on the bottom of my London Life post. I didn’t check until much later that evening and saw there was a new post on the site about 20 brilliant things to do in London with your family. One of my suggestions was listed early on, so I was absolutely thrilled but the greatest shock came at the end of the article where I saw I had won a 2 night break at The Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington!!!!!

I can honestly say that reading those few lines has changed the way I view my blog and my blogging journey. I no longer care if only 10 people visit my site in a day or if  no one leaves a comment as I must be doing something right and I am going to keep going. It has made me realise that my blog is about being me and not playing to a formula. That post was written genuinely about the type of things we like to do and what I love about visiting London. If you have a blog, don’t give up. It isn’t going to make you rich and famous overnight but I have been lucky enough to meet and interact with some lovely people through the blogging world, I am learning lots of new skills and to top it all off my family get to enjoy some great times that I love documenting. I am not a blogging sprinter but clearly on a blogging marathon. I am not upfront with the elite runners but it doesn’t mean I am enjoying it any less. I am there in my fancy dress costume, waving at the crowds and feeling chuffed if someone recognises me, enjoying all the amazing sights along the way.

 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


Day out enjoying London life

Big Ben, Thames, London

On Monday to mark the start of the Easter holidays we had a family day out in London. We love days out in London and G really seems to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city. Given a choice between the beach and London, he always asks for a trip to London.

What always amazes me is how much you can do with young children in London. Yes it can be expensive, especially getting there and eating out but you can spend very little on seeing and doing things if you plan your day carefully and have tons of fun. We have invested in Oyster cards for getting about which we use each time we visit which I am sure has saved us money in the long run. The Oyster card can be used on buses and tubes and if you use your Oyster card the fare is less than if you bought a paper ticket.

London life Collage1 London life 2

Instead of an Easter egg this year we promised a visit to Hamleys to buy a new dinosaur which G had been talking about since we did this as a birthday treat back in January. We also booked some tickets to take a circular river cruise  on the Thames from Tower Pier something neither Ed or I had done before. As a 20 something I lived in London for a few years but I was far too busy enjoying a busy social life to take time out and visit the sites. These were just the places I passed each day as I was out and about doing my thing. Now I relish the opportunity to enjoy taking time to soak up all the capital has to offer.

The team at Tots 100 are currently running a competition with the five star Royal Garden Hotel in Kensington for a family of four including breakfast. I am always keen to spend time in London so when I saw this on our return last night I knew I had to enter! They are asking for ideas on what you what you and your family would get up to on your ideal London break, while staying at the Royal Garden Hotel sampling a taste of London life. I popped over to their website and the first thing that struck me was they have teamed up with Micro Scooter which you can use whilst staying with them! This is already a big tick for us as the first thing we said on Monday was ‘why didn’t we bring the scooter?’ We love the scooter as now G is definitely too big for a pushchair the scooter does mean we can cover a lot more distance with a little person in tow.

When we were sailing down the river I started making a list of all the things we could do in London next time we visit that would cost us next to nothing.

So this is my list of things that we would love to do if we had a weekend in London, that won’t break the bank meaning your pennies can go a bit further during a stay in the capital.

My top 10 Ideas for a fab weekend in London

  1. Visit the Kensington Museums – The Science Museum and the Natural History Museum are both free (and located a stones throw from the Royal Garden Hotel) and have so much to offer you can spend two days in just these fantastic treasure troves.
  2. Visit the Diana Memorial Playground – A huge wooden pirate ship is the amazing centrepiece of the Diana, Princess of Wales’ Memorial Playground. The playground is in Kensington Gardens. It never ceases to amaze how many green spaces there are in Central London, all that can be enjoyed for free (whilst zipping around on your scooter too!)
  3. Be like Christopher Robin and Alice and visit Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard.
  4. Take a bus to Westminster. You don’t need to spend a fortune on one of the sightseeing ones. Just sit upstairs and watch London life go by as you head off to see the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and have your photo taken at the top of Downing Street.
  5. Walk across the Millennium Bridge, the first pedestrian bridge built across the Thames for over a hundred years.
  6. When you get to the other side drop in and visit the Tate Modern. Children will love some of the weirder and wackier installations.
  7. Walk along the embankment and take a look at Cleopatra’s Needle.
  8. Visit the South Bank area which comes alive at night in the summer.
  9. At the moment Shaun the Sheep is in the city.  A trail of Shaun’s that have all been individually decorated and designed are dotted around London. For £1.49 you can download the app and find them all. Yesterday we found 3 and are definitely going to go back and find some more.
  10. Snap away with your camera, then at the end of a busy sit down with a drink and flick through the pictures smiling away as to what a great day/weekend you have had sampling a small part of London life!

 


My BritMums Live 2014

As I said in my last post after three years of observing from the internet I finally attended a Brit Mums Live and it was BRILLIANT!

As a newbie I had signed up on Facebook to their BritMums Live ‘Butterflies group’ which is there to give support, encouragement and make introductions for those of us who had never been to a Brit Mums Live event before. This was an invaluable way for me to calm some nerves and tweet/message with other people, so when I arrived on Friday I didn’t feel like I didn’t know anybody.

As I was staying in London on my own I opted to book a hotel in a part of town that I know well even if it wasn’t the best location for getting to and from the Brit Mums venue. The Brewery at the Montcalm is a lovely place where doormen wear bowler hats and once through the great archway you feel like you are entering another world. After dropping my bags of at The Bloomsbury Hotel I caught a tube to the city thinking Google maps would safely guide me to The Brewery, oh how I was wrong. after twenty minutes of walking around in circles, I admitted defeat and caught a cab right up to the front door.

On arrival I found the Butterflies sofa and was given the lowdown on where everything was and how to find my way around. I had been tweeting the lovely Gina Caro before hand so I tweeted her to suggest meeting up and we spent most of Friday hanging out together. I thought the Keynote speech from Emma Freud was interesting and funny if not without some controversial moments but I have always loved her so these could be forgiven. Just to make my day she replied to a tweet from me which made my day!

By the time the awards part of the evening came around I have to admit I was exhausted so I am afraid to say I ducked out of these and snuck back to my lovely hotel where I promptly fell asleep by 9.30pm after a restorative cuppa and some Maltesers. Just before leaving I met up with a blogger Snowing Indoors who is local to me in Gloucestersand her sponsors The Toadstool UK (check out Snowing Indoors lovely blog).

Saturday was the longest day of the year and started in a blaze of glorious sunshine. After a morning of wandering around the sponsors, speaking to the lovely people at AGA and  having a really inspiring chat with Melinda from Her Melness Speaks, I went to some great talks and workshops with the most interesting being on collaboration and networking with legends from the blogosphere Maggy from Red Ted Art, Tanya from MummyBarrow and Annabel from Country Wives on how they work with other bloggers, all differently, yet all successfully in their unique way.

At lunchtime I grabbed my box of yummy food and saw the nearest table with some space and asked if there was a spare seat (by now I was becoming pretty confident in thrusting myself at strangers!) I nearly died when I realised I had plonked myself down next to Maggy from Red Ted Art and some other very successful bloggers. These lovely ladies could not have been nicer to me and my lunch with them gave me such inspiration and was undoubtedly my highlight of Brit Mums Live, so a very big thank you to Red Ted Art, Peacocks & Pom Poms, Incredibusy Mum and Lilies Are Like. Their welcoming and friendly manner meant so much to me and I can only say that one day I hope I can be as friendly as they all were to a little newbie like me.

I am already planning my trip to Brit Mums 2015 and if you have ever wanted to go, to steal a phrase from a well known sports brand ‘JUST DO IT!’

 

 

 


Finally I am going to BritMums Live

BML

Ever since I discovered the world of blogging and my few feeble attempts at it in the past I have looked each year at Brit Mums Live and desperately wanted to go. However there was always something stopping me or I made an excuse. This year with less than a week to go I have thought sod it and bought a ticket, booked my accommodation and sorted out the childcare (husband and son!) A year ago the thought of going away on my own would have filled me with dread, since G was born I have never left him for a night with his Dad on their own,  this is a big milestone for me.

I have joined the Facebook group for newbies where everyone seems so friendly and supportive so I am feeling a little less nervous and lots of people seem to be anxious about getting around London which is at least one thing I know I can do ok. It is amazing how much positivity and support there is out there in the blogosphere. People we have never met in person yet feel we know through their candid writing and putting themselves out there are able to be supportive and encouraging in a way some people we know really well just don’t seem to be able to do. (This is no criticism of my fantastic friends and family.)

Lots of people liken going to BritMums Live for the first time as similar to starting school. Although I am nervous it is also really exciting to be starting a new journey. How often in life do we get the chance to do something completely new and fresh? It is like when we buy a new notebook for all our ideas, the clean page just getting ready to be filled up is always something I find very exciting. Although I have been here since February it is only now that I am really inspired to keep going with it and learn from people who have kept going and achieved success and fulfilment from their own blogs. I will keep you posted about how I get on and if you follow me on Twitter @domsimpson I am sure I will be tweeting through the couple of days.

Thanks for dropping by Dominique x