Stunning autumn leaves at Hampton Court Palace and the Magic Garden playground

There is something for literally everyone in the family at Hampton Court Palace and the new Magic Garden


We are members at Hampton Court in Surrey (UK), though we haven’t been for a few months as we have been so busy! But we were lucky enough to enjoy unexpectedly sunny weather for October, when we visited with some old friends yesterday.
We spent a couple hours at the magic garden playground. It’s been open for about 6 months, and is still incredibly popular especially with kids age 5 and under. Their favourite activity seems to be sliding down the hill which is covered in fake grass! It reminds me of the landscape in Teletubbies! Among other things there are majestic towers with bridges linking them, several slides, a “life-size” dragon to climb on, and an area with sand and water play which is great for the little ones (bring a change of clothes!)

As well as some decent toilets, there’s a handy cafe in the playground area, so you can get your coffee fix…and they sell Tropicana juice boxes (£1.50) and ice creams too. If you want more substantial food the Tiltyard cafe is not far from the magic garden and you can get all manner of lunch fodder there. The fish and chips seemed very popular, and they have some nice cake and tasty brownies too (my daughter tells me, I didn’t actually get to taste it!)


We then happened upon some amusing live entertainment, en route to the famous Hampton Court maze where my husband tells me he genuinely got lost with the kids…but apparently in an enjoyable way. I steered clear this time as our littlest was napping by now in the buggy.

We then took a quick look around the palace, but our plan is to return to see that properly another day, perhaps with just our oldest, as by now thanks to the little ones we were pretty exhausted!

All in all a lovely day! Highly recommend. My top tip is get there early and if you drive you can park your car in Bushey park, where parking is free. It’s then about a 5-10 min walk to Hampton court.

Sadly the magic garden itself will be shut for the winter but there are still a couple more days left till closing (Sunday 30 October is the last day you can visit it, till it reopens in spring 2017).

Further details can be found on their website, link below:


For another fun family day out not far from London, please read my post about Bocketts Farm:

Bocketts Farm


Rhyming with Wine
Naptime Natter
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Pure Luxury at The Conrad, Nusa Dua, Bali

Review of our stay at the splendiferous Conrad Bali, Nusa Dua

If you’re heading to Bali and you think you deserve a treat (I’m sure you most probably do) then I cannot recommend highly enough including this family-friendly hotel in your itinerary!  (By the way this is an independent review and we paid for our holiday in full).  The Conrad Nusa Dua, while feeling slightly out in the middle of nowhere, is a wonderful place where you and your family can spend a few days (4 in our case) and rest assured that your every need will be catered to.  What attracted me to the hotel when I initially did my holiday research (which I invariably do these days, now that my backpacking days are let’s say, just a few years behind me…) is the enormous meandering swimming pool.  My daughter loves to swim, and this pool did not disappoint her.  It also had a “beach style” gradual sloping entry at the end closest to our hotel room, which started with a sandy area that was ideal for our son (age 20 months at the time).  He was able to wander into the pool from the sandy area, and the pool itself was sandy at the bottom, so there was no worry that he was constantly tracking sand in and out as he paddled.  Bliss.


We treated ourselves since it was the end of our stay, to 4 nights in a Conrad Suite.  Specifically it is called “Conrad Suite King”.  This is hands down THE best hotel room we have ever stayed in, IN OUR LIVES.

Why?  Because of its sheer size (110 sq. metres), its separate areas (one large room with a king size bed, a dressing room, a bathroom, and a kitchenette/dining room/living room containing a sofa bed), which enabled us to stay very comfortably as a family of 4, and the perks that came with staying in a Conrad Suite.  In priority order these were: daily afternoon tea with a wide selection of complementary teas or cocktails, and free evening cocktails and canapes which could be enjoyed at an adults-only lounge which was ultra-relaxing, or at the bar overlooking the swimming pool, and…wait for it…unlimited free laundry and dry-cleaning!




Needless to say I took full advantage of this.  I sent them a pile of dirty laundry and it came back all neatly folded satisfyingly wrapped in crepe paper. I don’t think I’ve ever returned home from a holiday with all my laundry clean!?

When we first arrived in our Conrad suite we were also met by this lovely complimentary welcome tray and monkey soft toy for our toddler, which was a really nice touch.  The pack on the left contains nappies.  There was another monkey in the cot (which was all set up with bedding included).  Our daughter quickly adopted that monkey as her own.


The kitchenette had a proper coffee machine, with lots of those little inserts that you could put in to make espresso based coffees, which gave us a great start to each day.  The bathroom was huge with dual vanities.  Housekeeping kept the suite spotless.

Breakfast was included, and although it was incredibly busy the food was plentiful and great, with all the usual offerings plus things like congee and noodles.  There was also a quieter, smaller restaurant which we discovered toward the end of our stay, where we were able to enjoy our lovely breakfast.  The food at the Conrad in general was all completely delicious.  One of my favourite meals was at the Japanese restaurant, where one night we had an amazing buffet dinner, and I ate an absolute ton of sushi!

I enjoyed a wonderful treatment at Jiwa Spa, which has its own pool you can relax in afterwards.


And a further pool which is adults-only, which was near the Conrad Suites, complete with “bed” areas to lounge upon.


Here is the main pool view from the lobby bar area, where we enjoyed cocktails.


The hotel also has a kids club at one end of the pool area, which we visited but didn’t really use, as my sister and parents were with us and our son was too little, and our daughter was too busy in the pool!  It looked like a good programme of activities was available and there was a large outdoor space for playing.

The beach itself is directly behind the hotel and easy to access.  Beautiful and clean.

Stay at the Conrad Nusa Dua!  You won’t regret it.

If you’d like to book through, which is what we normally use, you can click on the link(s) in the text above or the one below which will take you through to their website.  I will get paid a very small token amount if you book through the link, but at no additional cost to you.  Wishing you and your family very happy travels!



Rhyming with Wine
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Family trip to Bali – Kuta and Ubud

Family-friendly trip to Bali

A couple years ago we took a 2 week trip to Bali for a family wedding.  Although we’ve been to Thailand a few times, Bali was a new experience for us, and although it was less recent I thought I would share some of our experiences there as it turned out to be a brilliant holiday, and I would definitely recommend a visit if you ever have the chance!

We stayed in 3 different places.  The first was Kuta, as this is where our relatives and their wedding guests were staying.  The wedding itself was at the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay, which was quite an extraordinarily beautiful venue!  We enjoyed spectacular views during the ceremony, drank mojitos and lychee martinis, and had a delicious seafood buffet beside the swimming pool, which was lit up by dozens of floating candles.  Simply magical.




In Kuta we stayed at the incredibly family-friendly Holiday Inn Baruna Bali.

Now those of you who are not generally fans of this chain, I implore you to take a closer look as the Bali version is nothing like the ones you may have visited in England.  It has a lovely pool area with pool bar, delicious breakfast buffet, air-conditioned kids club, and a lovely spa where my daughter and I enjoyed a mother and daughter spa treatment!

As far as accommodation, this was set up perfectly for families and we wish all hotels would have a similar room layout, and the price was very decent as well.  We started off in a family room, which had a separate area containing a bunk bed for the kids and some video games.  This room had a sliding door which enabled it to feel like a completely separate room when required.  We later stayed in a junior suite which was also fantastic.  This suite actually was two separate rooms!

View from our room at Holiday Inn Baruna Bali
Sunset view from the beach at the hotel
Holiday Inn Baruna Bali at sunset
The resort at dusk


View from the spa reception area
Outside the spa

The second part of our trip was 5 days in Ubud.  This hilly region of central Bali is famous for its rice terraces, and although there are no beaches here it was a highlight of our trip.  We stayed in a set of small villas here that were set about a pool.  The accommodation was very rustic but charming.  We were a little concerned with the open pond area and had to keep an extremely close eye on our toddler.  We travelled by taxi every day to do small day trips, as we were not staying close enough to the town to walk, however the beautiful views in this rural setting made up for the need for transport.

Swimming pool at the villas where we stayed in Ubud
Ubud town has many shops, restaurants and sights to see including the Monkey Forest
Ubud town has many shops, restaurants and sights to see including the Monkey Forest

We took a trip to the Luwak Coffee Plantation.  I was a little sceptical about this before we went, but I’m glad we made the trip as it was interesting to find out about the interesting way in which coffee is made here, basically out of civet cat poo!  The views of the rice terraces from here were also incredible.

Ubud Luwak Coffee Plantation, Bali

Ubud, Bali - the beautiful rice terraces

Luwak coffee beans, Ubud, Bali
Luwak Coffee Beans
Luwak Coffee Plantation, Ubud, Bali
Views at Luwak Coffee Plantation, Ubud

Skewers of meat, Ubud, Bali

Delicious dinner in central Ubud, Bali
The culinary fare at restaurants in Ubud is particularly amazing

Bali Bird Park

We also took a trip to Bali Bird Park, which was a wonderful day out.  We have many hilarious photos of our family members with colourful birds perched all over their limbs.

The third and final segment of our holiday was a luxury stay at the absolutely amazing 5-star Conrad Bali.  Please check out my review (link below) if you’re interested!

Pure Luxury at The Conrad, Nusa Dua, Bali

Brilliant blog posts on

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Top 16 attractions at Legoland Windsor – Fantastic family day out!

Going to Legoland Windsor? Below you’ll find a list of the top 16 attractions you won’t want to miss!  

(Feel free to pin this post for later if you’d like!)

LEGO!  I have a love-hate relationship with it.  I mostly love it, and now that my kids are getting a little older and have sets of the small Lego, there’s almost nothing I like more than helping them build their models!  Ok, so sometimes I build the whole thing…after they’ve gone to bed.  But shhh…don’t tell anyone.  However,  I must say I do find it horrifying when there is a lot of Lego, mixed up, and spread all over the living room floor.  Mainly because I know my husband or I will end up having to tidy it away.  The older kids are pretty good about tidying when asked, but our youngest…he prefers to throw things!  And not into a toybox, just in random directions.  It’s a work in progress.  Anyway…Legoland Windsor is a different story.  How can one not love it?

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

If you haven’t been to Legoland Windsor and don’t know, it is a theme park where almost everything is made out of lego!  There are loads of rides, and play areas, and it is super child-friendly.  I’d say the ideal age to enjoy it is 3 years and up, and my daughter who is 7 still enjoys it immensely and I suspect she will continue to for a few more years.  We went as a family yesterday and it was her 5th visit!  The 1-year old loved it as well!  He didn’t nap ALL DAY as he was so excited.

When to go

The first thing to know is that Legoland Windsor is not open every day of the year.  It is open all summer long, but by September there are some week days when it is closed.  It remains open for much of October, including half term holidays but by November it is mostly shut except for the 5th.  It is then open again during the pre-Christmas period in December and on weekends.  You’ll need to take a look at opening hours on the Legoland website.  I can highly recommend, if you have preschool children, taking them outside of school holidays!  The queues can otherwise be very long, and the crowds rather overwhelming.  If you do find yourself going during the busy periods, you can look at purchasing the Q-Bot pass in order to spend less time queuing, which I’ve never used but I hear from friends who have, that it is worthwhile!  We were lucky when we visited, as it was a school inset day for my kids, but a lot of schools had already started back.  So it was lovely and quiet!

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

Where to stay

I’ve never stayed at the Legoland Windsor hotel, but a friend who stayed there previously told me great things about it.  The rooms are themed, which sounds amazing to me.  There’s a play area in the hotel lobby near the restaurant.  And in the evening there is a disco where lego characters (humans dressed as lego people, that is) come out and dance with the kids!  Unfortunately for me, I live a little too close to legoland to justify staying at the hotel, but it sounds like quite an experience.  You can book the full package here at LEGOLAND Holidays

There are also other hotels and B&B’s nearby, and Windsor is a great place to check out if you’re visiting the area.

Tickets and parking at Legoland Windsor

Admission to Legoland isn’t cheap, but you can save by booking online in advance.  There are also annual passes and a 2nd day free offer, which is a smart idea as there really is a ton to see and do at the park so it would take the pressure off if you have 2 days to explore the park.  Car parking costs £5 in the regular car park or £12 for the priority (closer to the park) area.  Don’t forget to note where you have parked as the car park is pretty huge!

Top 16 Legoland Windsor Rides and Attractions

Here is a list of all the rides/attractions enjoyed on our recent visit and a brief explanation.  All of the rides I’ve described are outdoors except for Laser Raiders and the Star Wars Miniland.

1.Hill Train – turn left when you’ve passed the main Legoland souvenir shop, and you can catch the Hill Train down to ground level – this saves you having to walk down the hill if your party has little legs, and you can put your entire buggy on the train without having to collapse it!  Great for the end of the day especially, when the hike uphill may well finish you off 😉

2. Laser Raiders – We had never been on this indoor ride before, but I am glad we tried it out!  So much fun.  It reminds me of the Toy Story ride at Disneyland Paris (another great place to visit that I’ll be reviewing soon!).  You sit in a 4-person car, and it takes you from room to room, while you aim and “fire” a laser gun at various targets.  You get a score at the end of it, just like in a video game.  Admittedly our 3-year old found the ride a little scary as it is quite dark and there are a few skeletons popping up, but it is completely safe and the 1-year old sat still, transfixed for the whole ride!

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

3. Aero Nomad – a mini ferris wheel, this is a nice and gentle ride

4. Castaway Camp – pirate themed playground, with a pleasingly bouncy floor

5. Duplo Train  the smallest train I’ve ever sat on!  I enjoyed this ride with the 1-year old.

6. Brickville – a lovely play area, with climbing frames, slides and imaginative play, which I honestly had to tear all 3 of the kids away from

7. Duplo Valley Airport – The kids insisted that we go on this one twice!  Helicopters that you climb into, that go up and down and round and round in circles, which your child can control themselves.  Incredible.

8. Heartlake Harbour Arena (Pirates show) – this show was fun for a break, to take the weight off our feet and enjoy an ice cream.  Great for all pirate fans.  We’ve previously seen a “Lego Friends” show here, and apparently this will return next year.  Heartlake City is the “Lego Friends” section of the park, and is themed to look like a Lego Friends set.  There are lifesize lego figures of the girls, which are fun to pose with!

9. Atlantis Submarine Voyage – DO NOT MISS THIS RIDE!  I won’t spoil it for you, but it is wonderful and the whole family can get on it together.

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

10. Lego City Driving School – Driving real lego cars!  For ages 6-13

11. Coastguard HQ – Boats which you can ride in groups of 2 or 3, and navigate to a certain extent yourself, around a waterway that passes many lego animals

12. L-Drivers – The mini version of Lego City Driving School, this ride is for ages 3-5.  I highly recommend this ride if you have a pre-schooler, and if you arrive early and the park isn’t busy yet, head straight for this ride as the queues can be long and it is an absolute must-do!

13. Fire Academy – Drive a small fire engine, then spray real water at a make-believe fire in a house to save the day.  Wonderful for all Fireman Sam fans.

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

14. Miniland – Absolutely incredible display of what feels like every landmark in the world that you could ever imagine, made of lego.  Usually not a busy part of the park, so great for a bit of a breather and break from rides.

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

15. Lego Star Wars Miniland Model Display – I don’t know why but I felt compelled to visit this display, even though I am not actually a Star Wars fan at all!  I was still impressed by it, and I am sure any diehard Star Wars fans would be blown away by it.  At the end you can take a picture with a life-size lego model of Darth Vader, while you hold a light saber.  I insisted my daughter do this, even though she has no idea who Darth Vader is!

16. Vikings’ River Splash – My husband and I took our 7-year old on this white water rapids style ride, which is one of her favourites.  Be prepared you will get wet!

Other attractions

There were several other attractions and rides at Legoland Windsor that we didn’t try out this time.  For example there is Drench Towers which is like a little waterpark, complete with waterslides!  (Bring swimwear and towels if you want to try this bit.)

But we were pretty thrilled that we managed to enjoy so much of the park, not to mention exhausted by the end of our day so we will have to save the rest for next time!

Eating, drinking and shopping at Legoland Windsor

There are plenty of places to eat, buy drinks/snacks/ice creams at Legoland.  We had lunch at this place, which has both indoor and outdoor seating and is near the Duplo theatre puppet show stage.

Top 16 Attractions at Legoland Windsor

The food was good although the burgers were a little on the small side.  I recommend bringing some drinks and snacks of your own if you’re trying to save money, as these are on the pricy side in the park as one might expect.  The Legoland shop is near the entrance/exit, be prepared that your children will demand lego products!  I’m not sure what I mean exactly by “be prepared”, except that it is going to happen!

Finally… I can’t recommend Legoland Windsor enough, it really is brilliant fun for all the family!


You can click on LEGOLAND Holidays if you’re interested to book to go to Legoland, and would like to consider a stay at the Legoland hotel.  This is an affiliate link, which means I do get paid a very small amount if you were to book through the link.  Support from my readers allows me to carry on blogging and writing reviews.  However I can assure you I only recommend places and products that I truly believe in!

Top 16 Must-See Attractions at Legoland -


And read about our latest discovery, an essential parenting hack for Lego owners!  This item is in constant use now in our household and I can’t actually do without it.

Lego Mat Bag Tip – parenting hack by a mum of 3 kids


You Baby Me Mummy

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Does it have a spa and a kids club? Right! We’re going there – our first family holiday to Cyprus

If like me, you’re a parent in the UK, you may well be feeling what I’m feeling now.  Both slightly relieved that the kids are back to school soon, and yet a little wistful that the long summer break has come to an end.  And perhaps you’ll be dreaming just a little about future holidays, possibly even researching where to go already.  If that’s the case, I want to introduce you to a fantastic place we just visited, on our first family holiday abroad as a fivesome, on the off chance you’d like to go there one day.


This is the view from our hotel room balcony at the Azia Resort and Spa , near Paphos in Cyprus.  I’m not even sure how I first found this hotel, but I was doing a lot of online holiday research when I stumbled upon it.  And I am so glad I did, as it really did have a little of everything we needed, and some additional luxuries that we…ahem…required.  Such as a jacuzzi on the balcony.  And a full breakfast buffet, with a nice man cooking omelettes to order every morning.  Did I mention it also boasts a world-class spa?

We arrived by night, and as it was only a 20 minute drive from Paphos airport to the hotel, we were really there in no time at all.

Kids club from age 2.5 years

We spent 10 nights at the hotel, with some lovely friends of ours and their two children. One of the biggest successes was discovering that our middle child was crazy about the kids club.  This was a pleasant surprise indeed.  And I think this was all down to the warm welcome and genuine wonderfulness (is that a word?) of the woman who ran the place.  You’re given a buzzer while the kids are at the club, which vibrates and flashes if you’re needed.  So you’re free to roam around the hotel grounds as you like…free as a bird…well except for the small but important matter of the one-year old, who kindly had a nap on a few occasions so we could enjoy a cool drink by the sea.

Beautiful clifftop views of the sea from the hotel grounds

Swimming pool with pool bar, wonderful spa, beautiful beaches

Of course, it would be wrong to have you believe the kids spent all their time at kids club!  On the contrary, they had the time of their lives splashing and diving about in the child-friendly swimming pool, which has a separate yet adjacent shallow section for babies and toddlers.  There is a swim-up pool bar, and fresh towels to be used by the pool can be acquired for free from the spa when you need them, meaning there was no need to pack any.  The spa itself is wonderful, and I truly wished I could have had a treatment there every day!  Or at least more than one!  But mustn’t be greedy 😉 They do a 10-minute children’s massage as well, which was a highlight for our daughter.


There is also a beach right by the hotel, which you can reach via a 120m-long path.  It does end with a lot of rocks, so be aware that you would not be able to push a buggy all the way down there.  We just parked our buggy on the rocks and brought the supplies that we needed down to the beach itself.  There was a lovely shallow stream here, which our little ones just loved messing around in for hours!  The sunset was amazing as well.

Beach by the hotel

We also made a couple trips out to nearby beaches.  One was just a short stroll away.  Being August it was incredibly hot, so it was essential for us not to have to walk far!  There was a convenient path along the seafront that is completely buggy-friendly.  The other beach, Coral Bay, was a 15-minute bus ride away.  The sea here was beautiful, warm and with calmer waves than the beach near Azia.  The bus, which is air-conditioned, stops directly outside the hotel and costs 1.50 euros for adults and 75 cents for older children.  At the beach there are umbrellas and sunbeds here for hire, which cost 7.50 euros per umbrella, including 2 sunbeds.  There is also a lovely cafe here, where the children enjoyed enormous ice creams and there are toilet facilities including showers.

Coral Bay Beach

There was no need for us to hire a car, but if we had wanted one it would have been simple to do, and there seemed to be many interesting places nearby to visit such as ancient Greek ruins.  I did venture to a rather splendid shopping centre by bus (under the pretext of buying nappies).


Jacuzzi on the (very spacious) balcony

Food, drinks and entertainment

The food was very good as well, and there was a huge array of it at each mealtime.  There was a different theme each night.  One of my favourite dishes was coconut chicken with tropical rice, on “Jamaican night”.  Not quite Cypriot but delicious nonetheless!  I ate far too much!  The Cava bar was brilliant too for some pre-dinner drinks. And the kids enjoyed dancing at the baby disco, face-painting, and watching the evening entertainment including fire shows, stilt-walkers and acrobats.  A Michael Jackson impersonator was a surprise hit with our 3 year old!  He drew this the next day at kids club.


Picture by our eldest, age 7
Picture by our eldest, age 7



Stunning bougainvillea at the front of the hotel
Stunning bougainvillea at the front of the hotel
Sunset view from the balcony



All too soon it was time to leave!  Goodbye Cyprus…still missing you.

We booked our accommodation at Azia Resort and Spa through UK.

This post contains affiliate links, if you purchase through the link I will get paid a small token amount at no additional cost to you.  Just to reassure you, I only give my honest opinions in reviews!

Plutonium Sox
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