family · fashion · personal · plus size · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 2.

Hi all!

This post follows on from part 1!

So we had returned to the room to go to sleep and we were watching tv and then around quarter to ten to noise started. Thud. Thud. Thud. It was coming from the stairs next to our room, from the room next door (separated by an adjoining door) and from above. We fully expected some noise but it was SO loud. There was kids just running around upstairs until nearly 11 and we had to contact the reception who sent somebody to ask people to be quiet. I’m surprised that Eleanor didn’t wake up because it was so loud. We finally managed to sleep after 11.

We woke up the next day early as ever and got ready for the day. We headed down to breakfast pretty early and we were glad we did as it got pretty busy towards the end of the allotted time.

After breakfast we walked down to Splash which is the onsite swimming baths. I’ve always loved going to Splash since being a kid and so was really excited to head back. Last time we went Eleanor was still tiny and in a swim ring but this time she was armed with a pair of armbands

Safe to say Eleanor was obsessed! She swam independently and didn’t even want us to hold her going around the rapids.

After swimming we headed to the pavilion to eat lunch and then watch a show. Adam being the big kid he is was sat on the floor too. The show was great and Eleanor sat for the whole thing totally hooked!

After the show we had a wander through the site and decided to take some pictures on the giant beach figures!

Eleanor was quite content sitting on her huge beach ball.

We also took a quick detour to play on the penny machines before heading back to the room to get showered and ready for the evening.

  

I actually had time to put makeup on and make more of an effort and wore my lovely In The Style Curve shirt dress (you can find similar here) which I added the patches to.

 

We headed down to dinner which was quite disappointing and pretty much the same as the previous night. Every night was a fish/chips dish, meat dinner, vegetarian option and pasta. Got quite boring and I don’t think we had a cohesive “meal” the whole time we were there.

That night we hit the arcades, watched a Mr Men show in the pavilion which was pretty good and had a few drinks. The good thing about the pavilion is you don’t have to buy from the bar. They have a shop which sells a good mix of things, including food and alcohol. We kept buying a few ciders or my guilty pleasure – smirnoff ice – and sitting in the main area watching the shows. You couldn’t take them into centre stage or reds (as Adam found out when they were confiscated) but we only went in one night out of three.

We headed back for the night and thankfully after complaining it wasn’t as loud as the first night, although from 9:30-10 with everybody arriving home and running up the steps it was still quite loud. I am quite hypersensitive to noise so definitely think it bothered me more than it would bother most people. Thankfully it died down after 10 and didn’t wake Eleanor.

We made our plans for the next day and headed to bed. We had a look to see what was on in the area and found cheap aquarium tickets on groupon and so decided to head there.

I’m going to leave this post here. The next post is going to feature quite a lot of pictures so don’t want it to be too long!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

 

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family · fashion · parenting · review · travel

Bears At Butlins – Round Two! Part 1.

Hi All!

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I’ve been with Adam for like, forever. Well maybe not forever, but it was 6 years in January and that’s like a quarter of my life so seems like ages! For our anniversary my mum suggested we went away and even gave us money for a trip away at Christmas but we didn’t book anything. Around mid January we started to entertain the idea of going away again just the two of us but we couldn’t agree on a place and honestly I didn’t really want to leave Eleanor for a couple of days. Sad I know.

Whilst scrolling through social media I saw an advert for the Sun Holidays and remembered one we went on many years ago to Cayton Bay and decided to see what destinations were on it. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Butlins Skegness was one of the holidays on offer and so I got the 10 code words from the internet and decided to get booked. We wanted to book for the middle of February just after Valentines Day and thankfully this date was available. I think with dining and housekeeping/towels included we paid just under £250 for the three of us in a silver two bedroom chalet and food which I thought was such great value.

For the trip I just wanted to be comfy so I popped my hair up into the mummiest of mum buns and popped on a boohoo chiffon shirt with floral embroidery. It has a slip underneath and I wore leggings and slip-ons for comfort.

We packed up the car and headed out on the Friday around 11. Travelling with toddlers isn’t always the easiest and I was honestly dreading the car journey. We decided to stock up on car snacks, my mother in law bought us a back of the seat organiser for Eleanor and we managed to sit her iPad on it with some pre-downloaded films on and she was pretty happy!

I sat in the back with Eleanor and was really comfy in our Qashqai +2. It was a fairly straight forward drive and we only stopped once at a service station to use the facilities and grab a bite to eat. We sat outside on picnic benches and introduced Eleanor to her first ever lunchable. She didn’t really get the hang of one piece of cheese/ham at a time and pretty much just bit into the full stack.

We arrived on site quite early and decided to check in and explore. We went through the drive through check in, found a parking space near our chalet and went for a look around. We headed towards the fairground which Eleanor really loved. Most of the rides are actually free and there’s also a playground.

Eleanor ran straight for the slide and was happily climbing up herself.

Next we went to find a ride that Eleanor could go on. She was slightly too small for most of the kids rides but we found a little train she could ride on with us and she loved it. Not sure if she enjoyed it more or if Adam did!

After checking out the Arcades we headed back to our room. We unpacked, pushed the two twin beds together and build a pillow fort for Eleanor then got ready for dinner.

For the first night I decided to go for something quick and comfortable as we weren’t allowed into our rooms till 4 and so we were a bit pushed for time. I kept my hair up and added a flicky pony I had previous bought from a small independent shop in Middlesbrough Town Centre. It’s one of the drawstring types and it super easy to put in.

For my outfit I wore my favourite stripy culottes from New Look Curve with a hook and eye top which was also New Look and ankle boots from Primark wide fit range. The whole outfit was bought on sale and probably cost around £15-20. Bargain!

Eleanor wore her new unicorn dress from H+M which was a steal at 2.99 with a pink fluffy cardigan she’s had quite a while.

We headed down to dinner which was quite busy as they only had one restaurant open. It was pretty standard food and honestly not as good as last time we went. Each night there was a fish meal, “dinner” style meal with a different meat, some form of pasta and a vegetarian option. We didn’t go hungry but most dinners were kind of pieced together rather than proper meals.

 

After dinner we headed to the skyline pavilion and of course Eleanor had to sit on every ride we could find. After a brief stint in the arcades we decided to find some seats, get some cans and watch the entertainment.

Adam was quite pleased to see that the evenings entertainment was wrestling. The company was NGWUK and they were pretty entertaining. Eleanor seemed to really enjoy herself and was shouting and pumping her fist in the air. I think she enjoyed the popcorn more though which was being sold by attendants going around with trays.

We headed back to the room tired after a long day and put Eleanor to bed who had fallen asleep in her pram on the walk back. With Eleanor safely tucked up in bed we chatted, planned the next day and watched a little tv. We ended up upgrading our wifi as the signal was so poor on the site and so we couldn’t contact anybody or even each other.

We made plans to watch some shows and go swimming the next day after breakfast and headed to sleep.

I’m going to break these posts up as they’re quite photo heavy and will finish this chapter here! Please keep an eye out for part two and let me know below if you’re a fan of Butlins, or if you prefer elsewhere!

Thanks for reading,

Hannah x

baby · fashion · parenting · personal · plus size

Black Cat Birthday On A Budget!

Hi All!

When I got my c-section date to have Eleanor, I wasn’t very pleased. They had scheduled it for Tuesday 13th, which meant that growing up some of her birthdays would fall on Friday 13th and being of Irish heritage, I can be quite superstitious. In the end though, I didn’t really care what the date was as long as she came healthy.

As her second birthday approached, It was evident that this would fall on a Friday the 13th. Rather than dreading this day, I decided to embrace this by throwing Eleanor a black cat party!

When I sat down to plan the party I decided that because she had a christening/birthday the previous year that I would throw her a proper party this year and invite her friends along. I was lucky enough to have a great venue available and soon made plans on how I was going to make her day special.

Her party was going to be held in St Lukes Church, which is the church I attend and where I hold our baby music class Wriggle & Rhyme. I thought about how I could decorate the space and soon found out that “Black Cats” isn’t a massively popular theme and I struggled to find anything that would actually go.

Thankfully, I’m quite crafty and set about making my own decorations. I made cat face shaped bunting, cat face paper fans, decorated black plates and cups with cat faces and other bits I went for black/white/gold and polka dots.

I managed to buy polka dot straws, white/black/gold tassel bunting and polka dot table covers from eBay and found some gold Happy Birthday balloons from New Look. I even got black, white and gold balloons for the floor for the kids to play with from card factory but unfortunately these were the WORST balloons ever and most of them popped the night before as we were setting up the space!

My last little touch was some cat faced pumpkins I found in ALDI! These sat at each end of the table (and we got to re-use them for Halloween!)

For the food we catered ourselves and did most the night before and some fresh on the morning. We did four types of sandwiches, sausage/cheese rolls, chicken nuggets, popcorn chicken and some other party style food which we purchased from Iceland. We saved quite a lot of money doing this and we got quite a lot of compliments on the food.

For Eleanor’s cake I decided to make it myself. I’m quite a good cake baker and knew I wanted to keep it simple. I made her a devils food cake (ironic that we were in the church..) and then vanilla cupcakes.

I made this cake topper from glittered paper by cutting out two identical cat faces, then using a craft scalpel to cut out the letters and then glutted the two layers together and attached it to cocktail sticks.

I also made different shaped cat toppers for the cupcakes. I used a cookie cutter as my stencil and then cut them out by hand. I finished them with a cocktail stick so they would sit neatly into the cupcakes.

The cakes then sat around the main cake on a separate table which I sprinkled with handmade confetti. The confetti was made from the leftover scraps of glitter paper which I cut out with a heart hole punch. 

Eleanor loved her cake. Here she is blowing out the candles with daddy!

 

We went with a “cat dress optional” theme and some people did, some didn’t. We attempted to draw little whiskers on Eleanors face but they were mostly off by the end of the day. She wore a sparkly black velvet dress, tights and a fluffy cropped cardigan.

I of course dressed the part and decided to wear the cat whiskers that Eleanor refused to.

For my outfit I went with a lace top over a strappy vest tucked into a fluffy tulle skirt. I finished the look with some gold cat ears that I made from leftover glitter paper.

For the entertainment my mum kindly booked a bouncy castle which we set up in an adjoining room which was great as it meant we could contain the kids in one area whilst we set up and unwrapped the food. The bouncy castle also had a slide which the kids seemed to love. I set up a spotify playlist and linked it to a docking station I have and let the kids listen whilst they bounced. We then went back into the hall and we had set up lights and projected “Happy Birthday” onto the wall.

For games we had a few round of pass the parcel. I wrapped up some mini plushy toys and some sticker books with sweets in between each layer and made sure every kid won something. We then finished with a disco and cake!

Considering we did it on a budget we had a fantastic day and we got loads of compliments on the decor, the cakes and the food. We were even asked by some kids if they could come next year which was a huge compliment. The biggest reward was seeing Eleanor really enjoy herself – she loved it!

If you’re willing to do things yourself and put the work in you can achieve a lot on a small budget. If you’d rather buy things and hire people in, that’s also great but I didn’t want to throw money away at a party she probably won’t remember when she’s older!

Now I’ve got to start planning for next year, I wonder what weird and wonderful party that will be! Or maybe I’ll do a quiet family meal and give myself a little break.

Who knows.

Thanks for reading!

Hannah xx

 

Community · parenting · personal

Making friends as mummy.

Hi all.

I’m not sure if it’s the same for everybody, but when I found out I was pregnant I had a lot of expectations and scenarios playing in my head which I thought would happen. I imagined being inundated with people wanting to spend time with me and the baby, I imagined going for coffees with groups of “yummy mummy’s” and our wee ones and I imagined weekly play-dates.

Honestly? It hasn’t quite worked out as I expected.

Starting from announcing my pregnancy, it almost felt like my friends dropped like flies. I stopped getting invited out to places, people stopped coming round and I started to feel so lonely. I ended up with SPD so was pretty trapped in the house and isolated.

In reality, it’s nobodies fault. People don’t want to feel like they’re imposing and as life moves on, people tend to drift apart.

For the first few months of Eleanors life I was too scared to really mix with other mums and tended to avoid playgroups as when I had tried, everybody seemed to know each other and I felt like a complete outsider. I was determined to make friends, but needed to do it on my terms.

Last year I started a crafts club within the church I now attend and I met a lovely lady named Paula who has fast become a great friend of mine. I had wanted to set up my own baby group as a way to get Eleanor to mix with other kids whilst doing something I love (music, dancing and crafts) and when I spoke to Paula she was also wanting to set up a similar group and so we put our heads together and Wriggle & Rhyme was born. We’ve been going for a few months now and seem to be going from strength to strength. I think my favourite part of it is helping people who are first timers feel comfortable enough to join in with our conversation and build friendships. This is one way I’ve found friends, but there are many other ways you can find new friends too, such as –

  • Join an online group. I was added into the “Mama Mates” group and honestly haven’t looked back. These women have become my village and I know I can always get help. I started somebody just reading posts but soon became engaging online and adding people. I then answered a post asking for volunteers and found myself invited to different events. When I put myself out there and actually accepted an invite, I found myself connecting with a wonderful, down to earth bunch of women whom I never thought I would of met. Our friendships then grew from me actually putting myself out there and suggesting meet ups and since then there’s been parties, ice cream dates, hang outs and just companionship. I know that at any moment I can pop into my group chat and one of my pals will be there to help me and that’s such an amazing thing.
  • Try a new hobby. I’ve made friends from going to Aqua Zumba/swimming and after a while of seeing the same faces we have just naturally started chatting. I’m also starting a new adults crafts club to bring people together.
  • Host/go to a playdate. I’ve hosted a playdate where I invited people I’ve met on parenting groups to my home and we’ve had a great time despite never meeting before. I just looked to invite children of a similar age to my little girl and Eleanor has always had a great time.
  • Don’t be afraid to say hi. You never know where a simple hello will take you.
  • Let your children make the introductions. If your children are playing together, try to strike up a conversation. I find it easy to ask about their child or to introduce my child to theirs.
  • Put yourself out there. I know it’s scary, I know it’s nerve racking but you don’t know where a simple hello will lead! A silly comment such as “I fancy a dinner” might lead to arranging a meet up and if you’re as lucky as me, you could end up finding a great group of friends from it.

Making friends is hard. There’s no real “etiquette” and as a whole, us British are painfully awkward. However if this is how you feel, then you’re probably not the only one who feels like this! I always make a real effort with new people who come to my groups to help them feel comfortable and a lot of them say “I don’t go to many groups because I’m scared and I feel like my child misses out” so generally, most people are just as scared as you are. Sit next to a stranger, have a tea together and see where the conversation takes you.

My last year has been enhanced by the wonderful women I’ve met both as friends and through my baby group who have grown to also be good friends. I bit the bullet and put myself out there despite being terrified and for me it has payed off massively.

I’m always looking for more friends so if you’re in the Teesside area and want to come to our events – get in touch!

Hannah xx