Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Life In A Break Down: August Giveaway - A Pink Handbag.

Life In A Break Down: August Giveaway - A Pink Handbag.: In need of a new handbag? Have no fear I'm here to help. I saw this beauty on my wandering round the world wide web in July and thought I wo...

Monday, 15 August 2011

Budget v Boutique Hotels in London

Last weekend (yes, in the middle of all the riots) saw us heading for London for a couple of days.

I do have to add that we were luckily not involved in any of the riots and a great time was had by all, but during our visit we stayed in two completely different hotels that have inspired another blog post.

The first evening we were paying for accomodation, hence our stay in a budget hotel very close to Euston Station! We spent the night at the Travel Lodge in Grafton Place.

The first thing to say about this hotel is that it really is in a fantastic position for anyone travelling into Euston station. It is approximately 100 metres across the road.

We arrived in an unbelievable rainstorm. Sadly none of us could run at Usain Bolt type speeds for 100 metres so we arrived in reception in an extremely bedraggled state!

Reception is clean and was staffed with a pleasant, helpful receptionist who provided all necessary information about our room, wi-fi options and availability of the restaurant / bar area.

I had booked this hotel room approximately a month ago and it cost a grand total of £35.75! For a night in a double room in London I thought this was an excellent rate. The room was as expected for a very budget price. It was clean but had none of the extra's often found in other hotel chains that push the prices up.

My only complaints about this room related to the maintenance of it. There were small niggles such as the batteries in the TV remote being dead resulting in much hilarity as we climbed on the bed each time we wanted to change channel or turn down the volume!

The biggest irritation was that the window catch was broken. There was no risk to security as we were a few floors off the ground and the window was screened outside which would prevent anyone gaining access to the room. Unfortunately though, this was the first night of the riots in London. The inability to close and lock the window meant we heard every siren throughout the night, plus we were treated to lots of Manchester United and Manchester City fans enjoying themselves in the pub below!

We were not particularly disappointed to move on the following day to our second hotel of the weekend.

This time we were not paying, and the hotel was much more upmarket! We stayed at the fabulous Mont Calm Hotel at the top of Park Lane and Marble Arch. From budget to boutique in one easy step.

What a difference a day (or should that be night) makes. This time we were so cocooned in our room that we couldn't have heard a pin drop in the hall outside, let alone any riot vans heading into action!

This hotel had a truly impressive reception. Once again, lovely staff but this time in addition to the usual (where to eat, what facilities were available, etc) they also delivered our bags to the room. I came away from this hotel with chandelier envy because their lighting in reception was amazing...but possibly might overshadow my entrance hall at home!

This time the room had all the luxuries expected of a hotel costing anything from £155 per night upwards. There were wonderful toiletries in the bathroom and there were so many pillows we could have built a bed just from these and forgotten about the mattress.

Of course the room also came equipped with robes, slippers, hair dryer, free wifi, chocolates delivered at 'turn down,' etc.

So you might think there is no contest when deciding which hotel was 'best'. But actually, just like the budget hotel there were things that could be criticised with this one.

The bathroom was beautiful, all black and silver tiles, but it was so dark it was almost impossible to see anything!

The bedroom was gorgeous, with plush curtains and bedcovers, but there wasn't a single full length mirror anywhere in the room.

Obviously residents at this hotel don't worry about going out in the evening, They have no need to primp in the bathroom or check their clothing before leaving the room. They probably just stay put and lounge around in slippers and robes enjoying their free wifi and a TV with a remote control that works :-)

So in the battle of budget v boutique who wins? Well for me, neither. I really enjoyed our whole weekend in London and both hotels added to the experience.

I couldn't have afforded to stay at the Mont Calm if I had been paying, but the luxury was amazing and if you have the ability to stay in places like this then this hotel is completely brilliant and I thoroughly recommend it.

On the other hand, if (like me) you're a bit with what you are prepared to spend on a hotel room, then the Travel Lodge was fine too. I knew there would be no luxuries and was prepared with my own toiletries and hair dryer.

I guess the thing is, there is room for both types of hotels and clearly there are guests who choose to stay in both budget and boutique. I wouldn't say no to another night in either of them - but preferably without the riots going on outside!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Lollibop Childrens Festival

Friday 5th August was a glorious sunny day. The sort of day that happens very rarely during an English summer.Blue skies, soaring temperatures and no clouds threatening to spoil the fun.

What an excellent day to take Daisy and Piper to Lollibop, the childrens festival held in Regents Park London between 5th and 8th August.

In fact, it was an even better day when you consider that on the 8th the heavens opened and the road outside Euston Railway station was flooded within minutes!

On a glorious day like this the temptation is to make the most of every moment, and that's exactly what Daisy, Piper, Mummy & Daddy did on their visit to Lollibop.

This first photo shows Mummy and Daisy trying to find some much needed shelter from the raging sun. It always seems a shame to have sunny skies and then need to take shelter, but with a 7 month old you can't take risks. Daisy was covered in the highest possible factor suncream but a friend of ours recently covered her little boy in suncream before he set off to spend a day with his Dad and when he came back his protection hadn't been topped up all day and the poor little soul was burnt and had to visit outpatients because of his severe sunburn!So Mummy and Daisy took no risks with the sun.

Grumpsie always takes Daisy and Piper into his garden and shows them the leaves on various plants. He encourages them to grab the leaves and shake the trees....hence why Daisy was reaching for the branches of this bit of very welcome shade!

One of the first characters the girls bumped into was 'Bob the Builder'. They both gazed at him in complete awe! One of the brilliant things about Lollibop is that the 'characters' were available to pose for photos. We now have some fantastic pictures of Piper and Daisy posing happily with Ben and Holly, Peppa Pig and of course Bob.

Although meeting the characters was a highlight for Mummy and Daddy, the girls were equally happy with the other pursuits on offer at Lollibop.
Piper was particularly thrilled to visit the facepainting area. In went Piper and out came a beautiful butterfly.

The day was so hot that by evening the butterfly had been rubbed all over Piper's face, but she still couldn't wait to get home and show Grandma, Grumpsie and Auntie Linds how gorgeous she looked!
Although Piper, along with everyone else was wilting under the heat of the sun, she found time to bounce on the huge bouncing area. Isn't it funny how there can be so many new experiences for children to try yet they will always want to do the simple things like bouncing?

If anyone has an opportunity to go along to the Lollibop festival next year I would definitely encourage you to do it. At the 2011 event, without doubt, a fantastic time was had by everyone!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

It's been a long day

The weather in the Midlands has been perfect for the past few days.We have had beautiful blue sky with the occasional fluffy white cloud to shade the sun and cool us down.

We have to make the most of the summer while we can so the recent burst of sunshine means we are spending as much time as possible outdoors.

I've mentioned before that Daisy likes nothing better than to bounce, bounce, bounce. Here's evidence of her love of the trampoline!

The trampoline was obviously intended to give 'the girls' somewhere safe to play, but initially Mummy has had to join in too. Apparently exercise is good for you.

It certainly makes legs ache which probably means it is having a positive effect!

Here's Piper showing how high she can jump!

But after a very long and tiring day, sometimes it all becomes too much and Daisy just can't hold her head up any longer.....

I hope everyone else is also having fun in the sun. I'd love to hear from anyone who has tips on fun things to do outdoors.