We were fortunate enough to be invited to the preview event at Paultons Park. Since Peppa Pig World originally opened in 2011, it has become vastly popular. The decision was made to carry out an expansion, and adding two new attractions and add the additional characters that have been added to the series since opening.
When we were initially invited I was unsure of how much the twins would get out of a theme park. They are now 20 months, and I thought they'd be buggy bound for the day. After some research I realised that in fact it was designed for children 1 - 6 years old.
We are based just north of London, so aimed to leave at 7.45. Of course in true Craig family style we actually left at 8am. We had been telling the boys that we were going to visit Peppa Pig at Peppa's house. I know they had no idea what I was talking about, but it made me feel better. We stopped on route for a mandatory McDonald's Breakfast, but we did the journey in less than 2 hours. We were at the gate for 10am opening.
From the second we walked through the door I couldn't believe how friendly the staff were. One walked past us at the entrance, and could see we were taking it in turns to have a photo with the boys. He offered without hesitation to take a photo of us all. This level of interaction continued all day.
After a couple of photos we headed straight for Peppa Pig world. I watched the boys faces intently, and the moment they saw 'Cousin Chloe' it was a game changer. The expression of pure joy won't ever leave me. We got them out their buggy, and they walked from character to character in complete disbelief. Then they saw Peppa and George in the fountain and they looked as if all their dreams had come true, looking at me and pointing, as if to say "mummy, are you seeing this too?".
They then spotted the park area, and we let them go off and explore. Usually I feel anxious in play areas, but everything was geared up for their size and ability.
At 10.30am the preview area opened and we headed to 'Grampy rabbits sailing club' where little boats (seating 4) sail around a lazy river. If you haven't already gathered I'm a bit of a worrier. I was worried that the wouldn't sit still or would cry etc, but they absolutely loved it. They pointed and danced along to the music. We recognised the wheels of the bus, so mummy and daddy sang along. How many more years are we going to get away with the boys thinking we are the coolest parents ever?
After we headed to the other new attraction 'The Queen's flying coach ride'. It was a lovely monorail attraction travelling around the new area. The boys enjoyed looking over and pointing at everything. I loved that it lasted a good length of time. There's nothing worse than queuing up and it only lasting a few seconds.
Literally everywhere you look there is something to see. Perfect for my two energetic toddlers! For example one of the new editions is Mr Bull digging the road. Every time the water sprayed from the burst water pipe the boys giggled and loved it. We stood in front of the railings watching for quite some time!
We then went to explore the original rides. We couldn't believe how many rides they could actually go on. Although queuing was a new concept to them we enjoyed every one. 'Trekking Tractors' was the boys favourite, so we rode it a few times.
It's no secret that I'm bit of a clean freak, and I usually hate nappy changing facilities, but they were the cleanest, most spacious I've ever seen. Every mat had a clip to keep your babies safe. There was a feeding area, and a microwave. I was incredible impressed. I hope visitors go on to keep them nice.
I had heard before going that eating within the park was going to be expensive. As we were planning to leave early I didn't want to take a picnic that might overheat, so I thought we'd risk it. We headed to 'The Queen's Kitchen'. They served light bites. We went for a cheese and onion pasty, and a chicken tikka pasty. They were about £3 each. Crisps were £1 a bag etc. Obviously when comparing it to Gregg's it seems pricey, but when comparing it in relation to lunch at Costa it seems more relevant. The food was really nice too!
We debated whether to take in the double buggy, and I'm so glad we did. There is still a fair bit of walking and perfect for nap time. There is plenty of space to park your buggy whilst going from ride to ride. When the boys were napping we decided to go and explore the other side of the park, where they wouldn't be so distracted. We walked around the gardens to get them to sleep, and they so peaceful. You can definitely see the time and effort that goes into keeping that area so beautiful. We then found a quiet picnic area to sit whilst the boys continued to sleep, before heading back to Peppa Pig World.
The park didn't close until 5pm, but by 4pm the boys were tired and whiney, so we headed to our hotel. We could have driven straight home, but we decided between needing dinner and then hitting rush hour Friday traffic it was worth it. We were so close to the new forest, and nice beaches we could then make a weekend of it. There is a Premier Inn located literally minutes from the entrance, and advertises itself as being super child friendly. We checked in, and after a small kerfuffle with sorting out the cots that should have been in our room, we headed for something to eat.
We headed to the 'Hungry Horse' attached to the hotel. This unfortunately wasn't up to the same level of customer service we'd experienced all day. There was a sign by the door saying 'Please wait to be seated'. We waited and waited.. with two hungry toddlers running in separate directions. In the end we seated ourselves. We ordered, and bits were missing from the kids meal. After 45 minutes and repeatedly asking for it, I decided to give up. The boys were getting fractious and it wasn't worth the parenting stress. We had debated going there for breakfast the following morning, but that made our decision for us.
After we took a little drive after dinner to the closest marina to see some boats. I was really surprised how much the boys liked looking at them.
The hotel was pleasant, and most importantly clean. For one night it was fine. The cots were travel cots, with the thin hard base. Every time the boys wriggled it made a loud bang, and I could tell they weren't comfortable. (Sorry about the leaky nappy, Premier Inn!)
The following morning we decided to head to Bournemouth, for breakfast and the typical British seaside fun. We walked around the amusement arcade, and put a few 2ps into the machines. I'm not sure if the boys were sensitive due to their disturbed night, but they didn't like the noise(aka screamed the place down). It was fine initially then someone started playing the basketball game, and all hell broke loose. We swiftly exited, and headed down to the beach. The boys dipped their toes in the FREEZING sea, and ran along the sand.
We had a lovely weekend, and will definitely return. Peppa Pig World surpassed all our expectations. We were expecting a cheap amusement park, and it really is up there with all the other main UK theme parks. I can tell the boys had a wonderful time, and they have loved watching back the footage and looking through the photos. Next time I'd probably stay overnight in Southampton or Bournemouth, as there isn't much else around. And I'd certainly stay clear of Hungry Horse's from now on.
Thank you so much to Paultons Park for having us, and we hope to see you again very soon!
Before we had children I would have always said that Mr Craig was emotionally stronger of us both. When having the twins the tables had truly turned. The first few months were hell. We were so sleep deprived, and I felt like I was the one holding it all together. Don't get me wrong, he is an amazing Dad but the massive change to our life seemed to hit him harder. When I saw him have a stressed out wobble, it used to make me feel as though I had to be even stronger to compensate. I would't sleep for days in order to let him sleep, and protect his sanity and continue working.
Once our feeding issues were got on top of, and the boys started to sleep, the emotional balance returned between us. He grew massively in confidence, but I felt a huge decline in mine.
Some days I can wake up feeling on top of the world. I feel like I've got everything under control. The boys and I have a good routine, where their needs are met and the household tasks are completed.
Then there's the days when I suddenly get hit by a wave of anxiety. I feel like I can't cope with even the basics. I'll have a mental list of jobs to do. Usually the exact same tasks as the day before, but that day I won't know where to start. My head will say there isn't enough hours in the day. It becomes a downward spiral, and I'll end up not doing anything, as I spend so much time panicking about it. Then on comes the stress migraine! I'll become an emotional wreck. The boys will sense my stress and play up even more than usual. I'll end up under a duvet in the dark, feeling very sorry for myself.
My husband works shifts, so I do a significant amount of the parenting on my own. Ironically it's usually the days when he's around to help that I'm more likely to feel anxious. It's like I've created a routine that works, and I don't understand why he can't slot into it, and help do it my way. He will either being doing tasks solely for his gain (watching TV, taking a long bath..), or doing what I consider a task halfheartedly. I know it's an over controlling thing on my side, but I get an overpowering feeling that something will go wrong.
It's simple things like washing the bottles. We have the MAM bottles. They unscrew into various bits. Depending on design they have blue, green or white parts. The design dictates the coloured parts. He will put them together willy nilly, where I like them just so. It's pathetic. I'm writing this knowing that and it certainly doesn't justify bickering with one another, but I know I'd have to take them apart, and put them together 'correctly'. Or at bedtime they'll not be in bed until later than usual. My mind will go into overdrive thinking how on earth will I get them back into the routine? How will I get the jobs done that I usually do once their in bed? How many times will they wake up tonight now?
Before having children I wouldn't have said I wore the trousers in the relationship. We definitely were two very different people. I'm tidy and organised, and he's ..well not! I did nag about tidying up after himself, but nothing has changed so he clearly didn't listen.
When the boys came along Gav and I were comfortably living in our 2 up 2 down mid terrace home. Suddenly the boys arrived and so did their “stuff”! “Oh it’s a few more nappies” they said. No it really isn’t. There’s two of absolutely everything. I started by saying “they’ll have to share,” but when you are chronically sleep deprived you will do most anything for a chance of both babies being silent for just 10 minutes together, so in rolls 2 x bouncers, 2 x swings, 2 x jumperoos.... Whilst having to complete the baby equipment slalom in our living room, I used to look forward to when they turned a year and this stuff would be gone. Well it’s gone, but it’s yet replaced with more “stuff” that they can now spread around! My living room looks like 'Ikea' and 'Toys R Us' made wild passionate love everywhere! Not that they have more than average, we just don't have the space to store it.
Don’t get me started on the washing. My washing machine is always on. Between mealtime disasters and poonamis I’m forever rinsing and treating stains. Currently I have up three 3 tier airers in my kitchen, and I have 7 loads of washing that I need to get done! I have recently been looking into getting a tumble dryer. Our kitchen hasn’t the space, so it’ll need to be a washer/ dryer combination. A John Lewis trip is on the cards ASAP!
We also recently applied for planning permission for a loft conversion. Our stupid road has a covernance on it, where we have to apply for planning permission for pretty much everything we do. And although 4 of our neighbours already have the exact same extension, we were refused. We have began the appeal stage, but who knows how long that will take. I hate when things aren’t fair. I’m a very cut and dry person, and I like everything to be given equal chances. When things aren’t I either have steam coming out of my ears, or burst into tears (some may call me an emotional wreck). I don’t handle stress well, and for us to have to live with our current situation for a prolonged amount of time, sets my anxiety off tenfold.
Adding to my anxiety, I hate my job (sorry if you’re reading this work colleagues). Since I returned from maternity leave my job and the business has changed so much. I don’t earn half the amount I used to, and the office morale is low and it’s appresive to be there. It just makes me miss my babies even more during the day. I’m becoming more and more envious of SAHM. Even of my own mother, who was able to be at home with us. Why are some people in a financial situation to be with their babies everyday. but I can’t? I’d be better off living in a council house, and living off benefits. Instead we have an eye watering amount left to pay on our mortgage. I have even considered becoming a childminder, so I could earn and spend time with the boys, but in our tiny home and Gav working shifts it just doesn’t work.
We live in a crazy expensive area (St Albans, Hertfordshire) where Gav and I were born and bred. Our tiny home was recently valued at over £400k. Gav has always been keen to spread his wings and move out of the area, where we can get so much more for our money. I’m a girl who likes to live in my comfort zone, and stepping out to the unknown terrifies me beyoud belief! But since we got refused planning permission, and I’m starting to fall out of love with our home, maybe it’s time to take a leap of faith? Just by moving 30 minutes north we can get a 3/4 bedroom semidetached with a good size garden and a garage, for not much more than our home is worth.
I’m struggling with my inner demons. I want a home where our family can grow and thrive. But I also feel like I’m going blind into the unknown. How will I know about the schools, crime ratings in an area I’m not aware of?
2018 could be a scary or an exciting year! Dragging me out of my comfort zone might be scary, but it could be amazing too!
I’d love to hear from you if you moved away from your home town. How did you know what the area would be like? How was it moving away from everything you knew? What does £400k buy you where you live?
When I very first had the boys I always had it in my head that I wanted to do a cake smash for their first birthday. As the months started to run away from me, I quickly started researching the cost of a shoot and prints. The cheapest I could find was £50, and that was plus the cost of the prints.
We hadn't long splurged out on some gorgeous portrait photos, so I began to give up on the idea. We then won a competition that was to supply birthday party decorations and cake. I started scrolling through Pinterest for inspiration. I eventually decided on a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme. I then started to think how awesome it would be to do a Mickey Mouse themed cake smash. I brought two £1 Victoria Sponge cakes from Home Bargains, and a tub of Betty Crocker's buttercream icing. The boys each wore a black vest, that I purchased from eBay; a pair of red shorts from Primark; and some Mickey ears (which they weren't keen on wearing).
I completely emptied our dining room and set up the space accordingly. We popped one of the cameras on a tripod and we also used a handheld to record video. I have to say that it couldn't have gone better. They laughed... we laughed... cake got everywhere... a win! Yes you have a bit of mess to clear up, but the positives out way the negatives. 1. I was able to carry them straight into the bath and get them properly clean. 2. You get to decide a good mood day. 3. We all were relaxed.
How many babies freeze up in a new setting, and encouraged to do the complete opposite with food thats usually encouraged? Everything including their outfits cost me less than £20!
Go on.. give it a go yourself
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