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Picking fruits and vegetables has become one of our favorite family activities during summer and autumn. It makes for a fun day out making our way through the crops, filling up baskets with delicious produce for a low price. Garsons Pick Your Own Farm in Esher, Surrey, is one of the best PYO farms near London – and the UK’s largest, with 28 crops of fruit, vegetable and flower crops open from June to October.

Over the past three years, we’ve been visiting Garsons Pick Your Own Farm at least once during the summer to pick strawberries and again in October to pick pumpkins at the patch. In this post, I’ll be sharing more about our experiences picking a wide variety of fruits and vegetables at Garsons PYO Farm through the years.

Tip: Check the Garsons PYO Farm website for daily updates on the latest crop availability

At Garson Farm’s Esher location, in addition to the PYO Farm, you’ll find a large Garden Centre, Restaurant and a Farm Shop. There are restrooms and baby changing facilities within the Garden Centre, and a small playground near the restaurant.

Garsons PYO Farm now requires a minimum spend payment of £4 per adult (age 17 and older) at the entrance kiosk. Hold onto the receipt because that minimum spend will be refunded against any produce you pick and purchase.

You can walk around the PYO farm, but the crops are very spread out across 150 acres so I’d recommend driving to the fields. Once you’ve made the minimum spend payment, you can also leave and re-enter the PYO farm throughout the day – just show the receipt at the entrance kiosk.

The dirt road around the PYO farm is one-way, so pick up a crop map at the entrance kiosk or the garden centre to plan out which crops you’d like to stop at along the way. By most crops, there is a parking area and a kiosk with small blue punnets (that hold approximately 1 kg of produce) or large green punnets (that hold about 3 kg) which you can take free of charge. Plastic bags are also provided for vegetable picking.

On our most recent visit, there were kiosks for payment on the way out of the PYO field. Credit cards are accepted and, again, make sure to have your minimum spend receipt to hand to be refunded that amount against your purchase.

Strawberries

Earlier this week, we picked strawberries at a crop covered by a shade cloth. We spent a good two hours filling up three punnets worth of strawberries. Freshly picked strawberries are so delicious and absolutely worth coming out to a PYO farm to gather your own. It’s a fun experience that my son has looked forward to each year – and now his little sister is enjoying it too!

In previous years, we’ve picked strawberries in an open field and at a table-top crop like the one shown below. It changes depending on which crops are ready for picking on the day you visit, on some days you might find several strawberry crops open for picking around the fields.

Green Beans and Cherries

One of the reasons why we enjoy coming to Garsons Pick Your Own Farm is the variety. In addition to having a wide selection of produce to pick, it’s a great educational experience for kids to how different fruits and vegetables grow. Last July was a great time to visit when plenty of crops were open and we ended up picking strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and French beans.

I’m planning to go back this year to pick French beans again – they were so tasty cooked the same day, so much better than store bought ones!

Raspberries and Plums

We have also visited Garsons Pick Your Own Farm in early September. Again, there was a variety of crops to pick from, with our favorites being the raspberries and plums.

Sweetcorn and Sunflowers

During that September visit, we also picked sweetcorn and a couple of sunflowers. Little T was much more interested in the ladybugs he found on the leaves in the corn field.

Tip: Bring scissors or flower snips if you plan on picking sunflowers! And ideally a container with water to hold the cut flowers in

Pumpkin Patch

It’s also an annual family tradition to visit Garsons Pick Your Own Farm in October to pick our pumpkins at the patch for carving or painting. There are loads of pumpkins to choose from at the pumpkin patch and it’s a great spot for photos too. Make sure to bring your wellies as it can get muddy there!

Farm Shop

Voted Surrey’s best farm shop, the Farm Shop at Garsons stocks high quality produce; local and regional cheese; freshly baked bread and pastries; locally-made wines, beers and spirits; free-range beef and poultry; speciality foods and artisan products from around the UK.

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In late May, we packed up the car and went on a road trip adventure from London to Chamonix in the French Alps. I’ll be sharing more about this trip along with recommendations for outdoor family adventures in the surrounding area, starting off in this post with one of the highlights: a visit to the Merlet Animal Park (or Parc de Merlet) in Les Houches.

Merlet Animal Park covers 20 hectares and is home to eight animal species, seven of which are indigenous to the alpine region, including the ibex mountain goat, chamois (antelope), marmot and deer. The non-native animal living at the park is the llama. The animals roam freely throughout this open habitat of pasture and forest and you’re required to keep a distance of at least 10m.

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There are two ways to explore the park: by following an easy, 1 hour long trail with stroller access or by following a more challenging 2 hour long trail that takes you up the slopes for more unique viewing opportunities. We had a stroller so we took the easy circuit, but I’d recommend bringing the baby carrier if you’d like to enjoy a nice hike and follow the longer, steeper trail.

We saw mostly ibexes, deer and llamas while we walked around the park, and we were blown away by the stunning panoramic views of the Chamonix valley and Mont Blanc massif.

We loved watching the ibexes in particular as they effortlessly leapt onto the building roofs, for a unique view of their own. The alpine ibex is a mountain goat with incredible climbing skills that tends to live at high altitudes (up to 3000m) above the snow line.

A short drive away from Chamonix, Merlet Animal Park is a fantastic place to visit for watching local wildlife roaming about their natural habitat. Over the summer (July and August), there are daily information sessions, opportunities to meet the park guides and more hands-on activities. With an on-site restaurant and a small play area, it makes for a wonderful family day out learning about the local wildlife, hiking the trails and enjoying the stunning scenery.

Merlet Animal Park

Address: 2495, Chemin de Merlet, 74 310 Les Houches, France

Opening Hours: May, June and September – open from 10am to 6pm every day EXCEPT Mondays; July and August – open every day from 9:30am to 7:30pm.

Tickets: Adult tickets cost 7€; child tickets (4 to 14 years old) cost 4€. Children under 4 enter free.

On Site Restaurant: Le Balcon de Merlet offers traditional cuisine between 13€ and 22€ along with a children’s menu. The restaurant has a terrace overlooking the stunning view of the mountains and valley.

Family-Friendly Facilities: Play area with sand pit and toys, picnic tables outside the park (no picnics allowed inside), easy trail circuit with stroller access, restrooms and souvenir shop by restaurant.

Parking: Four free parking lots, starting from 1000m from the entrance. The parking lot closest to the park entrance is reserved for disabled. Our visit was during the off peak season so we were able to park pretty close to the entrance, however, during busy periods you may need to park at the lots located 1000m away.

www.parcdemerlet.com

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The V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, East London, comes up regularly whenever I’d ask for recommendations for family-friendly museums to visit – and it didn’t disappoint for a great day out when I visited recently with 4 1/2 year old Little T and 7 month old Baby A.

The museum, which is part of the Victoria & Albert Museum, houses a collection of childhood-related objects. Toys, dolls’ houses, costumes, puzzles, games and nursery furniture are displayed across two floors, offering a fascinating look into how childhood items have changed and evolved through the centuries.

The V&A Museum of Childhood runs several workshops and activities for children, from toddler mornings to arts and crafts – check the museum’s What’s On page for current exhibitions and activities.

Childhood Galleries

On the first floor, the Childhood Galleries is separated into sections that explore different aspects of childhood – what home means, how babies are cared for, what children wear, and what children will be when they grow up.

The V&A Museum of Childhood has a collection of 100 dolls’ houses, some of which date back to the 1600s! Also on the first floor you’ll find a collection of toys and puppets from around the world and displays showing the nursery equipment, toys and clothing from the Victorian era to modern times.

Century of the Child Exhibition

The exhibition, “Century of the Child: Nordic Design for Children 1900 to Today” was on when we visited the V&A Museum of Childhood and will continue running until 2 September 2018. The exhibition explores the influences which have helped forge Nordic design – including iconic designs and characters such as BRIO, LEGO and the Moomins – and examines how children have inspired some of the century’s most progressive designs, architecture and literature.

There is an area here for children to get hands-on with blocks and other toys, however, it was very busy when we visited so we headed on to the mezzanine floor to see the rest of the galleries.

Creativity Gallery

The displays in the Creativity Gallery on the mezzanine floor are categorised into Make it Happen, Explore, Be Inspired and Imagine.

The highlights for the kids were the several hands-on exhibits dotted around the galleries. The interactive areas in the Creativity Gallery are great for babies and toddlers – Make Believe and the Sensory Pod. The V&A Museum of Childhood also runs Arts & Crafts workshops that regularly take place in this gallery; make sure to check the museum’s website for the current dates and times.

The Sensory Pod is a multi-sensory playroom featuring color-changing light columns and a tactile wall. While Little T entertained himself by changing the colors of the lights, Baby A enjoyed running her hands over the different textures and materials of the tactile wall.

Moving Toys Gallery

The displays in the Moving Toys Gallery, on the other side of the mezzanine floor, have toys and games categorised into Look See, Circuits and Motors, Springs and Cogs and Pushes and Pulls.

The Moving Toys Gallery was Little T’s favorite part of the museum. There were interactive displays geared towards preschoolers and older children, where he could ride a rocking horse, use a magnetic pen to create a drawing (in this case, a hair style around a head) and move cogs into the right places to get a robot working.

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The first signs of spring are a welcome sight in London after the grey, dreary days of winter. From March, the parks and gardens around the city come to life with vibrant crocuses and daffodils, followed by blossoms, magnolia, tulips and more through May. It’s a beautiful time of year and we can start looking forward to warmer weather and days spent exploring the outdoors and picnicking at the parks.

I’ve put together a list of our favorite places around London during the season, along with some tips to help with planning a day out whether you live in London or are visiting on holiday.

Kew Gardens

Kew Gardens is a pleasure to visit year round and one of the best places to experience springtime in London. There are over 300 acres to explore, with some highlights including the Palm House, Treetop Walkway, Princess of Wales Conservatory and the Natural Area.

Depending on when you visit during spring, there’s plenty to spot: crocuses and daffodils, magnolia trees (near the Azalea Garden), cherry blossoms (behind the Palm House, heading towards the Temperate House), bluebells (at Queen Charlotte’s cottage and the Natural Area) and beautiful flower beds along the Great Broad Walks Border.

Keep an eye out for Kew Gardens’s spring updates and map on their website. I also have a look at the Kew Gardens’s Instagram account, @kewgardens, and @kewplantsman for inspiration to help plan our day.

Tip: Check the “What’s On” page on Kew Gardens’s website for the latest walks, activities and exhibitions running to help plan your visit.

There are several restaurants dotted around, however, I’d recommend bringing along a picnic to enjoy anywhere as you walk around the gardens. For kid’s play areas, there’s the indoor Climbers and Creepers with a cafe and ice cream parlour nearby. The outdoor kids’ playground next to it is closed until Spring 2019, however, the Natural Area is a fantastic spot for outdoor fun with a log trail and human-sized badger sett to explore.

Read more about our previous visits to Kew Gardens through the seasons: Spring at Kew Gardens, Wandering around Kew Gardens; Autumn Foliage at Kew Gardens

St James’s Park

Daffodils are one of the first signs of spring and usually from early March, you can start to see the flowers in bloom around the London parks. St James’s Park receives the majority of bulbs planted by the Royal Parks, and when in bloom, its thousands of daffodils create a vibrant display of yellow.

Tip: If you’re visiting with children, there’s a playground located across the Wellington Barracks with a large sand pit, play equipment and a climbing area with a slide.

Read more about one of our springtime visits to St James’s Park and Buckingham Palace: Spring Flowers at St James’s Park

Chiswick House & Gardens

The annual Camellia Flower Show at Chiswick House features 33 different displays of camellias at its conservatory. It’s one of the oldest collections in Britain with many of the camellias descended from the original planting in 1828. It usually runs from late February to late March and this year the show ends on 25th March 2018.

I visited recently in early March when it was snowing in London. It was a beautiful taste of spring in the conservatory while the gardens of Chiswick House were a winter wonderland!

Kensington Gardens

On the Lancaster Gate side of Kensington Gardens, and near the Italian Gardens, there are is a grove of blossom trees and at least one magnolia tree which are beautiful to see when they’re in bloom. I wrote about a post about our day out in Kensington Gardens, which included a stop at one of our favorite places – the Princess Diana Memorial Playground.

You’ll also find several pink blossoming trees near the Albert Memorial on the East Albert Lawn.

Hyde Park

And across the Serpentine, close to the Knightsbridge side of Hyde Park, there’s this beautiful, tranquil spot with a magnolia tree.

Tip: Visit the LookOut Discovery Centre in Hyde Park for family and well being activities to connect with and learn more about nature, such as yoga, nature discovery days and sunset safaris.

Buckingham Palace

One of the best places to see tulips during spring is at Buckingham Palace, where around 28,000 tulips are planted in the Memorial Gardens each year – a riot of colour that was stunning to see when I visited last year on a sunny day in April.

Richmond Park

I found visiting the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park when its azaleas and rhododendrons are in full bloom (around late April to early May) one of the most gorgeous spring experiences in London. The woodland garden bursts with color, these beautiful shades of pink and red.

Tip: Richmond Park will have a minibus operating from 4 April – 31 October 2018 with stops at all car parks and Isabella Plantation, making it easier for people to visit this woodland garden. Have a look at the minibus timetable here.

Also make sure to visit the Royal Parks’s website for a detailed month-by-month guide of what plants you can see at the Isabella Plantation.

Regent’s Park

Another popular spot for spring flowers is Regent’s Park, where you’ll find beautiful displays of tulips (Avenue Gardens) and cherry blossom trees (Chester Road). It’s the perfect place for a picnic, a stroll through its gardens, a visit to one of its four playgrounds or its outdoor sports area – the largest in London.

Where’s your favorite place, at home or on your travels, to see spring flowers?

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We booked the Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast at Cape May Café for our final Walt Disney World character meal towards the end of our trip to Orlando. At this buffet style breakfast at the quaint Beach Club Resort, we met Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck all decked out in their swimwear.

Restaurant Reservation

I managed to book this breakfast only a few days before and I’m glad I did – the food was pretty good and we enjoyed the experience. I’d still recommend trying to book the character meals further in advance; we might have just lucked out that there was a cancellation just in time.

Tip: Sign up to the My Disney Experience website or app and start booking your dining reservations up to 180 days ahead of your trip – popular restaurant bookings go quickly! You can always cancel or amend your reservation up to 24 hours before. Phone numbers must be 10 digits, so to book with your UK number, drop the first ‘0’.

Meeting the Characters

Little T participated in a parade, pretending to swim with Goofy, and he enjoyed watching the characters from our table and of course meeting them and getting autographs whenever they stopped by our table. It was pretty quiet when we visited and we had plenty of time to interact with each character. I loved that they also did a couple of fun parades and games during the breakfast, involving the children for some time.

Breakfast Buffet

Cape May Cafe offers a good breakfast buffet with the usual items: Mickey waffles, bacon and sausages, quiche and scrambled eggs, pastries, pancakes with lots of sweet toppings, cold cuts, roasted ham, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, etc.

The Beach Club Resort

Disney’s Beach Club Resort is located within walking distance to Epcot and has a charming New-England inspired design.

We only briefly explored the resort, mainly having a look at its famous swimming pool that features waterslides, a lazy river and a big pirate ship!

Overall Impression

The Minnie’s Beach Bash Breakfast was a wonderful opportunity to meet Minnie, Donald Duck and Goofy, with plenty of individual interaction. There was a good selection at the buffet and a mix of healthy and indulgent items – again, something there for everyone. Service was fantastic, with a very friendly server and a helpful restaurant manager, both frequently checking in with us, to see if we needed anything or were waiting to meet a character. Overall, a great experience and a place I would recommend for a character meal at Walt Disney World.

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Character meals at Walt Disney World parks or resorts are a great way for your family to meet several Disney characters, especially if you have young children as there’s no waiting in a queue and they just come to you while you have your meal. One of the three character meals we booked during our May 2017 trip to Orlando was at the ‘Ohana in the Polynesian Village Resort, where we met Mickey, Pluto, Lilo and Stitch while having a family style breakfast. In this post, I’ll be sharing a review on our experience at the ‘Ohana;

Restaurant Reservation

The ‘Ohana Character Breakfast came highly recommended for its lively atmosphere and opportunity to meet Mickey and friends. The Polynesian Village Resort is a Disney resort and anyone, whether you’re staying on or off property, can book a table at the restaurants up to 180 days in advance.  I made a reservation for a late breakfast a couple of days after our arrival in Orlando.

Tip: Sign up to the My Disney Experience website or app and start booking your dining reservations up to 180 days ahead of your trip – popular restaurant bookings go quickly! You can always cancel or amend your reservation up to 24 hours before. Phone numbers must be 10 digits, so to book with your UK number, drop the first ‘0’.

When we arrived at the ‘Ohana for our reservation, we were given a buzzer to hold onto during the wait for our table. ‘Ohana is located on the floor overlooking the lobby, where you’ll also find a couple of merchandise shops and the Kona Café. We browsed the shops and Mr. G and I had a delicious Kona coffee at the café during the wait.

The wait eventually ended up to be around an hour to be seated, which was disappointing considering we had a reservation and the restaurant was half empty when we arrived. We also ended up being seated just after 12pm and breakfast – as well as the opportunities to meet the characters – was due to end at 1pm.

Family Style Breakfast

We were first served pineapple bread, a plate of fresh fruit, and some fruit juice, which was a blend of passion fruit juice, orange juice and guava juice.

Breakfast was served in a big pan: waffles, bacon, sausages, biscuits and scrambled eggs to share family style. It is a good value in that you can keep having the items topped up and served to your table.

Our waiter was very accommodating when Mr. G asked to have something other than what was offered on the platter. He brought over a pan, the same huge size as the one above, full of egg whites, and also continued to check in to see if we wanted anything topped up.

Meeting the Characters

As for the character experience at ‘Ohana, the characters were wonderful at engaging with 3 1/2 year old Little T and taking the time to sign autographs and take photos. Our table was a bit tucked away from everyone else, so we were always the last to meet the characters, but the restaurant manager checked in regularly with us and made sure we were seen.

Tip: Bring an autograph book for the characters to sign. There are some that you can also add photos and other mementos to that make a wonderful souvenir. You can find customizable autograph books on Etsy or, of course, purchase ones at the resorts or parks, with prices ranging from $8 to $17.

Little T absolutely loved seeing the characters and asking for their autographs. He actually didn’t really eat until the very end, because he was mesmerized watching the characters moving around the room.

Pluto and Stitch were particularly friendly and lively to watch. Lilo was very sweet and kept waving at us every time she passed by.

The highlight was meeting Mickey Mouse – Little T had been waiting weeks for that moment. He had just purchased a small handheld fan that had Mickey riding a plane and loved showing it to Mickey, who made the motions that it was him riding the airplane and had Little T cracking up – such a sweet moment!

At one point, there’s a parade around the ‘Ohana with the characters and kids shaking maracas and dancing. It goes by very quickly but it is fun having that extra moment interacting with the characters.

Mickey at the 'Ohana Character Breakfast parade - YouTube

The Polynesian Village Resort

I’d recommend making some time to explore a bit of the resort itself before or after your meal. Located by the Magic Kingdom, the Polynesian Village Resort is connected to the park with the monorail, so we had our first monorail spotting while there.

The Polynesian Village Resort is decorated beautifully, with Hawaiian design elements, fountains and tropical plants. There’s a fun swimming pool (for resort guests only) and a beach on the lake, which is open to non-resort guests.

The resort beach is a good spot to relax in the evening and watch a night show on the lake right before watching the fireworks display at Magic Kingdom in the distance – you can ask the concierge for current fireworks times. Below is a view of the lake and part of the resort from the ‘Ohana.

There’s a quick service stand, Pineapple Lanai, right outside the lobby (on the way to the pool area) where you can pick up the famous Dole Whip soft serve or pineapple float. Aside from the Polynesian Village Resort, the only other place at Walt Disney World where you can pick up this scrumptious treat is at the Aloha Isle at Magic Kingdom.

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Located on the Gulf of Mexico and Florida’s west coast and less than a two hour drive away from Orlando, Clearwater Beach is a great place to take a break from the theme parks and escape to the seaside. During our family vacation in Orlando, we took a day trip to Clearwater to enjoy some time at its gorgeous white sand beaches. It turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip!

Pier 60

Our first stop was Pier 60, where we also parked the car in a pay and display lot. There are plenty of facilities around the pier, including restrooms, small shops, a covered playground and beach rentals, and it’s within short walking distance to a stretch of cafes, stores and restaurants.

Wheel Fun Rentals

After some fun at the beach, splashing in the warm water and building sandcastles, we headed over to Wheel Fun Rentals to rent a surrey bike. Wheel Fun Rentals have since moved their location away from Clearwater Beach, but there are a couple of other places in the area to rent all types of bikes. At the time of our visit in May 2017, it was $25 per hour to rent a single surrey bike (on the left) and $35 per hour to rent a double surrey bike (on the right).

We had a blast taking the surrey bike, with Little T riding up front, to explore the area along the boardwalk, stopping for an ice cream break along the way. It isn’t a very long stretch, so an hour was plenty of time for us to ride the surrey bike around Clearwater Beach.

Sand Key Beach

We then took the car to Sand Key Beach, which is a state park and expansive beach less than 10 minutes away from Clearwater Beach. Facilities here include a large pay and display parking lot, playground, dog park, beach cabanas and restrooms.

Sand Key Beach is a much quieter beach compared to Clearwater Beach. If you’re looking to escape the crowds, it’s definitely the place to go for a more peaceful and pristine setting.

Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill

We headed back to Clearwater Beach as the sun was starting to set to have dinner at the lively beachfront Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. I highly recommend this restaurant for excellent food and a great location for watching the sunset!

I had the coconut shrimp which were delicious! Little T had a standard chicken tenders basket off the kid’s menu.

And Mr. G had some grilled fish with mashed potatoes and vegetables. We all ate well here.

We had dinner and stepped out just in time to take in the beautiful sunset before heading back to Orlando. It was definitely worth visiting Clearwater Beach for some beach time during our Orlando holiday. Our day trip to Clearwater turned out to be one of the highlights of our vacation!

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Piccolo Explorer by Piccoloexplorer - 9M ago

St Ives, the charming seaside town in Cornwall, has been on my bucket list for some time and was our first choice for a summer staycation in mid-June. We took the car for the 300 mile trip – our first road trip with 3 1/2 year old Little T – and had great weather to enjoy a sunny weekend exploring the beautiful beaches of St Ives over our weekend visit.

Where We Stayed

We found St Ives a pleasure to walk around and I would recommend choosing a hotel close to town to make the most of it. Our hotel was steps away from Porthminster Beach and only a short walking distance to the town centre, shops and restaurants, the harbour and even Porthmeor Beach.

We stayed at the St Ives Harbour Hotel & Spa, and while the hotel has a fantastic location, we were very disappointed and I honestly wouldn’t recommend the hotel. In short, our room was overpriced for what it was (very small and dated) and the breakfast experience was simply awful. I’ve written an extensive TripAdvisor review if you’re interested in reading more about it.

What We Did

We lucked out with sunny weather and clear skies to enjoy St Ives’s gorgeous coastline. Again, the town is a pleasure to explore by foot, and when we weren’t lounging at the beaches, we were browsing the shops at the town centre or enjoying the lively atmosphere at the harbor.

Porthmeor Beach

If I had to pick a favorite beach at St Ives, it would be beautiful Porthmeor Beach, a popular surfing spot where you’ll also find the Tate St Ives.

Porthmeor Beach has plenty of facilities that include a café, surf school, restrooms and beach rentals.

The water looks very inviting, but it is freezing and wetsuits (which can be rented at the beach) are highly recommended!

Porthminster Beach

For families with young children, I’d recommend Porthminster Beach for its calm, protected waters.

It’s very conveniently located, with a train stop and a car park nearby and only a ten minute walk from the town centre.

There are a number of facilities here too, including a beach bar and café, restaurant, ice cream parlour and chalets to rent. We had dinner at Porthminster Beach Café (see below for photos) and can highly recommend the restaurant.

St Ives Harbour

We’d always stop at this lookout point between Porthminster Beach and the town centre for this fantastic view of the St. Ives Harbour. Along the coastline of St Ives are these bright, beautiful gardens.

We visited St Ives Harbour in the evening, to walk along the street bustling with activity and enjoy an ice cream from Moo Maid, and during the day when its beach area was crowded with families. There are shops, cafes, restaurants, an arcade and art galleries along the harbour – and beautiful views of the coast, looking towards Porthminster Beach.

The Town Centre

I highly recommend exploring the town’s shops. We picked up some great souvenirs, including a children’s book based in St Ives, The Little Sea Dragon’s Wild Adventure by Helen Dunmore and some beautiful handmade glass bowls by local artist Jo Downs.

Where We Ate

Porthminster Beach Café

One restaurant that came up consistently in people’s recommendations for St. Ives was Porthminster Beach Café. Excellent food there, great atmosphere, very family friendly and lovely views overlooking Porthminster Beach.

Mr. G ordered the whole baked Dover sole, served with roasted garlic butter, fresh lemon, tiger prawns and baby leeks – he was very happy with his meal!

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Recently we visited the Museum of London, which is located in the City, close to the Barbican Centre and a short walk away from St. Paul’s Cathedral. The museum is free to visit and documents the history of London, from prehistoric to modern times, offering the largest urban history collection in the world with more than six million objects.

I visited with 3 1/2 year old Little T and we found the museum fascinating and very family-friendly. My son enjoyed the interactive displays and exhibits around the museum, from measuring weights in the Roman London gallery to moving London’s iconic transport vehicles around a track in the People’s City gallery.

While we were in the City, we took the opportunity meet up with my husband at the Sky Garden for lunch which was a fantastic experience – the 360 degree views of London are incredible and it was a great way to make the most of our visit to the Square Mile.

For a day out in the City of London, I’d recommend having a look at the free maps, event calendar and latest updates on the Visit the City tourism bureau‘s website. Download self-guided tour maps, including a family-friendly version, the Children’s trail map.

London Before London (450,000 BC – AD 50)

Our visit to the Museum of London started with a look into the lives of people in the Lower Thames Valley from prehistoric times until the creation of the Roman city of Londinium. It is incredible to imagine that rhinos, mammoths and wolves once roamed around London.

Interesting fact: 125,000 years ago, hippos lived in Trafalgar Square!

Roman London (AD 50 – 410)

Fragments of the Roman London Wall can be seen just outside the Museum of London. The museum’s Roman London gallery offers a fascinating look into what daily life was like in the city, called Londinium, 2000 years ago.

Interesting fact: Around AD 120, when Londonium was at its height, the city was home to about 45,000 people and it would not reach that size again until the 13th century.

The artifacts and displays of the growing city were very interesting, and I enjoyed the look into a typical home at the time.

Medieval London (410 – 1558)

This gallery takes you from the collapse of the Roman city to the accession of Queen Elizabeth I. During this period of time, London grew to become one of the wealthiest and most important cities in Europe.

Interesting fact: In the 1100s, Londoners would go ice skating by tying animal bones to their feet and using wooden poles to push themselves along the ice.

War, Plague and Fire (1550s – 1660s)

One of the most turbulent periods in London’s history, the city experienced the execution of King Charles I in 1649, the plague in 1665 and the Great Fire of 1666. There are some amazing paintings this gallery depicting the Great Fire.

Expanding City (1670s – 1850s)

In this gallery, we enjoyed having a look at the many artifacts, dollhouses and stunning gowns, as well as everyday objects recovered in excavations. Here you’ll also find a recreation of Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, with beautiful fashion displayed.

People’s City Gallery (1850s – 1940s)

My favorite part of the museum was the Victorian walk, where you can experience wandering along the winding streets of 19th century London. We spent most of our time having a look at the toy shop window – some things never change!

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The Padma Resort Legian in Bali, Indonesia, is a beautifully designed resort with lush gardens, several swimming pools and a convenient location steps away from Legian Beach. We stayed at the Padma Resort Legian for twelve nights in July 2016, and its family-friendly facilities and excellent customer service truly made for a memorable holiday.

Stunning Resort Grounds

Padma Resort Legian is spread out across over 16 acres of tropical landscaped gardens, with sculptures and koi ponds dotted around the property and over 400 guest rooms and suites designed to reflect Bali’s rich culture.

The lush gardens of the Padma Resort were a pleasure to wander around and a lovely shelter from the hot sun.

Deluxe Chalet Room

For our twelve night stay, we booked a Deluxe Chalet with breakfast included. The best value at the time was by booking directly through the resort’s website. In addition to the breakfast buffet, our room rate included: free Wi-Fi access throughout the resort, return airport transfers and a 50% discount at the beauty salon.

The Deluxe Chalet was comfortable for us, with king-size bed, a day bed, TV, a desk and chair, and a good-sized bathroom with a bathtub and shower. We also had a small patio area with a table and chairs and a drying rack for clothes.

For larger families, the selection of family rooms and suites look really great and they are mostly located by the Kid’s Pool and Kid’s Club area.

Family-Friendly Facilities

The highlight for us staying at this resort were the family-friendly facilities and services, which included a fantastic Kid’s Pool, a Kid’s Club and Games Centre and babysitting services.

Kid’s Pool

We spent hours at the Kid’s Pool that was divided into two parts: a shallow area with water jets and a small water slide, perfect for young tots – and a deeper pool with two tall water slides.

Nearly 3 year old Little T moved easily around the shallow area on his own and, with our help, would swim in the deeper area using his arm bands or inflatable ring. It was a kid’s paradise!

Kid’s Club

The Kid’s Club also came highly recommended. While the Kid’s Club is free for children aged 4 to 12 years old, Little T could play at the club supervised by us or a babysitter (65000 IDR [approx £3] per hour). The Kid’s Club is open every day from 9am to 8pm, features a small outdoor playground and an indoor game room with plenty of toys and games, a TV room and a quiet room for naptime.

The Kid’s Club also offers a great schedule of arts & crafts and outdoor activities for guests to join in on during their stay – from turtle feeding to a treasure hunt to a party club on Saturdays (at an additional cost). If your child(ren) will be having lunch or dinner time at the Kid’s Club, then you just need to fill out a form with the meal request(s)..

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