London 2017

We were fortunate to have a few days in London back in March. I was browsing the web one day while the oh was at work and thought I’d organise a wee weekend away. The main reason for going was to visit the Warner Brother Studio tour to experience The Making of Harry Potter Tour as myself and the oldest boy are massive HP fans, the younger boy is starting getting that way too. I read most of the books with my eldest until he got to the stage when he wanted to finish the last couple of books himself.

We flew from Belfast International to London Luton based on the fact that on the day of booking flights to Luton were the lowest.

From the airport I booked a taxi to take us to our hotel in Watford. Watford was chosen as a shuttle bus leaves from the train station there to the Warner Bros site. I looked a taxi reviews on TripAdvisor (I check this for most trips, hotels etc) and chose a local firm called Lucketts (http://www.luckettscoaches.com). They charged the quoted price, the driver was nice and chatted away and the trip cost about £40 and was hassle free. It would have cost more and been much more hassle to gets trains etc.

We stayed in Premier Inn in Watford and it was clean and quiet. We stay in Premier Inn often and have never had a problem. Always comfortable, clean and quiet. after checking in we headed out into Watford to get our bearings and have a reccy. The high street has lots of places to eat and it’s only a 5 minute walk from the hotel. We had a quick bite in Five Guys (there is one on Belfast but had never been before – it was OK, nothing special but just a warning to those with peanut allergy because their fries are cooked in peanut oil.

There is a Tesco store across from the hotel for stocking up and buying toothbrushes (ooops).

After a decent nights sleep we had breakfast (the usual fare – good selection of breads, cereals etc but the cooked breakfast had to be ordered which disappointed the boys a bit because they do like to go up for hot food seconds). So fed and watered we headed of to the central train station to get the shuttle, this was further than we initially thought and took us about 30 minutes but it was a nice morning and a bus arrived just as we did so we didn’t have to wait around for long. The shuttle cost very little for the 4 of us, return was around £10, I think.

The Harry Potter Tour was AMAZING. Myself and the boys absolutely loved it. Not embarrassed to admit it but at the very start of the tour I felt a wee bit emotional but a ‘look’ from my eldest boys put a stop to that lol. It was well organised and although there must have been 100 people per tour there was enough space to see the exhibits and no queues for photos etc (which is very important for me as I hate queuing).  It was like being in one of the books. I will definitely be back some day.  There is a cafe stop during the tour which is great for a cuppa or a snack. We got some butterbeer but we weren’t fans – like liquid butterballs which we love but it is sooo sweet. If you are a family on a budget I would recommend buying one and everyone having a drink to try it as I think it might be an acquired taste. We took our time and took lots of photos and I think we were there 2 and a half hours (the longest tour was 10 hours according to one of the tour guides – haha).

 

We got the fast train into the city from Watford Junction. It took about 25 minutes and took us to Euston where we joined the Underground. So in London we took the boys to Hamley’s; Oxford Street; Trafalgar Square (where M&M World was spotted and visited) but we avoided the Lego store as the queues were ridiculously long. Tired and hungry we headed to the hotel and had a picnic dinner courtesy of Tesco’s.

Sunday was home day and also the St Patrick’s Day Parade around Trafalgar Square which we were keen to avoid as we wanted to get as much packed in as we could before heading to the airport. We dropped our bags off at Victoria Coach Station where our airport bus left from and this was a good idea as we had no bags to drag around. We went to Buckingham Palace but the crowds were crazy and we could see nothing. We went to the Natural History Museum which was fantastic. By this stage we were tired and ready for home. We got a National Express coach (hadn’t been on one of those since the 90’s) to Luton and it left Victoria and arrived at Luton airport on time, it was very cheap compared to the train and was comfortable and roomy. No complaints there.

All in all we had a great weekend but there was so much we didn’t get time to see so we will have to go back again to see some more. The boys loved it and it was so nice to see it though their eyes as Chris and I had been many times before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrush Coastal Zone

The family went on a wee trip to Portrush today to visit The Coastal Zone which opens for the summer months. http://www.portrush.org.uk/listing_detail.php?SLT=153&SSC=Attractions&SC=Experience

We hadn’t been there for a long time. It’s a great wee spot and the 4 of us really enjoyed it. There are a few live exhibits such as pipe fish; starfish; anemones; sea urchins etc. There are also whale and dolphin bones etc.

We asked one of the members of staff about the mermaid’s purses which were suspended in a tank. We quite often find the empty purses washed up on local beaches.

My youngest had a great time taking photos and the following are his:

Peek-a-boo
Emerging …

Minke whale washed up in 2003 at Giant’s Causeway

We never find hermit crabs this big

 

 

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The Mermaid’s Purses

18 Summers

I was reading something recently and it said that we only have 18 summers with our children as children, young people. It really hit home with me just how short a time we have with them as children. 18 short years …

I am determined to make the most of my time with my boys. I have been lucky to have worked part time since my eldest was a baby (with just 8 months full time at one stage). I have absolutely no regrets. I could have worked full time and gone for more promotions. If I had  we would have had more money to spend on the house, on better cars and more foreign holidays but what I hope my children remember was that I was there a lot for them, that I was at every sports day, Christmas concert, Nativity Play etc.  They always say they like it that I can leave them to school and am here after school. When my eldest was born I really wanted to stay at home and was quite jealous of the stay-at-home mums but we needed another wage so part time it was. That was the right thing for me and my family and is absolutely not a criticism of those mothers who work full time. I have many friends and family members who work full time. I have followed my heart and that is what has worked for us.

I hope that the boys have wonderful childhood memories like I have of my childhood. It is our role as parents to give them the childhood they deserve. I see lots of quotes online about motherhood and there is so much pressure on mothers to be ‘perfect’. There is so much criticism of mothers on social media and I find it quite disgusting how a seemingly innocent comment can attract such nastiness and hatred. We can only do our best and follow our hearts.

My house is loud and messy.

That’s OK, because someday it will be quiet, spotless and lonely.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

His precious things

I am always fascinated by the things my youngest has in his pockets. There’s always stuff in them and at various times lots have been missed by me and nearly wrecked the washing machine! It could be stones (he went through a phase of picking up the coloured stones from graves); a feather; an ‘interesting’ piece of wood, a button … There are numerous boxes in his room containing these treasures with various warnings on them such as ‘ keep out’ and ‘top sekrit’. My older son was the same so maybe it’s something most little boys do. I find it very endearing that these random and ordinary items are treasure in his young and wondrous eyes.

All is calm

Doris is on her way. The latest winter storm is due to hit overnight so I will probably not get much sleep tonight because I just hate the wind. It makes me worry. I get up in the night and look out, even though I can’t see anything! Such a worrier. Tonight my youngest has his cousin over to stay overnight and they are supposed to be sleeping but I can hear them chattering and playing. The older boy is back at school because they had a shorter half term so he’s in bed. If the noise levels increase it’ll be lights out.  I thought they’d be shattered tonight as they both had a sleepover at their granny’s last night and were up later than usual. I had planned on taking them to the beach in the morning so unless Doris has passed us by I can forget that idea. I really hope that she has as I’d love a walk on the beach with a bit of treasure hunting thrown in. 

So I am cosy in bed surrounded by my boys so all is well in the calm before the storm.