Author: My Trips and Tales

Disneyland Hotel, Paris

Disneyland Paris’  25th Anniversary

The hotel I stayed in is right at the entrance of the park. One of the huge benefits of staying in the 5 star luxurious hotel was that after watching the fireworks at 11pm, I got to walk to the exit, and went up straight to my room. With two tired, slightly grumpy children, it was a huge bonus.

The hotel is everything you imagine it to be. It is beautiful, with Disney features all over the place. Everything screams Disney.

There is the huge staircase, where little girls in princess’ outfits were being photographed. Needless to say, I had one of those too, for myself and for my daughter; my daughter in her princess dress and one of me in my long summer dress, the nearest I got to a princess dress.

Our classic room had the same wardrobe as in Beauty and the Beast, well, according to the children. I would not have been surprised if it started singing and talking. That would have been the icing on the cake.

The staff are like everyone elsewhere, some are super nice, friendly and helpful and the rest are grumpy and behave like they really do not want to be there. Booking shows was complicated, well booking it was easy but what followed was complicated.

At the entrance, the valet staff bring all the luggage in and they were one of the happiest, friendliest people around. The excitement of entering the hotel starts with them, sharing their happiness with us.

There are a few restaurants and shops within the hotel. There is also characters meet and greet outside the restaurants in the morning and the evening.

We would spend a few hours in the park before heading back to the hotel for a rest and shower. I reserved two restaurants within the hotel, Inventions and California Grill to eat at in the evenings, as it was so convenient to just leave the room and walk 5 minutes to the restaurants.

In the morning, we ate at Inventions where there was a a character meet and greet everyday. Something to get the children excited.

It was warm and sunny on all the days, so we gave the indoor heated pool a miss.

Waffles with Hazelnut Chocolate spread and Strawberries

I love good food, especially those that can be prepared and cooked easily and quickly.

I have to say, this waffles dish is phenomenal. I wonder why I have never tried this desert before. So easy and quick.

At first I was not even sure if it was supposed to be a breakfast or desert but I decided on the latter. It was after dinner and I could not wait till morning to try the waffles. Morning is written on the box of waffles.

This is so simple to prepare, yet the combination of strawberries, the waffle itself and the hazelnut chocolate spread is phenomenal.

Did I mention this desert is phenomenal.

The waffles can be shop bought. I bought mine as frozen as they last longer and they taste as good as the fresh ones.

Pop them in the grill or toaster for a few minutes, spread the chocolate and enjoy with fresh strawberries.

Disneyland Paris – France

I did it. I went to France.

I have lived in England for over 18 years and yet this was the first time I was going to France. I have visited other countries but somehow, I kept flying over France and kept postponing my trip there.

Cote D’Azure, Nice, Paris and other pretty places are on my wish list, but this time, it was off to Disneyland first.

The children were old enough to remember this trip and young enough to still like Disney stuff. Well, we are never too old to go to Disneyland.

I get it now, why they all say that you become a child again at this magical place. I did indeed become a kid again, especially when you have never been to somewhere like Disneyland when you were a child.

Dare I say I was more excited than the children and I cannot forget the look on other diners’ face, wondering if I was ok, when Mickey came to meet us. I was literally jumping up and down with a huge grin. I never thought someone in a Mickey costume could bring out the kid in me.

Now that I have done this, I do not want to go to DisneyWorld in America just yet.

I came home with very good memories, but I also captured the good and the bad.

I remember looking at the options of visiting the park a few years ago, and I could not decide what was the best one.

Do I drive, fly or take a train to Paris? How long to stay for? Are 2 days enough, 3 days? Which hotel to stay in? How long does it take to get from the hotel to the park?

All these questions and no answers. I simply could not decide. The children were small at that time, so I was not sure if it would a great idea to stay in a hotel far from the park, but also staying near was more expensive.

In the end I went to a travel agent which came highly recommended. I had done my research online and decided which hotel to go for, one in the village which fitted in my budget.  To my surprise, for the same price I was offered a deal which did not go over my budget and which included the Disneyland Hotel.

I stayed for 3 nights and 4 days, which was all the time I needed there. I could not have done another day of Disneyland. I also ended up driving there, from England.  So it was a 2 in 1, a road trip to France, and a trip to Disneyland.

Read more about my little adventure –

 

So excited about Spring

The sun is out, it is not even that cold outside.
It’s colder indoors than outdoors. And it is my first time in the garden since last year, maybe since October/December.
Spring symbolises new life and here are a few of the photos I took of the plants in my garden, symbolising new life.


I am looking forward to longer days, days spent in the garden, in the sun, and of course good food ( already salivating thinking of grilled fish and vegetables with a cold fresh fruit juice…or a cold cider )  and good company.
Are you as excited as me about spring, good and warm weather?
Photos of My Garden

Oldhouseintheshires

 

Science Museum London, with the children

Science Museum, Kensington London
It’s the Easter Holidays.
And my first time travelling on my own with the children on the trains and the London underground. The London Underground, also known as the tubes, is always so packed that I have never felt confident to travel with the children on my own.
Now that they are older, it was much easier and also fun as they helped me navigate the London underground tube map.
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We had to change trains/tubes a few times to get to our destination, South Kensington, where the Science Museum is located.
We were all so very excited about the whole trip. The tubes were packed as expected, and had to miss a few as we all could not get in. It was an interesting experience. I made sure the children held my hand and I did not take my eyes off them at the stations.
I had packed some sandwiches, cereal bars, fruits and water, which turned out to be really handy as the children got hungry as soon as we reached the museum.
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The cafes/restaurants inside the museum were full, and I was glad I had my own sandwiches. On the way back, I had planned to try out a nearby restaurant.
The place is certainly very interesting. There is a lot to see, maybe too much. My 8 year old was tired whilst still on the groundfloor and there were another 3 floors to go.
The few things they both enjoyed were the galleries, the Who Am I, Exploring space, Making the Modern World.
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Energy Hall

By the time we got to Level 2, I was thinking of calling it a day and make our way back to Home Sweet Home, but the children got some rest here and quite enjoyed the interactive gallery of Atmosphere.
They loved having to think about things like ” Should we engineer the climate “.
Somehow we never made it to Level 3, as I did not know there was one until much later when I got the chance to look at the map ( the map that I had in my hands, and carried around with me ) I also just found out that there was a basement floor too.
I would love to see the things I have missed so maybe another trip is on the card.
On the way to the station, the underpass which had led us to the museum straight from the station was closed. So I was lost for about 30 minutes, trying to find a tube station.  It was a very nice day, with the sun shining, ( In UK, warm weather and the sun shining is a big deal for some, like me ) so walking around Kensington was a bonus. We got to watch a bubble show, a strange but interesting bubbles show.
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I write for my pleasure, to capture those simple moments and to share my photos. As much as I love reading travel journals like this, I hope mine too can bring some pleasure /help /provide some information to someone else.
My photos of the Science Museum
My Photos of London

TravelLatte

 

2 Days in London

Day 1
Aboard the Sightseeing Bus
I have been to London countless of times and I never tire of it, with its endless strings of attractions. There is something for everyone.
I have always walked from place to place, and use the bus or the tube. The tube is very convenient, with a tube station at every corner and so easy to use and get from one place to another quickly.  The map looks complicated for the first timers but once you try it, it is straighforward. This is coming from me, who has no sense of direction, but I can honestly say that I can use those tube and bus maps. Tube Map
This time, I gave the tour bus a go, or rather I was ropped into this, but I have no regrets. I fact I enjoyed it so much that I plan to take the children on the hop on hop off bus during the Summer holidays or when I get a chance.
My friend was on a solo trip to Europe and London being one of her destinations, she came to stay with me. I accompanied her to London, being one to never miss an opportunity to visit the famous city. She had her route mapped and had done all her research prior to her travels. And she was adamant in using a hop on hop off London bus tour. Personally, having walked around London so many times before, I found the bus tour. As much as I love being a tourist in London, I also live in a little countryside town not far from London and I found the ticket quite steep.
But I gave in, as I thought why not. She had been on hop on hop off buses throughout cities in Europe and quite enjoyed it.
Being in January, right in the middle of Winter, the bus tour company had deals on and we paid for the bus tour and received a complimentary hop on hop off River Thames Sightseeing Cruise.

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View from the river

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View from the river

                                                                                                                                                               The bonus was that the tickets were valid for two days.
I loved the guide bus, maybe because it was cold and it was so good not having to walk round the city. From the top deck, I also got a different view of London which I never saw before.


I liked all the architectural details on buildings and I got the chance to see them from a higher ground.
I would highly recommend taking the sightseeing bus tour.                                                      It was confusing at first, to know which company we had bought the tickets from and to only look for its bus and which stop we had to wait at. But once we got on and off a few times, we had worked it out.
We got in the bus in the late afternoon and half way during our ride, it got dark.  It was very nice to see London at night as well as during daylight.
The commentary, available in various languages was so informative and I learnt one thing or two about London’s history, buildings and statues.
Hahn/Cock is a sculpture of a giant blue cockerel by the German artist Katharina Fritsch.  It is found in Trafalgar Square.
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London Newspapers
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London – My Photo Gallery
This post is part of the following Link ups –
City Tripping by MummyTravels and Wander Mum
& The Weekly Postcard

MummyTravels

 

Two Traveling Texans

Spring

After bleak days, cold, grey and dark, it looks like the good weather is here, the sun is shining and soon I will forget all about those winter days. Spring, the season of Hope.
Unfortunately sunny weather means more washing for me, as I could spend all my days putting my washing up on the line outside. Which means I can wash clothes all day, my washing machine does not get a rest and my ironing pile never ends. But at least I always have clean clothes.
 


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Spinach and Thyme Bread – It smells good and taste good

Mothers Day

One of the days when I get to stay in bed in the morning while breakfast is being cooked  ( by the hubby ) for me downstairs and get pampered all day.
My daughter actually wanted me to stay in bed, all day though. If I did stay in bed, I would end up getting breakfast at midday and maybe nothing till the next day.
What I love about that day is the attention, the love and care I get from my children, and of course the fact that I get to do what I want and not what I need.  They do it everyday, the love and care, but it is a bit more on that day, and I get pampered too.
This year, however was the first Mothers Day argument with my soon to be teen. The arguments are often now, I am at a loss what to do , what to say. And the worst part is that I am the grown up here and I am supposed to know what to do.                                      So I am always cherishing the time spent with my 8 year old ( although she can be so fiery ) before she hits her teens too.
All in all, I am still so proud of my children, so proud of myself too, for raising them with good values.
I got a few presents 🙂
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Things to do and see in Whitby

Whitby is a charming seaside town in Yorkshire,  Northern England. Full of history, it is here that Bram Stoker had his inspirations for Dracula ( spooky )and where the well known explorer Captain Cook started on his seafaring adventure ( not just scary after all). The town has it all, from ruined abbeys, sandy beaches, to rock pools and a harbour.
I have only a few hours to spend there and here is what I do –
199 Steps
The first thing I do is climb the 199 steps, following the footsteps of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The view is spectacular, changing with every step I make.
Do not get put off by the 199 steps. They sound worse than what they actually are. An average fit person, like myself,  can do the steps within 10 minutes.
It is a tradition to count the steps, however I miss that, too busy admiring the view and taking photos.
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Whitby Abbey ( English Heritage )                                                                                              Now I know why Bram Stoker drew his inspiration from Whitby.  At the top of the steps, an abbey in ruins greets me. It is one of Britain’s most iconic gothic buildings and it’s detailed carvings and mouldings are impressive.
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Fish and Chips                                                                                                                               Lunch time. There is nothing more I like than eating fish & chips by the sea. Try one of the restaurants.
Or buy some fish and chips from a chippie, and eat on the waterfront. I am so hungry, must be from those 199 steps, that I literally swallow my food ( hence no photo 😉 ) Hilarious but not funny at that time, once a bird tried to steal my fish&chips while I was eating by the sea ( another seafront) and before I knew it, I had bird poo on my hat, thankfully I had a cap on. Phew, but still, that was not a nice experience. So maybe that is one reason why I swallow my food if I am near the sea.
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Candy Rock                                                                                                                                            I have this obsession with candy rocks. I have to buy some, for myself and the children as well as to bring as a little gift to my friends and family down south.  Not only are they pretty, so colourful, but they are also yummy.


Whitby Lighthouse
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Whitby was once a major trading port and a shipbuilding town, hence why it has such impressive lighthouses and huge piers.
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Whitby Cruise
There are daily cruises into the bay or along the Yorkshire coast.
This is another amazing way to view Whitby as the town is on a hill. The cruises are also good for whale watching.

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Now if I had more time, I would definitely check out the museums and galleries and maybe go on the walking tour.
More Photos on My Pinterest
For more on what to do in Whitby 

TravelLatte

Legoland- Windsor

Legoland
Legoland is Uk’s favourite Kids Theme Park and it is definitely my son’s one as he loves lego and has been asking to go there again every year.
I even got a Merlin pass, to see what all the fuss was about. It is well worth what you pay for it, only, if you use it at least twice a year.
Back to Legoland. When summer holidays are nearing, cereal boxes tend to have special ticket deals which usually gives a Buy 1 Get 1 free entrance ticket.
I enjoyed the day there with so much going on. Lego bricks come to life here. A place for small ones as well as for the not so small ones.
It has over 55 live shows, interactive rides, attractions, building workshops and driving schools, not to mention a staggering 80 million LEGO® bricks which make up the iconic buildings of the world.
Be prepared for long queues during school holidays and irritated children, especially in summer.  Bring a lot of water and snacks to keep the little ones hydrated and not peckish.
The spinning spider was nearly at the beginning and after I saw the queue, I decided to skip this, especially as I could see something resembling a castle just ahead.
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I know it’s only lego. But what I saw next made me feel like I was in another country, in the desert of Egypt as it was very hot.  Plus the massive statue took me to Egypt straight away. I have never been to Egypt, but would love to see the pyramids one day.
Impressive statue of the Pharaoh made with lego.


The maze

Get on the gentle boat trip where lego magic makes your favourite tales come to life.
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Cinderella

The little Red Riding Hood
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The Fairy Godmother in Cinderella
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Next is one of the main attraction that attracted the children.
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After all, they do see mum and dad driving everyday, so they want to do just like us. Drive. My 2 have their own Legoland Drivers’ Licence.
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No thank you. I do not mind a portrait of me but not a caricature.
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Now comes the part I was looking forward to all day. The best part for a lot of grown ups as we cannot go on the rides. This part of Legoland was amazing. Every building, every boat, every vehicle, every figure, is made of lego.  And they are big, when you compare the little lego house you have at home.
The Launchpad
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P & O Cruise Ship
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The show
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That’s it. A few of my highlights at Legoland. There was a lot more rides, water park, restaurants and a gift shop.
Some more photos of my trip to Legoland

Cuddle Fairy

 

40th Birthday trip to Europe

My friend calls me to ask if I would like to join her on a trip to Europe to celebrate her 40th birthday, with a group of her friends, to forget the big 40. Just us girls.
I am thinking beach, I need to work out, I need to go shopping, I need to buy some new summer clothes, I need to have a bikini body…But then she also asks us to come up with a few suggestions as to where to go, preferably a city with a bit of history, culture, sightseeing.
Ok, no beach holiday. No need to have that bikini body.  I can keep procrastinating with my diet and exercise.
So I start looking up countries where we could go. Amsterdam sounds nice, Italy…maybe…France
I am hoping it is not Portugal or Spain, as I have been already. I have not been to the whole country but I would like to visit a different one. I do actually want to tick off my list the number of countries I have been to.
I knew it, I knew she would come up with Portugal, that is precisely why I was hoping it would not be Portugal.
It turns out to be this place called Porto, also called Oporto. To be honest, I have never heard of Porto. I am quite disappointed with the choice.
My soon to be 40 year old friend tells us all to do some research regarding places to eat, places to visit and some places for nightlife as well. I get into it and find out all about this city that I had never heard of before.
So it is a coastal city in the north of Portugal. It is the second largest city after Lisbon. When I visited last time, I went to the South.
It is known for its bridges, its port wine, its tiled buildings, street art, a lot of historic buildings, full of culture and its food and people.
I am now eager to go on a trip, no matter where.  Now I am also curious about this city.
So what do I think about Porto now?

What happens in Porto stays in Porto

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Homemade Saturday Takeaway/Fakeaway

This turned out to be easier than I thought. Just a bit of planning required and I get a decent fake away, freshly cooked by myself, so no surprises there. It is also so much healthier with less oil and salt added.
I bought chicken, paneer, frozen peas, rice and pappadums which I fried. I googled some paneer recipe and made paneer makhani.
Delicious and easy. I don’t think I will be buying takeaway food in a long time.
Simple Chicken Curry with potatoes, rice, paneer in a rich tomato sauce with some spices and peas                                                                                                                                 Pappadums and red wine followed by some creme brulee desert

Bucket List

I have never made a Bucket List because I know there are things I want to do that I will never be able to do. So I have always been scared to write them down, as it will make it feel like a failure if I don’t ever manage to do them. Pessimist much !!
I also change my mind about what is really important, in terms of what I want to do first.
Oh what the heck, enough of overthinking
I am at a stage right now, where all my days are passing by, hours and days are rolling into one. I am living in a state of constant fluster, hurry and agitation, without a clear plan and objectives. Hence, all the days rolling into one. I am not achieving much, I want to do many things but I do not take action. I procrastinate and procrastinate and end up never doing anything.
So I have decided to take the plunge and try this bucket list out and see if I achieve anything.
No pressure. It does not matter if I do not achieve them. It is just a plan, to guide me, to help me plan my days a bit better.
Note : I have a feeling that my wishes are from one extreme to another, from simple to extravagant.

  1. Swim with dolphins, nah, I am only kidding. Actually maybe yes, I would like to do that one day….one day….

 
Anyway let’s start again. On a more serious note ( thinking cap on )

  1. Go on a solo trip
  2. Camp in my back garden in Summer and gaze at the stars ( I have wanted to do this for the last 5 years and failed )
  3. Get fit, be fit
  4. Visit Paris
  5. Go on a cruise
  6. Go to France 
  7. See the Northern Lights
  8. Visit Wales
  9. Have a blog and be consistent with it
  10. Fly in a hot air balloon
  11. Volunteer and make a difference in someone’s life
  12. Create my dream home
  13. Eat healthier and teach the children to eat healthily
  14. Learn how to take photos of the stars
  15. Have a picnic
  16. Sponsor a child in need
  17. Run a Marathon
  18. Take better care of myself
  19. Say No more often (thus not putting myself in situations that will only hurt me )
  20. Have a very good relationship with my children
  21. Take a photo a day
  22. Visit Devon
  23. Walk everyday for 30-60 minutes.

I will leave it at 23 things for now, as I am really racking my brain for what I would like to do, to achieve.
I am certain I would like to do a lot more things, and sometimes, they are really small things, so small that I can’t think of them at the moment.
Have you got a bucket list? Does it work for you? I would love to hear from you.

Bucket List ∗ a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime

 

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A photo A Day

A photo of What I did today/What I saw today
April 2018

 

March 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My Garden/Snow

Last week, I put on my wellies and ventured out to my garden and took some amazing photos of the snow.  I say, ventured to my back garden because I simply do not go out there in Winter. In Summer, it is a different matter. I spend all my day until nightime out there, from breakfast, to working, to spending time with the children, up till late after dinner. Once the children are in bed, the hubby and I sit, wrapped up in blankets, on the swing and a fire pit next to us, when it is a bit cool.
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I cannot believe I have not been to my own back garden, let alone, open the back doors even since November/December last year.
I would still not have stepped out until spring, until some sun comes out, until it looks tempting to venture out, if not for the snow and my passion for photography.
I am now waiting impatiently for the next cycle of Life, Spring.

Cuddle Fairy

 

Vapiano, a restaurant not like others


I recently visited Oxford Street and went to eat at Vapiano Restaurant as it came highly recommended. I was not disappointed. The place was vibrant, full of life and although it took a while to finally get to order my food, it was well worth it.  A very busy place, yet a very laid back one. This is not like any regular restaurant, here the food is freshly prepared while you watch.
I ordered a prawn linguine dish and watched the chef prepare and cook it right in front of me. That in itself was amazing, as this was a new experience to me. I got to choose the type of pasta, for my prawn linguine and it can be adjusted along the way while it’s being cooked.
Less chili please. Do I want white wine in it? Oh yes please.
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I have to admit that this was one of the best meal I have had in a very long time.
I am now looking forward to trying out another dish or better still try out another Vapiano in a different city or even country.
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