Back in January we set a family goal to visit London this Winter! We’ve loved our little adventures in London in the past, but as we head towards Christmas, I know that this City really comes alive with wonderous activities and pretty lights, and I thought it would be so lovely to share all of that magic with the Kids.

 For most parent’s, I think Winter is a welcomed magical time from the spooky excitement of Halloween. This time of year is certainly exciting (and busy) with Halloween, the atmosphere of Bonfire Night and the countdown to (dare I say it) Santa’s imminent arrival, and although it’s a pretty hectic season and we could all use an extra few hours here and there, it’s also pretty and very exciting. With all of this, my thoughts were – what better way to add to the anticipation than a magical family trip to the capital?

Here are some family friendly ideas we’ve had that you might find useful for a Winter trip to London this year – and most of them are FREE!

Christmas Tree Hunt

Although we are only in October, Christmas will be here before we know it, and the festive season just wouldn’t be complete without a decadently-dressed tree. After all, from placing baubles on the tree to spotting the best bedecked houses, kids love decorations. So, if you happen to be in London this winter, make sure you visit some of the best Christmas trees. From the huge tree at Covent Garden to the designer ones at Claridge’s (they wouldn’t let our monkey’s in!), I think there will be plenty of beautiful trees that will be filling little faces with awe and wonder.  

Lots of Lights

Depending on when you travel to London this winter, there is a chance you’ll be treated to magnificent light displays. The images of the lights down Oxford street all over Instagram last year were what initially planted this idea. London goes huge with Christmas decorations and displays at Carnaby Street, Oxford Street and Kew Gardens, where you’ll find hundreds of thousands of lights. Plus, if you’re heading down for New Year’s Eve, you’ll be amazed by firework displays along the banks of the Thames, and specifically around the London eye (which can be seen across central London).

Outdoor Ice Skating

Provided the kids are catered for with those little ice skating buddies, this can be such a fun family activity. And what could be more wintery than an outdoor ice rink? In London, there are loads to choose from – including Somerset House (14th November – 13th January) and the Natural History Museum (25th October – 6th January). There is also the UK’s biggest outdoor ice rink at Hyde Park Winter Wonderland (22nd November – 6th January), which is our main pull to London this Winter – it boasts over 100,000 lights, festive stalls and an enchanted forest with ice sculptures! How magical! 

Indoor Attractions

Whilst Christmas trees, pretty lights and ice rinks are all wonderful and magical, in our UK chilly temperatures, it is likely that you’ll probably want some indoor attractions too. Aside from the obvious free museums across London (check their websites for Christmas events) you can Keep the family warm and entertained with a trip to meet Santa at London Zoo, or book tickets to a show like the Witness for the Prosecution play or a musical! In all of this I also hope that there will be time to do a spot of shopping – including some of these toy shops.

A family trip to London can be a lot of fun, especially in the Winter and I really hope that we can make it happen to wrap up 2018! Why not make the most of the festive season too with these magical activities and ideas for all the family! 

*Collaborative Post

Follow:

I find it so Idyllic in the Autumn and Winter to pop on our coats and boots, and ride on a steam train! The tooting of the train, the rolling green hills lined with orange leaves or winter frosts, and the smell of steam and soot hitting you as you take a sneaky peak out of the window whilst the train chugs down its track – it is both enriching and beautiful, and oh so quintessentially English!

Riding Steam trains has been a traditional adventure in our family since the kids were tiny (thanks to Grandpa Smith) and whilst this often takes place over this way on the NYMR, last weekend we spent our Saturday riding on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway over in West Yorkshire, and it was quite the adventure for us all.

The keighley and Worth Valley Railway

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway oozes with charm, British history and many a claim to fame. Opened in 1867 (and briefly closing in the 60’s), it originally served the Wool mills that towered above it. It’s scenery and spirit attracted many to use it for films like “The Railway Children”, and it has long since been the inspiration for writers such as the Bronte sisters.

Whether you are visiting for nature walks, exploring the museums, a Yorkshire treat, or generally just to embrace the love of travelling via a steam train, you will not be disappointed by the views and excitement you see and feel as you meander down the tracks of this beautiful little railway. I believe that whatever the season or weather you choose to visit, you will certainly expect to find something to charm and interest everyone, as each little station holds activities and interests to fill your day!

 

We started our journey from Keighley as we had to be back there in the late afternoon for a family event! We rode 20 minutes up to Haworth, where we spent a couple of hours wandering its picturesque main street and eating lunch from a rustic yorkshire bakery! I love Haworth because it has a reet good yorkshire feel to it!

Haworth does have a rather steep trek uphill from the train station, but it is very much worth it, as here you will find the Bronte Museum, panoramic views over the hills, little cafes and tea rooms, an array of independent gift shops to peruse and a lovely little park.

We each enjoyed its charm (and baked goods!).

From Haworth we hopped back on the line for about 10 minutes before jumping off at Ingrow West station where we explored the engine shed museum and the museum of rail travel. These were small, but interesting nonetheless, and whilst they have tried to be child friendly, they are not the most interactive for kids!

A small train table and a host of carriages to explore, saw that the kids were entertained and their imaginations ignited whilst we were there, but our visit was sort lived (unfortunately)!

I did however (when I could) enjoyed reading about all of the films that the engines and carriages were used in. It was rather exciting to be sat in a carriage where film stars have been and cameras captured!

Before we knew it we had reached the end of our adventure, and as the steam train appeared out of the tunnel at Ingrow West, we hopped aboard and made our way back down the line to keighley station, where we watched them swapping engines and breathed in that smell of the steam train one last time!

We had a lovely family day out, and Keighley and worth Valley railway is a great Yorkshire adventure for any family this October half term (or any weekend really). It can quite easily fill a day with history, nature and adventure, and whether you visit for the sheer joy of a steam train experience, or as a means to access a world of nature walks and film set exploration, the railway is sure to be a real treat for all – opening up a world of curiosity!

They also have a Halloween Special and Santa experience coming up too which is always popular. So whatever your reason or motivation, there is certainly plenty of magic and adventure awaiting you as you hop aboard these exciting and beautiful steam engines!

I personally would love to take a walk in the Summer around the areas featured in “The Railway Children” (I loved it as a kid), and pass on this classic to my kids, but for now we have loved creating such special and beautiful memories to kick of Autumn on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway – (amidst the mayhem of family life of course!).

Things to Note…

For unlimited travel and access to the museums, then you will want to consider a Rover Ticket:
Adults: £18
Concessions: £15
Children 5 to 15 inclusive: £9

If you are travelling as ONE adult and ONE kid, then you can qualify for a “Small Family Ticket”, which has the same benefits as a Rover Ticket  – This is £22

Finally, when purchasing two ‘Small Family Tickets’ for 2 adults and 2 children, a third child can travel free. A family of 5 can take advantage of 1 free children’s rover ticket to add to their ‘Small Family’ rover ticket purchase.

Make sure you check the website to see which timetable they are using, as it changes depending on the day and season! 

*Thank you to KWVR for our complimentary tickets in return for an honest review. All thoughts and images are my own!

Follow:

Summer’s over (already!), which means most of us (myself included) are probably already thinking about the next family holiday – Bring on October half term, I say!

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share a few tips on how to plan your next family adventure in the UK whilst keeping to a budget:

Think About Where to Go and How Long For

Before you start Googling ‘half-term breaks’ and find yourself lost in an indigestible amount of information and pulled into pricey “offers”, just sit back and think of the areas you’d like to go. Perhaps this will be somewhere you’ve never been to before but have heard good things about. Maybe its a place you have had on your “bucket list”, or maybe it is somewhere you’ve been to and want to explore in more depth or return to as an old family favourite spot – either way think about a specific place and stay focused! If the kids are old enough, you could even have a family vote so everyone feels involved in the decision.

Then, once you’ve settled on a place and how long you’re going to go for, start researching places that tick the boxes.

Research Your Costs

In order to start saving for you next trip, it is important to research further than just how much the accommodation will cost you. Consider what attractions you might visit whilst there, where you might eat at night, or if it will be self catered? Also account for how much it will cost you to get to and from the location in fuel or on public tansport (Family and friends rail cards are a great investment to save money on rail fares!).

Having this budget in mind won’t just help you save, but it will prevent things from getting out of hand (as we all know they often can on family holidays!).

Consider Taking the Grandparents

While holidaying with your parents might not necessarily be at the top of your list of things to do (especially if they are elderly), family trips make for lots of quality time that you’ll all treasure, and this is reason enough for us to be taking Nath’s mum with us on our next trip. 

If they aren’t as active as ours are, and are struggling with mobility, you will need to do some extra planning to make sure the accommodation and activities will cater to them too. And you might even want to consider a road scooter to help them get around with ease, and without feeling like they’re a burden to you. Places like Mobility Solutions are ideal for this.

Book Your Accommodation

Now you know who’s coming with you, it’s time to get your accommodation booked. We always like the flexibility of Air BnB, however, hotels are great for short breaks too and ones where you don’t have to do too much. But if there’s a large group of you going, you may find self-catered cottages or homes offer you the flexibility you need.

Again, if your kids are older, see what everyone would prefer so no ones left moaning that they ‘didn’t want to stay here.’

Plan Your Activities

Finally, to make sure you’re packing as much as possible into the trip, and the right attire into your cases, start planning the activities you’re going to do.

Staying in the UK means the weather is not alway predictable and so it’s a good idea to leave some flexibility with what you’re doing on what day so you can account for those inevitable changes in the weather. Plus, leaving some room in your itinerary will allow for last-minute changes as well as new things you may discover when you get to the location.

Also looking up voucher offers ahead of time for theme parks and touristy places, will be small steps in saving you loads on days out!

Planning family breaks can be stressful but I absolutely love the excitement of it all and bagging some deals too! Allow yourself enough time and stick to a budget so that you can create the ideal UK family holiday and one that’s completely budgeted for.

* Collaborative post 

Follow:

A couple of weeks ago, we enjoyed a lovely 5 days away in the Dumfries & Galloway area of Scotland with Nathan’s family! It was over the August Bank holiday weekend, and whilst we were greeted with cooler/wetter conditions than we have grown accustomed to this Summer, it was nevertheless the ideal way to wrap up the Summer holidays. There were 18 adults and 11 kids (so of course we needed some where big to host us all) and we were fortunate enough to be able to stay self catered at The Dunsky Estate – it was a little spooky at times, but adventurous and very beautiful/Luxurious.

The Dunskey Estate 

Est in 1782 and overlooking the sea, the Dunskey Estate was full of history and grandeur, and was a beautiful spot for us to congregate. We had woodland walks, got lost in the maze and had lovely little ventures down to almost deserted little bays!

Each room was beautifully decorated and comfortable and the kids mostly bunked up with their Aunts, which left most of the married couples in semi peace with the toddlers (except for 2 nights when both Ethan and Megs wanted to sleep on our floor – cheers guys!)! The room we had was lovely. It had a 4 poster bed, ensuite and lovely furniture and design – I especially loved the modern and antique mix!

We chilled out in a large drawing room with open fire, large bookcases and overlooking the sea, and ate/played games in a lovely grand dining room – ideal for the 29 of us each meal time! It really was a lovely place to stay (even if it did feel spooky at night time)!

Family Time 

Prior to our trip, we looked up lots of places to visit and things to do, however once there it naturally just flowed into being time to chill as a family and hang out! We didn’t do very much at all apart from conquering the maze, getting caught in hail storm, a beach day with an inflatable unicorn, and chips at the seaside! We had a lovely visit and an Ice cream in Portpatrick all together too, which was very close to where we were staying. Its so tiny and quaint, and such gorgeous little place! Then on Bank holiday Monday we had way too much fun at the local swimming baths in Stranraer and Nathan and I took a short detour on the way back from that for a quick visit to Killantringan lighthouse – it was cold but gorgeous!

We then spent each of our evenings playing games, eating chocolate, and singing, laughing and dancing together! It was so lovely to see everyone, and hang out. It was great to relax as a family with no pressure to do anything major but provide opportunity for the kids to run around and laugh and play with their cousins!

The Mull of Galloway 

On the way home, whilst most of the family headed straight back to Yorkshire (or the south), we decided to take a 20 mile detour and visit the Mull of Galloway. This is the peninsula on the map that is the southernmost part of Scotland, and it overlooks both Northern Island and The Isle of Man! It was a lovely drive out to it, and the views were gorgeous. It was great little adventure (albeit very blustery)!

When visiting the mull of galloway, there are little walks, an RSPB spot and an exhibition centre. You can eat in the cafe and climb up the lighthouse (both of which we didn’t have time for on this occasion when faced with a 5.5 hr drive home)!

I loved our adventures in Scotland – its always nice to be with everyone! I especially loved all of the beautiful lighthouses we saw and the panoramic views across to Ireland. I loved the cute little bays, beautiful clear seas and beaches, and little teeny harbour towns. We were even privileged to see a piper busking on Bank holiday Monday, and that for me was so exciting!

The Galloway area of Scotland is really lovely and we barely scraped the surface! Such a peaceful and beautiful place for family time and a little break!

Follow: