Sunday, 26 April 2015

Family Cruise on the Anthem of the Seas

Last weekend we were invited by Royal Caribbean to their Pre-Inaugural Sailing Event to have a taster of what a cruise would be like as a young family. We were really excited but like a lot of people I had my preconceived ideas about what a cruise is actually like, would it be suitable for a young family? Would there be enough to do on board to keep all of our family entertained? Would the rooms be big enough or cramped with an excitable toddler? Would there be any down time for myself and The Mister? Would there be child friendly food on board? And how would it compare to travelling by plane? Also isn't cruising really for old pensioner types? So these were the question I had in the back of my mind on our mini cruise on the Anthem of the Seas.

Would there be enough Entertainment on board the Anthem of the Seas? In a nut shell - YES! In 48 hours as a family we raced around on Dodgems, went on the iFly a sky dive simulator, played on arcade games, played classics like ping pong and air hockey, splashed around in the heated pools and played the latest Xbox games. If we had more time we would have also liked to go to the Roller Disco, seen the west end production of We Will Rock You and ride on the North Star. Beaux at two years old obviously couldn't join us on some of these activities so spent some time in Kid Clubs which he loved but I will get to that part later. I never felt like we were stuck for things to do. If we had been cruising for a week we would have gone at a much slower pace, enjoying more time lounging by the pool while the kids played in the whirl pool or jumping in the wave simulator, something we could all enjoy as a whole family. But as it was only a weekend we wanted to cram in and experience as much as we could. The kids all slept well each night!

Would the Room be big enough on the Anthem of the Seas? We stayed in two interlinking Staterooms with balcony sea views. The rooms were bright, spacious and contemporary with a splash of quirkiness which was reflected throughout the whole ship. The Staterooms were the size of a standard hotel room, with plenty of wardrobe space (also big enough to store all of our suitcases in) it also had all the amenities you would expect from a hotel room, it was very comfortable. The en-suites was also quite roomy, no bath but large showers, when we normally choose a hotel room we usually choose en-suites with a bath as we find it easier throwing the little lads in a bath together but it wasn't a real problem. Beaux was quite happy splashing around in the shower with me and it was big enough to do that quite easily.

Would there be any down time for us adults on the Anthem of the Seas? The first night after dinner the kids having visited the Kids Club earlier that day were really keen to go, they had made friends with some of the other blogger's children and wanted to meet and play with their new friends there. We agreed they could play for an hour or so as we were on holiday after all. They all happily skipped off, Tiger and Violet in one room for children aged 3-11 years old and Beaux in a nursery for under 3yrs. The main difference was all of the age appropriate toys for the under 3yrs and being able to cater for nappy changes and nap times. Earlier that day we had registered them as you would for a nursery and we were then given dect phones that we could be contacted on if there were any problems or if we needed to check in on them. Surprisingly for a family that never uses Kid Clubs facilities when on holiday we felt relaxed and at ease. We then headed back to the restaurant to enjoy our deserts, a few drinks and a catch up with blogger friends. We left to collect the kids after an hour as I was worried that after a day of sheer excitement they would be tired and grouchy but how wrong could I be. They were having a great time playing, creating and making new friends (including Beaux) I was secretly kicking myself that we didn't stay for another drink! The next day we didn't make that same mistake!! We dropped all the kids off at Kid Club nice and early! Well in time for dinner, the Kids Club took the older children out to a kid friendly restaurant and ordered room service for Beaux. Myself and The Mister then enjoyed cocktails at the Sky Bar and had a posh grown up meal, which was beyond belief! So good! We drank plenty of good wine, this time we both felt comfortable that all the kids were having a good time and that Beaux would be put in a little bed if he was feeling tired. We also had our trusty dect phones that I called in on a couple of times. We are simple creatures although there was loads of evening entertainment (even a club!) all we really want for down time on holiday is good food and drink, a chance to enjoy our food, eat slowly and have a conversation without interruption, it was a perfect night.

Would there be child friendly food on the Anthem of the Seas? We all ate so much while on board! There was always so much choice that even the fussiest eaters found something the loved at each meal time. All the restaurants we visited had gorgeous sea views which made meal times just that bit more special. One of our favorite restaurants to eat at as a family was Jamie's Italian, antipasta boards, the tastiest calamari and divine deserts (my stomach is growling while reminiscing!) I was really impressed with the children's menu healthy and fun selections, firstly their menus came in cool retro toy slide shows, clear photos of what their meals would look like and when it arrived it invited the kids to try things they wouldn't even touch normally like their shake it salad. The salad came in a little pot which they could dress themselves and shake which was enough to get them to at least try a few new salad leaves.

How does a Cruise Compare to travelling by Plane? This is one of my favorite points about cruising, one of Royal Carribean selling points is that you get from check in to your room in 15 minutes! That includes going through customs! which is my biggest pet hate about airports, it all takes so long and even longer when you've got children complaining and a toddler running off! I don't mind the actual flying part and we've been lucky to only had good experiences of this but being able to get to your room, dump your bag, change into your swimming costume and be beside the pool with a cocktail in your hand and happy kids splashing in a pool in less than 30 minutes is huge for me! No airports, no long transfers, no baggage control! bliss! Your holiday can begin the minute you get on board.

Are cruises just for old pensioner types? I really felt that the Anthem of the Seas certainly had young families in mind when designing the ship. The decor from the moment we stepped on board had a feeling of luxury and glamour but then had splashes of quirkiness in pieces of art which instantly injected youth and fun. While I am sure there was plenty to do for older cruisers these weren't really in the areas we were spending most of our time, the ship has been cleverly designed so that there are decks where children can be children and decks which have a more relaxing atmosphere. I would say that the Anthem of the Seas is a ship for all.

Would I recommend the Anthem of the Seas to my friends with young  families? Yes, totally! We had such an amazing time on board the Anthem of the Seas, we were never stuck for things to do, every where we ate was amazing quality and lovely, the staterooms were roomy and comfortable. We as parents had time to be a couple and Anthem of the Seas feels very glam, cool and quirky. The service we received was second to none, everyone was welcoming and we never felt like any request was too much trouble. We had an amazing couple of days!

Disclosure: We were invited on board the Anthem of the Seas in exchange for a review. As always opinion and photography are my own


How to Style a Midi Granny Skirt

How to style a midi granny skirt

I found this vintage midi granny skirt at one of my local charity shops the other day for only £3.49! My favorite type of shopping is somewhere I can have a good rummage! I know the idea of this is some people worse nightmare but I am happiest when I feel I might stumble across a hidden gem, something you won't spot someone else walking down the high street in and at a bargain price! So you will often find me in charity shops, vintage stores or car boot sales hunting out vintage goodies. Although I tried my midi granny skirt on before I bought it I wasn't instantly in love as I couldn't picture what I would style it with. The colours and patterns are very pretty and my dear granny would LOVE it, but I wanted to steer clear of looking like a granny off to a Sunday Service.

Once I was home and able to play around with my other clothes I managed to make a few outfits I would be happy with. Here are a few of my tips to styling a midi granny skirt. 

1. Buy a smaller size and wear your skirt high waisted, this is much more flattering. I like to belt mine to give me more of a waist. Also you could add a statement with a belt think chunky, studded or a clashing colour.

2. Clash your top half, I've chosen to go with a slogan white t-shirt but I will also wear it with a bright lime cami in the summer or a strapless for a night out. And tuck it in, again this will keep you looking feminine and show off your shape. Try not to wear a top too bulky as it will add pounds to your bottom half. 

3. Heels, I prefer to wear my midi granny skirt with heels as I'm a curvy girl and it's much more flattering, also midi skirts can make you look shorter than you are. But if you are slim and tall then flats look great and trainers look even better!

4. Scour the Charity Shops, for your Granny Midi Skirt. Granny midi skirts are always in charity shops, loads of gorgeous colours and patterns, I say the louder the better!

Midi Skirt

Swedish Hasbeens

None of my outfit is available in store but click the links for similar Printed T-Shirt Zara £12.99, Midi Granny Skirt Oxfam Clogs Swedish Hasbeens Asos £165

Style Me Sunday

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Anthem of the Seas a sneak peek

So we are now on board the Anthem of the Seas for the Royal Carribean Pre- Inaugural Event and the past 24 hours have been an exploration of jam packed, fun filled activities. I can't put into words how big the Anthem of the Seas is but put it this way, in 24 hrs we have yet to see it all!

I've been snapping away lots of photos to share with you all of our mini family cruise and I will do a full review on our return but for now I thought I would give you a sneak peek so far with a few of my photos from my iPhone.

In a nutshell in 24hrs we have checked in, ooh and ahhed at our interlinking staterooms which are much more spacious than we expected. Had lunch at Windjammer a buffet dining of good quality food and drinks, a something for everyone place to eat with amazing views of the sea. 
Hot footed to the iFly which was an amazing, exhilarating experience for us all. Tiger was an absolute natural, Violets face beamed the entire time with the odd shriek and it was a first for me, I enjoyed every minute of if and would do it again in a heart beat! 

Went on the indoor bumper cars, chilled out playing a little xbox and testing out the latest games.
We then dashed back to our stateroom for a quick shower and outfit change for dinner. 
We dined at The Grande and sampled dishes from selected restaurants available on board. 
Although late the kids were dying to go to kids club so The Mister dropped them off there and we continued to enjoy our desserts and few glasses of vino with blogger friends. 
We toyed with the idea of checking out the cabaret shows or the sky bar but although we had our dect phones from the Kids Club and had checked up on the kids it was very late and with the excitement we knew they would be very tired, so we collected them tucked them in bed and enjoyed another glass of wine and watched a film. 

The next morning we had breakfast at windjammers which had a huge selection of breakfast again all lovely quality. After breakfast I snuck off for a Swedish Massage at the Spa which was A-Mazing! and here we are... yes our last 24hrs have been as manic as this post reads! We have crammed lots of fun things into a day and I'm sure if it was a full cruise we could have taken it at a slower pace but one thing is for sure is none of us have had the time to get bored!


A New Hair Cut and I Hate It!!

Okay okay I don't hate my sons new hair cut but if I'm honest I'm not mad keen on it but its growing on me. What I actually hate is the reason behind the big chop. Every day I was hearing "oh what an adorable little GIRL, aww isn't SHE beautiful, what sweet curls SHE has" I did try to turn it around and see the positives after all they are compliments, although I did hate the awkwardness of correcting 99% of people meeting him for the first time, I could live with those comments. But what I struggled with is the "why would you keep his hair so long if everyone thinks he's a girl" or the "you should cut it he looks like a girl" OR even in response to me telling them he's a boy being asked if I was sure! I hated being made to feel that my choices were the wrong ones for him! Of course I'm not mad at them for having opinions or a preference I'm mad at myself for letting theirs get to me. I've always been one to do what I think is right, dance to my own beat and generally wear whatever I want regardless of what others think but on this occasion I didn't. 

Yesterday evening after I finished cutting Tigers hair Beaux actually sat in the chair and let me trim his (a first! and probably a last after what I did to him *laughs and then immediately cries*) and what can only be described as a moment of weakness I started cutting off those locks which I loved, that I had spent many a time stroking to comfort him from the time he was born. At that moment I had just had enough of all of those comments but mid way realised that I felt too emotional to finish it, I mean I literally sobbed my way through Tigers first proper hair cut, not because of the actual hair but because for me it meant he was no longer my baby or my toddler but my little boy.

I called my friend in tears and she came to my house like a hairdressing superhero and finished off my shoddy job. I was pleased that she had managed to make it look nice and not like he had a fight with Freddy Krueger but I  felt ashamed that I had let other peoples opinions make me push forward this milestone that was important to me. I had planed to cut it when he was three years old, when he was about to start preschool which would have given me plenty of time to come to terms with that I no longer have a toddler. Which is probably the real reason I am upset, the realisation that our family is truly complete and we will no longer have a baby in it. 

Now I've come to end of this post I feel a bit silly that I've written it at all. It is only hair and it will grow. For a bizarre reason I thought his hair was a reflection of his personality but how ridiculous is that?! Regardless of his hairstyle or what he wears he will always be my wild one. He's delighted with his 'big boy hair cut' and happy to pose for a photo to show it off!


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Stourhead National Trust

Move over Greys Court National Trust there's a new favorite National Trust in town and she is beautiful with stunning views no matter where you are stood. Stourhead National Trust is now my absolute favorite National Trust and I could cry that I don't live closer to it so I can visit every time I fancy a walk in a stunning garden.

We visited family in Bath last week when The Mister had a few days off work last week and his dad suggested we visit Stourhead National Trust, I hadn't heard of it before so I had no expectations of it. I was just happy to be getting out for a walk as we had been cooped up in the car for long journeys the days before.

Once we finally got to the gardens itself which is a bit of a walk from the car park and you have to walk through gift shops and caf├ęs which is always a bit problematic for us. With the kiddos deciding they are famished having only just eaten breakfast and then whining that couldn't look in the gift shop until after our walk. But once all of that torture was out of the way and we actually saw the gardens that was all forgotten (well mostly! those kids can hold a grudge!)

The garden is breath taking, a stunning lake at the centre of it all, surrounded by blooming magnolia trees (my second favorite after cherry blossoms) temples and statues in the distance, it felt very grand and we couldn't wait to explore. 

Beaux led us to the lake to look for sharks (obvs!) which has unexpectedly clear waters. Swans, ducks and geese dotted over the lake stretching their wings and swimming elegantly across the lake as if paid to look perfect. I quickly noticed that no matter where we we stood that there was something beautiful or interesting to look at. 

We started our walk around the Stourhead National Trust lake which was so pretty, flowers starting to bloom, I can only imagine how much more beautiful it is in summer when all the flowers are in full bloom. 

And just as the kids started to lose interest there was always something to stop and look at, climb or do. One of our favorites was the grotto which overlooked the lake it had the prettiest pebbled floor. The little lads enjoyed pretending that a little goblin lived down there who stayed away with the sounds of our echos (cue lots of screaming!). The Mister's dad told us that it is decorated at Christmas and the children can visit Father Christmas in the grotto which would be so magical. 

We also went inside the thatched roof cottage which was affectionately named 'the witches cottage' by the kids, we wrote little notes about our visit, pinned them to the walls and read a few messages from other explorers.

It took us about an hour and half to walk around the lake at toddler pace and stopping to look all the features dotted around the lake.  My only regret was that we didn't bring a picnic but we did stop off for lunch in the Stourhead cafe which is always a yummy treat.

We had such a lovely day at Stourhead National Trust and Stourhead is currently my most favorite National Trust, definitely one to put on your 'must visit list'.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Tween Fashion

Tween Girls Fashion

I thought I'd do a tween (yes, I too needed a quick google search when I first heard the term 'tween' and according the to the Urban Dictionary a Tween is 9-12 year old, too old for toys, too young for boys or a preadolescence person) fashion post of this gorgeous little lass, my stepdaughter Violet. Since Violet has been in my life at the age of two  I've always bought her clothes and chosen what she wears when she is staying with us. The Mister didn't have a clue, I'm talking head to to Dora the Explorer mismatched characther clothing (shudder!) so both him and Violet were quite happy when I took charge. Violet was a girlie girl when younger loving all things pink and pretty and I was quite happy letting her run about top knot, a pink ballerina tutu and a pair of Converse, she was adorable. 

Although I still buy the majority of Violets clothes I try to buy her clothes I think she will like rather than what I think would look lovely on her. We often flick through fashion magazines together playing the game 'what's my favorite on this page' we take it in turns to guess each other's favorite piece and score a point if we get it right! Great game for all fashion lovers and shopaholics. 

A few years ago I decided that Violet was old enough to choose her own outfits for the day. I usually just let her know where we are going and what the weather is going to be like and let pick her own outfits, I love seeing what she chooses and what she puts together. As I know her full wardrobe I know what I would would team together but she has her own style and I love it. 

Violet has moved from the super girlie princess pink colours and I can see her style maturing. She loves a nice fitted blouse with a lace feature that she would team skinny jeans and cute pumps or an oversized shift dress. She also shares my love of a collared shirt underneath a jumper and does the best combos that shouldn't really work but so do! The other day she wore an embellished collared shirt underneath her sequinned Bambi sweatshirt, sheer genius!

When shopping together we love looking in River Island, New Look and H&M for a great range of tween fashion. I think it's important for Violet to be able to express herself in the way she dresses and inevitably she wants to dress more like a young woman than a child but I think it's more important for us to make sure it's not too mature. She still is a child after all, so it's comfort is key, although she might like to browse fashion pages with me she is also happy climbing up trees with her little brothers! 

© Little Likely Lads | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig