Last weekend we traveled down to Brighton to stay at the brand new and super stylish Malmaison Brighton for a weekend away. But it wasn’t just any weekend away, Stuart was running the Brighton Marathon! It’s not often, since having children, that we get to enjoy a weekend away, child free, so I wanted somewhere that was special. One of our very first dates, 9 years ago, was dinner at Malmaison in Reading, and we both remember it fondly, so when I saw that there was a brand new Malmaison hotel in Brighton I was really pleased that it was nice and close to the centre.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

| Malmaison Brighton |

Boasting modern décor, stylish furnishings and perfect ocean views I was really excited to book and see what Malmaison Brighton was like in the flesh. It was the most perfect sunny day to visit Brighton – although I was worried about the heat for the marathon runners the next day. (Stuart ran the London marathon 10 years ago and it was the hottest day of the year back then too, ironically!) The hotel, located in the marina area, was around 2 miles from Brighton along an easy and scenic beach path. It was visible this area had been given a big facelift and the whole ambience felt like we’d popped down to the south of France for the day! The hotel itself had undergone a £5m transformation and had recently opened as the 15th boutique hotel in the chain.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison Brighton boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

The first impression I got of the hotel was the amazing outside bar. We walked in and immediately I knew it was totally stylish. It had beautiful views over the marina. We sat and had a drink before checking in, something we just don’t get the chance to do with our young children, certainly not in peace, anyway! The atmosphere was so friendly and people were in such a good mood – unsurprisingly considering it was a balmy 19 degrees and everyone sat enjoying their delicious cocktails and crisp cold beers overlooking the boats. I only wish that we had had longer to be able to test out some of the cocktails and soak up the sun – but we had to rush out to register for the race.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

The rooms themselves were so light and airy with uber cool and contemporary style. Our room was overlooking the marina – we had the luxury of a lovely little balcony where we sat and watched the world go by. Our room had all the modern amenities including an absolutely huge TV, WiFi, fancy coffee machine and the most comfortable bed with beautifully soft sheets and luxury feather bedding.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison Brighton boutique hotel  a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison Brighton boutique hotel

After we had spent our day exploring Brighton and registering Stuart for the race we headed back to Malmaison to slowly get ready. I don’t think it’s possible to fully appreciate having time to yourself to get ready until you’ve had children! We called the boys and had a chat about their day. It had been incredibly hot in Brighton and we actually felt pretty exhausted. After a gorgeous “rain” shower I wrapped myself up in one of the fluffy robes and sat on the balcony watching the sun go down. I must have said to Stuart about 5 times that I just felt like I was on holiday, or on a cruise liner! I felt so relaxed and happy. I was enjoying myself so much, watching the sunset over the marina, listening to the sailboats clinking away and the hum of the chatter from the below restaurants was so peaceful and calming.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

We had to be up and out early the next morning, so we booked into the brasserie downstairs for dinner. Having seen the beautiful cocktails coming out of the bar earlier in the day I knew that we were in for a treat when it came to dining and I was so pleased that we had chosen to eat there. The restaurant itself was stylish with characteristically dark decor and low lit lighting creating an elegant and chic atmosphere.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

Hopefully the pictures do our meal at Malmaison Brighton’s Chez Mal brasserie justice because it was just so delicious. The style of cooking I would say was a mixture of French/British cuisine mixed with contemporary Asian fusion food. I began the meal with a Malmaison Fizz – Maison Champagne, Finlandia Grapefruit, Kamm & Sons Ginseng, Belvoir elderflower and it was refreshing and delicious (supportive wife, I know – Stuart had tea!)

For starter I had the tuna tartare which was a beautifully melt in the mouth texture, personally I couldn’t get on with the flavour from watermelon accompaniment but the avocado & wasabi sauce was perfection. Stuart chose the parfait which they had unfortunately just run out of. Our waiter went through some possible alternatives, none of which Stuart liked the sound of but he kindly offered something from a different menu which was perfect – Spring lamb Benedict – Slow braised Dorset lamb shoulder with American glaze, brioche and mint Béarnaise.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

A palate cleanser of sorbet and champagne poured at the table.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

For mains I chose the Lobster risotto with Mal house side salad – I always choose fish when we dine out, I guess because I don’t cook it as often for myself at home and I just love fish. Stuart (predictably) went with the Pan roast Black Angus New York strip steak served with a creamy garlic mash and beautiful bearnaise sauce -which I have to say I had total food envy over, it was cooked to perfection!! To my dismay we were both too absolutely full to order pudding – a first! But they all looked delicious, I think I would have chosen the Valrhona dark chocolate fondant with Peanut butter ice cream & sesame brittle, had I not already been ready to be rolled out of there!

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

We were served by the lovely Colm who had also looked after us when we first arrived at the bar earlier in the day. He was so interested in talking to us, despite the usual pressures of serving a busy restaurant, and made us feel really welcomed. All the staff did actually, especially the lovely lady who checked us in, we found everyone to be so friendly and helpful. The only slight negative from our whole experience was breakfast the next day. The hotel had several marathon guests staying, and they had attentively arranged for the breakfast to be laid on especially early to accommodate everyone, which was really great. Runners nervously hurried to fuel up for the day ahead, but perhaps the hotel didn’t realise quite how many people they would have to serve and it ended up in quite a restless queue full of anxious people needing to wait a period of time and then rush through their breakfast to get going for the day. I think the main problem was that everything was table service and cooked to order, perhaps on this occasion it may have been better to organise a hot breakfast buffet which people could help themselves to, or perhaps have more staff serving.

Having said that, the breakfast was delicious and of course normally this would not have posed a problem at all. I eventually had the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs while Stuart had eggs and maple bacon – I actually think it was rather kind to start the breakfast so early for everyone.

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

a uk break weekend away to Brighton for the marathon staying in the stylish Malmaison boutique hotel

We had the most perfect stay and I am so pleased we were able to stay at the brand new Malmaison Brighton, I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone looking to stay in Brighton and I really hope we can come back to visit another day – ideally when we didn’t have a marathon to have to fit into the trip!

Malmaison Brighton kindly invited us to stay at their new hotel but all views are my own and I would honestly love to go back again one day soon.

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We excitedly headed up to Wembley on Saturday to watch Disney On Ice, the newest show for 2017, which celebrates 100 years of Disney magic from from Frozen, Snow White, Beauty and the Beast, The Lion King and Mulan as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse & co.

Disney On Ice

This was the first experience the boys have had of live Disney, all morning we were talking to them about it, but having never been they didn’t really understand what it was we were getting so excited about. I had heard really good things and read other people’s blogs about their reviews and experiences at Disney on ice and I was so looking forward to seeing their little faces, so on went the ears and off we went on our way up to London.

Disney on Ice are returning to the UK with 100 Years of Magic through Spring 201

We pre-booked our parking online and chose the Yellow carpark, which was around £16 for the day. It was a really easy car park to get to and was about a 7 minute walk from the SSE Arena, which after deliberating about getting the train, was the much easier option for us coming in from Hampshire.

100 years of Walt Disney magic with characters from Frozen, Snow White, Tangled as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse

100 years of Walt Disney magic with characters from Frozen, Snow White, Tangled as well as Mickey and Minnie Mouse

The show started, illuminating the stage and flooding the arena with shining lights. Immediately the boys sat up and looked expectantly at the ice rink ahead of us. Mickey and Minnie Mouse kicked off the show with a foot stomping introduction encouraging children to include fitness into their daily routine with a fun song focused around their ‘Fit To Dance’ program. Surrounded by backing skaters all dancing beautifully to the beat.

10 thousand twinkly lights flickered from the audience as children excitedly waved their glowing wands and swords around happily as each tale was unveiled, introducing all of our most loved characters in beautiful costumes and make up.

Disney On Ice

The Disney hits just kept coming, mixing longer features with shorter scenes from the likes of Finding Nemo, Beauty and the Beast, Toy Story, The Lion King, and of course Frozen. I love how they managed to include so much detail from the films in such a short space of time, without making them feel like they were rushed, each film flowing seamlessly to the next.

Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice

I loved the extended Frozen part, we entered the kingdom of Arendelle which Henry was most excited about (see video!) and ventured up to The North Mountain for a beautiful dance solo from Queen Elsa around her ice castle. Olaf was a huge hit with the audience, as he entered snow fell from the skies the audience cheered. His solo song “Summer” was a great song to sing along to with the brightly coloured insects cheerily dancing around him.

Disney On Ice

Our youngest is almost 2, and like most boys, doesn’t do sitting still for long. The first half is around an hour and a half and he was just getting a little restless towards the last 10 or so minutes of the first half. Which I think is pretty good going for a young toddler, nothing a few hugs and chair swapping with big brother didn’t fix!

Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice

During the interval we headed out to stretch our legs and find some snacks. Of course Henry wanted the £11 Olaf drink cup, filled with rainbow slushy ice. There were several stalls with brightly coloured toys and food to tempt the children but personally I found the prices to be really expensive for what they were – but this isn’t anything out of the ordinary for shows like this, I know.

Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

Toy Story came on with the happy tune You’ve Got A Friend In Me which we all loved. Recently I’ve really got into the music from the films and see how they really add to the magic of Disney films. During the show the collection of Disney melodies included family favourites like “Hakuna Matata,” “Tale As Old As Time” and “Let It Go.” (All of which I’m pretty sure I know all the words to!)

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

The 100 years of Disney magic performance included music from 14 tales, with 30 songs and 50 lovable Disney characters and at the end they all came back on stage and received our cheers. It really was a magical show and the seed has definitely been planted in all of us to go and experience more Disney magic. One day I would absolutely love to take the boys to Florida, so that’s definitely something to save up for.

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

Disney On Ice 2017 london wembley review

I was kindly gifted the tickets for us to go along and review the show, but we absolutely loved it and as always all views are my own.

Have you been to see Disney On Ice? I would definitely recommend catching the show while it is touring the UK in 2017. Keep your eyes peeled for the video of our day over on my YouTube channel.

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You may have seen the buzz (awful pun, sorry!) already around the launch of the new Bugaboo Bee⁵ Pushchair. We’ve been lucky enough to have been asked to test it out before it had even hit the shops – and we have been seriously impressed! You can watch my video review here..or read on for more in depth thoughts around this latest installment of the Bugaboo Bee family…

Firstly, let me explain our backstory…We have 2 little boys aged 3 and 1. We live in a suburban location and love getting outdoors for walks and adventures. We currently have a bulky double pram which takes up my entire large boot and our eldest son has definitely outgrown the seat. He’s also got to a point where he doesn’t need a constant seat, but often gets tired if we’re out on long walks.

Bugaboo Bee 5 Pushchair - Out and about review!

Bugaboo Bee 5 Pushchair - Out and about review

Bugaboo Bee 5 Pushchair - Out and about review!

Bugaboo Bee⁵

A little about the pram: ” The compact, light Bugaboo Bee⁵ is a smart choice for urban adventurers with a newborn or toddler…The neat one-hand, one-piece fold makes it easy, and takes up less space at home…Your child can enjoy the ride from the comfort of their padded seat that grows with them — reversing, reclining and extending in just a few clicks”

Bugaboo Bee⁵ Pushchair - Out and about review

Bugaboo Bee 5 Pushchair - Out and about review

Why we love it:

As our children are older, we are less in need of a full travel system, and more in need of a compact, lightweight stroller style pushchair which I can throw in the back of the car (with one hand!) The main seat is so padded I am pleasantly surprised at the quality of the design and materials used, the height is adjustable depending on who is riding in it and the 5 point harness has a memory feature, meaning that you don’t need to readjust it when you make the seat bigger – genius. You can full recline the seat, making it suitable from birth, and even add a car seat or bassinet. It’s even fully customisable! The basket underneath is a really good size (perfect for my shopping trips) Even the wheels are detachable – great for cleaning mud and grit, and also customisable! This really is a new level of lightweight pushchair.

Bugaboo Bee⁵ Pushchair - Out and about review

Bugaboo Bee 5 review

The absolute game changer about the Bugaboo Bee⁵ for us is the toddler board, with seat!!! It’s absolutely made this pram perfect for us because we can be assured that Henry can have somewhere to sit/stand if his little legs get tired, but without the huge space that an extra full seat takes up. It’s so easy to attach – even he can do it. It takes a little knack to get used to walking to one side, but once you’re walking you really don’t notice the extra effort to walk out of the way of the board.

Bugaboo Bee⁵ Review

Bugaboo Bee 5 Pushchair - Out and about review!

Bugaboo Bee⁵ Pushchair - Out and about review

The independent 4 wheel suspension in this new upgraded model is really good and it makes light work of difficult terrain. I love the faux leather handle and the extendable sun canopy which means you can completely cover your little one up in the sun/rain/wind, or when they take a little nap (Those were the days!!)

Features:

  • Five-point harness with height-adjustable shoulder straps.
  • Independent four-wheel suspension

  • Extendable sun canopy

  • One handed steering with excellent suspension
  • Light chassis, easy compact fold

  • Car seat compatible

  • Independent carrycot

  • Extendable seat – great for bigger children

  • Rear and parent facing position

  • Suitable from birth

Thanks for reading our review. Please check out the video review if you would like to see the Bee5 in action. Thank you to Bugaboo for kindly loaning me this pushchair, all views are my own and I really do love it! The Bugaboo Bee⁵ is now available to purchase from all Bugaboo retailers.

Bugaboo Bee5

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I love living so close to London, it’s just a quick 45 minute train to get to the city and each time I go I try to find new places to explore. Many of my school friends have settled in London so it’s always nice to pop up and visit. but having to make a quick dash for that last train is always a stressful experience. Sometimes it’s so much more convenient to stay up there, so when I was invited by Novotel to check out their stylish and contemporary hotel in the Royal borough of Greenwich I was really pleased.

Novotel #1000 stories blog

Sadly I didn’t get to the hotel until pretty late, so I didn’t utilise all of the facilities such as the stylish bar, pool or international cuisine restaurant. I did, however, very much enjoy a full night’s sleep in the super comfortable bed dressed in eco-designed “LIVE N DREAM” comfort bedding and pillows – a real treat which anyone with young children will agree!

Nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

#1000 stories with Novotel

#1000 stories with Novotel

Any hotel which offers Nespresso on tap is a winner for me. I love being able to have a strong coffee in the comfort of my pyjamas before heading down to breakfast.

nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

I was racing out the door first thing the next day on my way to Blogfest so I just had enough time to grab a quick bite to eat from the breakfast buffet which included a nice selection of continental and cooked options. I probably should have loaded up more but I was, of course, being characteristically late!

Breakfast was served with view. The cosy cobbled streets and iconic red telephone box set the scene for a traditional London landscape. Morning was rising with a cool dampness to the air and I was excited for the day ahead meeting lots of fellow bloggers. It was such a shame I couldn’t explore the area as from what I had seen it had so much to offer. I’d love to go back again with the boy’s when I had more time to take a look around the area; especially as they offer great facilities for families. The hotel was so close to the train station it was really convenient to navigate to despite feeling quite far out initially.

#1000 stories with Novotel

Greenwich has a unique village feel to it, home to a World Herritige site, a Prime Meridian and where hemispheres meet. It’s so easy to get to out of central London, and the over ground train takes you through the winding tracks above Canary Wharf’s waterways which is never something I’ve seen from such a perspective.

I loved that all the toiletries were Fairtrade. Novotel is committed to PLANET 21, the sustainable development programme of the AccorHotels and there are many eco friendly materials used throughout the hotel.

Novotel #1000 stories blog 

Thanks to Novotel, Greenwich for inviting me to stay. You can take a further look at my stay at over on my YouTube 

If you stay with Novotel make sure you tag #1000stories on social media to share your story.

 

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I was so pleased when this gorgeous box of My Little Piccolo organic baby food pouches arrived on the doorstep last month. Both my boys are the biggest fans of fruit pouches even now and the Piccolo organic purées are just so lovely I was thrilled for them to try them out.

Piccolo organic baby food pouches

If you’ve been reading my blog since the early days (thank you!!) then you may well have read my post about weaning and preparing food for your little one. You might also have caught my post written second child in about the cheats way of weaning when you don’t even have time to prepare food for yourself!

Piccolo organic baby food pouches

But it’s not just fruit, My Little Piccolo have cleverly disguised lots of healthy veg within these delicious pouches so I can relax when they refuse their homemade supper (seriously, how annoying is it when that happens!!) because I know that they have got some amazing goodness from the Italian inspired pouch offered with their meal. They are also fab for days out because they don’t need to be refrigerated if they are unopened so they’re perfect for car journeys or picnics. Oh and teething. Uh-mazing for teething when they won’t eat anything else!! You can also freeze them in ice lolly moulds for when they want to gnaw on something to ease their swollen gums.

Piccolo organic baby food pouches

I honestly love everything about them, even the packaging – especially the packaging! The flavours are delicious, yet so interesting, which all include a nod to their Mediterranean roots. Apple & Apricot with a pinch of cinnamon, Peach & Apple with a hint of basil, Banana, Blueberry and Apple with a hint of vanilla, Squash, Red Pepper & Chickpea with a hint of rosemary, Cherry & Yoghurt with wholegrain oats and Spring Greens with a hint of mint.

Piccolo organic baby food pouches

I really can’t wait for the next range of flavours to be announced, they are bound to be as big of a hit with my boys. They are perfect for all ages if you want to get some organic goodness into your child.

Piccolo also donates 10% of its profits to food education, and is the first baby food brand to work in partnership with the prestigious National Childbirth Trust (NCT), the UK’s largest parenting charity. So all the good feels.

Piccolo organic baby food pouches

I am so pleased that we got to try out these organic food pouches because I’ve never seen my boys wolf down veg like it!

If you want to get hold of a pouch to test out yourself then head to the below for stockists. I don’t think you will be left dissatisfied, and your bubbas certainly won’t be left hungry! Have you tried the range of Piccolo baby food pouches before?

where can you buy piccolo baby food pouches

 

Download your free Weaning guide for more info!

 

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