Just for Grownups

Grown Up Getaway: London, UK

Well we’ve just returned from a Grown Up mini break in London and my goodness what a great time we’ve had! This trip was the very first time my partner and I had ever left our little one and, after the initial flood of tears from me when we departed, it was actually lovely to just be a couple again and for me to be me and not Mum for a few days.

We stayed at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel which is a really great central location, perfectly suited to our weekend of exploration. The Hotel itself was lovely and check in was fast and simple. We made our way to our room (258) and were pleasantly surprised to find we had a small suit complete with a living room too! The décor was modern but cosy and the double bed I found really comfy. Despite the hotel being lovely and the staff all incredibly helpful I have to say breakfast was sadly a total let-down. The cooked breakfast buffet was tepid at best matching the coffee which along with being tepid smelled like cigarettes, YUCK!

Moving on, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and as the premier of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was on only a day prior to us visiting London, Wizarding Magic was obviously filling our minds. Whilst trawling over Facebook the day before our trip my partner had discovered a Magical Cocktail Experience Pop Up Bar called ‘The Cauldron’ not far from our hotel and after reading reviews decided to book us a place!

When it was time we opted to walk to the bar as I’m super nervous of the Tube and as we got closer and closer, I begun to seriously regret that decision. It looked like we were heading into a much ‘less salubrious’ part of town and every inch of my being was telling me to get the hell out of there. I stuck it out though and when the Sat Nav on my phone cheerfully stated ‘You have arrived at your destination’ my heart literally sank, it was a Shipping container with a tent roughly shoved on top! I was absolutely horrified!


It goes to show though you should NEVER judge a book (or in this case a bar) by it’s cover!

Upon entering it really is like what I imagine walking into ‘The Leaky Cauldron’ would be like, it was amazing! Every ounce of doubt I’d had instantly disappeared and we became fully fledged Witches and Wizards for the afternoon! Capes and Wand included! It was EPIC! Cocktail making was just the best fun and I simply can’t recommend this place highly enough! It’s an absolute MUST if you’re into Harry Potter and Cocktails! We made the ‘Blood Boiling Curse’ and ‘Time Transfixed’ which was my favourite.

We were very lucky to catch up with family whilst in London and we arranged to meet up and go for an evening meal. Our venue choice was Madison, as we had wanted a London Skyline style meal with great views over the city! Madison filled that brief and proposed to serve a menu selection which was more suitable for us country bumpkins than some other restaurants we had considered as they did Burgers, Venison and other food we had actually heard of!
Madison is located on top of a shopping centre and, after the trauma of catching the tube, it is safe to say on arrival we felt more than a little lost! Thankfully our family spotted us and directed us to where we needed to be! The venue itself was what I can only describe as ‘Vibrant’, the views from the terrace were absolutely stunning, and from our table we had a lovely view of St. Pauls Cathedral all lit up in the London Skyline. Now as I said the ambience of the place was ‘vibrant’ which for us Country Bumpkins basically means you could barely hear yourself think over the ‘music’ if that’s what you can call it. Thankfully the ‘vibrancy’ could not cast a shadow over the deliciousness of the meal! I chose the Venison and I was definitely not disappointed, it was cooked beautifully and with the accompaniments was a real treat. My partner opted for the Burger which also looked fantastic, a real nice thick patty in a toasted cob with all the trimmings. The service was also excellent and despite struggling to hear the staff they were more than happy to recommend a nice Rosé wine for us which again was delicious! After our meal we opted to try and find somewhere a little less ‘vibrant’ so we could regain our hearing and maybe hold a conversation without having to shout!
As the family we met live and work in central London and know the area far better than we could ever Sat Nav our way around we followed their lead and walked around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the Big Smoke. It was a lovely evening and both myself and my partner thoroughly enjoyed it.

Our next London adventure was breakfast in the Sky Garden! Now this was very special and something I would highly recommend doing if you ever get the opportunity! The Sky Garden is located at the top of the Walkie Talkie building and boasts outstanding views over the city! Luckily the weather had begun to clear from the foggy day that we had arrived to the previous day. After the airport style security check in when made our way to the 35th floor and the sun was burning through glistening on the Thames and allowing us to see more and more the longer we were there. We had Croissants and Pan au Chocolat with Lattes which came to a very reasonable £14. Not bad for breakfast with a stunning view (although if like me you feel the cold you’ll need your big coat as it is a bit chilly that high up!) Now my partner is immensely terrified of heights and having gone a ghastly shade of green going up the Guinness Tower in Dublin I had my reservations about this being a good idea. He did however cope remarkably well and even mustered walking up to the top 37th Floor and with a little encouragement, stood looking over the highest balcony! A fantastic experience and one I would happily do again, I imagine an evening meal here is epic!

Hamleys was our next port of call, a firm favourite for both of us and we enjoyed looking around immensely, we obviously bought George a present, a Hamleys Marching bear and when we gave it to him when we got home his little face was an absolute picture!

For the rest of the morning we walked about London taking in the sights; Leicester Square, Picadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square etc etc and stopped at Pret a Manger for a bite to eat for lunch. I had a Hoisin duck salad wrap and a Latté and they were so good, the wrap really was delicious and the coffee far better than the hotels at about quarter of the price! It was here that my partner, having now ‘conquered’ his fear of heights suggested we go on the London Eye! (Now I’m not sure if he was delirious from the earlier trauma of the Sky Garden but nevertheless, I wasn’t going to say no!)
The London Eye is something I’ve always wanted to go on ever since it was built! My parents took my eldest on it and my Grandma and they both really enjoyed it but knowing how poorly heights usually make my partner it was something I thought we just wouldn’t do together. This time though he’d packed his bravery pants and we we’re going! EEEEEKKKKK I was so excited!!!!

We had booked our tickets online whilst sat in Pret and Fast Tracked them and thank god we did, when we arrived it was heaving with people, but we managed to get aboard the Pod within about 10-15 mins. I would certainly recommend Fast Track if you ever want to ride the Eye, worth every penny if you’re limited on time like we were. The experience was amazing, the views breath-taking and as we’d timed it the sun was just setting making the city transform beneath us as we gracefully glided round. I loved it and would highly recommend it, even with the little ones in tow!

All in all London was a fantastic grown up getaway, even for Country Bumpkins. It’ll certainly be somewhere I will go back to as there is just so much we’ve yet to discover and do. My next wish list will be to go up the Shard and Tower Bridge as friends have told us both these are very good!

Beside the Seaside

Beside the seaside: Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire UK

Located on the East Coast of Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe is a great place to visit, there really is something for everyone.

The beach is superbly clean and goes on for miles! The waves tend to be a little kinder and the little ones can play in the (usually warmer) shallow streams that form when the tide goes out. The very gently sloping beach is also great as the kids can play quite far out in the sea but generally still touch the floor! (Parental supervision required mind!)

We always start off at the North End where it’s a little quieter, away from the main promenade, so you get a nice bit of beach pretty much to yourself!
The car park at the North end couldn’t be any better, you simply park up, walk over the dune and you’re on the beach! There’s even a little shop selling teas, coffees and beach paraphernalia.

The thing I like most about Mablethorpe is that you can have the best of both worlds. If you like the hubbub of the main promenade area it’s great, with all the arcades, funfair and shops but if like me you like a slightly more sedate seaside experience 5 mins down the road you can have the peace and quiet too.  We normally do half and half!

There is also something very special that you just don’t get in many places and that’s the Sand Train! A train that drives up and down the beach, in the breaking surf, which for the kiddies (and big kiddies!) is so much fun!

We’ve had no end of great family times at Mablethorpe, flying kites, building sandcastles and playing in the arcades. When it comes to lunch, Monty’s Fish & Chips is our top tip! Located on Fitzwilliam Street near the main promenade area the food there is absolutely delicious.  We normally sit in which is great option when you have little ones in tow plus they can have a pit stop there too!

Another lovely place we like to go and have a nice ice cream is Mr. G’s on the seafront. A fantastic café which does food, drinks and of course Ice cream including a mean Knickerbocker Glory!

We highly recommend Mablethorpe for a great family day out! Its a regular for us!

Beside the Seaside

Beside the seaside: Cromer, Norfolk UK

Situated on the East Norfolk coastline Cromer is a really lovely seaside town.

Our 1st visit here was all too brief and we plan to return again very soon. There was a lot to see and do in Cromer, when we first arrived we headed to the main shopping area and quickly discovered an array of lovely shops all selling the obligatory souvenirs.

We headed on toward the seafront where we were greeted with the breath taking view of Cromer Pier. Knowing that Cromer is famous for its crabbing, my partner and eldest were very excited to have a go and catch themselves some crabs. Sadly when we walked down to the pier we discovered that the day we chose to go was some sort of competition day and that everyone in the universe was crabbing off the pier. There were crab lines all tangled up all over the place and for a first attempt it wasn’t ideal. I later found out it was the World Crabbing Competition part of the Crab and Lobster Festival!

At the end of the Pier is Cromer Lifeboat Station, it’s really good in that you can go in and look around, see the lifeboat close up and get a real sense of the life of a lifeboat person. My partner and eldest went in first as unfortunately due to the nature of the place children in pushchairs or babies in baby carriers are not allowed. I then went in after with my eldest, I couldn’t get over how big the lifeboat was! I had no idea they were so big, very impressive. We had a look around the RNLI shop and made a few purchases including a Cromer Lifeboat RNLI teddy bear for George.

After another stroll around the pier we decided to go a little further and find the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum only a short walk away.  On our way we discovered a surf school and lovely local market!
The museum is really nice; it is totally accessible and has interactive elements which are great. It’s not huge; we were in and out within about half an hour but we thoroughly enjoyed our time here and I would certainly recommend a visit.

When we left the museum we stopped to watch the sea and the big ships passing in the distance. All of a sudden looking towards the pier where we had been only half an hour earlier the lifeboat launched! It was amazing to witness, however the shout was sadly a real emergency, as far as I know a fishing vessel had got into difficulty. As we watched the Lifeboat disappear it gave me a real sense of respect and gratitude to those people who volunteer their time to the lifeboats and risk their lives to save others. Amazing.IMG_6271

We stopped to have lunch in the extremely popular Rocket House Café which was really lovely. It is situated just next door to the Henry Blogg museum and was absolutely heaving! I had a Cromer Crab sandwich, my eldest a Cromer Crab wrap and my partner a sausage sandwich. All our meals were delicious but if you plan to visit make sure you get there early for a table!

After lunch the weather turned and we were forced to abandon our promenade walk for shelter in the arcades. This was George’s first experience of an arcade and he loved it! All the pretty lights, things moving and people bustling about, there was just so much for him to look at!

Like I say our visit here was far too short and we will most definitely be back!

If you would like to donate to the RNLI please visit my Just Giving page