Top UK Attractions to Explore Before the Summer Holiday Rush

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As a parent one of the best things is going for a day out to an interesting and fun place with your children. Do you know what one of the worst things is? Going for a day out to an interesting and fun place with everybody else’s children. The summer holidays are speeding towards us and that means that soon there won’t be a museum, zoo or theme park in the country you can visit without lengthy queues, hiked up prices and a constant soundtrack of somebody, somewhere, screaming at the top of their lungs because they want an ice cream.

So this is the ideal time to dodge the crowds. We’ve a precious few weeks before the summer holiday starts and a handful of weekends before then. Rather than waiting for the holidays to roll around with their traffic jams and queues, why not beat the rush? Here are a few uk attractions you can sneak in before the summer rush.

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Alton Towers

Let’s be honest, there are few things in this world worse than a theme park on a summer holiday. But before a holiday, they’re the best! If you want to go on a ride, just go on a ride! Fancy something to eat, there’s loads of bored staff in eateries all over the park who’ll be eager to serve up your food in a timely fashion.

And the best part is, as well as less queues and quicker service, it’s cheaper. Alton Towers is offering 40% off if you book in advance for a day during June.

Warner Bros Studio Tour

The Warner Bros Studio Tour is about as close as you and your kids will ever get to visiting Hogwarts in real life. And if you think about it, why would you want to visit Hogwarts during the summer holidays? Do you remember that really good bit in the Harry Potter books that took place during the summer holidays at Hogwarts? No, obviously not. Because Harry was busy sitting at home in his cupboard under the stairs. So during term time is clearly the best time to visit.

Of course, the Warner Bros Studio Tour won’t just take you to Hogwarts, you can see the Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley, and more!

Eden Project

Driving up to the Eden Project you might think it looks like a prototype for our first Mars colony, and you wouldn’t be far wrong. The gigantic hexagonal domes are built to take tropical and Mediterranean environments and help them survive way up in Cornwall. Standing in the middle of one of those domes you might think you’re not so far from the Amazon itself. Although admittedly, that illusion will be a whole lot sturdier if you’re not visiting at the same time as every other holiday-making family in the country.

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You remember that bit in the Lego Movie where everyone is singing “Everything Is Awesome” and then Emmett shouts “I could listen to this song for hours!” and it smash cuts to eight hours later and everyone is still singing the same song?

The point is, everyone loves Lego. Everybody. If you meet someone who says they don’t like Lego there’s a realistic chance they’re a very convincing robot. Possibly made out of Lego. So obviously an entire theme park made of Lego is going to get absolutely packed during the summer holidays. Beat the rush!

Where will you be visiting before it gets too busy?

Our Weekend in Pictures {Birthday Celebrations in Wiltshire}

I haven’t done a weekend in pictures post for a while but I think this weekend really warrants one!

I remember my mum turning 40, that’s probably the first of her birthdays I can really remember. I can’t remember what we did to celebrate but I do remember the occasion and the house being filled with flowers.

For her 60th we organised a surprise birthday party, with all her friends and family. It was a beautiful day and we’d hired a gorgeous countryside venue with rolling hillside views. Thankfully the weather was good to us, which meant we all spent the day outside enjoying the fresh Welsh air and feasting on delicious food and drinks.

This past weekend was my mum’s 65th birthday and again we wanted to organise something a little special to celebrate the big day and show her how much we love and appreciate her. My dad had asked me to organise a surprise weekend away, something relaxing and ideally half way between London and west Wales, where they live.

After much searching, I came across a stunning country house in Ramsbury, Wiltshire on Airbnb. It was beautifully decorated, had more than enough bedrooms and a big kitchen. It was also covered in pink roses and had a stunning big garden for the girls to run around. Basically, it was a ‘chocolate box’ house and I knew it would make the perfect venue!

It’s now Sunday night and we’ve just got back from our weekend away. We didn’t do very much, it was a relaxing weekend spent eating, drinking, watching the football, and running around the garden playing hide and seek.

We went to The Bell at Ramsbury for a lovely meal on Saturday afternoon. They have their own micro brewery and serve really good home cooked food, and made us feel very special. We also did some shopping at nearby Marlborough, which was full of lovely little shops and had a market running down the middle of the high street.

Here is our weekend in pictures…

Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire Our weekend in pictures - celebrating my mum's birthday in wiltshire

Penblwydd Hapus Mam xxx

Calling all #ParentsToBe – Fancy Some Advice, Discounts and Treats?

At Mamas & Papas' Parents to Be event

Okay, I know we’re not ‘parents to be’ anymore (Iris is now 12 weeks old!) but I couldn’t resist checking out Mamas & Papas‘ new in-store shopping event for ‘parents to be’, offering discounts, free gifts, refreshments and lots of advice.

Mamas and Papas are well known for offering good customer service and advice on all things ‘babies’ (from car seats to pushchairs and beyond) so I wanted to know what this event offered over and above your usual trip to the shop? As it turns out, a whole lot more!

On Sunday morning we all headed over to Westfield in West London. I love the shopping mecca that is Westfield but to be honest we don’t go over there very often, so it was good to have an excuse. The shops don’t open until midday on a Sunday so it was lovely and quiet when we arrived at 10.30am. The ‘Parents to Be’ event was running from 10am to 12pm, which meant the shop was open.

At Mamas & Papas' Parents to Be event At Mamas & Papas' Parents to Be event At Mamas & Papas' Parents to Be event

As soon as I we walked in I was asked for my name (you have to book, you can’t just turn up to your local event) and as soon as my name was ticked off the list I was given a goody bag that included; gifts, discount offers and a £10 voucher. We were then offered free drinks and some breakfast while we wondered around the tinny dresses and beautiful baby grows.

At Mamas & Papas' Parents to Be event

During the morning there were different demonstrations going on and talks on getting your baby to sleep, first aid, designing a nursery, picking the right car seat and easy make-up tricks for new mums (by Bare Minerals). And of course there were plenty of staff around to take you through the different pushchairs and other baby essentials.

As someone who has been a ‘parent to be’ a few times now, I was really impressed by the event. I learnt so much and really enjoyed the opportunity to browse the shop and listen to all the different talks. If you’re expecting a baby, I totally recommend find your nearest Mamas & Papas shop and seeing if they’re organising a similar event.

I know that some more events have been planned in for July. Click here to book your session. 

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Disclaimer: Mamas and Papas invited me to attend this event and asked me to write about it in return for a gift. All photos and opinions are my own. 

Skylanders, Shoreditch and Pizza East {My Captured Moment #77}

Welcome back to My Captured Moment, a weekly link-up where I share my favourite ‘Captured Moments’ and invite you to do the same.

For this week’s My Captured Moment, I’m sharing some pictures from a fun day out I had with my girls over the recent half-term. It was the day after Lili’s 6th birthday and we’d been invited to the launch of the latest Skylanders game – Skylanders Imaginators (which will be out later this year).

We weren’t too familiar with the Skylands franchise but it sounded like a fun party and a nice treat for the girls at the end of half-term. It really was a great event, which included a massive sweets buffet, ice cream made of dry ice, a digital illustrator, a photo booth and of course the chance to play the latest games – which the older two loved!

This very cool event was aptly held at the equally cool Ace Hotel in Shoreditch, East London. I don’t find myself in this part of town too often so I used the opportunity to take some pictures of the famous street art and take my family to Pizza East for a delicious lunch.

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Blogging has given me so many great opportunities but I aways favour the events that I know my girls will enjoy and hopefully remember for years to come. I know I’ll remember and cherish this day for a long time.

Share your Moments

Your ‘My Captured Moment’ can be a single picture or a series of shots, new (taken this week) or old, with or without words. The idea is to simply share a moment in time you’ve captured on your camera and make sure it doesn’t go unseen. This could include vintage shots of your own childhood and beyond or a simple picture you’ve recently taken and want to ‘show off’.

How to Play Along

• Link up every Thursday to Sunday (ending at 11.00pm)

• Add my badge (or link back to my website using #MyCapturedMoment) at the bottom of your post.

• Share the love – try to comment on a few of the other posts. After all that’s what it’s all about.

Go Social

Tweet your posts to me @HeleddLavender using the hashtag #MyCapturedMoment and I’ll retweet. Hashtag your picture #MyCapturedMoment on Instagram (follow me @HeleddLavender) so we can share our pictures and hopefully get some new followers and likes.

Running in Lavender


What’s in your Tote Bag this Summer? {Win a Thornback & Peel Bag}

Thornback & Peel tote bag

What would your perfect summer day involve? A picnic in the park, a day at the beach, a long al fresco lunch or maybe a beautiful country walk? Depending on your answer, you would of course need to carry different things in your summer tote bag.

To launch the new Thornback & Peel collection of beautifully screen printed tote bags, the lovely people at Thornback & Peel have asked me to show them what I’ll be carrying in my tote bag this summer.

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As you may already know I’ve recently had my third baby, so my bag will be full of our baby day to day essentials, including; a changing mat, nappies, wipes, a toy, a muslin blanket and a change of clothes. I’ll also be carrying some sun glasses just in case the sun does decide to make an appearance. Although lets face it, I’m more likely to need an umbrella at the moment!

Thornback & Peel tote bag

How things change! This time last year my bag would have been filled with completely different items. Maybe a magazine, a bottle of water and some fruit for the girls?

For your chance of winning your own Thornback & Peel tote bag, tell me what you’ll be carrying in your bag this summer.

Win a beautiful Thornback & Peel Tote Bag

My Captured Moment #76 {A Picture Link-up}

Welcome back to My Captured Moment, a weekly link-up where I share my favourite ‘Captured Moments’ and invite you to do the same.

This week’s My Captured Moment is a small series of shots I took of baby Iris last week. She always wakes in the best of moods and gives us her biggest smiles every morning. 

From birth we’ve swaddled her at night but last Wednesday night I decided it was time for her to move on to a ‘grow bag’. The ‘bag’ was a huge success as she slept for over seven hours straight for the first time – and the next morning I took these pictures to capture this little milestone.

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Her pretty ‘grow bag’ is from The Little White Company and she’s lying on a Cocoonababy, which has to be one of the best things we’ve got her!

Share your Moments

Your ‘My Captured Moment’ can be a single picture or a series of shots, new (taken this week) or old, with or without words. The idea is to simply share a moment in time you’ve captured on your camera and make sure it doesn’t go unseen. This could include vintage shots of your own childhood and beyond or a simple picture you’ve recently taken and want to ‘show off’.

How to Play Along

• Link up every Thursday to Sunday (ending at 11.00pm)

• Add my badge (or link back to my website using #MyCapturedMoment) at the bottom of your post.

• Share the love – try to comment on a few of the other posts. After all that’s what it’s all about.

Go Social

Tweet your posts to me @HeleddLavender using the hashtag #MyCapturedMoment and I’ll retweet. Hashtag your picture #MyCapturedMoment on Instagram (follow me @HeleddLavender) so we can share our pictures and hopefully get some new followers and likes.

Running in Lavender


My Sisters in June {The Siblings Project}

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This time last year I wouldn’t have guessed that a year on I’d be taking pictures of three girls in my Sisters in June post. We were weeks away from finding out that we were pregnant and had no idea what was about to happen.

A year later and Iris is 12 weeks old, she’s smiling, laughing, gurgling and sleeping an average of seven hours a night. It’s now hard to believe that she was not in our plans and that she’s only been with us for such a short time. I know I’ve said it before but she really does complete our family and fills a whole I didn’t even realise was there.

Already it’s clear to see that Iris looks up to her big sisters. Her face lights up when either one of them walks into the room, her little legs kick with excitement, and she’s always happy to be held by them. Lili is especially caring with her baby sister, which doesn’t surprise me because she’s so sweet and kind hearted.

These pictures were taken on Sunday. They’re not the best shots I’ve ever taken but the closeness and love the girls have for each other is clear to see, which makes them special to me.

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The Me and Mine Project

Raincoats at the Ready Thanks to Kozi Kids

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June has so far been a month of rain… big, heavy rain! When is it going to end? When can we put our raincoats away for the summer? It’s been more running in raincoats than running in lavender for us recently and I for one have had enough. I’ve been caught out in the heavy rain a few times and the girls are desperate to go out to play.

Over the half term break the girls got serious ‘cabin fever’ from being indoors and not being able to go outside. All they wanted to do was go out into the garden to run around and play on their swing set. After two whole days of nagging, I gave in and allowed them to go out and play with their new bubble guns (a gift from my parents) – it was either that or have a bubble filled kitchen.

Also, we’d been sent these colourful raincoats from Kozi Kidz, so I’d run out of excuses to say no. As you can see they were very happy to be out of the house and making the most of their new coats and bubble machines…

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These brightly coloured, rainbow raincoats are made from phthalate free polyester with a polyurethane (PU) coating, welded seams and waterproof zips, making them 100% waterproof. Just what we’ve needed over the past few weeks. Now all I need to do is get myself a similar, lightweight coat!

My Captured Moment #75 {A Picture Link-up}

Welcome back to My Captured Moment, a weekly link-up where I share my favourite ‘Captured Moments’ and invite you to do the same.

This week’s My Captured Moment is dedicated to my amazing ‘mam’. She’s always there for me and my girls and seeing her relationship with my daughters is one of my favourite things in the world. Although, she does really spoil them with sweets and cakes which drives me a little crazy – but as she says, that’s what grandparents are supposed to do.

Last week both my parents came over from Wales to help us celebrate Lili’s birthday and while they were with us I took these shots of them with little baby Iris, their newest grandchild.

It was after breakfast and Iris had just been fed, so everyone was happy and in good spirits. I love the way they’ve come out…

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Share your Moments

Your ‘My Captured Moment’ can be a single picture or a series of shots, new (taken this week) or old, with or without words. The idea is to simply share a moment in time you’ve captured on your camera and make sure it doesn’t go unseen. This could include vintage shots of your own childhood and beyond or a simple picture you’ve recently taken and want to ‘show off’.

How to Play Along

• Link up every Thursday to Sunday (ending at 11.00pm)

• Add my badge (or link back to my website using #MyCapturedMoment) at the bottom of your post.

• Share the love – try to comment on a few of the other posts. After all that’s what it’s all about.

Go Social

Tweet your posts to me @HeleddLavender using the hashtag #MyCapturedMoment and I’ll retweet. Hashtag your picture #MyCapturedMoment on Instagram (follow me @HeleddLavender) so we can share our pictures and hopefully get some new followers and likes.

Running in Lavender


Hi De Hi… This is Our Weekend in Butlin’s {Not what I expected}

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Last weekend we packed up our car and headed west to Somerset for our first mini-break as a family of five. After a long six and a half hour drive we were all feeling tired and a little emotional but thankfully it was worth the journey. I must admit I wasn’t sure what to expect from a weekend in Butlin’s, my expectations weren’t high but I’m happy to say that I was proved very wrong!

It was almost dark when we arrived, we picked up our welcome pack and keys from guest services and drove round to our chalet in the West Lakes Village. This section of the resort is obviously newly renovated, each chalet is simply yet stylishly decorated and has either a lake or park view. Our large chalet had four bedrooms, two bathrooms and a family room with a kitchen, dinning area, sofas and a large TV. It also had a lovely balcony overlooking the lake. To say I was impressed with our little (or not so little) home from home would be an understatement, it really was lovely.

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We were at Butlin’s to review the entertainment they had on offer, which included shows by Dick and Dom, Angelina Ballerina, Mike the Knight and many more. On the first morning Lili was booked onto Dick and Dom’s Practical Joke Academy, this involved her learning to do some funny practical jokes and then going on stage to act them out in front of an audience. Thankfully she’s not too shy for a five year old and was more than happy to take part. She even won a signed book and got a certificate for taking part. They also gave Poppy a certificate, although she was too young to take part – which I thought was a sweet gesture and made her very happy!

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The entertainment on offer really was vast! Over our two day stay we watched five different shows, all aimed at kids – but we could have watched so many more. Lili and Poppy really enjoyed the Dick vs Dom show and Mike the Knight – I’d say they were their favourite ones.

Of course, there’s so much more things to do at Butlin’s from the swimming pool, to the fairground, amusements, cinema, crazy golf, go-karts to name just a few. There is literally something for all ages. We were on the go from the moment we got up, till our heads hit the pillow at night. And what makes it all even better is that most things are included in your accommodation fee. So you can go on as many rides as you like without spending a penny. Although, speaking of pennies the girls did get a little addicted to the 2p machines.

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We also had a premium food package, which included an ‘eat as much as you like’ buffet breakfast and dinner at two different restaurants. The choice is massive and there’s even a few stations where the food is cooked fresh in front of you – omelets and pancakes at breakfast and grilled meat at supper time.

The only thing I was shocked by was that supper is served from 4.30pm to 7.30pm, so when we got to the restaurant at 7pm on the first night, the place was pretty empty. Luckily there was still plenty of food left, and the girls were over the moon with the ice cream machine.

We were so lucky with the weather, it was sunny and warm the whole weekend. So it would have been a shame not to have a wonder onto Minehead’s beautiful sandy beach, which is literally across the road from the retort.

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As you can see from this little video, we had a really fun weekend at Butlin’s. The girls are already asking when are we going again.

One last thing I must add is that the staff at Butlin’s (not just the Red Coats) are all amazingly friendly and happy, which I think is a massive credit to the brand and the resort. They all made our stay a truly happy one.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Butlin’s for organising this trip for us. All images and opinions are my own.