The Prices do St Lucia

St Lucia flag

14.5 years ago the husband and I got married in St Lucia.  Back then digital photos were a new fangled thing – so there weren’t many to chose from – but here you go! (Can’t believe how young we all look!!)

Wedding day 2003

We got married at The Body Holiday at Le Sport.  It’s a fabulous resort – and you get beauty treatments included each day as part of the ‘all inclusive’ aspect for the resort.  Even my Dad got in on the treatment action back in 2003. I  was actually 16 weeks pregnant with our eldest daughter (I’d come off the pill when we booked the wedding expecting it to take forever to get up the duff – but it didn’t!) and so was limited with the treatments, watersports, food and drink when there for the wedding.  But thankfully made up for that when we returned for our 5th and 10th wedding anniversaries!

40th birthday

Anyway – apart from this one ‘in utero’ visit for the eldest, the kids hadn’t seen where we got married – so we thought we’d take them across the Atlantic for a summer holiday in the Caribbean. Some friends have a timeshare slightly further down the coast from where we got married – and unlike The Body Holiday, this resort permits children to stay too.  We could have a large 5 bedroom villa in  the grounds of the hotel – so having the hotel facilities (room service, restaurants, water sports, spa etc) on tap but still staying in our own space.  So we booked a villa at Windjammer Landing through James Villas.

We headed of to St Lucia with British Airways (Virgin also fly there) – with the nice lying down seats!

SL1
The youngest signing her landing card! 

We’d been given some top tips for arriving at Hewanorra airport (UVF if you’re interested in airport codes #usefulforPointless) – basically, keep left if you’ve got young kids with you, as there’s a dedicated ‘families’ queue at immigration which is loads quicker! And it was great – straight through, bags grabbed, men trying to charge you loads of money to help avoided and out into the every sweaty concourse to await our driver.

We knew the drive from the airport was arduous!  We’ve tried a helicopter transfer before – and with all the faffing about, and the fact it only gets you to Castries, not the actual hotel – meant we stuck with road transportation.  I suffer HORRIBLY with car sickness – and the roads in St Lucia are pretty windy, bumpy and altogether vomit inducing – but I managed not to chuck for the 90 minute transfer.

It was all a bit chaotic and ‘Caribbean’ in service levels when we got to the hotel. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be laid back and all ‘irie’.  Anyway – we got up to our villa and our view was AMAZING!!!  It was just the most stunning ever.  There were a ‘few’ issues – but I’ve saved those for the Tripadvisor review 😉

SL2
The stunning view from our villa 

Whilst the husband and I had been to St Lucia before, we hadn’t ventured out of our resort – so we decided to do a trip around the island.  I – and 2 of the 4 kids – aren’t great on boats, so we did it by road.  This was not cheap – but we plumped for it anyway.  We saw Marigot Bay, did the sulphur springs, the waterfall and the Pitons.  The weather was FOUL, it took FOREVER to get anywhere – but we all survived (just!)  We’ve only seen rave reviews of doing these sites by sea – so it must just have been doing it by road that made it really hard work – of course, not helped by the fact the rain was pretty torrential.  It also highlighted just what a high proportion of the island is living in total poverty – quite sobering to see when you’re safely ensconced in your luxury resort most of the time.

On other days we did the zip wire over the rainforest (and the youngest and I did a cable car instead as she was too young to zip wire – and I’m too scared of heights!!)

The husband and girls also did horseriding – including a ride along the beach.

We also went to the water park in Rodney Bay with our friends which was brilliant (again the 5 year old was too young, and quite put out about this!!)  – but the older kids and the husband enjoyed it (although he struggled to move the next day!!) We also had an amazing meal at Spinnakers on the beach that night.

SL26

And, of course, we took the children to see where we got married #romantic

The airport lounge for the flight back is not the best lounge we’ve ever been in (Dubai International – DXB – is the best if you actually want to know!) but we passed the time there, and then flew back (not the best flight ever either – a 5 year old with ear ache meant I spent a large proportion of the flight sat in the footwell of her seat comforting her – and my lovely bed went unslept in!).

But lots of family memories – good, bad, amusing and disturbing – were made over the fortnight!

The eldest daughter made this fab video of what we got up to – which shows what a great time we had (thankfully it doesn’t include the torrential rain, or the times the kids just wanted to sit and watch their iPads!!)

Thank you St Lucia – you’ll always have a special place in our hearts as it’s where we said ‘I do’.  I’m not sure in January 2003 I would have expected to return 14 years later with 4 children in tow!

 

 

 

 

New York, New York – twice!

A couple of years ago the husband and I had a wonderful childfree few days in New York!

P1020125
Tourists on board a river cruise

And in a fortnight we’re heading back – but this time with a 12 and almost 14 year old in tow!!

We’re currently paying for the big 2 to go to school – which means their holidays are loads longer than the state schools (although you can practically fund the school fees in the reduced holiday costs #economics!) – so the little 2 are staying at home (with the nanny!) and we’re taking the big 2 on a city break.

Excitement levels are high (mostly due to Snapchat and Instagram ops!) and we’re hoping the children manage not to kill each other sharing a hotel room.

We’ve booked to see ‘School of Rock’ on Broadway – and to eat at The Boathouse in Central Park – but otherwise, we’re going with the toursit-y flow!

We’re staying in the same hotel as last time – and after our Billy Idol encounter last time, are hoping for a more relevant celeb spot in a lift this time!

I will, of course, report back how a city break with teens / tweens differs to an adult city break!!

Bring it on New York!!!

New York.jpg

Bear-y excited!!

A couple of years ago the wonderful Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH) created The Big Hoot – where lots of colourful owls descended on the West Midlands for the summer.  After the trail was finished they were auctioned off to raise much needed funds for BCH.

We had great fun doing the trail as a family.

And then I took it all far too seriously in an attempt to view all of them, and turned it into a military operation and the kids didn’t enjoy it quite so much…….

Well – the children are *delighted* to hear that in a similar vein BCH are having The Big Sleuth in and around Birmingham this summer!!

The big sleuth

Here’s what the website says about it:

“The departure of The Big Hoot owls left many of you in a feathery flap! Well, the good news is Birmingham’s second adventure is mysteriously taking shape!

Repeating The Big Hoot’s multi-award-winning formula, Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity and Wild in Art are teaming up to present The Big Sleuth.

To most people, the word ‘sleuth’ means a private detective, but it’s also the collective noun for a group of bears! Bizarre but true.

Birmingham will bring both definitions together in the summer of the 2017 and the Sun Bear, the world’s smallest species of bear (now threatened with extinction) is the inspiration for a brand-new sculpture for this event.

These incredible creatures are sure to inspire creativity and generate plenty of fun for all you sleuth spotters on the trail!  After which, the bears will be auctioned to raise valuable funds for Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity.”

 

Now I’m still a bit disappointed that we were out of the country for the owl auction 2 years ago – made worse by the fact that some people I used to work with bought one for their back garden – so this year I’m hoping we can go to the auction as well as have days of endless fun going on a bear hunt!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surviving the London Marathon*

Running a marathon is one of those things that appear on people’s bucket lists – along with a bungee jump, sky diving or climbing a particularly high mountain.  I can safely say that none of those are on mine.

However, my little sister Charlotte, after doing a half marathon last year, decided to capitalise on the fact she’d trained and was half way there and signed up to do the London Marathon 2017 – raising funds for Asthma UK.  She was massively dedicated to her training schedule – running come rain or shine, – and last Sunday headed off to run possibly the most famous marathon in the world through our capital city.

I should point out at this point that I’m not completely heartless – I waited for my sister to post her amazing blog about her actually RUNNING the London Marathon before posting this 😉  So please read what it was like to be an actual competitor!!!

But now – what it was like to be a spectator at the London Marathon!!!

Firstly – the preparation.  This might not have been as excessive as it was for those actually running – but still, there were things to do!!  It was even making me an insomniac. I knew there was an app that contained lots of info and maps, and the same with London Underground apps for getting about – but I’d also been told that phone reception in London on marathon day can be akin to New Year’s Eve, when everyone is trying to use the services at once – so I printed out hard copies of everything too.

There was also setting up the app to ensure you were tracking the people you were going to watch – and other randoms who you could ‘stalk’ around the course.

Then there was the fact that all of the food outlets would be RAMMED – so needing to carry supplies with you. I didn’t go quite as far as Kendal mint cake and powdered meals – but you’re getting the idea!!

The night before I did not abstain from booze like the runners – and enjoyed a pint of G&T in preparation!

Pint of G&T

I have to say I didn’t sleep well with the night before – a combo of nerves and excitement, so was up bright and early on the Sunday morning ready to face our mission. Comfy clothes and footwear were put on (I’d considered wearing a sports bra and putting Vaseline on my feet – but thought that might be a few steps too far……)

My parents arrived at 8am – and we, along with my 2 eldest kids, were ready to go! (I’d left the 2 younger kids with my husband with the instructions he was to take them summer shoe shopping – a task almost as Herculean as running a marathon!!)

Elite runners

A friend had been to spectate last year and I followed her advice for getting into London.  We drove down the M40 to Amersham and parked at the station there. My Dad very kindly offered to pay for the parking – although it was actually free! But hey, it’s the thought that counts.

We’d decided to go straight to the first Asthma UK cheering Point at mile 12. This involved an overland train to Harrow on the Hill (which has replaced ‘Castle on the Hill’ in the Ed Sheeran song to us all now. All the LOLS!!) and 2 tubes round to Bermondsey.

Tube photo

This went RIDICULOUSLY smoothly – with us literally going straight from train to train. Consequently we were at mile 12 before Charlotte had even crossed the start line!!

As we were there so early we were able to watch the Elite men go through. There is a definite body shape for these amazing athletes – and I am pretty much the antithesis of this!!

After that came the masses. And there really were masses. It was quite hard to spot individuals, and at this point I was concerned as to how I would see my sister at all.

We spotted James Cracknell (randomly we’d rented his house in Devon over Easter – but I didn’t think it was the right time to tell him that his wifi appears to be dodgy) and then a friend of mine from back in the day at Southampton Uni (whom I almost missed as he’d put a bandana on post pre race photos and before getting to us.  Thankfully his ‘City of Birmingham Striders’ top gave him away!).

The marathon app predicts what time the runners will hit certain points, and so as it was a while until Charlotte would arrive, I moved away from the railings to let other people get close to the action. I was still tracking runners on the app – and at one point told my kids that ‘Chappers off of Match of the Day 2’ was about to run past – 30 seconds before he actually did!!

We then knew my sister was getting close. At this point her husband and kids weren’t there! I knew they were close too – but from ‘Find my Friends’ with their phones they were making slow progress (this happens if you’re stopping at pubs on the way!!!) Thankfully they arrived in time (that is my brother in law and not Richard from Guess Who, just in case you were wondering!!)

The Bates

and it was VERY emotional seeing out star runner in her amazing Little Miss leggings!!

There were sweaty hugs all round – and off she set again. At this point me, my Dad and my niece were all weeping RIDICULOUSLY! I have to say I’ve got emotional and cried watching the marathon on TV at home, but to actually be there and see someone you love doing it is intense!!

My photos from mile 12 are rubbish – and I won’t embarrass my lovely niece by including the photo of her sobbing!!

We were tracking my sister’s colleague who she has tirelessly fundraised with Charlotte for Asthma UK – but she was still 6 minutes behind – and we wanted to get off to the next cheer point at mile 20, so slightly guiltily, we headed off.

Because my sister had raised so much – she’d been given 3 tickets for the grandstand finish, so my brother in law, niece and nephew headed straight there – as not only did they need to get across London – there was also, unsurprisingly, tight security to get in – and they definitely didn’t want to miss her!

We ummed and ahhed about walking or getting the Tube – but decided to give public transport a go. It was really really busy – like leaving a concert or sporting event – but kept moving and we did another cross London journey in great time and made it to Westferry.

We knew Asthma UK had a steel band at this cheer point – which meant there location was very easy to find! They were great – but very very loud!!

Samba band

We reckoned we had about an hour until my sister arrived – and we wanted to escape the noise – and I was desperate for a wee! I saw a small child going in the gutter next to a skip and did consider that (but then realised I was sober!) Mum had spotted a cinema, so we thought we’d pop there for refreshments and a wee (although sitting down in a comfy chair in a darkened room was also appearing!!)

Dad treated us (and did actually have to pay this time!) to nachos, sweets, water and coffees – and the cafe staff were lovely and amenable (even meeting Mum’s exacting coffee requirements!) We realised the loos were past where you needed to have a ticket to get to – but having just spent £20 in the cafe thought the staff member would let me through – but no, tickets only. The nice cafe man pleaded my case – but the chap stuck to his guns. (I did enquire what the cheapest ticket I could buy was to go for a wee – but decided £11.90 was extortionate for watching a film let alone just for a wee!!)

We headed outside – with me huffing and puffing about pedants. Everyone else camped out in the glorious sunshine (well done London on the weather, Dad could even sunbathe) and I went in search of a loo.

Dad

Thankfully the doorman at The Marriot was much more accommodating and so I partook of their facilities (and wifi simultaneously!).

After that it was back to the railings. At this point all of the runners looked tired. Whilst at 12 miles everyone has been bunched together and running – the crowds were much thinner and a lot of people were walking. I should add at this point, that walking is often in people’s training plan and plan for the day.  My sister had a 5 minute run, 1 minute walk plan – from  the start.  (Although kept getting overexcited and running for longer than 5 minutes!)  She’d found that overall in training this gave her a better time than just running and getting gradually slower and slower and slower.  Unfortunately lots of spectators – and some fellow competitors – don’t realise this, and often shout encouragement at walkers – who quite stroppily reply ‘IT’S MY PLAN – I’M SUPPOSED TO BE WALKING AT THE MOMENT’!!!)

We shouted encouragement to lots of people as they went past.  Interestingly my son seems to emulate his father rather a lot – and shouted encouragement mostly at attractive younger female runners!!

Then we saw her (after a false start as there was another Asthma UK runner with a similar hairstyle – but minus the funky leggings!)

She was a bit teary, and sounded a bit like when she was a small child, telling Mum  that she was really tired and it hurt and needing a hug.  Turns out that she’d found the bit between our 2 meetings the toughest of the whole race. More hugs.  More passing on of half drunk bottles to Mum (because she knew Mum doesn’t like waste and would be hating the sight of things being thrown onto the roadside!!)  And off she went again.  Sods law the Asthma UK steel band were on a break at this point, so she didn’t even get to hear them!

We then knew the next bit was going to be the riskiest – would we get to mile 25 and the final Asthma UK cheering point on Embankment before Charlotte did?  There was a minor incident getting on the DLR going in the wrong direction – but actually that probably worked out for the best, as it was much easier to change platforms at the wrong station than it would have been at Westferry!!

When we got to Embankment it was the busiest that any cheering area had been – but we battled up to where the final Asthma UK purple flags were flying.  The app said she wasn’t far (but the app sometimes wasn’t right up to the minute) but clearly it was playing the game, as it wasn’t long before she appeared!  Some of the lovely other cheerers had let us get to the front as she was coming – and so we were able to have hugs – and this time pose in a selfie with Charlotte (although I’m taking a photo of her taking the selfie)

Marathon selfie

The end was in sight (well, not literally, she had to go around a couple of corners and there were some big landmarks in the way) but Charlotte knew that it was only a mile or so to go – and that she’d see her husband and kids again before the end.

So that really felt like our marathon as spectators was over.  The atmosphere was still great – but we headed off to where we were all meeting up afterwards.  There was a slight issue with us being given incorrect instructions of how to get there by the Asthma UK team – and if I’d run 26.2 miles and then been told this I would not have been impressed – but as we’d hardly done any steps all day, it was actually quite a pleasant walk – and we managed to get some sight seeing landmarks in too!

When we eventually got to the meet and greet, we were told Charlotte was already  having a massage.  Us five, along with the rest of Charlotte’s family and friends congregated waiting to welcome our conquering hero! Before she arrived we were discussing our various ailments – blisters, tight calves, back ache, sore knee, sunburn, trauma from witnessing the use of a female urinal – honestly, it was tough work being a spectator.

And then she and her medal were there!  Clearly there was more weeping by the usual suspects.

WINNER

We then got to hear a bit about Charlotte’s day (whilst she drank prosecco and ate a plate of food!)  She was literally BUZZING with adrenalin (at least I think it was that, and not that she’d become a cheap date with a small plastic glass of fizz!) and wearing her medal with pride.

I am still slightly perturbed that there’s no medal for being a spectator, and am thinking of marketing those – along with spectator’s T-shirts (perhaps detailing what ailments they’ve suffered being a spectator) – at London 2018?!

All in all it was an amazing day.  I am pleased that it hasn’t made me want to sign up for a marathon #phew – but I am in awe of everyone who got round that course last Sunday – in fact, anyone who does a marathon at all.

As I said to Charlotte – she might not have won the marathon, but she won her marathon, and I couldn’t be prouder of my little sister.

Charlotte - marathon

 

* As a spectator!

There are good people out there!

Yesterday I got an 8am call from a crying 13 year old who had lost her purse on the way to school. She retraced her steps from Tescos to the station but couldn’t find it. She gave me details of what it looked like and the contents (Nando’s loyalty card, debit card, David Lloyd card and about £20 – in that order!) and I reported it online with both London Midland and lostproperty.org – but didn’t hold out much hope (the previous purse she lost on her school train journey didn’t ever turn up again!!)

Then, mid afternoon, I had an email from PDSA Pet Protectors. This is a club that all 4 kids belong to which is part of the PDSA charity for sick animals where they get the Animal Antics magazine every couple of months, and a free gift each year.  Anyway – they’d emailed to say the purse has been found!!

D had clearly missed her Pet Protectors membership card off the list of contents!!

So – there are lots of wonderful people out there to thank –

Firstly the person who found the purse and handed it in at the station with all of the contents intact, including the cash.

Secondly the staff at Worcester Foregate Street station who didn’t just chuck the purse in a lost property box, but went through it to try and track the owner down.

And finally the PDSA Pet Protectors staff who definitely went above and beyond their remit to track us down. They left a voicemail on the home phone – and emailed me too.

All in all there was a very happy 13 year old (although she doesn’t look that enamoured in the photo!) reunited with her purse!!

There are good people out there.

daisy

Human Soup!

Yesterday there was a Tree Top Trek – today there wasn’t – thank goodness!

There was A LOT of walking (but that’s good for the Fitbit challenge I’m in – where my little sister is in marathon training and so the usual winner!) and also quite a lot of time spent in the ‘Subtropical Swimming Paradise’.

longleat-rapids

To be honest I would question all of the words used in that description.

I fear ‘Human Soup’ is a better description.  At one point this afternoon the rapids were shut because someone had VOMMITED in the pool (I am seriously hoping it was a baby and not some adult who’d been on the Jagerbombs at lunchtime?!)  But – they were shut for about an hour (I am assuming to give time for the sick to dissipate?!?  I am hoping there are protocols / chlorine levels to ensure this is dealt with safely?!?)

I am pleased to report I saw no evidence of vom floating about – but plasters / hair / unidentified floating solid things were all witnessed!

The kids adore the rapids – and despite being 42 and a size 18, I threw myself down them too (thankfully not landing on too many people in the process!)  I did, however, manage to flash most of Centerparcs after my boobs escaped after a particularly vigorous descent.

You will be pleased to hear there are no photos of today’s escapades!!

I also fear a rotator cuff injury and a mid back muscle issue – and all this despite the fact I only take responsibility for myself – with the older siblings (and spare one!) doing a sterling job with the little ones.

I also thought the pool water would be kill or cure for my horrific eczema – and at the moment it seems to be cure #winning

So no doubt there will be more Subtropical Swimming Paradise – Storm Doris Flailing Nightmare – tomorrow! #livingthedream

 

 

 

 

 

Tree top trek

Firstly – those three words are more difficult to say than you would expect – try it!

Secondly – I am never, ever, ever doing such a thing ever again!!

This week we’re spending half term at Centerparcs – ‘just’ us 6, with an extra one (whilst his Mum is busy kicking cancer’s butt!)

All of the kids wanted to do the aforementioned Tree Top Trek – but as 2 of the kids are under 8, that meant two over 18s were required. So I didn’t really have a choice…….

2 years ago for February half term we went to Bluestone in Wales, and I ended up a sobbing wreck and having to be helped off (and given gin afterwards) a similar rope course, so I should have expected the worst – but I really thought I would try. Friends are going through much bigger stuff than me being scared of heights – this would be fine……….

The boys did it first – breezing it, whizzing round, and as they did it so quickly, then being allowed to do it backwards just for LOLs.

the-boys

Then it was time for Daddy and all the girls (I am including myself in that – although at 42 I realise it’s a stretch!!)

The order to try the course was – Daddy, 6 year old, 13 year old, 5 year old – with me bringing up the rear.  The first thing was a zip wire.  The first 4 went off fine.  I dithered.  I had a pep talk off the instructors.  I had a pep talk off a random Welsh lady walking past. I dithered some more.  Then FINALLY I stepped off the platform.  I screamed – and I did not land it as brilliantly as the children had……

libby-landing

I then was stuck like a beached whale for quite some time – but eventually managed to haul myself up on to the platform.

I’d only signed up for this ‘fun’ because of the requirement for all under 8s to have an adult with them – I’m just not sure I was the adult that was in mind when setting this requirement!  Thankfully the 13 year old did a sterling job with her littlest sister.

13-year-old

I hated every single obstacle.  There was much swearing – inwardly and outwardly (sorry Centerparcs) and shaking of legs.  It was HORRIBLE.  Of course this just caused more hilarity for everyone else!  The 12 year old was videoing it and threatening to put it on YouTube – and there was quite a gathering of passers by to witness the spectacle.

At the same time I was trying to be encouraging to the children – particularly to the 5 year old who had only scraped the height requirement by a slightly bouffant ponytail!  At the climbing wall I said “Mummy is so  proud of you, you’re doing brilliantly’ to which the response was ‘Well, you’re doing rubbish Mummy”…….

libby-and-5-year-old

I dithered ridiculously over the climbing wall – absolutely petrified – and announced that my large breasts would inhibit my passing across the void.

libby-climbing-wall

I think my face pretty much sums up how I felt about the whole thing!!

But eventually – I just went for it – and I DID IT!  I loathed it.  I feel no sense of achievement – just a massive headache with the stress.  In fact – I couldn’t even face gin afterwards, that’s how bad it was, I just had a pint of WATER!!!!

I fear for the rest of the week I will pointed at around Longleat as ‘that crazy woman from the Tree Top Trek’!!

NEVER, EVER, EVER AGAIN!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – the epilogue!

This has been in my drafts for FOREVER – so thought I should finally get around to actually posting it!  We’ve been away twice since then!! #holidayaddicts

So, I’ve blogged about our half term trip to Disneyland Paris, from my proposed behaviour plans in the prologue, to the ‘fun’ in the rain for Day 1, the lunch with Princesses on day 2, the ‘sod Mickey when there’s Messi’ of Day 3, the Snapchat filtering of a world famous painting on Day 4, and an emotional balloon release on Day 5.

But I thought I’d compose some advice on matters learned from our trip (and I will try and be the bigger person than just to say don’t bother with Paris, save up for Florida as they do Disney properly…………..)

Hotel
If you can – stay in the Disneyland Hotel, and if you can – book a Castle Club room.  This means you get characters at breakfast every day

mickey

(the Disney ones – and sometimes the world famous footballer ones too!! #LionelMessi) which reduces the need to queue for them at other times.

messi

The fact that you’re between the parks means you can pop back for a battery recharge (metaphorically and for your phone) during the day.  You also get to enter the Disneyland Park earlier than the general public (although only certain rides are open for these Magic Hours).

The one thing I would say is that having a Castle Club room with a park view is fantastic (we stayed in Walt’s Apartment with a connecting room as there are 6 of us) but it is noisy.  You have a great view of the fireworks from the comfort of your room – but equally little kids may not sleep through it!  Then when the hoardes leave the park it can be quite raucous (and it’s not very ‘Disney’ to shout at them to shut up from your window……..).  Then the Disney music plays until around midnight and starts again at 7am – and for us this had a Halloween ghostly theme (last time it was Christmas music though!)

fireworks

 

Food
We struggled keeping everyone happy (but we do have 4 kids with differing tastes!)

We had an absolutely amazing meal in the California Grill in the Disneyland Hotel – but the kids meals didn’t have fries, which immediately meant child 3 had a meltdown.  The food was beautifully presented and the wine exquisite (but it is really, really expensive!)

Lunch with the Princesses in the park was also excellent in terms of quality (again no French fries) and a great way to get a few more characters off the tick list.

cinderellas

The best all rounder meal, though, was in Chez Remy in Walt Disney Studios – great quality food – INCLUDING FRIES!!!!

cork

Fastpass
If you’re staying in a Castle Club room – and I think most of the Disney Hotels – you get unlimited Fastpasses for all of the rides that offer that facility.  At certain times of the day these are great (generally in the mornings) but at some points, the Fastpass queue can be longer than the regular queues – madness! And not all rides have the Fastpass option.
Sometimes using single rider queues can also be a way to beat the queues if you’re happy not to sit together in a group – I guess this depends on kids ages and such like.

Going into Paris
We paid to do a Disney trip into the centre of Paris.  This involved queuing for a coach at another hotel and driving through really slow traffic to get there.  Once in Paris we were dropped off to reconvene a few hours later.  We couldn’t face the coach trip back and ditched them in favour of the very reasonably priced train (double decker train at that) back to Disneyland Paris.  It was a straighforward, easy train ride – and so much better than hanging about and a coach.

Once in Paris then there are loads of different options for hop on / hop off trips – or even just walking – which we did loads of!

trocadero-jumping

The kids loved seeing some of the historic sites (although I’m not sure Leonardo was expecting teens to put Snapchat filters on the Mona Lisa……..)

the-mona-lisa

I am sure there are loads of other top tips I can offer – so if you think of anything then ask away – but there we go.

We’ve done Disneyland Paris…………….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disneyland Paris – day 5!

Our last day in Paris – and the husband’s birthday!  He got to wear a Disney badge proclaiming this all day!!

After packing, breakfast and checking out we decided that the one thing we hadn’t done were any of the shows at Walt Disney Studios – so after a quick Fastpass on Ratatouille (yet again, it’s the youngest’s favourite!) and the magic carpets we headed to Moteur – Action!  Stunt Show Spectacular – and the name was very correct – it was really spectacular.  The 11 year old in particular really enjoyed it.

stunt-show

It was supposed to last 35 minutes – so we hoped to whizz straight from there to Disney Junior Live (run in English and French at different times).  However time was ticking by so the husband and girls tried to escape leaving me and the boy there – but the French security team were having none of it.  There was lots of Gallic shrugging – and ‘computer says no’.  I assume it was health and safety (although goodness knows why, as the way out was nowhere near the vehicles!)  Anyway – that meant we missed Disney Junior which prompted a 4 year old’s strop!

Thankfully we spotted that Stitch Live was on and so attempted to placate her with that (again it runs in English and French throughout the day).  It was actually surprisingly good!  Stitch was animated, but there was a real life person in the room being his assistant.  Initially I assumed that there were standard questions Stitch would ask – but it was actually really clever, and the person voicing him could obviously see the audience – and deviated with different conversations – and all in all it was really impressive!  A surprise hit with the Price family.

Then we let Daddy chose the restaurant – and we went to Bistro Chez Remy right by the Ratatouille ride – and supposedly the rat’s restaurant and you magically became smaller as you went in (or as the 4 year old pointed out ‘they’ve just made everything else seem really big’!!)

cork

The food – and drinks – were great!  And the whole family were content as the grown up food was delicious, and there were fries for the kids #winwin.  They made a fuss of the birthday boy – and even wrote a special message on his pudding (happy birthday – not anything else – that would have been weird!!)

On the way out the 6 year old was given a Minnie Mouse balloon by a random couple – still not entirely sure why (she was given sweets by a man on the train the day before, so she must have a face for gifts!!)  As we were about to head off to the airport we couldn’t really take it with us – so the kids asked if we could send it up to the sky to Nanny Carol (my mother in law who passed away in 2002).  It seemed like a particularly apt thing to do, given 45 years ago Nanny Carol had been giving birth to their Daddy (cue hysterical weeping from me!!)

balloon

And that’s pretty much a perfect way to end our few days in Disneyland Paris.
Creating magical memories with my family has been wonderful.

 

 

 

“Disneyland” Paris – day 4!

Actually we can drop the Disneyland today – as it was a trip out to Paris for us.

We’d arranged the trip through Disney and had to traipse across to another hotel after breakfast to be picked up on a coach.  Which was late (and we had to wait right by some very smelly, noisy building work – nice!)  The coach dropped us in the centre of Paris where we were given our tickets for the Hop On, Hope Off Big Bus.  We’d also bought tickets for The Louvre from our on coach guide (22 Euros, when it turned out they only cost 15 Euros there – but it did mean we bypassed the big queue, so I guess we can forgive him the mark up!!)  We ended up walking down to the Louvre rather than wait for the bus – and of course, once we were in there we headed for the star attraction – the Mona Lisa.

the-louvre

It’s quite a trek – and we saw lots of willies and boobs on statues and paintings on the way there, much to the children’s amusement!  We had to wait quite a while to get to the front, but did in the end – and then obviously the teenager had to apply Snapchat filters to possibly the most famous painting in the entire world……..

the-mona-lisa

Then we walked a bit more to pick up a bus – but it was along the banks of the Seine, so felt quite exciting!!  The kids all enjoyed ‘helping’ with the map reading!

map-reading

But one of the roads was shut – seemingly for no reason – but it was causing loads of traffic chaos.  There was LOTS of car horn hooting – like that was going to make any difference?!  After being stationary for about 15 minutes we decided to get off to walk some more.  The kids were not quite as keen as we were – and piggy backs / shoulder rides had to be done (I think those steps should count double on my Fitbit?!)

We then found another bus stop and got back on the route up to the Trocadero – the views down over the Eiffel Tower were amazing – and all the standard stupid poses were done by the kids as well as most other visitors!!

trocadero-jumping

Nutella crepes provided some much needed energy to carry on with the bus tour.  It took us down to the tower itself (the teenager moaned it was not shiny – somewhat reminiscent of her father moaning about the Golden Gate bridge not being golden and the Sydney Opera house looking dirty not bright white!)  We had to wait for about 20 minutes to get through security – you can’t get in without a bag search and metal detector – and there are armed police / soldiers everywhere.  We planned to go up (despite it being foggy) but didn’t think the kids would cope with the steps (and having had jelly legs after climbing Sydney Harbour Bridge I suspect I would have struggled too!!) but the queue for the lifts was about 2 hours, so we decided not to bother and do it another time (as I’m writing this I’m stressing that I said the same about the World Trade Center in New York in late 2000……)  At this point we had 90 minutes before we needed to meet the coach home (and suspected the coach out of Paris at 6pm would not be fun!) so decided to get the train back to the park after the next leg of the Big Bus.

It was less than 8 Euros for an adult, and half for the kids – and we got to go on a double decker train which was very exciting. It only took 45 minutes to get back to the train station at Disney Village – so we were back before we’d even have got on the coach in Paris.  If we ever come again (IF!) then I would definitely consider hopping on the train and going into Paris unaccompanied. #bigandbrave

As it was about time for an early tea we headed to the Rainforest Café before the hoardes (as you can’t book).  Kids were happy with nuggets and chips – adults food was very very disappointing – but hey ho!

Then back to the hotel to chill out and pack for travelling home tomorrow night.  So absolutely no Disney parks done at all today!