Butlins Bognor Regis

23.04.14

Last week we visited Butlins Bognor Regis as Butlins Ambassadors and spent 4 nights in the Shoreline Hotel. None of us had been to a holiday park before so had no idea what to expect, I’m very happy to say that we are now Butlins converts!

There was so much to do and see that it will have to spill over two blog posts, I don’t want to miss a thing out.

Before we left we spent ages with Annie going over the activities, shows and photo opportunities that were on to make sure we didn’t miss a thing, we wanted to be lead by the kids for this holiday. When we got there however it quickly became apparent that the kids wanted to spend their time on the rides, wearing themselves out in the mahoosive soft play, bouncing around the fairground, on the beach and walking around the site taking everything in. This meant we ended up not watching any shows or going for any of the character photo shoots. I regret not taking part in more of these activities but the things we did were fantastic and there’s always next time!

When we arrived in the room we were slightly blown away, the main room had a huge curved wall that was one massive window and door out to the wraparound balcony. From out here we could see the length of the beach and listen to the waves crashing on the shore.

The kid’s room had bunk beds which they were really excited about and a floor to ceiling window which let loads of light in and allowed them to spy on us on the balcony. In their room they also had a telly and DVD player which you could borrow movies for from the front desk.

Butlins Bognor Regis Shoreline Hotel Nelson Stateroom Balcony bunk beds snowingindoors

The main room was our bedroom and the sitting room which I thought might be a bit odd but it was brilliant. In the evenings once the kiddos were asleep we’d sit on the balcony or cuddle up on the sofa watching some telly while we recovered from an action packed day! I could retire to bed before Jonny and watch out the window while he read or listened to music.

The bathroom was really clean and the towels smelt (whether intentionally or by amazing accident) of caramelizing sugar so getting dried after my shower was fab. They provided shampoo, shower gel and hand lotion as well as shower caps and sewing kits and a rubber duck for the kids to play with in the bath.

Every day when housekeeping was in they’d make towel animals which the kids thought were magic. They’d also be sure to tuck up soft toys in bed and we came back one afternoon to find Ezra’s SpiderBear sat up reading a leaflet!

Butlins Bognor Regis Shoreline Hotel Nelson Stateroom Towel Animal snowingindoors

The balcony was gorgeous, complete with a table and chairs and two surprisingly comfy wooden loungers. The views across the beach were amazing and watching the sun rise every morning over the water was such a treat. We all enjoyed sitting outside, watching people walk along the beach and seeing people strolling around the park area next door.

The outside area was very clean, no bird mess on the big panes of glass to distract from the view. I think we spent almost as much time out on the balcony as we did in the room itself.

Butlins Bognor Regis Shoreline Hotel Nelson Stateroom Balcony snowingindoors

When we arrived we booked our tables in the places we wanted to eat. We had a hotel dining plan which allowed us breakfast and drinks in our hotel free and allowed us to eat free (without drinks) at a selection of restaurants in the evenings. Because the kiddos (and I!) can be kinda picky with food we decided to go for buffet dining all 4 nights, 2 nights in the Southcoast Restaurant in our hotel and 2 nights in The Deck, a much bigger restaurant.

The food was great, breakfast in particular was awesome, anywhere I can eat pancakes, crispy bacon and veggie sausages is a winner in my book. The kids enjoyed sampling the pancakes, fruit, full English and continental options. There was juice, water, tea and coffee and you could go up as often as you wanted.

The food in the evenings was lovely, The Deck was my favourite of the two restaurants because it was so much larger with way more options, but both were fab.

Butlins Bognor Regis Shoreline Hotel south coast the deck restaurant food hotel dining plan snowingindoors

There was also a new ice-cream parlour on site called Scoop and it was amazing. The gelato was delicious with 20 different flavours to choose from and loads of options for toppings and further personalisation. I was a big fan of the funky chocolate cones with sprinkles on the outside, so pretty and delicious.

Outside the store were two pink and white cows with cow bells which the kids loved ringing. There were funky ice cream carts converted into table and chairs, stools with rope cow tails on them and the whole atmosphere was bright, colourful and fun.

Butlins Bognor Regis Scoop ice cream parlour gelato pink cow snowingindoors

The ice creams were slightly dearer than you may pay out on the seafront but the quality was really high and I certainly think they were well worth the money.

Tomorrow I’ll write about the activities and things we got up to in the daytime as well as share a holiday video of all our favourite things.

Have you ever been to Butlins? What were your opinions and do you have any suggestions for our next visit?

Disclosure: As Butlins Ambassadors we were given the 4 night stay and hotel dining plan free of charge. My participation is voluntary and my opinions, as always, are my own. No monetary compensation was given.


Posted in category: Butlins Ambassadors

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Point + Shoot – Easter Weekend

21.04.14

This Easter weekend just sped by in a blur. The weather was rough and we all came back from our holiday with colds and sniffles so the general feeling in the house was one of, ‘humph, wish I was back at the seaside’!

Unlike the excesses of last Easter we didn’t do anything massive on Sunday apart from a chilly walk up the hill and devouring a posh brekkie and then a gorgeous roast in the evening courtesy of Jonny. We were going to do an egg hunt but it was raining so much that no-one fancied it so we just relaxed together indoors.

The kids rode their Trunki and toy car, read, played Lego and Twig and spent an amazingly long time with Be My Bear bags on their heads from Butlins!

While we were away Annie cut her middle finger and has spent the days since showing everyone she meets by innocently flipping them off, it’s hilarious and inappropriate.

The kids were given a single chocolate egg each after lunch and I told them that what wasn’t eaten by the end of Monday would magically melt away. I think this may be the year that they both manage to finish their egg.

Today will be spent getting ready for school tomorrow and finishing off Annie’s holiday scrapbook, I may even head out and try to bag myself a choccy egg bargain in the reduced aisle!

What did you get up to this weekend? Please share your adventures with me by joining in with the Point + Shoot linky below.

If you’re unsure of how the Point + Shoot linky works head over here and check it out.

Point+Shoot_snowingindoors.com




Posted in category: Point & Shoot

My BritMums Live 2014 Introduction

17.04.14

This year I’m attending Britmums Live for the first time courtesy of The Toadstool. I am really looking forward to it but also extremely nervous as this is so far out of my comfort zone.

I am really excited to meet people I ‘know’ through blogging, it’s strange to feel like these people are friends even though we’ve never actually met.

I will warn everyone now though that I am useless with names and have a tendency to blush so hard you may be worried I’m about to spontaneously combust! I promise I’m not about to burst into flames when we’re chatting and if I forget your name I am incredibly sorry.

So without further ado, here is my introductory meme complete with photo (I’m the one on the right!)

Name: Em (short for Emma)

It's me

Blog: snowingindoors

Twitter ID: @snowingindoors

Height: 5ft 5ish

Hair: Dark brown and very short with grey silver highlights courtesy of the kiddos

Eyes: Brown and hidden behind glasses or a camera!

Is this your first blogging conference?: My first overnight one yes, and I’m all kinds of nervous / excited

Are you attending both days?: Yep :)

What are you most looking forward to at BritMums Live 2014?: Meeting people I’ve ‘met’ through blogging, learning new things and hearing Emma Freud talk

What are you wearing?: Comfy clothes – Marvel superhero Vans, jeans and t-shirt probably but, if it’s hot, I may bust out a pair of shorts and free the legs

What do you hope to gain from BritMums Live 2014?: Building friendships and learning more about blogging, I’ve been doing it for years but never really believed people read it until the last 12 months!

Do you have any tips to pass on to others who may not have been before?: As it’s my first year I have no idea what to expect myself, I guess, just remember that the majority of people will be nervous so relax and have fun.

If you’re going let me know in the comments so we can say hi.


Posted in category: general life

A Garden Collection

16.04.14

Last weekend we got out into the garden. It was still looking a bit wild and overgrown from the winter but it was fab just being outside in the sunshine, running around blowing off steam.

Yes the fence is down between us and next door still, the grass needs cutting and the edges trimming, the garden toys need a good clean and the woodchips need rearranging so there’s no bare patches but it was perfect.

Outside with my 3 favourite people in the fresh air – perfection.

Have you started cleaning up your garden after winter, which is your least favourite job? For me it’s got to be edging the lawn!

 


Posted in category: general life

Twig Construction Set Review

14.04.14

We are big fans of building blocks and construction toys in our house so we were all very happy when we were lent the Twig Construction toy.

In the box you get 72 wooden building blocks in a range of sizes and unusual shapes and a drawstring cotton bag to store them in. When I saw the storage bag I was already sold, any toy that provides it’s own storage solution is a winner in my book!

I first saw this set on a blog about Montessori teaching a couple of years ago. Montessori materials are simple, encourage hands on learning and exploration, also they tend to be beautiful to look at too. I thought at the time that these looked awesome but couldn’t find them on sale in the UK, but now The Toadstool stock them and and this can only be good.

The Twig Construction set has received loads of awards and you can see why. The unusual shapes invite children to investigate the ways that the pieces will fit together, perfect for open ended play. The wood for the set is made from renewably sourced wood and precision cut so it fits together smoothly.

It’s perfect for helping with fine motor skills, develop skills in problem solving, logical thinking, creativity and language as well as cooperative and independant play.

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The kids were intrigued by the Twig Construction set as soon as they saw the box. They were desperate to open it and when they saw the blocks inside their excitement level grew.

They pulled out bits and set to exploring the shape and feel of them, then it was onto the business of building, creating and stacking. The good thing about construction toys for us is that they encourage 2 year old Ez and nearly 5 year old Annie to work together. Annie likes to help her little brother when he gets ‘stuck’ and show him how to improve upon a build of his that didn’t work. Ez enjoys picking out materials for Annie to use in her construction and trying to help with the building.

The shapes encouraged building techniques that they’d not tried before and it was nice to see Annie build something other than ‘castles for a pretty princess’! She even managed to build a robot from a picture she saw on the brochure, though she added long ears and turned it into an awesome robo-bunny.

Thanks to the massive number of bits the kiddos could play independently when they got tired of helping each other, there was no squabbling over anything because there was so many to choose from.

The big cubes encouraged Annie to try building things that weren’t all right angles. She liked to rest smaller blocks inside them on an angle and this way created some amazing creations that looked unlike anything she’s built before.

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The Twig Construction Set is a perfect slow toy, it ticks each of the eight criteria and its ecologically sound and gorgeous to look at. My two loved it and have played with it daily, I know I’m going to have to box it up when they’re in bed when it comes time to send this back because it’s instantly become a favourite toy.

This is priced higher than regular building blocks but it’s understandable because it offers so much more than regular building blocks. The kids can play with regular blocks for ages, but they spent even more time with the Twig blocks and brought them out more often to play with.

As a photographer I loved the unusual shape of the blocks and how they allowed light through and into the structures. The creations looked so much more eye catching than our normal builds thanks to the light, colours and shapes. As a Mum I loved the cotton carry bag, it showed real forethought for how the toy would be stored and having a bag near where you’re playing makes it less likely that bits will get lost on the way back to where they toy ‘lives’.

Disclaimer: Please note we received nothing in return for this review, we borrowed the toy and wanted to share how awesome it was. The post however does contain affiliate links.


Posted in category: The Toadstool

Dado Cubes Review

11.04.14

Dado Cubes are a fantastic mix of stacking toy and building block. We were sent a pack in the post last week from The Toadstool and the kids couldn’t wait to open up the box and get testing them.

The set contains 10 plastic cubes all nested inside each other with a slit in each of the four ‘top’ edges. These allow you to interlock them with the other cubes and create awesome 3D structures.

The Dado Cubes come in a rainbow colour scheme and are gorgeous to look at without being blindingly bright, like children’s toys often can be. They’re made of a nice sturdy plastic which stands up well to ‘enthusiastic’ building by the kiddos, but doesn’t look tacky or cheap.

I love that there are no rules or instructions it’s all down to your child’s imagination. The kids got the cubes out, explored the shape and slits and then 4 year old Annie worked out how to slot them together. She then taught her 2 year old brother and the pair of them started experimenting with building castles.

The problems solving element came into play when they realised they couldn’t really place a larger cube onto a smaller one, and when one side got too heavy and threatened to tip their creation. Annie worked out that she needed to even up the balance and after repositioning one of the cubes, balance was restored.

When they played with the Dado Cubes individually different styles of play emerged. Annie enjoyed building castles and working to make an equally balanced structure whereas Ezra liked to stack the cubes into a tower on their sides and hide them all away, one inside the other. Ez also used them alongside other toys, like his little action figures for them to hide in and behind.

I have also been using them to help Ezra with his colours and sizes, asking, ‘can you show me the big red cube?’ or ‘which of these cubes is smallest?’.

I’m a big fan of toys that are great fun for the kids to play with and that also look good on the shelf. The Dado Cubes certainly fit in this category, they look lovely all nestled up inside each other but also look fab when made into a ‘castle’, almost like a bit of modern art on our coffee table.

The other factor that I look for in toys is does it have Em parent appeal, is it the sort of toy I would find myself playing with long after the kids have left the room? Again, yes, there is something very satisfying about slotting the cubes together and seeing what you can come up with, trying to build a balanced structure that looks precarious but is so well balanced that it sits firmly.

This toy definitely appeals to the kids (4 and 2) and me (30 something!) which is great. The cubes encourage creativity and imaginative play and  are fab, not just for play, but for learning through play too.

I will admit that I wasn’t sure how the kids would respond to the Dado Cubes, 10 seemed like a small number of cubes and I wasn’t sure how much actual playing they’d get out of them, but I’ve been very pleasantly surprised. They are engaging and have proven that they can be played with in any number of ways by children age 2-30ish.

Yes they have corners, and as they’re made of plastic they’re pointed, but I’d not say they were sharp. Accident prone Ezra didn’t hurt himself while playing with these (and he can hurt himself on almost anything!). I think the corners are less sharp than Lego, and about as pointed as Mega Blocks, so nothing to worry about on that score.

Currently these are for sale on The Toadstool for £27.50 which felt a little pricey, but now I’ve seen just how much play these have received in less than a week I really do think that is value for money, especially when you consider the many ways of playing, educational properties and hand eye coordination practice that these cubes provide.

Disclosure: I was sent the Dado Cubes for free for the purpose of conducting this review. My participation is voluntary and my opinions, as always, are my own. No monetary compensation was given.


Posted in category: The Toadstool