Summertime fun so far!

We wait with baited breathe for the sun to come out and the weather to warm up so we can officially call it summertime!! I know, sad really… But one thing could not be more true… Britain (particularly London) is one of the most wonderful places on earth during the summertime and I am happy to be here.

It is a crazy busy time of year as everyone tries to make the most of the good weather by spending as much time outdoors. I saw an advert for a supermarket that read: “Sunshine… Quick!! BBQ” Made me chuckle cause this is really what it is like and we have been no different. It has been a lovely summer so far and these are some of the things we have gotten up to.

DIY Projects
We have been busy in the garden and doing up various bits of the house. Matthew does most of the heavy lifting, sawing, and sanding etc and I am always on the sideline shouting instructions! We have completed our new headboard with left over pallet wood and our pallet furniture for outside is almost complete. We have painted the table in our kitchen and the next project will be the chairs. We have also built a new outdoor table with left over decking boards. It is so rewarding to see the transformation although, I cannot take the credit… Matthew is a DIY machine!

A day on the beach
The weather has been great the last few weeks and we decided to make the most of it! We both took the day off and spent the day on Camber beach in Rye. It only takes about 2.5 hours to get there. We started by having breakfast at The Ship Inn in Rye. They have the BEST French toast. The most delicious door stop piece of eggy bread with cinnamon, blueberries, bacon and syrup. Even though gluten does not agree with me, I made an exception on this occasion.

We then spent the rest of the day basking in the sunshine! Emily, of course, was in her element! Running around on the sandy beach, building sand castles with daddy (her favourite thing to do) and collecting shells. It fills your heart with joy to see your child run around with wild abandon. We ended the day with an ice cream before heading home at which point Emily passed out.

Cycling the Wandle Trail
If you live in South West London, I can highly recommend this trail for walking and cycling. We love cycling and to be able to do it as a family makes it even more special. We don’t head out on the bikes as often as we used to but whenever we feel the need, we haul them out and head off for a few hours of exercise. We love the Wandle Trail and it has been recently redone with new paths and bridges which make your cycling experience that much better. Morden Hall Park is our stop off point where we have a cup of coffee, go for a walk and pick flowers. This park has a number of activities throughout the summer such as outdoor cinema, beer on the river, summer food fares and camping nights with night trails for kids. Check out their website for more details. Put both the trail and the park on your “to do” list for the summer holidays.

Picking Carshalton Lavender
Carshalton is known for its lavendar and every year they open up the fields to the public to go picking. We didn’t do it last year but this year we decided to give it a go. As you walk into the field, you get these little wafts of lavender and with the beautiful surroundings, you really feel like you are away from it all. Emily enjoyed picking the flowers and smelling them. “Mmmm, beautiful!” She says. I love doing things like this with her. We have a strawberry plant in the garden that Matthew bought for her and they would go out every day to see how the plant grew little flowers which then turned into fruit. I feel like it teaches her patience and appreciation for the things around her. What a lovely morning! Of course, we took our pickings home and dotted small bunches all around the house.

So much love for the summertime and while we have a couple months of summer left, we certainly have a few other activities up our sleeve. Some great Summer ideas are:
Udderbelly festival on the south bank
-Visit a “pick your own” farm
-The beach near the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
-Camping in the garden/or camping at a camp site
-Local summer festivals (check your council website)
-Do a wine tasting tour
Outdoor Cinema
-Picnic in your local park

There are loads of activities for adults and kids alike. Have a look at your local council and parks for ideas. Make hay while the sun shines and enjoy the rest of the beautiful British summer. Happy long, lazy summer days to you all.

Have you got any great summertime activity ideas?

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10 things I LOVE about Rome

I have the wonderful privilege to work for a global company that allows me to manage events all over the world. One of my most recent accolades is my company’s contribution to an international congress that took place in Rome and Florence. I was lucky to visit Italy twice before the event for site visits and meetings with suppliers and we even managed to piggy back off one of these visits, to have a very quick family city break! Both hubby and I fell in love with Rome. It is a wonderful, colourful, vibrant and extremely friendly place to be! I have collated 10 of the top things that we loved so much about this amazing city.

1) The weather
It is the small things that count! We were there in November as a family and normally, in London, you would be wrapped up snug with hats and jackets but we were actually walking around in shorts and sandals! As a South African who dreads the gloomy London winters, it was so lovely to be outside, basking in the sun like a rock lizard! See those blue skies for yourself at the Spanish Steps!

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2) Gelato… of course!
Not sure if I even need to say anything about this really because not only is the gelato WONDERFUL, it is Italy at the end of the day… what else would you eat in Italy???

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3) The food
So… of course, there is more to Italian food than pasta and pizza but really this is what I was most excited to experience and it didn’t disappoint. Naturally, there are other fantastic foods to enjoy like parma ham, various Italian cheese and the wine… oh my… the wine, it is too delicious to even explain! Needless to say, we drank our fair share of the wine too.

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4) Caffè Taza D’oro
I was introduced to Caffè Taza D’oro when I was in Rome on a site visit to pick the hotel we would use for the event. It is nestled in a side street just off the Pantheon. I was taken here by our event agency for a quick coffee break and instantly fell in love! With no seating area, it is typically Italian. You get your coffee, stand at the bar and drink it. We decided to have the iced coffee. It is strong, cold and creamy. It was so delicious, I took hubby back on our visit and it was as good as I remember. Would definitely recommend this little gem.

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5) The St Regis hotel
In the end, this was the hotel that was chosen and might I say, It was a good choice indeed! Honestly, one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in. It is a truly beautiful hotel and in a wonderfully central location with one of the main shopping streets in Rome just around the corner. The service was impeccable, the food amazing and the rooms outstanding!! They were so wonderful with Emily that they left a few gifts in our room for her.

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6) Colosseum and surround
I don’t think it is any secret that the Colosseum is of course one of the most famous Roman landmarks. It is truly something to behold. The surrounding area is equally beautiful. You cannot believe how the area has been preserved! Angie from SilverSpoon did a post just this week on the Aroma restaurant. It looks like a wonderful place to treat yourself to a beautiful dinner with the Colosseum as your backdrop.

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7) The Vatican
The cathedral is amazing. I felt completely overwhelmed being in the Sistine Chapel. That ceiling was so amazing, I had to just stop and be quiet and enjoy what I was seeing. Emily of course could not fathom the immensity of what she was experiencing so spending an entire day (Which you could easily do) was out of the question so we saw the major points and then headed off for some lunch. Definitely worth your time.

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8) Shopping
This is Rome. Of course the shopping is amazing! Not just the abundance of leather goods on offer but the shopping in general is great. There is something for everyone and of course, who wouldn’t indulge in a Italian designer handbag while you are there?!

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9) Palazzo Doria Pamphilj
We hosted our drinks reception and dinner at this amazing venue. It is steeped in history which you can find on their website. With it’s Baroque style in interior design and the array of galleries, you can so easily be swept away with it all. It houses the most amazing tapestries, paintings and statues. Truly a fairytale evening with many delegates talking about it for days afterwards!

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10) The Fountains
You will find fountains on almost every corner. It is an absolute delight and makes you want to discover more and more of the city. Of course the most famous is the Trevi fountain which is truly amazing but I was more taken with some of the smaller ones on secluded Piazza’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was a welcome retreat and for some reason, being around water always calms me, centres me and makes me feel rejuvenated. The drinking fountains have clean clear drinking water so take an empty bottle with you and drink spring water to your hearts content!

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This is an amazing city and one of my favourites so far. I would love to hear your favourite bits of Rome if you have been. But for now, I am going to look forward to my Italian dinner tonight (In London) and dream of my long, warm days in Rome.

Ciao for now.

Johannesburg – a family’s playground

If you thought Joburg was not a great city for small children, you couldn’t be more wrong!

It has been a while since I have posted anything. I had every intention of blogging while I was away but once I arrived in sunny SA, the quality time I was spending with family and friends simply became my priority. With that said, we managed to fit so much into our trip that my mind is bursting with blog post ideas!

We began our holiday in Joburg so Emily and I could spend time with my side of the family. I still needed to make Emily’s learning and development a priority and as the weather is so lovely, we could have really stayed at home and swam in the pool every day but I wanted her to see and do things that I remember doing as a child and Johannesburg has a lot to offer small children, more than you think…

Lifestyle Garden Centre
This is truly a wonderful place to be with children. We actually came here a few times during the holiday and Emily absolutely LOVED it here. While it’s primary purpose is a nursery with a vast selection of plants and gardening paraphernalia, they also have a wonderful home décor section as well as a large bookshop called Readers Warehouse that has an excellent children’s section and they host a number of kiddies activities in the bookstore throughout the year.

I have very vivid memories of spending many Saturday afternoons here when I was a little girl. This centre truly is a kid’s paradise!! The Silver Birch Restaurant is a multiple award winning restaurant that has pizza making facilities for kids.

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Parents can enjoy a cup of coffee while keeping an eye on their children with the jungle gym right next to the outside seating area. They also have a small funfair called Playland which has a variety of rides for children. So if you are in the Northern suburbs of Jozi, do pop in!

Joburg Zoo
Emily  is such a little animal lover and has developed a small obsession with the film Madagascar. This gave me the opportunity to show her some of the animals from the film up close and personal. The zoo is enormous and Emily’s little legs could not get us to every corner of the zoo but she was delighted with the animals we had the chance to see.

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They have family days, tours, events and dedicated feeding times for animals so the children can get involved. They also have a strong conservation and breeding programme and offer the opportunity to volunteer or adopt an animal.

One of the most popular activities is the Evening Encounters. This is to give you the chance to encounter and study the nocturnal animals in the zoo and it will certainly be on my ‘to do’ list with Emily next time we are back in South Africa.

They also have large dedicated areas for you to have a family picnic in the shade, to allow you time to recover from the South African midday heat. The Joburg Zoo, still to this day, is a wonderful day out for any family.

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Don’t forget the sunblock!

The Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve “The Nearest Faraway Place”
This nature reserve is nestled in the Cradle of Humankind which is considered ‘The Home of our Ancestors’ due to its breakthrough discoveries, in this area, in the search for the origins of humankind. This in itself is another great day out for families but the nature reserve was the focus of our attention for the day. The main reason for our visit was to cuddle with the lion cubs which we had the privilege of doing. This park, in particular, is famous for its work with white lions.

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You can come with a packed picnic lunch or use their Braai/BBQ facilities at the park at no extra cost. They offer everything from restaurants, The Neck and Deck restaurant is popular amongst the avid off road cyclist as a pit stop, 4×4 experiences, game drives, and feeding times for the big cats. There is a children’s play park area for a bit of a run around and there is the animal crèche where you can encounter some of the younger animals

The park also has accommodation for those bush lovers and they will allow you to outsource activities like hot air ballooning or abseiling into the wondercave.

Once you drive through the gates and see the beautiful Springbok, Wildebeest and Zebra roaming around, you truly do not feel like you are a short drive from the busy city. It certainly is the nearest faraway place indeed.

There are so many amazing things to do with children in Johannesburg. Some restaurants offer play area facilities which are staffed so you can enjoy your meal knowing your children are being looked after.

We didn’t get to do everything but that’s ok because it means we have left a few things for next time… some of my top child friendly places for our next visit.

Jozi has proven that it is truly a city to enjoy with small children. There is plenty to see and do so… go on!! Get outdoors!!

For the love of Slovenia

I have the privilege of travelling to some wonderful places for work and for leisure. One such place is Slovenia. I travelled to Slovenia with our agent Absolute Corporate Events for a site visit.

It it is a very unassuming country that, for most, is not a dream destination. I cannot begin to express how incorrect people are to think this. It is truly one of the most wonderful, amazing countries I have ever had the privilege to see.

There were so many highlights to my visit and we got to see most of what this little country had to offer but I have decided to point out my favourite bits.

1. Otočec Castle

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This is a castle and hotel that sits on a small island in the middle of Krka River, just outside Ljubljana. The walls of the castle are said to date as far back as 1252 and the interior has been beautifully restored. The interior had the feel of a castle with the exposed stone, dark furniture, high back chairs and circular chandeliers… It truly is a magical place! We had the most wonderful lunch. We also sampled an array of Slovenian wine which is surprisingly good. While I do not consider myself an expert on wine I certainly drink enough of it to know when I am tasting a good one and the Slovenian wine is delicious!!  

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2. Lake Bled – The Alpine Region

This place makes you feel like you have landed on a set for a fantasy film because it simply cannot be real! The Bled Castle sits on a hill above the lake and the views from the castle have the ability to take your breath away (see the very top pic)…The lake surrounds Bled Island which has a long history and dates back to around 1400. You access the island by electric boat or a traditional gondola type boat called a Pletna boat. A Baroque stairway consisting of 98 steps brings you to a little church. Certainly a good workout! The church is popular for weddings and it is considered good luck for the groom to carry the bride up the stairs and ring the bell at the top. I was ready for my strong cup of coffee and sweet Slovenian delights waiting for us in the coffee shop on summiting this little island.

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3. Piran – Mediterranean Region

It wasn’t Piran as a town itself that grabbed me but rather just the area as a whole. It is incredibly close to Croatia. In fact many people living in Slovenia, have a house in Croatia as a holiday home. It is also a 2 hour drive from Venice which makes it a wonderful holiday destination to go exploring!! Besides… Look at that view!!!

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4. Zemono Manor

We had the wonderful opportunity to eat in one of Slovenia’s top restaurants. We were welcomed by the amazing Tomaž Kavčič himself who is one of Slovenia’s famous chefs. He has previously been presented with an award for best restaurant in Central and Eastern Europe.

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We were greeted with an array of canapés which included truffles, salmon and Slovenian ham. To say that it was an experience is an understatement. The food was almost theatrical in nature, with each course giving us something new to discover. It was an evening to remember!

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Slovenia has so much to offer!! From skiing in the Alps in the winter to the warm Mediterranean climate and beaches for the summer. You have Croatia and Italy on either side to discover and some of the worlds most wonderful natural spa’s to enjoy. It truly is a destination for everyone. So… where will your next holiday be?