My London Getaway!

Last week I did something I didn’t think I’d do for a really long time. I went away for a couple of days without Erin or John. Part of realising that I have PND also meant that I realised that I need some me time now and again. So, I headed off to London for a night to see my sister and her fiance (Nat & Chris). It was also a kind of late birthday present too.

London

I arrived late morning on the Thursday and we started off with a Wetherspoons breakfast before heading off to Jurassic Kingdom (Review coming soon). Even though Erin wasn’t with me, I still wanted to do a couple of things that maybe I wouldn’t have normally done before. We all had loads of fun, especially taking selfies with the dinosaurs. It was a beautiful day as well so it was nice to get out of the city and in a big, open space.

After Jurassic Kingdom I headed to my hotel, the Holiday Inn Express (Review coming soon) in North Acton, to check in and lighten my bags a bit. The hotel was a 2 minute walk from the tube station so that was great. It is about 20 minutes away from central London on the tube but I didn’t mind that at all.

On Thursday evening we had tickets to see Dreamgirls (Review coming soon), which was my birthday present from Nat and Chris. Before the theatre we went to Bills for dinner. Bills is one of my favourite restaurants so I knew the food would be amazing!

I was so incredibly excited about seeing Dreamgirls. Not living in London means never really being too bothered about seeing any shows. However, Dreamgirls is a favourite of mine and I was desperate to see it. Unfortunately though, Amber Riley wasn’t in it on the night we went but that wasn’t a problem. Come back to read the review in a few days!

On Friday we also had quite a few plans. I got up quite early and headed out for a roam about on my own before meeting Nat and Chris again. We were meeting near the Southbank Center so I went to look at the London Eye and to chill by the river. I think I got there at about 9am and it was so quiet and peaceful. It was a lovely place to be before everything opened.

At 11:30 we had tickets for the London Duck Tours. (Review coming soon) I’ve never done a tour of London before and I was so excited about this. This really didn’t disappoint and it’s one of the most fun things I’ve done in London.

Lunch on Friday was my favourite restaurant of all time, Vapiano. There are branches all over the world and they have the best pasta ever.

Vapiano

Of course, we had to do a bit of shopping so we went to Liberty’s and Carnaby Street where I finally got to go to Choccywoccydoodah. I was in chocolate heaven and could have bought everything. I didn’t though. Instead, we went to Bubblewrap Waffle in Chinatown. I had to wait an hour for a waffle but my god was it worth it!?

By this time we were all exhaused but we headed to Westfield Stratford as it’s not far from where Chris lives. He had to pick up some bits as he and Nat were coming back with me for the weekend. Nat and I did some wedding dress viewing and a bit more shopping but that didn’t last long. My poor feet were killing me.

My London getaway was bloody knackering but it was so needed. I got to do loads of my favourite things and also do something new and exciting. I can’t say I felt refreshed but I can quite happily go for quite some time now before needing some time to myself like that again.

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First birthday party food

I have never hosted a birthday party before and that meant really not having any idea what I was doing. We had 8 children come to Erin’s 1st birthday party and adults made total numbers up to about 20.  I had absolutely no clue how much food to buy, what to buy or what to do with it!

My mum and I went to the supermarket a couple of days before the party to buy everything we needed. I had a list of a couple of things I wanted but really, we walked around guessing for some of the food. I figured the children were kind of easy to cater for, mostly, but it was the parents I was stuck with.

Here’s how the food ended up:

party food

As you can see, I made  A LOT of food! Once it was all laid out I knew that there was too much but by then it was too late.

A couple of Erin’s friends have food intolerances so I had to take that into account. I made sure there was a really good mix of options for everyone, both children and adults, and that there really was something for everyone.

Most of the children who came were Erin’s age and still in weaning stages but eating finger food. I didn’t want all of the food to be high in sugar or ‘naughty’ foods so I made sure there were healthy options too.

I thought fruit and veg platters with dips were a really good idea. The fruit platter got demolished but surprisingly, the veg platter barely got touched. I thought loads of people would have eaten this. We took most of this home with us!

Sandwiches and crisps are always a massive hit so I made sure there was loads! Again, intolerances had to be considered so I had to make sure there was a good selection of dairy free options. I went with cheese, Dairylea, egg with and without mayo, jam and tuna with both white and brown bread. The crisps were really a random selection because I bought what I would call ‘posh’ crisps for the adults as well as normal party favourites.

We also had the usual sweet options as well! I made up so many individual jelly pots and I think only 2 got eaten. Since when does jelly not get eaten at a party?!

If you’re wondering about how much all of this cost, well the food was about £40 but this didn’t include drinks or a birthday cake. This quite easily fed the 20 odd people that attended and we took quite a bit home with us. However, I would still do the same next year just to be safe. Children who are 2 obviously eat more than children who are 1!

I would love to say that I made a lot of this myself but I didn’t, I was lazy. Do you cook and bake for parties or buy in like I did?

Erin’s farm themed 1st birthday party

I don’t really remember having birthday parties as a child. I do, however, remember my sister’s party at McDonald’s with the big pirate ship that I was insanely jealous about. Well, until I hit my head on that pirate ship anyway. Erin was always going to be having a birthday party, whether she’d remember it or not.

As this was her 1st birthday, I wanted to do something that was fun for everyone. We have been going to a class called Music in Motion now and Erin loves it. The woman who runs that was an obvious choice plus, we could choose a theme. Having the party farm themed was a really easy choice for me. It was unisex, there would be no pink and it was also cute! Win for everyone!

The first thing I did before anything was to get some tableware sorted out. Party Bags and Supplies do a fantastic Farm Friends theme and they have loads of different items available. We were able to get pretty much everything we needed for under £30 and it is all fantastic quality as well.

farm themed

Let me just say that when you only have one child, and you have never done a birthday party before, you really have no idea what you’re doing. It’s all guess work. Food was a bit of an issue if I’m honest. I had a few guests with intolerances and allergies. I had about 20 people in total to cater for. I had no idea what to buy and how much. Turns out I did too much but more about this in another post.

I think the farm themed table cloths and the farm themed party hats were my favourites of everything we got. I wasn’t expecting 1 year olds to keep the hats on but some of them did for quite a while!

Only 2 people invited couldn’t make the party but we had a good turn out and most of Erin’s friends came! The room was actually quite full and it was MANIC! My sister, who has no children, was not a fan. She was a trooper though and took loads of photos for us.

The first hour of Erin’s party was spent with Donna singing farm related songs, playing with musical instruments and a big parachute thing. The children all really seemed to love it, apart from Erin who did cry a couple of times. She was being a grumpy little sod though! The last hour of the party was spent scoffing the crazy amounts of food I’d made. A good amount made it back into my kitchen. We ate it for dinner last night and it still hasn’t all gone. I’ll still do the same next year!

Erin’s friends spoiled her with some wonderful presents (thanks parents!!) and she genuinely loves all of them. She went from one to another last night and couldn’t decide what to play with. She then got to play with some in the bath. I didn’t even know light up, fountain spurting bath toys were a thing but Erin LOVES them!

I was quite exhausted after the party, as was Erin, but it was so worth it. She was so happy for the last half of the party and afterwards for the rest of the day. She got to spend some time with her amazing friends and just have fun.

I reclined Erin’s seat straight after taking this picture!.

I am so thankful for everyone who came for making Erin’s party such a special time for her. Erin may not remember this day but I will. 

We received some products for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own. 

Erin’s homemade smash cake shoot

I have known for months that I wanted Erin to have a smash cake for her 1st birthday. This is the only year she’ll get to do this I think and I wanted her to do something really fun on her birthday. I know you can go and have professional smash cake photo shoots done but I wanted this to be something John and I did together at home.

I am crap at baking so I didn’t even attempt to make a cake myself. My wonderful friend from work picked us up a chocolate smash cake from Asda.

I can’t remember where I saw the idea now, and I wish I could so I could credit them, but I made my own photo shoot at home.

I taped a white bed sheet to the wall, added some banners and some balloons and there was our set! It was nothing fancy and nothing expensive but it was perfect for us. However, if you want to do this at home then I would advise taping the sheet to the floor as well if you don’t want creases in your photos. Erin moved around like a mad little thing and the sheet went everywhere.

My photos didn’t come out quite as well as I’d hoped, mainly because Erin moved around more than I thought she would. Now, none of my photos are professional quality. In fact, they’re far from it. The good thing about doing your photos at home though is getting to look through the good and the bad. I’ll be keeping the not so good pictures to laugh at in years to come. While the photos aren’t amazing, I have edited some of them and I’m actually really happy with how they turned out.

I could have had amazing photos from a professional but I’d rather have the memory of doing this as a family!

smash cake

Erin quite obviously had to go in the bath straight after we did this. Chocolate cake was everywhere, even up her nose.

I honestly think that this was a great way to spend a birthday cake. Fun with chocolate cake. Who could ask for more!?

Please note: Erin did not eat the entire chocolate. She barely even ate any of the top. She just ended up covered in it. 

How Erin spent her birthday

how erin spent her birthday

So yesterday was Erin’s 1st birthday ad seeing as we’ve never done this before, neither John or I knew what to expect. I don’t really think it went as we thought it would.

We started the day off getting up quite early. Erin doesn’t really sleep at the minute. She obviously didn’t understand that it was her birthday but we did try to make a big deal about it. After how long presents took on Christmas Day we did things a bit differently. Erin showed no interest whatsoever in actually opening presents. She would pick one, bring it over and then get distracted by something else. Because of this, we opened most things for her so we weren’t there for hours on end.

Presents were followed by Erin’s DIY smash cake. Well, I didn’t bake the cake but I did set up a bit of an amateur backdrop and took a load of photos. I’ll write about this in a separate post though so you’ll have to wait for the photos for that!!

It’s not very often that John and I get to go out for the whole day with Erin together as a family. Either we have no money or we don’t have the time off together. We decided to go into Norwich for a few hours and it was lovely. We did a few things that were needed and then went to Five Guys for lunch. It was John’s first time there and thankfully, he loved it! I’ve been raving about their burgers for weeks. Erin had a packed lunch and a couple of chips.

Thankfully, Erin crashed not too long after lunch and she slept until the train pulled in to our station for home. She’d been exhausted from the busy morning but didn’t want to miss anything exciting. When we got home it was more play time right up until she had a bath and went to bed.

I love that Erin spent the whole day in a top with her age on it. Sgt. Smith do some amazing t-shirts and the one you can see Erin wearing costs £15. 

The t-shirt comes in a variety of colours. You can get the one you see Erin wearing, with blue stripes or with pink and red stripes. Personally, the grey top that Erin is wearing is my favourite as it really goes with anything.

Something I absolutely loved about this t-shirt was the quality. Although £15 isn’t overly expensive for a t-shirt, this feels like it should be more expensive. The material is lovely and thick and it feels super soft.

This t-shirt is available in two sizes, 12-18 months and 1 1/2-2 years. We got this in 12-18 months and it is a little bit big on Erin but she’s a bit small for her age really. Although it has her age on it, and was great for her birthday, I will put in her in it loads more until she grows out of it.

I don’t think it was the most exciting birthday in the world but she won’t remember it anyway. She’s also having a birthday party in 2 weeks so she can see her friends and have some more fun.

What did you do for your little one’s 1st birthday? 

Disclaimer: We were sent Erin’s ‘1’ t-shirt for the purpose of this post. All opinions are our own.