First Timers in NYC [a photo journal & guide]

NYC Travel Guide

NYC Travel Guide

NYC Newbies

So we’re just back from a wee break in New York and I finally get it. I get the hype. It really was as great as everyone says. We booked earlier this year as a little celebration for my upcoming 30th which isn’t until December, but I really didn’t want to go when it was freezing so we decided to go a bit earlier and opted for four nights right at the end of September.

Since coming home I’ve had quite a lot of messages from people about some of the places we visited, hotel, travel and budget from people that have an upcoming trip planned or are hoping to go soon, so I thought I’d answer them here as a wee quick guide to NYC from a first timer!

Travel & Hotel

We looked at booking flights and hotel separately because I just assumed this would be the cheapest way and we have an added bonus of Robin having access to hugely discounted standby tickets for a lot of flights, but with these factored in hotels were still coming in at well over £1000 for 4 nights. Air B&B’s are technically illegal in Manhattan and there are a few horror stories alongside the many people saying their experience was great but in all honesty, I didn’t wanna risk it. So we chose to book as part of a package instead – it also meant that additional baggage cost and resort fees for the hotel were included which was great as these are fairly pricey. All in, we paid around £1800 for 4 nights.

We chose Yotel based on its good reviews, central location and reasonable price tag. It’s in the Hell’s Kitchen area of the city just to the west of Times Square so really easy to get around. The only downside is Times Square itself is the thing of my nightmares so getting off the subway there on an evening to return to the hotel and having to fight through the crowds is less than ideal, but mostly we strolled other routes anyway. The hotel was clean, cool and quirky. We emailed in advance to tell them it was my birthday and we got upgraded to a superior room with a view (which is usually extra) so worth a shot! The rooms are fairly small but that’s to be expected in NYC – it was fine for us!

We also chose to fly from Glasgow with United as it was a whooping £600 less than from Edinburgh! And the flights were better times too, leaving at 9am as opposed to early afternoon. We just paid parking at My Easy Park near the airport and they give you a ride in (this was our second time using this service and I couldn’t recommend enough!).

NYC Travel Guide

Money Saving Explorers

Before we left we did quite a lot of research to try and pull together an itinerary, and I’ll be honest – it’s quite overwhelming. Torn between wanting to do ALL the stuff versus wanting some freedom to wing it.

We decided to buy NYC Explorer Passes for the main attractions as they can be fairly expensive if you ‘pay as you go’ when you’re there. Keep an eye out though because there are LOADS of options… tonnes. From 2-22 attractions and there’s always offers on. We eventually took the plunge and ordered passes that covered us for 4 attractions each for around £130 (we got it using the .com site for Expedia and paying in dollars with a promo code). It covers more than 70 attractions and tours and we used ours for Top of The Rock, The Color Factory, Intrepid: Air and Space Museum and Circle Line Cruise: Statue of Liberty by Night. These would have cost a total of just over $280 – so it’s a decent saving. You don’t have to pick in advance either so once you’re there you can decide which you’d like to do – some you just show your phone at the entrance and other (like the cruise) we had to go earlier and exchange our pass for tickets but it was easy and every one had its own instruction.

NYC Travel Guide

Our Itinerary

Before we left, we’d written a basic itinerary for an idea of what we’d do each day, mostly so we didn’t miss anything major out. But once there we mixed it up a bit as we got a feel for distance between things and the best time to go to certain places. So in the end, this was what we did on each day with some tips and recommendations –

Saturday

We landed just after 11am (NYC time) into Newark and were through security quite quickly, this was a relief in itself as we’ve heard it can be a bit mental, although I believe JFK is a lot worse. We collected our bags and headed for the Air Train and then the NJ transit (there are ticket machines in the airport for this train!) to New York Penn station where it was a 10 minute walk to our hotel to drop our bags (with the hotel robot!) till the room was ready.

We headed round the counter and dived into the first bar we came across called Dalton’s where it was $5 per pint and devoured some wings – YALDI! Then on the way back to the hotel we grabbed a $ pizza slice… cause New York innit. I can confirm – it was everything I dreamed of and more!

After checking in we headed out and stumbled upon the Vessel for some pictures before hitting The High Line towards Chelsea Market where we stopped off at Los Tacos No.1 which we had been told was the best taco in NYC – and yeah, they’re pretty good! I do wish we’d spent some more time here and eaten a bit more because it’s really cool (and I’ve heard the place that sells lobster rolls is incredible!), but we were desperate to explore some more and were also shattered after all our travel so we went a walk via Times Square and then Rudy’s for a beer (they serve free hot dogs with them) and back to the hotel for an early night (can you tell we’re old AF?!)

NYC Travel Guide

Sunday

We had an early start on Sunday to get to Rockerfella Centre for it opening at 8, so grabbed a bagel en route for breakfast. I don’t even like bagels, but even they taste fab in NYC.

Top of the Rock is brilliant, we used our Explorer Pass but general entry is around €38 I think. It’s the only one of the three ‘main’ views (Rockerfella, Empire State & One World Observatory) that doesn’t have glass so it’s the best for pictures. On one side you have Central Park and on the other, the Empire State, and Downtown. It was incredible and I actually enjoyed just taking in the view more than I expected! Defo try and do it early though as it was really starting to busy up by the time we were leaving just before 10.

Then it was time to grab a sugary post breakfast snack at Donut Project (thank you to everyone that recommended!) before heading into Central Park for a wander in the 30 degree heat. We stopped and watched a Little League game and it was probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen… we spend the rest of the morning here just wandering and exploring and also ticking off Belvedere Castle and Strawberry Fields (complete with the world’s worst John Lennon impersonator – sorry mate) as well as the ponds and Jackie O Reservoir. You could easily spend a day here, and I now wish we’d hired a boat and had a row around the lake… but instead we decided to go to Shake Shack on the Upper West Side because, well, we were desperate to try it and it didn’t disappoint! We ate it in the gardens of the Natural History Museum while people watching in the sun! On a side note: I ordered a wine in Shake Shack and we weren’t able to take it away because of licensing laws, so if you do plan to takeaway get a soft drink – I’d recommend the Orange Fanta as it’s soooo much better in the US!

By this point, Robin was well on his way to destroying his Achilles so we wandered back to the hotel, through the red stone neighbourhoods of the Upper West Side, for a much needed rest!

Then it was time for our first jaunt on the subway to Little Italy to see some of the street art that I had saved onto my maps and it didn’t disappoint! It’s so nice to just wander the streets, remembering to look up and see all the art (maybe even throw in a few beers along the way). For dinner we had to walk further down to Chinatown for dim sum at Nom Wah Tea Parlour on Doyers Street, the first dim sum restaurant in Manhattan dating back to the 20’s. It’s no frills dining (and cash only!) but it’s delicious and fun, and one of our favourite cuisines! After, we decided to walk down to the piers and have a wee peer (geddit) at the Brooklyn Bridge after sundown before jumping on a subway back to Midtown and taking a wander past the Empire State Building to Grand Central Station as we didn’t think we’d get a chance to do this any other day, in all honesty, I wasn’t particularly fussed about either of these, but at least I can say I did it. Then it was back to the hotel via Times Square for another amazing nights sleep in the world’s comfiest bed – seriously, I’ve been trying to find out what mattresses Yotel use ever since I got home..!

NYC Travel Guide

Monday

Yet another early start for us and a day that we’d changed our pre-planned itinerary drastically … because Robin surprised me by booking a doors off helicopter flight which I’d seen weeks before when we were initially planning but we’d decided against it due to budget. I was so excited, but equally terrified!

We headed Downtown first thing ready to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. It’s beautiful and amazing but also so busy, but it’s worth just picking a spot on the way over and loitering because there will be a break in the crowds at some point and you can run to the centre of the path and get a picture that looks like you had the bridge all to yourself! The we continued over to Dumbo to get ‘the shot’ of the Empire State through the arch of the Manhattan Bridge, before a wander down by the water to kill some time and take in the skyline before going for some world famous pizza at Juliana’s . We weren’t sure whether to go to Juliana’s or Grimaldi’s next door… but the sun was shining, we wanted to sit out and Grimaldi’s had scaffolding outside so our mind was made up! We spoke to a local that told us that Juliana’s is owned by the family that started Grimaldi’s, they opened it when they sold the Grimaldi name, so although Grimaldi’s is the older name, Juliana’s is the original. And OH MY GOD, it lived up to the hype! Probably the best pizza I’ve ever had… I may have also had a beer to steady my nerves for what was to come.

In an ideal world we’d have spent the day in Brooklyn as I had SO many more recommendations that we wanted to try out, but we had to go catch our helicopter! If you’re planning a trip, please don’t rush Brooklyn! If we even go back (finger’s crossed) I think we’d stay in that part of town.

NYC Travel Guide

Anyway… onto the helicopter! So here’s the deal – doors-off helicopters are banned in NYC. They’re considered too “high-risk”. Safe to say I did not know this before hand. For this reason, the company we used, flyNYON (the only doors off experience in the city), operates out of Kearney, New Jersey. They provide private or group transfers from midtown to the airfield, but we’d decided to just get the subway, PATH train and an Uber. Google Maps says this is about 55 minutes (from Brooklyn via World Trade Centre) and we gave it 1hr 45minutes and just made it in time – you don’t really get anywhere fast in New York we found!

The company was really well run and the staff were great – I mean, I was still shitting myself, but they were lovely. As was our pilot, Gregory. This was my first time in a helicopter and considering 90% of our time in New York was 30 degrees with sun splitting the sky, it was somewhat unlucky that the sky clouded over and even more unlucky that that the wind got up… it was like dangling in a net and blowing in the wind.

The helicopter flew from NJ to Manhattan where it slowed down and we were able to turn 90 degrees in our seat and dangle our feet out over the city. By this point we were a lot lower and calmer and I put my fear aside and man, the views were incredible! We flew over downtown with the Empire State, past One World Observatory and the 9/11 memorial pools and then onto and round the Statue Of Liberty and it was amazing… for a moment I forgot I was terrified and it was the first glimpse of the Statue since spotting her from the plane into Newark. I’d recommend a flight whether it be doors on or off – it was an amazing experience. We opted for the 16 minute flight but there are longer ones available too. I realise it is a luxury though and not in everyone’s budget but the company pretty much always has a 50% offer code available, so don’t take the price at face value. Apparently there can be some haggling room if you call them on the day to book but we didn’t try this out!

NYC Travel Guide

Once we’d landed and my blood pressure had returned to [semi] normal, we got the train back to Manhattan to visit the 9/11 memorial pools on the ground after seeing them in the air. It was really poignant and we tried to make our way round reading all the names. It felt odd to see so many people taking selfies and posing, I don’t know, maybe that’s just me. I’m glad we visited though, and it really is breathtaking, overlooked by the new One World Observatory (OWO) and 6 other Trade Centres that are either complete on in the process of being built. After visiting we planned to go up OWO, but it was still light and since we’d done Top Of The Rock in the day time, we decided to do OWO at night, so, off we trotted to Tribeca to get a few beers at Tiny’s & The Bar Upstairs. It is what it says, tiny! We got talking to the barman who gave us some dinner recommendations in exchange for some tips on the best time to visit Edinburgh (he wrote them on a piece of paper and now I can’t find it – when I come across them, I’ll share!) and after a few beers we hopped back down to head up for the view. OWO isn’t available on attraction passes, so it cost us $38 each. A cool little fact we learnt about the new Trade Centres is that once complete, none of them will ever cast shadow on the two original towers that are now memorial pools, they’ve been designed so that they will always be in the sunshine.

After some snaps we headed back down to Tribeca and went to Holy Ground for dinner, as recommended by the barman in Tiny’s. It’s a cool wee underground BBQ place with a sort of vintage speakeasy vibe (which seems really popular) and it was brilliant, I had a burger and fries and Robin had a smoked chicken sandwich with a wee cheeky mac n cheese side to share and it was probably one of the best burger I’ve ever had… and I’ve had quite a few! My one regret is that I didn’t have a cocktail because they sounded amazing… I actually didn’t have a cocktail the whole holiday (I mean, is it even a holiday without one!?). But I suppose it means I’ll just have to go back another time.

NYC Travel Guide

Tuesday

Tuesday was our last full day in the city and the steps were catching up on us (by this point we were at over 100k and Robin’s achilles had swelled like an egg…) but we started the day off with yet another bagel before ambling down to the Color Factory in SoHo. I’d decided this was something I wanted to do one day well before we even booked the holiday after seeing pictures of it online and thinking it looked really cool. Lucky for us, it was included in our Explorer Pass, I think it’s usually around $32pp. We were greeted with the weirdest, coolest, tastiest chewy ice cream ball upon arrival and it pretty much set us up for the rest of the experience which was equally as weird but really cool and well thought out featuring installations by many New York artists. I won’t say too much because I don’t want to give too much away as part of the fun is the surprise but I’d highly recommend it – it was probably my biggest surprise of the trip and even better than expected! This attraction would be great for kids too, it’s interactive, so probably best for age 5 and above.

As we were flailing a bit by this point we decided to have a quieter afternoon and just went a wander to the shops. I’m not really a fan of shopping to be honest, least of all on holiday. I know a lot of people head to NYC primarily to shop, and if that’s you, then you’ll love it, the shops are amazing… however, I just can’t be arsed, BUT we needed to get some gifts for the kids and Christmas decorations for our Mums. Plus I wanted a new pair of Converse and Robin wanted to visit the Nintendo store… obviously. After we’d picked up our souvenirs we ended up stumbling into another Los Tacos No.1 and getting some more tacos for the road before heading back to the hotel to put our feet up till evening.

We’d decided to use our final ticket on our attraction pass to do a Circle Line Statue of Liberty by Night tour (we’d picked up our tickets from the pier the previous day using our passes so didn’t need to queue etc). The cruise sets sail from Pier 16 at 7pm and we were advised to get there early to get ahead of the queue and secure good seats on the upper, open deck. We arrived at about 6pm and were 2nd in line… which turned out to be completely pointless. Upon boarding the boat we went up top to get our “good seats”, but the thing is, the seats don’t go to the edge of the boat, so once the seats of the upper deck were filled, people just file round the outside and stand at the railings completely blocking the view of the folk in the seats, so don’t bother. Just show up and get on whenever! The views were great though, and the guy that did the tour was actually brilliant, so it was worth it. Meant we got to see her from sea level as well as from the air a few days previously!

To top off our last night in the city, we decided to go for a steak (yeah, we had dollars to use up!). A LOT of people recommended Gallagher’s up near Times Square but the fact that it was in Times Square put us off a bit as we thought it might be a bit of a tourist trap (to be honest, we thought this about most of the popular tourist spots there – I’m looking at you Carmine’s and Ellen’s), don’t get me wrong, it sounded great, but I was convinced there would be other, equally good steaks (if not better) and anyway, we were downtown and wanted to eat nearby, about 5 or 6 popped up on Google all with 4.5+ stars. We chose Harry’s in the Financial District… it didn’t disappoint. The restaurant was stylish, luxe, very American and the service was brilliant. We ordered a filet mignon and a bone-in filet mignon and some sides and both of us agreed it was probably the best steak we’d ever had! It wasn’t a cheap meal, but we didn’t exert it to be, and it was worth every penny. remembering that the standard NYC tip is 20%, our bill came to just over $200 but this seemed in-keeping with most steakhouses we looked at, and it was worth every penny and the best way to finish off our last night in the most magical city!

NYC Travel Guide

Wednesday

On our last half day before heading off to the airport we hobbled along to the Intrepid Air and Space museum to use our last Attraction Pass tickets . It had been Robin’s choice, and probably not something that I’d have chosen, but it was actually quite a bit better than I anticipated! Despite the 35 degree heat… When the time rolled round to collect our bags and head for the airport, we were probably quite relieved to step onto the air-conditioned train, and the long journey home started. Why is it that it always seems to take twice as long to get home?!

Then crash back to reality. The reality of stepping off the red-eye at 7.30am and being a parent again after 5 days of absolute freedom, but it was worth it. And well done if you’ve made it this far… I originally was going to break this down to highlights, but I just kept adding and adding, and then couldn’t stop. I’ve even bored myself, but I hope this is useful for someone out there! As I said, we were both first timers and I think we did pretty well for the time we were there and we really did have the best time in the most amazing city. I always found it a bit bewildering when people spoke about New York with such passion, and visited again and again, but I kind of get it now. It really is a special city and I’d love to go back one day, maybe even with the kids when they’re a bit older.

NYC Travel Guide

Top Tips

Before I go though, I’ve rounded up some of my top tips, and stuff I learned before I went, while I was there as well as things I’d bear in mind for the future –

Money

We took about $700 cash and the rest of our money on a Revolut card. Revolut is great for travel as you can transfer £ into the account and then exchange it into $ (or any other currency) with a live exchange rate (I think we got around 1.23 – thank Brexit). Then whatever you spend on the card comes out of the $ pot, so you see exactly what you have left in that currency, which for us, just made it a lot easier, not having to do some quick math every time we paid for something! On arriving home we had $ left in our pot so just exchanged them back, hassle free.

But remember, cash is a must as a lot of places are cash only, just as a lot of places are card only, so you do need a mix. It’s also really handy for tipping which is a must in the States. Service staff are taxed on an assumed amount of tips, so if you don’t tip they will still be taxed, so it’s pretty much expected that you tip between 15-20% (we stuck with 20%). You also tip your chambermaid daily and taxi drivers etc so bear this in mind. We were worried that it was going to be crazy expensive after reading some Facebook groups and blogs, but honestly, it wasn’t. this could be due to the kind of food we enjoy as we ate a lot of street food and market food etc, so this probably kept costs down. We avoided tourist trap restaurants around Time Square because they can be overpriced and underwhelming and just not really our kinda thing. Drinking is fairly expensive, but most places have Happy Hours in the evening. In a nice rooftop bar you could be looking at $25 for a cocktail, but ya know, stay for one, soak up the view then go to a dive bar round the corner for a pitcher of beer if you’re on a budget! It can be as expensive or inexpensive as you want – don’t feel a pressure to spend spend spend if you don’t want to!

NYC Travel Guide

Biggest Disappointment

The High Line, I had high hopes for this walk which is a public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side, but it just didn’t live up to the hype, I mean, it was fine, but not as pretty as I imagined it to be… maybe it was just the time of year. I don’t know, I just wasn’t blown away. The other slight disappointment was One World Observatory (OWO), it’s fairly expensive as it wasn’t on our passes and I just thought it was a bit over-hyped. Don’t get me wrong, the view was great, but I preferred Top Of The Rock as it’s the only view of it’s kind without glass (better for pictures!).

Metro

You can get a metro 7-day unlimited pass for $33 each (the price of 12 single journeys). We knew about this but decided not to get one as we weren’t sure that we’d use it enough, and we probably broke even. We didn’t realise that the PATH train we used to get to New Jersey for our helicopter flight was included, had we known this wed have probably got the passes. I’d say for 5 -7 days you’d get the use out of it and save money. We used the subway, but still managed to rack up 30-50k steps a day!

The subway is a little easier than London i thought, because it’s fairly easy to work out if you’re going uptown or downtown, it just takes a few rides to get your head around it. I used Apple maps to plan most journeys and work out the routes and didn’t have any nightmares. Didn’t need offline map due to free roaming (check this before you go). Also, the UK Uber app works in US, we used this to get to the helicopter airfield after the train.

NYC Travel Guide

What did we miss?

4 nights/5 days was a great amount of time and we got a LOT done, but a few more would have given us a bit of leeway, any less and we would really have struggled. If we went back I’d love to squeeze in some museums, in particular the 9/11 Memorial Museum (it has free entry on a Tuesday evening by the way). I’d also have loved to check out the Guggenheim, and Moma. I’d also do a show – the one most recommended to me was Book Of Mormon. We didn’t bother as we already had so much to get through, and truthfully, we’d probably have fallen asleep, but if we went back it would be a must. Sometimes you just have to accept that you can’t do it all, and that’s ok!

We’d also go a little later in the year, as mentioned before, we decided to go when we did because we didn’t want it to be freezing… but it was still really hot, between 26-36 degrees every day and it’s hard going in the city. Maybe leave it till mid-October. I’d also not bother staying in Manhattan if we went back. It was good to be central for our first trip just for ease but I’d definitely stay in Brooklyn or Williamsburg if we went back and explore these areas more as the short amount of time we spend in Brooklyn was wonderful and I’ve heard of so many amazing spots in Williamsburg.

NYC BABY!

As you probably gathered, we had a blast, I’d go back tomorrow if I could (ya know, If I had a money tree and a nanny). I hope there are some useful tips in here if you’re planning a holiday there any time soon, and if not, sorry for boring you… NYC BABY!

NYC Travel Guide

 

 

YOYO+ing Round Town With Edinburgh Baby Co. [AD]

Babyzen YOYO+ review

Edinburgh Baby Co. Collab

I was recently asked by Edinburgh Baby Company if I’d like to borrow a Babzyzen YOYO+ for a week to try out and review as part of a wee collaboration, and well, I jumped at the chance, as it’s a buggy I’ve been looking at on and off for a while, and had heard great things about, and I was also already a fan of the shop! On a few of Oscar’s hospital admissions, I’d ended up in their Marchmont store a few times while floating about like a bit of a zombie potato (kids wards are LOUD… all night long), while out getting some fresh air and a quick lunch.

So first off, Edinburgh Baby Company are fab! Single-handedly ran by mum of three Sara for local families and she sells everything from pregnancy, to baby and beyond. The selection of ethical clothing is wonderful, variety of wooden toys incredible and if you’re thinking of making a switch to cloth nappies, look no further… not to mention Sara has great knowledge if you’re in need of some advice on where to start on these, she’s your woman.

So, before I go any further, for transparency sake: I was given a loan of this buggy for a week in exchange for an honest review. Views are of my own and I was not paid! 

The Babyzen YOYO+

So what is it? And why’s it supposed to be so special?

So, I thought the YOYO was just a buggy, but upon picking it up, I realised it’s quite a bit more – from a parent-facing newborn cocoon right up to a toddler/child buggy that can be popped up with one hand and folded down small enough to pop in the overhead locker on a plane – the YOYO+ is a pretty cool piece of kit.

Babyzen YOYO+

The Main Selling Points (as told by Babyzen)

  • Reclinable and can lie flat (great for napping!)
  • Featherweight: 6.2 Kgs, with a shoulder strap for carrying
  • Newborn pack from birth to 9kg – a supersoft sherpa lined cocoon
  • Parent facing or forward facing
  • Fabrics are machine washable, cause ya know, kids are minging
  • Improved 4 wheel suspension
  • Car Seat Compatibility – Popular car seats can be popped on the chassis
  • UPF 50+ sun protection canopy which is great for holidays
  • Fits in the smallest spaces (more on this later) and in the overhead compartment of an airplane
  • Exclusive soft-drive system: no need to lock the front swivel wheel, even on rough terrain

Babyzen YOYO+

The Pros… As Told By Me!

First Impressions

So let me say first off, I was impressed from the start, I’d never seen a YOYO+ in real life and honestly, it looks great. It looks sleek, premium and pretty nifty. I was also surprised to see it comes in a variety of colours. I didn’t get to choose but the trial model was a beautiful orangey-red colour, and was the one I’d have chosen. Similar to a Bugaboo (which we currently have) you can buy different colour packs to change the colour of the hood and lining as well as newborn inserts – this is always good if you’re looking to refresh a pram system to use with a subsequent child, or just fancy a change!

Babyzen YOYO+

Longevity

With both of our children we’ve bought a pram/travel system to use from birth (with Oscar we had an iCandy Peach3, and with Scout I decided to get a Bugaboo Cameleon3) and then, once they have reached a certain age and we needed something more convenient for popping into the shops or going on holiday, we’ve used a cheaper foldable buggy (in our case, we bought a Mamas + Papas Armadillo)… But here’s the deal, buggy’s are rubbish! They steer like a triple decker bus, can feel rattly, wheels get stuck in cobbles (hello, Edinburgh), never as easy to put up and down as they say, and they can still be bulky when folded… so to be honest, I’ve always hated ours!

This was where I was going wrong though, as I said before, I thought the YOYO+ was “just another buggy”, but in reality, it’s so much more. The YOYO+ can contend with the more traditional prams and travel systems, similar to the Bugaboo Bee I’d say, as a city pram. It would do away with the need to buy an additional buggy/stroller further down the line, making it a truly versatile and a good investment.

Babyzen do all the “extras” you’d want in a travel system, from their newborn pack with a flat nest for infants, a 5-point harness, a 2-position pop-up canopy, a foot cover and a headrest (oh, and it folds flat with this on too – no need to remove first), to YOYO buggy board with seat, to parasols and the new parent essential – cup holder!

On a side note, I also loved that it has a wee zip pouch in the hood for putting your purse and phone if you’re just nipping into the shop. As well as a handy little window on the hood to check if they’re sleeping (spoiler alert: mine never was!)

Babyzen YOYO+

Comfort

The YOYO gives a good, comfortable, upright seated position but can be adjusted easily using a toggle on the back of the seat unit to recline… Unfortunately for us, Scout never decided to nap while we were out (standard) but the seat does lie flat which is a selling point for us, because it’s great on holiday for being able to get them to sleep in the evenings and comfortable enough to stay asleep so you can enjoy a cocktail or 5!

Plus, despite the YOYO’s compact size, the seat is a brilliant size. Oscar is 4 and easily fits. A 4 year old might not ordinarily use a buggy, but if you’re on holiday it could still come in handy. Babyzen have thought of everything, and if you have an older child sleeping, you can even buy a leg rest that clips on the front to extend the seat for sleeping.

As well as being comfortable for the wee one being pushed around like a king and/or queen, the YOYO+ is also really nice to push. It feels light and responsive which isn’t always the case for a run of the mill buggy, and a city prams go, it felt great on our little mini adventures. We put it through its paces and it really excelled – even Robin was left impressed and that’s a tough ask (he hates our Bugaboo Cam).

Babyzen YOYO+

Teeny Wee YOYO

So I suppose one of the main selling points of the YOYO is it’s size, and it’s impressive! Our current pram (Bugaboo Cam3) and buggy (Mamas + Papas Armadillo) both take up the floor space of the boot of our cars (see below) meaning any shopping or bags have to be placed on top, this is fine until you have any more than 3, then it becomes some sort of balancing act while hoping you can squish the parcel shelf down far enough to be able to peek out the back window… it’s far from ideal.

Bugaboo Cameleon3 in the boot of a Ford Focus
Bugaboo Cameleon3 in the boot of a Ford Focus

In comparison, the YOYO+ really is tiny. It folds so easily and can be carried with a shoulder strap before being chucked in the car. A few people have asked to see it in the car, both in the boot and in the footwell in the front (note, the passengers seat was not even all the way back), so here it is! I must admit, even I was surprised at how little room it took up.

Babyzen YOYO in car
Babyzen YOYO+ in boot and passenger footwell of a Ford focus

The YOYO+ can also be stored in the overhead lockers on a plane, and a separate travel bag can be purchased if needed. I can definitely see the advantages of this having wrestled with a wild toddler while waiting to get through security and to the baggage reclaim to collect a buggy that’s been checked at the gate!

Twinning

That brings me onto a feature that Sara at EBC told me about that I’d never heard of – YOYO+ twin! Turns out, you can get two YOYO’s and clip them together to make a double pram! How cool is that? Sara herself has twins as was telling me about the struggles of the double buggy and how something that could come apart in this way would have really helped her out and having the option to split them when needed or for subsequent children must be a huge plus.

Babyzen YOYO+

Where’s The Catch?

Truthfully? I don’t think there is one. However, there are a few wee downsides that I have to mention.

Off-roading

This is a city pram on the whole. We live next to a country park and we did put it through its paces on some bumpier terrain, and although it fared ok, if that’s the sort of environment that you’re looking to explore daily, then the YOYO probably isn’t for you… but you probably knew that already as ultimately it’s not marketed as that and that’s ok – it can’t be everything for everyone.

We also found that the narrow wheelbase means it can feel like its tipping slightly on a tight corner, especially with Scout being partial to leaning out one side to peer behind her. However, the stroller is light enough that this is easily corrected and you never feel ‘out of control’, it’s extremely responsive on the whole.

Robin did mention that he would prefer it to have an extendable handle. He’s 6ft 1 and said it wasn’t uncomfortable, however, it would have been preferable. At 5ft 3, it’s safe to say I didn’t have any problems, but considering most newborn+ prams have this, it’s a shame it doesn’t.

Babyzen YOYO+

Price

The Babyzen YOYO+ is pricey –

Babyzen newborn stroller from £579 – from birth to 4+
6months+ YOYO+ from £380 – this is the one we have been trying out… Obviously we didn’t need the newborn bit!
Accessories prices are as follows and I think are inline with ‘normal’ accessory prices the likes of Bugaboo, UPPAbaby etc:
YOYO bag £84.95 – we had this, and I completely forgot to photograph it (SORRY!) but it hooks into your YOYO with a small wheeled attachment and can carry up to an additional 10kg! Great if you’re on a full day out and need a picnic or if you’re shopping.
Board £99 – buggy board with a seat, similar to the Bugaboo one
Cup holder £24.95
Parasol £39.95
Footmuff £99.95 – beautiful cozy cocoon that can roll up into a small storage bag
Travel bag £59.00 – fab for holidays to keep everything protected
Leg rest £29.95 – this would also be fab for an older child on holiday
If I were buying for a new baby I’d purchase the newborn stroller, cup holder (gotta stay hydrated) and a footmuff at a cost of just over £700. This is still a whopping £500 less than I paid for my equivalent Bugaboo Cam3 and Mamas & Papas Armadillo stroller.

Now, for a buggy that you’re going to use to nip to the shops every so often with or for a holiday or two, it really might not be worth it. However, I think it would be a great alternative to a traditional travel system. When I look back on how often we used our pram in the first 6 months with both Scout and Oscar, it really wasn’t that often. In particular, with Scout, she was always worn in a wrap and could count on two hands how many times we used the carrycot of the pram. I feel like a YOYO+ would have been ideal and actually saved a lot of money. It would even have been worth it if we’d known about it when we bought our rubbish buggy for holidaying with Oscar as I could have paid for the 6month+ stroller then upgraded it with the newborn pack when we found out about Scout… hindsight is a wonderful thing, eh?!

The Verdict

I love it. Probably more than I thought I would and I think Scout liked it… she certainly enjoyed eating snacks in it (sorry Sara, I’ll dust the crumbs off before I return it!). All in all, it has lived up to the hype!

Like I said, if you’re on your last baby (as I am) and they’re 1 year or above and you’re looking for something to scoot around town in and nip to the shops, then truthfully, this probably isn’t the buggy for you, it’s a pricey option -I’m pretty gutted that we didn’t discover it before now!

However, if you’re on your first or subsequent baby and looking for something that will see you from birth through till… well, whenever they might still need a buggy (bearing in mind this could be when they’re 4 and you’re on holiday) then this could be the one. It will save you money in the long run, and it’s a great wee piece of kit. You won’t ever have to wrestle in the pouring rain to dismantle it and fold it in the the boot in a car park while your baby screams in the car (been there), you’ll have plenty of room left for all your other baby paraphernalia and shopping and I don’t doubt you’ll enjoy scooting around with it.

In my (humble) opinion, the YOYO+ really is FUN and stands up to its rivals! Safe to say I was sad to return it to Sara today. Happy YOYOing!

Babyzen YOYO+

 

That Disney Magic…

Disneyland Paris

Our First Disney Experience: Halloween 2018

This year we weren’t sure if we’d manage to squeeze in a family holiday as we knew we’d be moving at some point. So on a bit of a whim, back in May, we decided we’d take the kids to Disneyland Paris.

I’ve never been to any Disney, Robin’s been to Florida as a kid and loved it, so we thought Paris would be good introduction for the kids with them being so young. The whole booking experience is daunting and incredibly confusing! There are so many meal, hotel and travel options so we decided to book directly through Disney.

We booked 3 nights/4 days, flying to CDG and staying in The Santa Fe hotel which is in the Disney park so that we could benefit from the ‘Magic Hours’ before the park opens to the public. We selected the Half Board Premium meal plan as it included a Meet the Characters meal and a night at the Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show… Turned out, all of this didn’t come cheap. It was significantly more than we had expected to pay, but we were in too deep, and it was worth it – Oscar would love it, right?!

Luckily for us, we’d decided to add a little bit extra stress right before our Disney trip by attending a wedding down South with Scout in tow, while Oscar stayed home with his Grandparents. We flew down to Hampshire on the Friday (oh, and we got engaged at 4am as we were getting ready to go to the airport!), attended the wedding on the Saturday (and had such a good day – was so lovely to have some time away!) then on Sunday, we flew back to Edinburgh, arriving home at midnight… and quickly discovered our flight to Paris the next day was in fact at 6am – two hours earlier than we had previous thought. Organised as ever…

Flying to Disneyland Paris

Jetting Off

A few short hours later we were up and off! Arriving at the airport at 4:30am, without an added engagement, but with a disoriented and excited Oscar. We quickly discovered Robin had left his bag with the travel documents on the kitchen table! Again, organised! A mere 35 minutes later I returned to the airport with the rucksack and we ran through security (why do I always bleep?! I’m thinking it’s my specs??) and straight to the gate in time for boarding starting. This was Robin, Scout and I’s third flight in 4 days, so to be honest, we were kinda over it… but Oscar was psyched!

Upon landing we trekked through Charles De Galle airport, boarded some kind of genuine, bona fide monorail and managed to find our Magic Shuttle (just a bus) that would take us to our hotel. This was all a bit chaotic. People shoving kids out the way to get on. Probably the same kind of people that fight to get on a train as folk are still alighting – WHY?! The transfer to Disney is about 40 minutes or a little more depending on what hotel you’re staying in. We arrived at The Santa Fe and waited in the queue to check in… the first of many – queues are a bit of a theme at Disney.

Our first impression was that this hotel was a bit dated, and a bit tired. But, we weren’t planning on spending that much time in it, so it would be fine. We decided to drop our bags in our room (it was 11am-ish and the room was ready to go – that was a positive) and head to the park. The weather caught us a bit off guard. It was bitterly cold, just a few degrees, which was a shame as just the week before it had been unseasonably warm with highs of 20 degrees! We jumped into a shop on Disney ‘Main Street’ and grabbed Oscar a hat but I think it was safe to say, his 3:30am start was catching up with him, but we were determined to have fun. The kind of magic fun that Disney promises.

Unfortunately… it was downhill from here. What we thought was just tiredness seemed to be a bit more and Oscar was actually quite poorly… and probably wasn’t really in the mood to be trailed round in freezing temperatures. It was at this point, I asked him how he felt and he said “mummy, I feel sad. I want to go to Disneyland” – fairly tragic considering we’d been there about 4 hours at that point… I can laugh now, but at the time this was a metaphorical punch in the gut. 

Disneyland Paris

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly 

Anyway, I’ve put together some info, pointers, good points and bad points – before I left and while we were away I had a lot of people get in touch to ask about it as they were thinking of going. I read a lot before we went (yes, we even joined the ‘Disneyland Paris for Brits’ group on Facebook…), and to be honest, everyone made it out to be amazing, and I hate to sound negative, because that’s not really our bag, but elements of the trip were disappointing and I’d rather be honest. Doubt I’ll be getting sponsored by Disney any time soon anyway… 

Mickey Meal Madness with some Buffalo Bill chucked in… 

Let’s start with a positive – despite coming to the realisation on the first day that Oscar was feeling absolutely lousy with a raging temperature we had booked to go to Buffalo Bills Wild West Show and decided to give it a shot (ya know, still determined to power through and enjoy ourselves despite snipping at each other through gritted teeth…) and actually, Oscar enjoyed it! We had tickets as part of our Premium Meal Plan otherwise I believe it’s around £160… which is a lot! Was it worth it? As adults, maybe not (see face below)… but like I say, Oscar did enjoy it, so in that respect it was. The food was mediocre – TGI’s style mixed grill, but I wasn’t expecting much better so wasn’t disappointed. You can book this before you go, you can do that up to 60 days before I think and can email them directly, we did it the week before and managed to get a table but probably wouldn’t advise being so last minute.  

Disneyland Paris

Our meal plan also included a character meal, we wanted to do this at Inventions, which is classed as one of the best restaurants in the park, located in the actual Disney Hotel, but, well, it was fully booked so that went out the window. Instead, we booked the breakfast at Plaza Gardens just off Main Street. Despite refusing to eat anything (a theme of the trip) Oscar seemed to really enjoy this, so I’d say it’s worth it. It could have been organised a lot better, with characters being more interspersed instead of them moving round the restaurant in groups meaning you had to wait ages to meet them then when you did it was all of them and a bit rushed, but a three year old obviously doesn’t care about that and he was really psyched to meet Mickey and it was mega cute. We even took some pictures so that in years to come we could show Oscar them and lie to him about the whole trip by insisting he had the best time ever

Disneyland Paris

On the topic of food, because we had a premium plan, we were able to book the “best” restaurants in the park without having to pay a surcharge and we did this a week before and although we managed to get tickets to the BBWWS we did struggle to get a table at a few other restaurants. In hindsight, maybe this was a good thing. Oscar is 3, and terribly fussy. I suppose I assumed that all the eateries would be child focused with quite “child friendly” food and this wasn’t the case – which was my bad. Coupled with the fact that Oscar felt lousy, and just wanted to sleep, it wasn’t the best restaurant experience. So we ended up cancelling a few of our reservations and just chancing our arm at a few of the buffet restaurants which were fine.  

There are also a fair few places out-with the main Disney and Studios park within the Disney Village including sandwich shops, coffee shops, Five Guys and a trusty McDonalds. After a 20€ Uber trip to a pharmacy for paracetamol in the morning (yup, I went away without packing Calpol…) it was the Golden Arches that supplied us with one of the peaks of the trip when Oscar saw it on day two and ate for the first time since arriving – even managing to crack a smile at the Mr Potato Head happy meal toy! We found the snack food pretty reasonable. We were expecting it to be extortionate. Same goes for the toy shops on site … of which there are many… they weren’t that bad. We took Oscar to one after his McDonald’s to try and capitalise on his rallying mood and treat him to a wee toy – we came away with a set of Toy Story characters for 19€ which didn’t seem more than you’d pay on Amazon. Had we been feeling jollier about our Disney experience we’d maybe have stretched to Mickey ears, but the furthest we went was matching Disney ponchos to keep us dry. 

Disneyland Paris

Disney-ing with a Baby

On a bit of a side note – if you’re doing Disney with a baby I have a few wee tips. Overall, we found changing facilities very poor. At the Wild West Show, Robin took Scout to the toilet to change her and there were no facilities – not in the mens toilets or in the male/female disabled toilets and he ended up changing her on a dirty and cold tile floor as we didn’t have a mat. Now, later on I went to the ladies toilets and there was a changing area, but come on, its 2018… men change nappies, ya know? I don’t think its acceptable to have to change a 9 month old on a dirty floor, and especially not in a place made for children! However in the main park, next to Plaza Gardens restaurant, there’s a Baby Care Centre where there’s a big open plan changing area (that men can use as well) with toilets too and also a big feeding room with chairs and highchairs and microwaves and stuff. This was handy since it was a bit cold to whip a boob out from my 64 layers outside. Luckily, Scout doesn’t really need fed that much during the day now or else this would have been a bit of a ball ache going back and forward. However, I think the restaurants do have microwaves too if you need them for baby food or milk or whatever.  

Disneyland Paris

Day three: we finally make it on some rides…

Day three, Halloween, was actually the most Disney (*jazz hands*) day, Oscar woke feeling a bit better (and hadn’t been sick in the night – YAY). On this day we managed to get to the parks for Magic Hours. You can use these if you’re staying in one of the Disney hotels and means that you get exclusive access to the parks between 8-10am before the general public get in. This was good for getting on some of the rides with bigger (read: absolutely mental) queues. We used them to get on the new Peter Pan ride and then Pirates Of The Caribbean.

On the topic of rides, most of the bigger rides have a minimum height of 103cm which Oscar just missed out on unfortunately. But there was still a fair amount he could enjoy, especially over in the Fantasy Land area of the park (back right). Most of these rides we were able to get on with Scout in the carrier as well which was good, but probably an indicator that they’re not exactly thrilling. Oscar really enjoyed It’s a Small World, Pirates of The Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, Ratatouille: The Adventure and Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast. For a few rides, including Ratatouille, we used our Fast Passes – this is available to you if you’re staying in a Disney hotel, but isn’t really explained very well when you check in. Not all rides have it, but most of the bigger ones do – just look for the Fast Pass hut near the queue entrance and put your card (the card that you use for your park entry, room key and for dinner reservations) into the fast pass machine, and it’ll give you a printed ticket with a time. Then all you have to do is come back within that time frame and enter the Fast Pass queue and you skip the main queue. This is handy, but we probably didn’t make best use of them – mainly because we spent less than half our time in the actual park due to a sickly toddler!

There were also a few ‘big thrill’ rides that Oscar couldn’t get on that we wanted to do, and for these we used single rider queues as we were passing. Robin went on Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril, Big Thunder Mountain, Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror… I went on Space Mountain – can you tell I’d lost all ‘Disney Magic’ by this point…?! 

Disneyland Paris

Que the Queues

Now, of course, when you go to a theme park you expect to wait in queues – it’s par for the course really, I’ve queued for hours at Alton Towers, I get it… but it did put us off bothering with some of the rides partly because they didn’t seem worth it and because Oscar’s tummy was sore. What was more annoying though was the queues at every other bit of the park, whether it be a 25 minute queue to get a picture with Goofy (I mean, does anyone even care about Goofy?) or the 40 minute queue to buy a crepe when I was literally the 4th customer in the line… crazy.

We didn’t wait 25 minutes to meet Goofy… I’m not mental, however, I did think that Woody might be able to bring a smile to Oscar’s face and I knew a way to make it happen… I had it on good authority from the Instagram community that at 2pm on the dot, you can go onto an app on your phone called Lineberty and book a slot to meet Toy Story Characters. So at 1.55, we were sitting eating lunch in Cafe Agrabah and I had my phone out, poised to refresh every 3 seconds as if I was trying to secure Glastonbury tickets… although, you could argue, the stakes were much higher. As it turned 2pm I was placed in the queue and secured my e-ticket – I was number 28 with an estimated wait time of over an hour, giving us time to finish lunch and head over to Walt’s Studios park. As we left the restaurant half an hour later I looked at my phone with horror to discover that the queue time had skipped to 8 minutes… we sprinted through the park, out through the gates, zig zagging through the halloween crowds to get to Studios on time only to get in and realise we had no clue where Woody was hiding. In some sort of Disney induced frenzy, we managed to find someone to point us in the direction and there he was – a 7ft slightly odd looking Woody. We entered the queue, Oscar seemingly unaware f the drama had fallen asleep in the buggy (bearing in mind Oscar hasn’t even looked in the direction of a buggy in nearly 2 years, this was an indicator of his current flu-ridden state).

Despite all the disappointment that had come before, I was still full of hope that this would be the turning point and we would have a #makingmemories moment… wrong. We woke Oscar up and epic meltdown ensued. No, he didn’t like Woody, no he didn’t want to meet him, he certainly didn’t want a picture with him (lucky we hadn’t purchased that 70€ photo pass…) … in actual fact, he wanted nothing to do with him, and could not have cared less that we nearly gave ourselves heart attacks sprinting to get there in time. Now, I’m not proud of myself… but this was where I broke. I had a full Disney induced meltdown to rival my three year old’s and I ugly cried. I Kim Kardashian ugly cried in what is supposed to be the most magical place on earth.  In hindsight this was obviously a pretty massive over reaction. I mean, when I’m ill I can barely muster the energy to change the channel on the telly, and yet, here we were expecting a little three year old, flu-ridden Oscar to have forced fun. But Disney had broken me. At this point, if I could have just gone home… I probably would have. 

Disneyland Paris

The Santa ‘Stay Away’ Fe This Hotel

One of the biggest downfalls was our hotel, as I mentioned, we booked The Santa Fe, which admittedly is the cheapest hotel in the park, but ‘cheapest’ is very relative when talking about Disney, and in all the holiday was expensive so I’d have expected better. I’d have expected a better standard for the Disney brand. The hotel was tired, dated and actually downright dirty in places… for example, mould on the window frame which is unacceptable regardless of price point. Admittedly, we didn’t expect to spend as much time as we did in the hotel, we booked it as just somewhere to sleep as we thought we’d be out at the parks from 8-8 every day but we hadn’t banked on a sick toddler. If anyone is thinking of visiting, this would be my one top tip – book any other hotel! Don’t make the same mistake we did!

On our last night, Halloween, we did decide to hang about in the evening for the illuminations and they were fab, Oscar had fallen asleep so we secured a good spot, it was nice and dry and we woke him up just for them starting. They didn’t last too long, just long enough to keep his attention and ‘wow’ him. Just the other night Oscar randomly started talking about the fireworks he saw at the pink castle which was really sweet because there were wee glimmers during the holiday that he was enjoying himself. 

Disneyland Paris

Woody’s My Round-Up

I hate hate hate that this all might sound a bit negative or ungrateful because we’re not generally like that, we try to make the best of situations and with Disney we tried, believe me, we tried in an attempt to justify our significantly lighter bank balance, but I think we’ve walked away with the realisation that we’re maybe not ‘Disney people’. What I would say though is that for all the disappointment we felt as adults , if Oscar had had a ball, ultimately, none of that would have mattered. And if he’d not been unwell, I’m sure he would have had a lot more fun, and as a result, we would have too. It was just so unfortunate that he was ill and completely out of our control. If we’d been at home it would have been a good 3-4 duvet days. So if you’re thinking of booking a trio to Disneyland Paris, my intention is not to try and put you off, it’s merely to point out some things that could be done better or to prepare for, ya know?

Plenty of people go and love it. On a different week that could have been us. Would we go back to Disneyland Paris – probably not. We would probably still consider Florida when both kids are a bit older as we’re assured that its a whole different ball game. Robin made a good point when we were away saying we could probably have stayed at Alton Towers for a few days for a quarter of the price and had a better time and he was right, although admittedly that’s not really what I wanted to hear at the time – too soon Robin, too soon!!

I’d love to hear about your experiences – have you been and felt the full force of the Disney Magic, or did it leave you feeling a bit empty and dead inside (jokes, kind of…)? Are there other places you’d rate more highly?

Disneyland Paris

Motherhood: Levelling up in London

Taking the Plunge

This weekend I travelled down to London, solo, to see one of my dearest friends. She hadn’t had a chance to meet Scout yet, and it was proving difficult for her to find a date she was able to get back up to Scotland. So on a bit of a whim, I decided instead to book a flight down to London to see her instead.

I booked it, and told everyone that asked that I was really looking forward to it and it would all be brilliant. And I was really looking forward to it – spending time with one of my oldest friends and exploring more of a city, that previously I’d only actually been to twice… but I was also worrying a bit (maybe more than a “bit”)…

You see, I don’t think I’d ever have done this with Oscar when he was a baby. Generally, I’m not a worrier, but I’m not sure I had the confidence as a first time Mum to a six month old to take the plunge and go it alone on a solo trip. I think it would all have been just a bit too scary.

However, I’ve spoken before about how in some ways I feel like a “different mother” second time round. So I decided I’d just go for it and push myself out of my comfort zone.

As last week rolled round I did start to get a bit nervous. We went on a wee outing to pick strawberries in the week and Scout was on such poor form. Screaming in the carrier and generally just being a massive grump which gave me the FEAR. It did not bode well for our trip considering I was only planning on taking the carrier. No pram.

I think I’m a fairly relaxed person, and mostly, I feel confident in my parenting even if a vast majority of it is definitely filed under the heading “winging it”, but man, I’d be lying if I said I don’t get stressed out sometimes, especially when it comes to crying. That, coupled with the fact of be completely on my own with no one to take turns with if things turned tricky was scary.

The reality was, as ever, nowhere near as scary as I had thought! Ok, so the 4am start wasn’t ideal and as a result, Scout was a wee bit grumpy but that’s where the carrier comes into its own – for sleeping. Sitting on the runway for an hour before we took off also wasn’t ideal… but I survived. At the other end the public transport was seamless and I was sitting on Jess’ sofa by 10.30am.

Preparation was Key

I packed light… very light! I took one little Kanken rucksack. It was more than enough for two nights for both of us. I dwindled my list down to the essentials – an outfit for each day for Scout and the same for me. I wore my bulkier items of jeans and a jumper, although, turns out I definitely didn’t need them in the 32 degree heat of the Capital!

I also packed smart. I had 4 nappies and half a pack of wipes in my trusty Mutha.Hood pouch for the journey and asked my friend to buy me a small pack to use while I was down there. I also borrowed most of my toiletries – cause ya know, what are friends for?! A large muslin, ie. the most versatile baby product of all time, (this one is one of my favourites from Book of Deer) packs smaller than a changing mat, and is perfect for changing, wiping up any sick, using as a wee sun cover or blanket etc.

I also took an extra wee pouch that I kept all my travel essentials in for easy access – passport, boarding pass, phone, some cash and my card. That way I didn’t have to keep taking my backpack on and off to get stuff in and out. If I had been super duper organised I’d have actually bought a little karabiner to hook it onto the baby carrier… I thought about this at the airport on the way home, and I’m gonna get one for future use!

Wear that Baby!

The thought of navigating London transport with a pram brought me out in a sweat, so I decided to just take the carrier, but this came with it’s own worries. It was really hot in London and I was worried about Scout or me, overheating. It also didn’t seem the ideal way to be able to enjoy a meal. As with my packing though, I was keen to travel with as little stuff as possible and the carrier meant I was able to do this. I have a few carriers and I chose to take our Connecta. It was the first time I’d used it but I would highly recommend it as a holiday carrier. It’s nice and light but with good support and really easy to get on and off by yourself – even in the confines of an EasyJet plane seat!

No Pressure

Just have fun! We had ideas of stuff we could do, but it was all really relaxed and we didn’t put any pressure on ourselves to see or do loads over the two days. We stopped in parks when we needed to let Scout out the carrier and stretch, kick and feed and we stuck to the shade when we needed to.

I can be bad for piling pressure on myself sometimes when it comes to doing things. I build days out or activities up in my own head, and then feel like I’ve failed a bit if they don’t go exactly to plan, but it’s taken me a while to learn that sometimes… or even a lot of the time… things don’t always go to plan where kids are involved, and that’s ok.

Levelled Up

I ended up having the best time, I’m so glad I did it… and actually wish I’d done it sooner, or even with Oscar when he was little. I know that I’ve not scaled Everest blindfolded, but still, I’m proud of myself, and I think that’s ok!

There’s been quite a few points recently that I’ve felt a bit bogged down by everything. Parenting two littles has felt like a bit of a slog. As expected, having two has come with a whole host of new challenges, and quite often I’ve felt a bit defeated. This weekend has given me the wee confidence boost I needed. It’s left me feeling refreshed, and reassured me that maybe I’m doing alright after all.

Huge shout out to my wonderful friend for letting me stay with her and making the weekend so great – for picking Scout up when she cried, playing with her to give me some peace and most importantly, holding her while I ate my ramen! We even got to enjoy Love Island together in person rather than over WhatsApp.

I feel like I’ve levelled up and I’ve earned a new badge for my ‘parenting sash’. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think this one little trip has earned me Superwoman status, you might be reading this thinking “I do that all the time, big deal!” But parenting can sometimes feel relentless and can be a thankless task and I think we should always celebrate the wins big and small because that little pick me up can set us back on the right path and remind us that we’re doing more than just surviving!

I’d love to hear about the badges that you’ve earned. Is there any feat you’ve undertaken big or small that has given you a much needed parenting boost?

I mean… even just changing a baby in a plane toilet deserves a medal – amma right?!

Lou x

Travelling With A Tornado

Well, we returned from our Italian trip two weeks ago, and I think we’re just about recovered & back to reality…! Last year, we went to a lovely 5* hotel in Tenerife and sat by a pool. We didn’t do an awful lot, and we also made use of the Baby Club on a number of occasions – but it was some great chill time in the sun with our Little. It was also the week Oscar decided to start walking, so it will always be memorable! However, the week was topped off by a 5 hour flight FROM HELL! Don’t ask. No, actually, I’ll tell you – he basically just screamed in our faces at point blank range for the duration of the flight and we spent the whole time standing with the cabin crew at the back door, hiding from every other human being on the plane. Yeah, was great. Continue reading