Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Go Below Ultimate Xtreme Underground Adventure with Red Letter Days

There was a time in my life when I was adventurous, daring and confident. I travelled around the world alone. I jumped from boats into the sea and I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. You name it, I wanted to try it. This all changed when I became a parent. Part of that adventurous side of me disappeared and I began to overthink things. I developed a terrible fear of heights and falling. I suppose I always had that fear but it was never as bad as it has been in recent years. I wanted to get back my fearless attitude to life as I felt like i'd lost a part of me, so when Red Letter Days UK offered me the chance to do the Go Below Ultimate Xtreme Underground Adventure, I knew I couldn't say no. 



There are so many things on my bucket list that I have been unable to do due to my fear of heights and falling. I knew the best way to get over this was to face the fear head on. However, after watching youtube videos of the experience, my nerve was starting to fade. The worst part was watching people doing the 70 foot free-fall jump, the screams were haunting me.

The Ultimate Xtreme underground adventure takes place deep in the heart of the Welsh mountains and lasts all day. Steeped in history, you encounter the experience in an old slate mine. it includes negotiating subterranean tracks, traversing, climbing, abseiling, whizzing along the world's longest and deepest underground zipline and ending with an epic 70 foot free-fall jump into an abyss. 

The day arrived and as I sat eating my breakfast I felt sick. Sick through fear and nervousness excitement. I had my husband with me to try and keep me sane and ensure that I didn't back out. 

We arrived at the meeting point where we met the rest of our group and our very friendly guides from Go Below. We were kitted out in our safety gear and started the walk to the entrance of the old mine. 




When we got to the locked gate, my legs started to wobble. I'm not going to lie, it honestly reminded me of a scene from a horror movie. Leaving the normal world and entering a deep, dark tunnel all seemed a bit surreal. It didn't help that once we got inside, 2 ladies from a previous group were being guided out as they were too frightened to do the adventure. Call me stupid but I honestly hadn't anticipated how dark it would be. I knew we were going underground but I had expected it to be lit up slightly. However, we were informed that when Go Below took over the mine they wanted it to be as authentic as possible and for it not to be turned into a show mine. 

Our first challenge consisted of traversing across a wall and then onto our first zip-wire. My face was a picture (literally). Sheer terror struck. I was petrified and it was only the start of the day. I wanted to run away, give up, but something kept me going (I think it was our amazing guide).



Overcoming those first 2 challenges did me the world of good and started to give me a bit of a confidence boost. i can't describe the feeling but the realisation that the zip-wire swing was actually enjoyable once i'd gotten to the other side was a surprise. Things were looking up...was I actually enjoying myself? Surely not?





Next up was our first climb. I've been climbing before so this part didn't phase me too much. The only problem I faced was my height (or lack of). I am only 5 foot tall and I can assure you that certainly went against me during the whole challenge. I had to stretch further and jump further. Stupid short legs, holding me back.





Through the whole day you were in charge of your own safety. We were taught how to use the harness, carabiner and navigate the ropes. Something that isn't particularly easy when your hands are shaking through fear.



As the day went on the challenges became more extreme and more difficult. You'd have thought that I would have become more confident but there were a few experiences that really tested me and pushed me to my limits. Before i'd started the challenge, I had thought that the free-fall jump would have been the worst part of the day. It was what I feared the most. I couldn't have been more wrong...





After climbing and navigating our way around the above wall we came face to face with what can only be described as my worst nightmare. It was 2 beams from old tracks and bridges with a rope up high in-between the 2 beams. We had to walk across them. This was my goliath. There was no way I could do it. I'll admit, I had a tiny cry. I have never been so frightened. The fear of losing my balance and falling was getting the better of me. Our fantastic guide somehow managed to convince me to go for it and with that I set off. I looked straight ahead and made sure not to look down. Before I knew it, I was on the other side. I couldn't believe it. It was such an achievement for me.



Last up was the jump. All day we had been leading up to this moment. I knew i'd already exceeded my expectations through doing some of the other challenges but could I manage to attempt this final, epic task. We got to the ledge and I thought, i've come this far so i'm going to give it a go. I decided i'd have to go first. The memories of those youtube videos made me realise that if I didn't go first and I heard someone screaming them I never would do it. 

I wobbled my way to the edge. Everything was attached. I stared down into the abyss. Various thoughts and questions were playing on my mind. Could I overcome my fear? Can I even Jump? I'm gonna die. You name it, I thought it. I couldn't do it. Our guide who had been my rock during the whole day, gave me a motivational talk and decided to count me down. 3, 2, 1...and I leapt. I landed at the bottom with an almighty thump and a huge smile on my face. Wow, it was incredible. I was giddy with pride and excitement. 

I wish I could've bottled up that feeling. I felt like I was on cloud 9. Adrenaline still oozing through my veins and a kick ass attitude. I felt unstoppable. So proud of myself. Facing your fears head on is such an incredible feeling. The whole day was almost surreal but what an amazing achievement. I was on a high. I felt strong, powerful and confident. I felt like me again.

I cannot thank Red Letter Days UK and Go Below for this fantastic opportunity. The guides were outstanding. So supportive and encouraging. They made you believe anything was possible and it really was. It was such a special, unique experience that I will never forget.


You can watch my video of my day over on youtube:




I feel the adrenaline junkie in me has returned again and i've now got itchy feet for my next adventure. 

* Myself and my husband were provided the voucher for Go Below from Red Letter Days UK in exchange for our honest opinions and experiences in this review*


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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Where to eat at Walt Disney World - Guest post by Glossytots

Hi I am Faye from www.glossytots.co.uk.



Having been to Disney twice in the last 18 months several people ask me what restaurants I recommend in Disney. Simple answer is all of them.
The issue is you can’t go to all of them! even if your minted there isn’t physically time- obviously unless you you went for a year!!!


As a result I have put together a guide of my favourite restaurants to eat in Disney world. All of which are perfect for all budgets. My other bit of advice is to book as soon as the booking opens on your app (6 months prior) because they get booked up pretty sharpish!!

Magic Kingdom

Budget- Plaza Ice cream Parlour- Yes I know not technically a restaurant but its a holiday… you can eat ice cream for lunch its acceptable! If you go here get the ‘Kitchen Sink’ you can get an actual sink filled with ice cream and get to keep the sink afterwards! bonus! (note its not a real sink!!!)
Average- Be Our Guest- Want to meet Beast from Beauty and the Beast?! this is your only chance unless its Halloween! If you have dinner at be our guest you can have some pretty delicious food and meet Beast after your meal! Perfect!!! This needs to be pre booked well in advance.
High End- Cinderella’s Royal Table- This is every child’s dream- not only do you get to dine with a selection of princesses but you also get to eat in castle! what more could you want. Well it gets better… delicious food… wands for the kids… and a take home table mat that can be signed by the princesses as a keepsake! A night to remember but this needs to be pre booked well in advance and paid over the phone prior.

Hollywood Studios

Budget- There isn’t one that sticks out for Hollywood studios- most places are great to pick up a snack. Ensure you look on the ‘Disney Experience’ app to find the 1 $ restaurants.
Average-Mama Melrose Ristorante- I would suggest doing lunch on the ‘Dining experience’. This gives you a ticket so you are able to go to Fantasmic. (An amazing show on water that is a nightmare to see if you don’t get a dining package or queue for an hour!!)
High End- Hollywood and Vine-If your little ones are into Disney junior this is the place for you! in a 1950’s style diner you can have buffet food with all their favourite characters. Doc Mcstuffins, Handy Manny, Sofia the first and Minnie! what more could you want?! I hear you… dancing and a party with a chocolate fountain… its ok its got that too!!

Animal Kingdom

Budget- Kusafiri Coffee shop and bakery-Perfect for a quick snack and some fab little treats from the Bakery!
Average- Rainforest CafĂ©- If your little ones love animals and a jungle theme then this is the place to go. You can have thunderstorms during your dinner (no rain thankfully!) the noise of animals and fish tanks. Perfect to keep the little ones entertained.
High End- Tuskers House- This is one of my favourites!! Breakfast is the best as you can book before the park opens enabling you to be a the front of any queue you fancy straight after. Breakfast is buffet style in a traditional African setting. You are also joined by Disney favourites- Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pluto, Donald and Daisy all in their safari outfits!

Epcot

Budget-Any of the stalls or shops in any country! France and the Delicatessen is a big thumbs up from me!
Average- Coral Reef Restaurant- Book an early lunch and get an aquarium view seat! spot the fish from your seat and handy fish spotting guide!
High End- Akershus Royal Banquet Hall- This is another chance to have a princess party and meet all of your favourite princesses whilst eating some delicious dinner and even some fancy cocktails! This is also your only chance to see Belle in her yellow ball gown! A Highlight for me!!


Others

Other restaurants I would say are great places to go to for food include-

Disney Springs- House of Blues-If you want great steak, fab cocktails and some live music this is the place for you! perfect for any date night if your lucky enough to have babysitters on hand.

Grand Floridian Hotel – 1900 Park Fair- If you want dinner with Prince Charming and Cinderella this is the place to be! There is no where else you can meet Charming unless there is a event on! If you are lucky enough the ugly sisters will be there!

Disney Polynesian Resort- Ohana’s Best Friends Breakfast- Again if meeting characters is high on your list this is breakfast with Lilo and Stictch! Again you cant meet this dynamic duo anywhere else. It even includes a Hawaiian themed party!

Faye Jones

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Afternoon Tea at The Exchange Hotel Cardiff

The Exchange Hotel is Cardiff's newest luxury hotel in the heart of Cardiff Bay. Steeped in history with incomparable unique architecture, the restoration of this iconic building can be described as simply breathtaking.


I've been following the updates of this hotel closely since the renovation started. I'd attended many Christmas parties when the building was known as The Coal Exchange and I was intrigued as to how it could even work as a hotel. Like many others I was sceptical that the hotel would do the building the justice it so rightly deserved. 



This week we returned from our 2 week holiday abroad with a serious case of holiday blues. We realised it was Afternoon Tea Week (14th-20th August) so we thought it was the perfect opportunity to cheer ourselves up and spontaneously booked to try out Cardiff's newest venue.


Afternoon Tea is located in the Grand Hall. As you walk in you are immediately in awe of the traditional yet opulent decor with the dragon clock being the room's centrepiece. You feel transported back in time with Cardiff's history surrounding you. 


We chose to have Prosecco Afternoon Tea which costs £19.95 per person. This includes the food, unlimited tea or coffee and a glass of prosecco. Our eldest daughter was with us who opted for some ham sandwiches and a small plate of treats. As far as i'm aware there isn't currently a specific child's afternoon tea available.



The savoury offerings included salmon finger sandwiches, cheese and pickle in a brioche bun, a chicken wrap and a ham croissant. My daughter declared that her ham sandwiches were the best one's ever. The scones were light and fluffy.




The treats were all dainty but in my opinion, perfectly sized. They were bite sized which actually meant we managed to finish all of them. Usually I find I am too full to eat all of the treats in an afternoon tea but these weren't too rich and the majority of them were very refreshing on the palette. 



Overall, we really enjoyed the afternoon tea at The Exchange Hotel. The food was good, service was great and the building itself is stunning. I am now trying to convince hubby to book us an overnight stay as i'm sure the rooms and the rest of the hotel would be amazing. You can find out more about their bar and restaurant here, Exchange Hotel



If you enjoyed reading this post, be sure to check out this old post of mine, The Best Places in South Wales to have Afternoon Tea.

Disclaimer - I was not asked to write this review. We paid for our afternoon teas and I just wanted to share our experience with you







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Sunday, 13 August 2017

Vegan Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cookies - Guest post by Ready, Freddie Go

I'm excited to share with you a fab recipe from Emma who blogs at Ready, Freddie, Go. Take it away Emma:


As Freddie is dairy free, he can end up missing out on some treats and baked goods that he used to love. Chocolate biscuits with a filled centre were his faves but sadly these all contain milk. 

Of course there are dairy free options but these are usually limited and a bit like for like, not to mention not the tastiest.

As Freddie loves to get involved helping out in the kitchen, I like to cook lots of dairy free things with him so he gets a feel of alternatives that he can eat and also some basic cooking knowledge. It's surprising how fast they remember the method of baking cakes and cookies at such a young age (and remember to ask to lick the bowl..!)
These are my vegan peanut butter and gooey chocolate cookies..the best bit is that because they are vegan you can lick the bowl & spatula to your hearts content as there is no raw egg. Like that's ever stopped me before though!



Ingredients:

Dairy free spread 125g
Caster sugar 125g
Flour 200g
Vanilla extract to your taste (we like a lot!)
Baking powder 1tsp
We also added some smashed up dairy free chocolate & 50g cocoa powder to make them really chocolatey.
Peanut butter to fill the cookies with

Method:
  1. Cream spread and sugar together till pale & fluffy 
  2. Mix in flour, baking powder, vanilla, cocoa powder and the chocolate pieces 
  3. Roll into balls and flatten slightly with your hand, add a teaspoon of peanut butter (or more if you make big cookies), then roll and flatten a “lid” to make the top to the biscuit to seal in
  4. Bake on 180°C for about 12 minutes (maybe less if your oven is fierce, to keep them gooey!)
  5. Leave to cool and enjoy
I think these cookies are really adaptable, we have left out the chocolate & peanut butter and made strawberry jam and even lemon curd versions. 

Enjoy!


Thank you for sharing the recipe Emma. You can keep up to date with her blog on the following social media:

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

5 reasons to use the Omnio Stroller at a Theme Park

Visiting a theme park with a young family can quite often feel like more of a chore than the fun experience it should be. You usually end up taking everything but the kitchen sink and end up cramming so much into your car, you'd think you were moving home. Between changing bags, food, spare clothes and pushchairs, you end up quite stressed out before you've entered the gate.

An essential part of enjoying the day is making sure the kids are comfortable and that they have somewhere to put their feet up when their little legs get tired. The lovely people at Omnio have got that covered with their fab stroller. You may have already read about the stroller on my blog when I talked about travelling abroad with it and using it at the airport. If you haven't read it then catch up here, Travelling with the Omnio Stroller.

We took the Omnio stroller on our recent holiday to Walt Disney World Florida. It was perfect for using around the big parks. As you can imagine the parks were busy which meant there were thousands of people using thousands of strollers. We became the envy of quite a few families who often asked us about our stroller and where they could buy one.


Here's our 5 reasons why you should use an Omnio Stroller at a theme park (especially Disney World):

1) It's Unique
There are usually specific places for you to park your strollers if you are going on a ride or watching a show. There's nothing worse than coming out and seeing hundreds of strollers parked tightly together and you can't find your own one quickly. The Omnio design is unique and modern and quite different from others on the market. It's very easy to recognise especially if you have it in red or teal.

2) It's easy to Manoeuvre 
Omnio have designed some super cool wheels. They even have mud-flaps and they are perfect for all terrains. They are also puncture proof. They move in all directions creating an ideal driving experience. Hubby and Eva love the fact that you can glide it to the side. This featured provided lots of entertainment. 
The stroller is very easy to manoeuvre so it is great for navigating around the busy parks.

3) Quick Fold
I'll admit that we couldn't fold the stroller easily the first few times we attempted it but after watching the video it then became very easy. 
There's nothing worse than not being able to collapse your stroller quickly when you are on transport or somewhere in the busy park. You also end up panicking even more when you are faced with an audience who just want you to hurry up.
The Omnio requires two hands to fold but once you've learnt how to do it, it can be done very swiftly.

4) It's Narrow
You may be wondering why i've put this down as a desirable feature. The stroller is more narrow then any others I have used. This makes it compact for storage even when it is up and not collapsed down. It's handy for manoeuvring around the parks especially when there is a parade or a show on. The narrowness means it doesn't tend to get in the way of other people much and it fits in tight spaces better.

5) It's Comfortable 
Lastly it's incredibly comfortable. Both my girls have cruised in it for long periods of time with no complaints. They also both took naps in it whilst we were in Disney World so that's a sure sign of ultimate comfort. 







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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Disneyland Paris Planning by Mummies Waiting

As you know we are a huge Disney loving family so today I am excited to share with you a guest post written by Jade who blogs at http://www.mummieswaiting.com. Her and her family are also big Disney fans and here she shares with you some tips for planning a trip to Disneyland Paris.


It's only been 4 months since we last visited Disneyland Paris and already I am starting to miss it like crazy. Disneyland Paris is a magical world where the rubbish in life just disapears, it's full of magic, fairy tale and adventure and sitting here right now I can feel the excitement for our next trip racing through us!
As big lovers of both Disney and Christmas I can not wait for our trip in December this year. For the first time, the girls actually have no idea that we are going and the plan is to not tell them and let them work it out once we arrive. I'm so excited to walk through those gates and see the MASSIVE Christmas tree. (I can hardly type!)

As always I like to start planning early, if you are going to do Disney then in my opinion it's best to plan, plan, plan. So I thought I would share with you how I plan, in hopes that it would help you too.
1. Write a list of days and park times for when you are there. Full or half it doens't matter just jot them down.
2. If you are staying on site or have the right type of annual pass, add the Extra Magic hours. It's extra time in the park with less guests, your likely to get more done and see more characters.
3. Write a list of where you would like to eat and jot down the parade and show times. Make sure that you include enough places to full your whole meal plan if you have one.
4. Create a table.
days x 5 usually works well. Days across the top and the 5 down are (Breastfast, Lunch, Dinner, Special (this is Parade time, Fireworks time, Character breakfast time, meet and greet you want to make etc.) and then Clothing.
5. Fill out all the boxes but leaving clothing to last. You can use the table to work out what to wear each day. So if we have a character breakfast, the girls will wear Minnie Mouse dress up, Princess Dining they will wear princess dresses, Extra magic hours we will have an outfit with layers because it will be cool and then warm up.
6. Ring the reservation line and book anything you have planned.

7. Pop on some Disney tunes, relax and enjoy, you have planned and your trip is going to be so much easier!

Thank you Jade for sharing those fab tips. You can keep up to date with Jade and her blog on the following social media.


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