Monthly Archives: May 2014

Butlins in the Rain

Ok so day one of our Butlins break was undeniably a thumbs up. The sun was shining, the beach was fab, the outdoor facilities were plentiful and not too crowded. Good times.

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Day two and three of our break haven’t been as much fun, but that was largely due to the weather. We’re not talking pleasant summer showers here, we’re talking relentless pouring down and a cold chilly wind. The thing is, yes – there are undoubtably a wide range of indoor activities for when the weather is bad. BUT without the dilution of guests splitting themselves between inside and out . . . oh my goodness it’s busy!! You must be prepared to queue for pretty much everything. My brother, sister in law, niece and nephew came to visit us for the day and only stayed for a couple of hours. As my sister in law so aptly put it “It’s Britiain! Surely they could have something in place for the outdoor stuff in the rain? A few tarpaulins or something?”

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Day two called for pretty much a full day in the Skyline – the large indoor tent where the vast majority of the entertainment is. Now we are an outdoor kind of family, so I am very mindful of the fact that whilst we weren’t Skyline fans per se – we spoke to plenty of families that come back year after year and love the place. There is certainly something to be said for so much under one roof – shows, shops, restaurants, rides – and if you can get a table somewhere, then you can just sit back whilst the kids enjoy the entertainment.

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I must admit – I did enjoy the arcades. A hark back to my youth of growing up on Cleethorpes seafront perhaps. Gibby LOVED the shove penny machines and we got a bit obsessive about winning a pirate ring. (It took about £4 in 2ps but don’t care – got the sucker!!) Sometimes it’s the simple things . . . .

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Day three was my pre booked visit to the spa and oh . . . My. . . Goodness did I feel ready for it. My husband took Gibby to see the Scooby Doo live show (which after managing to persuade a 4 year old to queue for over an hour, he got in by the skin of his teeth. Good work there stu!) whilst I went to de-stress.

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I had a long swim in a virtually empty and lovely pool, a sauna, jacuzzi, and steam room session followed by a facial, and one of the best massages I’ve ever had (I am a huge massage fan as I have back issues – this one beat some of the really high-end places I’d been to and paid twice as much for.)

Butlins have definitely got their spa spot on, and thank you to the staff and to Amy for saving my sanity that day!

Highlights –

Once they got in, I was told the Scooby Doo show was fabulous. It certainly made Gibby’s day! She still hasn’t stopped talking about it!

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The Ballet class with Angelina Ballerina. Super cute.

The breakfast and buffet dinner included in the premium dining package were lovely (busy of course, but really nice food and a huge variety.)

The Spa – bliss!

Titan the robot. A kids show Mum and Dad enjoyed just as much! Robots are cool. Fact.

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The Splash Waterworld. – Amazing pool! Small slides, big slides, water currents, starlit caves, waterfalls, fountains . . . Just fab.

The hire shop! Get yourself there and hire a buggy. We had great fun, even on the rain.

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The animal show we thought was particularly good and not as busy as some of the others.

The Lows

Queues queues queues. We queued for breakfast, shows, photo opportunities and the pool (awesome pool but horrendously busy in the changing rooms. Queued for a locker/ a changing room / a shower and a changing room again after the swim.)

Having one child age 4 means she’s done in by about 7pm. The evening entertainment was completely missed as we had to get her to bed. Good job the apartment is so nice!

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Butlins Skegness – First Impressions

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Butlins was not what I was expecting! I knew it’d been updated radically and I hoped I’d be pleasantly surprised, but what I didn’t expect was for it to be quite so charming!

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Our first day has been fab. Honestly it has. Check in was a breeze, parking was no problem, and although the numbering system on the apartments seems a bit bonkers, we found our gold accommodation with minimum fuss. Not only was the exterior of the apartments a big thumbs up, the inside was lovely too.

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Gibby ran around her “little house” with glee, and took an age to decide which bed she would be sleeping in. Everything was clean, fresh, modern and in marvellously good nick.

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Packing for Butlins, I ummed and ahhh’d over a few items, so for those who have booked an apartment and may be wondering what you may need to take, here is what you DON’T need as its already supplied in your accommodation:

Travel iron
Hair drier
Washing line/rack
Dish cloth
Washing up liquid (small amount supplied)
Tea/coffee/sugar/milk (small sachets/pots only)
Towels
Extra pillow. There are two each.
Basic toiletries – as you would expect in a hotel room.

Plastic cups, cutlery and plates etc are not provided for very young children so you may want to bring your own.

So after a brew and a freshen up, we head off into the unknown world of the Redcoats and our adventure begins!

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Oh my goodness there is a LOT to do. I’d recommend marking the events you think you might like on the guide you get when you check in (which is super user friendly) then see how you feel and how busy they are when you’re out and about, as you may find yourselves too distracted with the play areas, interactive water fountains, giant’s beach chair, outdoor activities, beach etc.

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***TOP TIP ALERT*** if you can help it, i’d try not to mention to young kids about the shows. We have kept shtum about the Scooby Doo show. She loves Scooby Doo so this may seem mean, but not half as mean as queuing for hours and then not getting a seat. (The queues can be looooooong. Especially for the “centre stage”.) Yes, they have a ‘B line’ system to ensure a good seat, but that’s expensive, and erks me a little to be honest. Not everyone’s budget can run to it, and they sell out pretty quickly anyway.

That said, we had no major trouble with over-crowding at the tots disco or the Mike The Knight show that followed it in the Skyline pavilion. It was busy, but not to the point where Gibby didn’t enjoy it. Perhaps not my cup of tea to be in the Pavillion for too much time (we ended up sending Dad for a Burger King for fear of losing a good table) but worth a visit or two for the kids as they have some lovely stuff for the little ones going on – shops, arcades, cinema etc as well as the shows.

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In other words – so far so good Butlins! The forecast for day two is awful, and I have family visiting for the day, so it’ll be a real test to keep the kids happy and the grown ups stress free. . . Watch this space!

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The Pre Butlins Post

I have packing to do this weekend! Ask me why . . . Go on.

Oh, ok I’ll tell you. WE’RE GOING TO BUTLINS! I know . . . Check us out with our retro-chic-old-school-why-go-abroad type of holiday choice!

For those that don’t remember, we were lucky enough to be chosen as official Butlins Ambassadors last year, which means we get to go and investigate exactly what a Butlins break entails these days, and then tell you guys all about it. I’m certainly curious as I never had a Butlins (or other holiday park) holiday when I was little. (I often liken my parents to Basil and Sybil Faulty – can you imagine a holiday park being their first choice for a week away? Exactly!)

Anyhoo – I will fess up and admit I have reservations – no pun intended there. I’m not one for crowds or queuing on a holiday, and I still can’t quite shake the mental picture I have of Hi-Di-Hi whenever I think of Butlins, so I’ll be reviewing as a complete and total novice to the whole experience – I think that may be a good thing though in terms of fresh eyes on a classic British institution and an honest reviewer.

The first thing my husband said when I told him we were going?

“BRILLIANT! Do they still do knobbly knees contests? I’d smash it!” (As someone who is privy to the sight of his pins on a daily basis, I can conform that he would indeed – “smash it”.)

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I’ve been doing some pre-holiday research and review reading before we go, and it’s made me laugh how many others have referred to the knobbly knees competitions of old. I guess this is why Butlins are getting the blogging community on board, to help spread the word about how much money has been spend on their sites and how far they have come since those days. When I have mentioned our forthcoming break to people who have actually been lately, the response has been massively favourable, and looking at the website, there’s no denying that it looks amazing for Gibby and not what I was expecting.

I’m personally excited about:

– The ballet class with Angelina Ballerina – toooooo cute!
– Splash Waterworld – looks amazing!

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– Meeting up with my family. My brother and family are Lincolnshire based and are coming over to see us. Great idea to allow visitors for the day!
– The sea. Oh I do like to be beside the seaside. I really, really do actually. There’s just something about a good old British seaside town! (Slight bias being from Cleethorpes!)
– The Scooby Doo show. Gibby loves a bit of Scooby.
– The spa! They have a spa and it looks sooooooo nice. Some Mummy time me things at some point.

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– Work has been so hectic both for me and Mr WaterBirthPlease lately. I’m excited about this one being all about Gibby and about being together as a family. (Apart from when I’m at the spa – obviously!)

I have reservations about:

– The queues for the shows, or not getting into them if its too busy. Nothing worse that a disappointed child – I am aware of the B-line scheme so may look into that (paying extra to be first in) but I personally find it a bit of a shame that budget dictates whether you get a good seat or not. Not everyone can stretch to the extra.

Actually – I guess that’s my only reservation so far! It’ll be interesting to see what happens with regard to that.

Other than that? Well if you’re reading this Butlins, maybe some kind of retro night would be in order? WE WANT OUR KNOBBLY KNEES CONTESTS, DAMN IT!

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Why Pick a Greyhound?

I have decided to reboot this post again as NorthWest Dog Rescue have a few of this amazing breed that desperately need a loving home. You would be so lucky to have one. . . Or a lovely lurcher for that matter. Please have a look http://twitter.com/NWDogRescue/status/465591027085357056/photo/1

Furrbuddies

Ah if I had a pound for every time I’d heard the following when out on our dog walk:

“I’ll bet he takes some walking doesn’t he?”

Then I’d have . . . Well, lots of pounds. Part of the charm of being the proud owner of one of these awesome creatures is – surprisingly to some – the fact they are pretty low maintenance.

When we decided we wanted to take on a retired racing greyhound, we went to the Lincolnshire Greyhound Trust and were given a choice of two that were suitable. (We have cats. This narrowed our choice slightly but don’t assume a grey is a no-go if you have feline friends too.) One was new to the kennel – a very pretty petite girl, silver grey in colour (or ‘blue’ to use the proper description) and a lovely temperament who presented herself beautifully.

We were given…

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The One About Her Imagination

Gibby has an imagination – don’t all kids at that age? But it has to be said – hers does seem to be particularly active and oh . . . my . . . goodness it is constant.

We have several imaginary friends – sometimes Captain Hook, sometimes a girl called Betty, but mostly a character called Spike. As imaginary friends go though it has to be said, Spike doesn’t do an awful lot. He often chooses to go to work with Daddy rather than accompany her to nursery, and annoys her greatly by having a lie in most days when she is ready to play. Occasionally I have to set an extra place for him at the table, or be selective where I sit so as not to squash him, but luckily, he shrinks at night to fit into the doll’s house and sleep there, so at least I’m not making up a spare bed.

Spike is either a little boy with purple hair and big black eyes, or a giant spider that likes going on the trampoline. So that’s nice.

We also have a bit of a sleep issue, and I’m struggling to find any help with this one. Getting her off to sleep is fine. She doesn’t have nightmares/sleepwalk/want to come in with us either. She just decides that she’s wide awake, any time between the hours of 1-4 and for a good hour or two. This usually comes to my attention when she wakes me up by chatting to someone pretend, having a little sing-song, or seeing how fast she can clap – all without leaving her bed. No amount of soothing or ignoring seems to affect her ability to drop off again, and she is subsequently a pain in the **** to get out of bed the following morning. Last night I stuck my head round her bedroom door after hearing some jiffling:

“MUMMY!” ***Ridiculously loud whisper*** I can’t sleep again.”
“Never mind sweetheart, just try deep breaths and snuggle down.”
“BUT MUMMY, THERE ARE FOURTEEN CHEEKY GHOSTS KEEP COMING IN MY ROOM AND KEEP SNATCHING MY BOBBLES OUT AND I TELL THEM NOT TO BUT THEY KEEP COMING BACK AND I CAN’T SLEEP.”

“Er . . . ok. Well never mind, ghosts can’t hurt you and . . . ”

“BUT MUMMY” ***hand is put by the side of her mouth in a conspiratorial fashion *** “THEY HAVE REALLY BIG EYES, AND THEIR EYES GROW AND GROW AND THEN THERE ARE TINY LITTLE PEOPLE LIVING IN THEIR EYES, AND THE TINY PEOPLE ARE KEEPING ME AWAKE ASWELL SINGING A SILLY SONG.”

“Gibby have you been dreaming?”

“NO MUMMY, I JUST TOLD YOU THEY WOKE ME UP. DREAMING IS WHEN I AM ASLEEP.”

She looks at me matter-of-factly and not in the least upset or frightened whilst I struggle for an appropriate reaction.

“DON’T WORRY. IF THEY COME BACK, I WILL MAGIC THEM AWAY WITH MY MAGNIFYING GLASS.” (She brandeshes said magnifying glass proudly – she currently insists on sleeping with it every night in place of a teddy , but that’s a whole other blog post.)

And so I’ll take myself off to my own bed and fall back to sleep whilst listening to her Gibbling away in the next room, casting spells, banashing ghosts, and other general gibbliness.

When she finally does awake in the morning, we are instantly plunged into a world of fantasy again. “Mummy, there was lots of bumble bees under my bed that woke me up trying to tickle my toes.” Or perhaps it was a wicked witch, or a giant, or a dinosaur, or even one of the dearly departed pets we lost last year.

We have mythical beings around every corner, nook and cranny. It’s mostly fantastic, but it’s also exhausting, and it can get a bit too much as well. Imaginary play is one thing, but full blown hysterics because she cannot turn herself invisible (and absolute FURY with us when we giggle at her insistence that she definately could do it yesterday) – well that’s a bit of a worry – as are the tears and massive upset when she can’t make magical powers come out of her hands. It can definitely get beyond the point that is funny.

When does imagination actually cross the line and become a worry rather that a joy? When does being imaginative turn into having an “over-active imagination” if indeed there is such a thing? I certainly don’t enjoy watching her genuinely distraught as a result of her inability to possess superpowers, and I am finding myself more and more at a loss of what to say to her.

And PLEEEEEASE . . .  someone tell me how to get her to sleep . . . ??

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Flowers.

Gibby is going through a phase at the moment that is both charming and annoying in equal measure. Some weeks ago, she was playing in the garden and came rushing inside to present me with a flower. A dandelion to be exact. “Here you go Mummy, I picked this sunshine flower for you!”

“Aaaawwwwww thank you sweetheart” I gushed, and hugged my little flower fairy tight. After all, how flippin’ sweet is that? Whether it’s a big beautiful bouquet from your other half (I’m sure that must have happened at some point if memory serves) or a daffodil from your daughter – who doesn’t love to get flowers? It struck me as a thoroughly sweet and thoughtful thing for a little girl to do and I treasured that moment. I have been genuinely moved by the excitement Grace has shown by the arrival of Spring. She has been fascinated with it, and seems to find a very deep and genuine joy in all kind of flowers, trees, bugs and the like. I love this about her.

However, since the dandelion event I have been presented with a gradually increasing number of further dandelions/daisies/contents of next door’s flower tubs (sorry if you’re reading this) and general floral paraphernalia several times a day. Every day. Every walk – be it a long one in the countryside with the dogs or a short one from the car door to the front door – cannot go uninteruppted every three steps or so in joyous rapture at the discovery and picking of the nearest weed.

I have gone from placing the snippings lovingly in little water-filled glasses around the house, to thanking her in earnest and subtly chucking them away round the nearest corner when she isn’t looking. Bad Mummy . . . I know.

Over the weeks I have discovered dead rotting flowers in various forms throughout the house, the car, handbags, shoes, on patio tables, in animal beds and even in the fridge! (I have no recollection of that one.)

So before one of you lot comment I’ll say it first:

Yes! I shall try my utmost to relish the flower-giving phase, before she grows up, hormones kick in, and I’m privileged to receive so much as eye contact, let alone a dandelion and a hug.

I think it’s worth putting up with a bit of random flora and forna in exchange for such a nature-loving little being anyway.

Good job none of us have hayfever really!

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Armstrong’s Twisted Fish -A Review.

I’m very happy to share with you my first review as a pet blogger! I know many readers of Water Birth Please are also dog owners, and like me want the very best for their furry family member. Armstrong’s Twisted Fish are a dog treat made from 100% fish skin. Super healthy and the hounds LOVE them.

Click here to read the review in full, or the picture below to go straight to the website. Meanwhile, enjoy the bank holiday! Next post a pre-school book review. (Or possibly a rant about Gibby’s extraordinary behaviour lately!!)

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