Sunday, 29 March 2015

National Sea Life Centre, Birmingham Review

This weekend we were lucky enough to get a preview of the new Sea Stars attraction at the National Sea Life Centre in Birmingham. Having never been before we were very excited to see what the Sea Life Centre would have in store for us. Before I go on I would like to apologise for the terrible quality of my pictures, these are infact stills from my vlog (which you can see below). As the Sea Life Centre is quite dark I struggled with the settings on my manual camera and was so disappointed with the awful results. In hindsight I probably should have just used my phone. I hope you enjoy the vlog though.

Press photo

Living in Shropshire it took us just over an hour and a half to get to Birmingham (dang roadworks!) but I found it easy to get to as it was very well signposted. To be honest I did have my Sister-in-Law with me who is brilliant with directions.

The Sea Life Centre is in a fantastic location, on the edge of the canal edge, right in the heart of Brindley Place which boasts a number of restaurants and cafés, perfect for a pit stop after your visit as the Sea Life Centre doesn't have a café. Parking is a 5 minute walk from Brindley Place and costs £3.50 for 3 hours which gave us plenty of time to have a mooch about and some lunch afterwards.


Birmingham's National Sea Life Centre provides a fun but educational day for the whole family, be it watching the Penguins being fed or reading about the Otter and Seahorse conservation, there is something for everyone.

My first impressions were very good! We walked into a huge, well lit entrance area and were immediately greeted by the friendly staff who ushered us onto the route.

First stop was the penguins much to Ava's delight. An educational talk was going on at the time, something which happens at various tanks throughout the day. I love the fact that there is a big viewing window where you can watch the penguins dive and swim.

We wandered through the many rooms, with Ava desperate to find Nemo! There are over 60 displays and some include some fishy facts which I really liked.

The displays were all beautifully done and well thought out, there was an area for different types of fish such as the Amazon for the tropical fish and Hawaii for the turtles.

We also found the activity centre where Ava could paint a picture and the  4D cinema which was showing a clip of Happy Feet (slightly scary I must admit, although she didn't seem that fazed). Ava was also given a log book at the beginning so that she could stamp her book in each area as we went round, something that she enjoyed.

Between 27th March & 19th April the Sea Life Centre is holding a Spongebob Spongehunt to celebrate the launch of The Spongebob Movie- Sponge out of Water, where you can help Spongebob find his friends throughout the displays,

Of course we were there to see the new Sea Stars attraction, I've always been fascinated with starfish so this was particularly exciting. Ava and I got to stroke a starfish in the rockpool area which was great. It really didn't feel like I'd expected. It was a lot harder and knobbly than I'd have thought.

The Sea Stars attraction offers some great facts about starfish, as well as showcasing some stunning starfish, particularly the Chocolate Knobbed and Red Knobbed starfish, so pretty!

press photo
The pop-up bubbles and peek-a-boo features were also a great touch, although Ava refused to put her head in the bubble, maybe next time!

Unfortunately we didn't see any Otters, unsurprising really seeing as they are notoriously shy creatures  but the National Sea Life Centre does some fantastic conservation work in order to protect this rare animal.

The aquarium is pretty impressive, with it's underwater tunnel which allows the fish, sharks and turtle to swim above you. We were lucky enough to get extremely close to the turtle which was breathtaking. Turtles are my favourite sea creatures so this was very exciting for me, for Ava not so much, she was very nervous about being so close to the turtle, despite there being reinforced glass between us!

There was also a small soft play area which allowed Ava to let of some steam and the obligatory gift shop.


As a parent I loved the fun, educational feel of the Sea Life Centre. You can learn so much about Sea Life without feeling that you are. We enjoyed how interactive it was, being able to stroke a starfish was a definite highlight. The aquarium is also extremely impressive, and personally I loved seeing the turtle. Ava had a fantastic day out, although I think she is too young for the full educational experience yet, she enjoyed spotting the different sea life and got stuck in to the activities,


The only negative I could say is that there was no café on site. Being with my sister-in-law and newborn nephew there was no quiet corner for her to really sit and feed him, bar a few benches dotted here and there. It is however right in the centre of numerous restaurants and cafés so it is not a huge disadvantage.

All in all we had a fantastic day out! I'm so disappointed with my useless photographs but please see my vlog below which is of a much better quality.

If you would like to visit the National Sea Life Centre you can find more information on their website.  You can save up to 40% on ticket prices if you book online so I'd recommend visiting the website first if you are interested. Children under 3 go free.

Huge thank you to the National Sea Life Centre for having us!

 *Disclaimer- We were invited to the National Sea Life Centre for free in exchange for this review, however thoughts and opinions are 100% my own

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Preparing for Preschool

This week has seen a pretty big change in our household (no we've STILL not moved into our new house!!) Ava had a stay and play session at her new preschool which is just a few doors up from our new home, where she will start after Easter.

It seemed like the natural thing to do, now that she has turned 3 and she will automatically join the primary school there when the time comes. I'm hoping that when the time comes, the transition from preschool to primary school will be a doddle but this change right now, seems pretty major.

If I'm totally honest with myself I feel sad and a bit anxious. When we turned up for a look around and to meet her new teachers on Wednesday, Ava seemed awfully small compared to the other children. I know that she has only just turned 3 and some of them were 4 but she seemed so little, like an imposter. She wanted me to stay but soon got stuck in and was running around outside with the other children. Her new key worker seems like such a kind lady but part of me still feels anxious. I'm worried that she won't settle or mix in with the other children, I'm worried about her getting knocked about because she's so small or getting upset and me not being there to pick her up as daft as it sounds. Although she'd been at nursery since she was 8 months old, this feels different somehow.

I also feel scared. Scared that she is going to start to lose her innocence, scared that she is not going to need me as much any more. I watched her cling on to my leg and look at me with her big blue eyes as I smiled encouragingly while she played with her snuggy bunny (I wonder how long she will carry that around with her), I wondered how long she would be my baby for, how long will she cling onto my hand before she runs off to join her new found friends. It's really made me realise how fleeting time is and that my baby is growing up.

They really don't stay little for long, I found this poem whilst browsing Pinterest a while ago and it makes me cry every time. It's so true.


Thursday, 19 March 2015

Easter by Charbonnel et Walker *

I am the first to admit that I am a complete and utter chocoholic! So when the famous chocolatiers, Charbonnel et Walker asked me if I would like to review some of their Easter goodies I couldn't have been more excited and the delivery certainly didn't disappoint.

It was without a doubt the most beautifully packaged Easter egg I have ever seen, from the gorgeous  box to the sumptuous ribbon. It is pure luxury.

I was sent the milk chocolate egg with sea salt caramel truffles* (R.R.P £20), the egg itself was thick and luxurious and the truffles, oh the truffles! I'm a sucker for salted caramel but these are something else.

Dusted in icing sugar and filled with the most amazing, moreish, salted caramel. One of the best things I have ever eaten. Fact.

Obviously my little sidekick was sent some treats too. Ava was sent the Peter Rabbit twelve piece mini chocolate bar square * (R.R.P £11.95)

It is packaged in beautifully illustrated Peter Rabbit paper but I have to say I was slightly underwhelmed by the chocolate itself. I didn't find it as thick and creamy as my egg but Ava didn't seem to notice at all. She said it was "yummy".

If you find yourself in the London area on Saturday 28th March head to Selfridges on Oxford Street from 1-5pm (toy level), your child will be able to meet Peter Rabbit and listen to one of the greatest children's stories ever written.

Charbonnel et Walker are also holding an Easter egg hunt where you could win a beautiful Peter Rabbit Gift Hamper or a Pink Champagne Celebration Hamper. Hop to the Charbonnel et Walker store at Cabot Place, Canary Wharf, between Saturday 21st March & Wednesday 1st April and collect a quiz card to enter. Find the hidden Easter egg in each of the participating retailers and discover a question attached. Choose your answer from those listed on the quiz and return to the Charbonnel et Walker store.

If you want to put a smile on someone's face this Easter and treat them to a little piece of luxury why not take a browse on the Charbonnel et Walker website, I for one think the Sea Salted Caramel Truffles would go down a treat!

*I was sent these items free of charge as part of a review. However as usual, thoughts are 100% my own. 


Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Ordinary Moments- Ava's 3rd birthday party

What a busy couple of days we've had! You may have read my letter to Ava on her third birthday which was on Friday, I can't believe she is now three! Nath and I both booked the day off and we took Ava bowling then to Pizza Hut for lunch, my mum, step-dad & brother made the trip to to see her too which was lovely.

Yesterday was Ava's party, we had 21 children in Nath's mum's café and despite feeling slightly apprehensive it went really well. We booked the Exotic Zoo to entertain the children for an hour and I'm so glad I did. It was brilliant and kept the children entertained. Ava was so brave and stroked all the amimals, she did say that her favourite was the snake and the meerkats.

My mum baked her gorgeous rainbow cake which tasted amazing!

She has been spoilt rotten by her friends and our family, thank goodness we're moving into a house with a spare room!

Shop the look
Dress: Zara/ Shoes: Next

I'm looking forward to spending the day with some of my favourite people today, a lovely meal out followed by, hopefully, some relaxing!

Happy birthday Ava, we love you so much!


Friday, 13 March 2015

On your 3rd birthday

Dear Ava,

How on earth are you three?! I can't believe that three years ago, after being 8 days overdue, I would finally get to meet my baby! We were firmly team yellow but I remember thinking that you would almost certainly be a little boy. We wouldn't have cared either way but I remember feeling so overjoyed that I was wrong. I love having a daughter, although you are a daddy's girl, we have such a strong bond.

You are such a girly girl and love playing with dolls and dressing up, hate "butball" which I'm secretly pleased about because I hate it too. We're a team you & I, and you're constantly claiming that boys are stinky and girls are the best. I think you need a little brother so that poor daddy has some one to stick up for him! I love watching you play and you're always coming out with new words and phrases "cool man!" being your new favourite, complete with a thumbs up.

You are testing at times, sleep is still a struggle as you wake pretty much every night and wander into our bed. I'm hoping that once we are settled into our new house this will stop as you become comfortable in your new surroundings but for now daddy and I don't really mind, plus I like the cuddles. You can be such a bossy little madam and have a tendency to stick your bottom lip out if you don't get your own way. I know I say you're a threenager but on the whole you're very well behaved and I know we're very lucky!

You've been potty trained now since last Summer although you still wear a pull-up at night, you also still have a dummy, something that I hate with a passion but as our lives are so topsy turvy at the moment and we're going through a lot of changes I'm allowing it for now as I know it gives you comfort however I plan to wean you off them by the Summer. Speaking of changes you start pre-school in a few weeks time. I'm sure you will love it but the thought of you in a uniform is already making me well up!

I can't wait to see what this year hold for you, these three years have been such a joy. You have taught me so much and I feel like the luckiest mummy in the world to be able to call you mine. You make me immensely proud. I love you so much.

All my love always,

Mummy xxx

Friday, 6 March 2015

#Little Loves- Hairy Dieters, neutral nails & vlogs

I've made a vow with myself this week to take part in the linkys that I love, on my quest to be a better blogger. Morgana's Little Loves linky is one of my favourites.


I love to cook and have recently been buying cookery mags instead of the trashy ones I used to get. I get a real kick from finding a new recipe that I want to make and getting the ingredients. This week I received a copy of the Hairy Dieters "Eat for Life" book, free with the book club at work and I must say I'm super impressed! The recipes were simple but packed full of flavour and so easy to make. I'm quite health conscious and loved the fact the included the calorie intake for each recipe.


I honestly don't really watch that much TV anymore but I do love to catch up on vlogs. I've been trying to vlog, every Wednesday (my day off) but am pretty useless at editing, I still need to edit this week's vlog. I love watching Charl's vlogs and I really enjoyed her latest one.


My favourite type of music will always be something that I can dance to, something that I can put on in the car and feel it really lift me up on the way to work. I've really been loving this by Alex Adair. It reminds me of beach holidays and cocktails.


I was so impressed with this and it tasted lovely (even if I do say so myself). It's the chicken pot pie from the Hairy Dieters book and it's something I'll definitely make again. I'll post a recipe next time. So quick and easy but very filling.


I've been loving nude nails lately and this shade from Barry M is perfect. It's called "Almond" and is one from the Gelly range. The Barry M range is one of my favourites for nail polish. I love how quickly they dry and how shiny they are. They're also very durable.

And lastly...

Not an overly exciting week from us but next Friday is Ava's birthday and we should hopefully find out some more about our new house (a completion date, fingers crossed). These weeks really do seem to be flying towards Summer! Just how I like it!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Life in limbo

Okay, I know I sound like a blimmin' broken record but nothing is going to plan people. Excuse the melodramatics but I'm feeling very glass half empty at the moment!

If you're a regular reader you'll know that three months ago we put an offer in for our first ever owned home. THREE months, there was no chain may I add, we just seem to have the most useless solicitors in town who have just whacked us with a whopping great bill, thanks for nothing. We're finally, slowly getting there but this definitely the cause of my unrest.

Nath's mum and dad have kindly put up with the three of us for three months, above the pub that they manage, so I'm sure they're at the end of their tether aswell and it's just not the same, not being in your own home. I want my stuff, Ava wants a room to call her own (although she's been so good about the huge upheaval).

Everything seems to be in limbo at the moment, from my blog to my job and with this move on top I'm feeling hugely stressed out and miserable! Although I love blogging and I love this little space of mine, I'm finding it hard to throw myself into due to our circumstances. I let it slide last year and that has affected my views massively. It's slowly getting better but I do find it discouraging and I'm finding it hard trying to get back to where I was.

I'm SO eager to get into our new house, I want to get stuck in to painting and unpacking and organising and I want to feel settled again. I want to see those pinterest ideas I've been lusting after come to life. The hardest thing is that we don't yet have a completion date, it could be two weeks it could be two months. Who knows!

A positive though is that Ava has been accepted into the pre-school that we chose for her. She will then move, seamlessly, straight into the primary school (when the time comes), so it seemed like the most obvious decision. She has loved her current nursery though and has been there since she was 8 months old! I'm sure I'll be an emotional wreck when I see her in her little uniform! We didn't think she'd be starting there until September but they have a place for her after Easter which is fab, although it does seem to be approaching at a super fast rate.

So that's me at the moment. Feeling pretty fed up and stressed out!


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

You know you're a mum when...

You know you're a mum when-

You find unidentifiable, crusty stains on clothing and have learnt to roll with it

You hide in the kitchen/ in the loo/ under the stairs/ to have a little rest/ sneaky chocolate treat

You know that if small child has a nap, bedtime will be difficult but you really want to read/ blog/ watch  an episode of Breaking Bad so sod it

You really dislike, but have to put up with, those smug playgroup mothers "Julius was walking at 6 months...on his hands..."

You really want to listen to Sam Smith's album in the car but to stop the whining on the back seat have to put up with Let it Go and Hakuna Matata on loop

You find playdoh EVERYWHERE

You are secretly glad the weather is crappy so you can all have a duvet day

You get the small ones excited about baking just because you fancy some cake

You weep inside when you've slaved over a meal and they won't touch it

You are powered by caffeine and wine

Your nutritious breakfast is a brunch bar or a left over slice of cake

The only designer bags you'll be wearing this season are the ones under your eyes

The thought of soft play at the weekend fills you with dread

You swoon over images of pregnant or mummy celebs, get me a glam squad now!

Can you relate to these? What would you add to the list?


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Ava wears- Butterflies & Milkshakes

We're patiently waiting for Spring and I've been buying bright colours and pastels in anticipation. Today we rushed out to soak up the sunshine, which lasted all of ten minutes, then the weather returned to it's grey and gloomy self.

My Auntie bought Ava this gorgeous little raincoat from Ted Baker, it's perfect for the (hopefully) upcoming sunny weather. It's lined inside which makes it a little cosier than your standard raincoat but lightweight enough to cart around with you on days out.

The trainers were purchased on a bit of a whim as were the leggings, both from Zara. Ava's currently going through a growth spurt and is at the awkward shoe size of 6.5. I've realised most shoes for her age are a 7 but they do half sizes in Zara which is perfect, they're not overly priced either. I just wish they made them in my size. I always seem to get these jeggings for Ava, I love the colour and the quality is fantastic and they cost £6.99! Need I say more?!

How cute is her milkshake jumper? I spotted it and just had to buy it for her. I love the old school retro diner feel to it and Ava was so chuffed with it. Another bargain at £5.99 and it's super soft. I've just layered it over a simple collared t-shirt from Next,

What do you think of my recent buys?

Shop the outfit here

Ted Baker/ H&M/ Zara Jeggings/ Zara Trainers

Style Me Sunday

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