Saturday 28 July 2018

Local Expert - Summer Edition (In and Around Hertfordshire)

Local Expert
The gift of being having twins is fantastic, but when you go from two of you to four of you, it can be a huge financial shock. We have plenty of fantastic family time together, but we try to do it on a budget. 

Here’s our family fun guide to Hertfordshire:
  • Maidenhead Aquatics, St Albans - not just a place that sells fish, but children can feed the larger fish for £1 per tub. There’s a small soft-play area suitable for up to 8 year olds, perfectly located in the cafe!
  • Verulamium Park, St Albans - 3 hours free parking is available in the sport centre car park. Centred around a lake (unfortunately you’re not allowed to feed the ducks though). There is a large play ground, and the splash park is highly popular in the summer months. 
  • Cassiobury Park, Watford - great park, and fantastic water park that opened summer 2017. There is some free parking available, but subject to availability. Other than that, and maybe an ice cream (or two) its a free day out. 
  • Aldenham County Park, Elstree - To enter there is a small charge per car (no matter how many guests). There’s a great Winnie the Pooh themed walk around the 100 aker wood, as well as the opportunity to feed the ducks at the lake. There is also a play area. For a extra fee, you can also access the farm. 
  • Heartwood Forest, St Albans - We love taking a stroll around the Magical wood, seeing all the carved animals along with the way. Takes about 1.5 hours to complete with toddlers!
  • Lavender Fields, Hitchin - Beautiful location in the summer to take some amazing photos. You can take some clippings which the boys enjoyed.
  • Ruislip Lido & Railway, Ruislip - Perfect location to head to in the summer, with a manmade beach and splash park. Although the carpark is very small, so arriving early is recommended.
  • London Colney Paddling Pool, St Albans - Very small, but free. Mine were a little too young for it this summer, as the water was knee height for me, and I felt like I couldn't relax.
  • Frosts Garden Centre, Bedford - They make fantastic effort in the summer, with a HUGE outdoor sandpit and ride on toys (all free). 
  • Hatfield Park Farm, Hatfield - See my other blog post for more info, but a firm family favourite.
  • Stanborough Lakes, Welwyn Garden City - Fantastic park, and great walk around the lake. In the summer the kids can paddle in the shallow waters.


In our area are ridiculously expensive, and as I knew I’d struggle with the stress of having two babies and one me, I decided not to sign up to anything. The only place I have joined was our local twin club. There was a annual membership fee of X, and twice a month they put of a play session that is X to attend. Also throughout the year there are family events/parties at the weekend which are great fun! 


When it comes to eating out we tend to stick to very family friendly establishments. Our firms favourites are; Pizza Express, Harvester and Nandos.

All offer plenty of high chairs and a reasonably priced children’s menu. 

Locally we also have “The Waffle House”. I love popping here for brunch, and the boys are a big fan of their banoffe waffle! It has a really relaxed feel, and the perfect location for a mummy catch up. 

St Albans - We are fortunate in St Albans to have a lot of options when in comes to shopping. Our Town centre is split into various arcade areas. You have the main strip with mum essential shops like M&S and Boots, then St Christopher Place, which has higher end brands like Cath Kitson and Jojo Maman Bebe, and also the Maltings which includes shops like Wilkinson’s, and H&M. 

The Galleria, Hatfield - Great for Outlet shopping. It includes a fantastic Gap outlet and Choice, which is especially great for picking the kids up clothes at bargain prices. 

Stevenage - before falling pregnant I’d barely ever been to Stevenage, but that’s where the hospital we selected was based so during our (at least) fortnightly visits to the hospital we became very acquainted with the area. Especially Mothercare! I don’t usually visit their town centre, but they have most of the bargain shops (The Range, B&M Bargains, Home Bargains) based in various retail parks. 

Supermarket/Groceries - When it comes to supermarkets I don’t have any particular favour to any of them. They all have their faults. With having twins, knowing that your supermarket has a double trolley is VERY important. My one frustration is our closest Aldi in Hatfield, they only do singles. It’s brilliant for baby products, but I have to always take someone else with me. 

Saturday 14 July 2018

The Craig's Take On Paris - Travel & Villages Nature

Last year I was obsessed with the idea of taking the boys to Disney World Florida; but after a horrific flight with the boys to Spain that idea went firmly out the window.

We then started debating options that we could possibly drive to. I was still keen to go to another country. After our fantastic Center Parcs experience last year, we started looking at their overseas locations. We then thought about do a two-centre trip, including a visit to Disneyland Paris, and then we looked for the closest Centre Parcs location to it. To our surprise there was one right next door to the Disney owned Davey Crockett. We completely stumbled across it. It's a third owned by Centre Parcs, a third Disney, and a third by another company. We would get the best of both worlds!

We then decided to take the ferry as it was a lot cheaper than the euro tunnel. The ferry was very dated, but it was fine for the hour we were on it for. The boys were so well behaved, which really surprised me. 

Checking in was easy. We were given wristbands that opened our villa door, and also did the swimming pool lockers.

The villa was wonderful. I'm very fussy, but it was immaculate. You could tell that it was relatively new, as the place was modern and showed no wear and tear. Unlike our usual villa's the place was set over two floors, which I actually preferred. I like putting the boys to bed, and having a drink downstairs. You are supplied the usual miniatures in the kitchen, to tie you over for a few days. Towels in the bathroom, bedding, and one loo roll for each bathroom. We were missing the highchairs on arrival, but when calling up they supplied within 30 mins. My only bug bare was that we specifically messaged them prior to us coming to ask whether the cots supplied were travel cots, as the boys find them uncomfortable and they are noisy when they move about. They sent us a message back saying that they have very comfortable mattresses, so it wasn't an issue. Of course when we arrived we got one wooden cot with a comfortable mattress, and one travel cot. 

On site they have the standard pool you'd expect, but it does have the added bonus of an outside too. The pool was fantastic, and the boys confidence came on leaps and bounds during our stay. The only shame thing was the fact that 2 or the 3 children slides were out of action during our whole stay. Every morning we would walk to the Boulangerie to get fresh Croissants and Pain au chocolates. 

The restaurants are minimal. Initially we were shocked, but then we realised that most people only stay one night as a base for Disney. I guess most families would either eat in Disney, or prepare things in their kitchen. The kitchen was the let down for us. The oven, was actually a microwave oven that was a nightmare to use. We brought prepared meals, in foil trays that of course couldn't be placed in there. We ended up using the hob instead. 

The supermarket was fantastic and we visited at least once a day. From previous Centre Parcs experienced, the onsite stores really rip you off. I usually take as much as humanly possible, so I don't have to buy anything. This on the other hand was much fairer. We brought a lot of wine! A bottle of Savinonge blanc was €3.60 so it would be rude not to.