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Category: Travel, Holidays & Days Out

  1. Our First Time… Staying in a Yurt!

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    benaug16 (553)

    romantic yurt for two michaelchurch escley (3)

    romantic yurt for two michaelchurch escley (2)

    romantic yurt for two michaelchurch escley (6)

     

    romantic yurt for two michaelchurch escley (4)

    romantic yurt for two michaelchurch escley (1)

    Grwyne Fawr Dam & Reservoir in the Black Mountains, Wales (4)

    Grwyne Fawr Dam & Reservoir in the Black Mountains, Wales (5)

    Grwyne Fawr Dam & Reservoir in the Black Mountains, Wales (7)

    Grwyne Fawr Dam & Reservoir in the Black Mountains, Wales (6)

    Our First Time… Staying in a Yurt!

    Review of Romantic Yurt for Two, Michaelchurch, Escley

    Welcome to my new series ‘Our First Time’.  I’ve decided (and persuaded) Ben that we should have a date day or date night at least once per month where we try something new or go somewhere we haven’t been before.  We rarely spend time alone as a couple so it will be a great way for us to ensure we do things just the two of us and we get out of the house! 

    We’ve been in our new home for two and a half years now and for the first two years, and still often now, any time the children are away for a night or day with family we’ve used the time to work on the house or garden.  We’ve been redoing every room, top to bottom, floors, ceilings, doors, fireplaces, kitchens, baths, you name it - we’ve been changing everything!  There’s still a ton of work to do, but not so much that we have to devote ALL our time to it.  I’m also getting a little tired of spending all our money on the house and want our lives back a little.  So once a month, or twice if we’re very lucky, we’ll be getting out of the house and exploring!

    Our very first new experience was at the end of August and we went glamping!  I’ve wanted to stay in a yurt for quite a while now, since glamping really popped onto the scene a couple of years ago.  I love yurts, and teepees and wigwams.  They’re much more my thing than camping in a standard tent!  So much more interesting and wonderfully made.  Ben loves camping full stop.  You know, camping in a tent.  I didn’t mind this so much when I was younger (and drank alcohol).  In fact not long after we got together we camped in Cornwall and it was fun.  But I was drunk and so sleeping in a tiny tent on the floor didn’t bother me!  Now I prefer a little more luxury, so glamping is a great half way compromise I think!

    We couldn’t help but exclaim ‘wow’ several times when shown the yurt.  It was really beautiful inside and instantly inviting.  Cosy, warm (thanks to the wood stove), splashes of boho themed textiles all around and even a glamourous chandelier hanging in the middle!  Best of all was a big comfy bed swamped in cushions and snug throws.  Perfect!  This was my idea of camping! 

    The yurt had everything we needed including a kettle with a selection of hot drinks, fresh water, towels, toilet roll and toiletries.  It was a short walk to the toilets, so you still get a feel for ‘real’ camping’!   There was even a small DVD player and several DVDs to choose from.  There was a film we hadn’t seen so we snuggled up under all the blankets in the evening and enjoyed watching a film on the portable player with a hot drink and the log burner roaring.  It was so relaxing and so nice to spend time totally alone.

    The yurt is set near a campsite which is by a pub and B&B.  We enjoyed a really scrumptious home cooked meal in the pub before cosying up in the yurt.  It was so delicious.  There was plenty of food too, way too much for us to finish. They were very generous with the portions, so a good idea to go on an empty stomach!  In the morning we enjoyed breakfast in the B&B – a lovely country farmhouse where all guests sit in the kitchen together at a huge farmhouse table whilst nattering to the hosts as they cook breakfast!  The breakfast was included in the price of the stay and we enjoyed every mouthful!

    Before arriving at the yurt we went for a walk to the Grwyne Fawr Dam & Reservoir in the Black Mountains, Wales.  It was an absolutely stunning place.  So peaceful and picturesque, it almost didn’t feel real as we sat by the glistening water with the mountains behind.  The dam is super impressive too.  If you’re wondering what to do whilst staying here then this walk is a must.

    Our first experience staying in a yurt was a very good one and I’d definitely stay in another!  It’s much more luxurious than regular camping and all the little extras make it worthwhile.

    Here’s the link to the yurt we stayed at 'Romantic Yurt for Two, Michaelchurch, Escley: https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/12280185?s=KqBjZt9-

     

  2. The Eden Project

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    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Review

    Our family day out at The Eden Project, Cornwall, and my favourite photos

    In July we returned to The Eden Project in Cornwall for our second visit.  We’d been before when Bella was only a dinky one year old, so three years on we noticed how the biomes had really changed and the rainforest one in particular seemed to have boomed!  I’d really recommend The Eden Project as a family day out.  It’s perhaps more beneficial for older children as they will learn so much, but our littles (1 and 4) still had a great time exploring all the plants and enjoying delicious food in the cafes - Reuben even had his very first green juice all to himself!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project is where a china clay pit once stood.  Or rather, lay or whatever the word is as it was dug into the ground rather than standing on the ground!  The pictures remind me of a quarry; dug out land with rocks exposed over a huge amount of space.  No greenery in sight, just ruined land.  The idea of The Eden Project began on napkins in a pub by a chap called Tim Smit.  He had an idea to showcase the world’s most magnificent plants and needed a very big space. 

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out 

    Once funding was secured, the big build began in 2000.  The entire project is made with being environmentally friendly in mind and incredibly, they even made their own soil for the entire place!  Some of the plants were bought in, but many were grown from seed on site.  The rainforest biome became home to over 1000 plants from across the globe.  The Eden Project proudly opened to the public on March 17th 2001 and by June already had over 1 million visitors – really quite something.

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    I was really excited to return for a second time and was not disappointed.  As we visited during the summer holidays they had an extra exhibition… dinosaurs!  This was an unexpected surprise and the exhibition was quite remarkable.  The best costumes I’ve ever seen for dinosaurs – Bella was quite literally terrified!  She had to confirm the dinosaurs weren’t real with us several times!  If you check out my Lylia Rose Instagram, you’ll find a video of a dinosaur walking around!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    It’s an amazing experience to be able to see pineapples and bananas growing in the rainforest biome!  Who knew pineapples grew up from the ground?  I’m sure they’re meant to grow on trees like coconuts?!  Other favourites of mine were seeing the rubber trees, palm trees and cocoa trees.   This year I was excited to see a baobab smoothie bar as I’ve told of my love for baobab many times in this blog.  We also say the remnants of the titans which had amazingly all flowered in May (click here to see).  These mighty (and stinky) flowers grow for a whopping 10 years before flowering and die 48 hours after bloom.  They look like something prehistoric.  I can just imagine dinosaurs walking around them!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    Can you see the pineapple?

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    Spot the bananas!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    Who knew wellie boots were so ancient!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    New baobab smoothie bar!  Yum!

    The second and smaller biome is the Mediterranean biome.  With a more familiar European feel, it reminds me of holidays to the Greek Islands, South of France and even Lanzarote with its white painted walls, citrus and olive trees.  It certainly makes me want to jump on a plane and show Ben these beautiful places!  Being quite a cactus fan, I loved the aloe vera plants; really huge and again quite a prehistoric feel to them. 

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    One of my favourite parts of any day out is meal times!  We were lucky to enjoy both lunch and dinner at The Eden Project and both were equally fantastic.  There are plenty of vegetarian options and loads of scrumptious looking healthy foods with many ingredients grown on site!  This type of food is right up my street.  I enjoyed a veggie kebab, every mouthful just delicious.  For dinner we ate in the big hall on long benched tables.  I chose some sort of veggie tart with salad and potatoes.  The quality of the food is so good.  I made lots of satisfied mmmmmm noises the whole way through.  I also recommend the juice bar next to the Mediterranean biome entrance.  There’s a bit of a wait as they only have one juicing machine, but it’s so worth it.  I chose two green smoothies for us all to share.  Reuben even had some (his first drink other than milk and water so far) and loved it!

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

    I’d highly recommend a trip to The Eden Project.  I look forward to returning again.  The tickets do seem a little steep, I think we paid £25 per adult and both children were free as so young.  The tickets last for one year though so you can return any time.  Plus, it’s a charity so you’re supporting a great cause & educational project.

    Have you been to the ‘eighth wonder of the world’?

     The Eden Project Photos and Blog Review July 2016 Lylia Rose Family Day Out

     

     

     

  3. We’ve booked a summer holiday!

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    weve booked a summer family holiday yay on the lylia rose uk lifestyle blo

    Oh yes!  We did it!  Thanks to my new job we can afford our very first summer holiday.  I am so pleased.  It’s exactly what we all need.  It’s been a very crappy start to the year (as I explain here) and a holiday is long overdue.  I’m so excited it will be our very first family holiday, the four of us!

    As much as I’d love to go abroad for more guaranteed sunshine, stunning coastlines and turquoise seas, the finances were not entirely on our side for my dream destinations and I talked myself out of taking two such young children abroad!  I’m sure it may be perfectly fine, but I could only convince myself of the disaster it may be!

    A more comfortable and familiar holiday it will be, exploring the wonderful Cornish county.  Yep, we’re off to Cornwall!

    I somehow managed to find an available 3 bed self-catering cottage for 7 nights which was a third of the price of a Centre Parks holiday!  We did take a peek at Centre Parks and even Haven, but they were way out of our budget.  We’ve found a lovely holiday village in the north of Cornwall with soft play, parks, an indoor swimming pool, outdoor swimming pool, shop, restaurant and even summer holiday entertainment.  There are even three pubs less than one mile away who serve food. 

    The property has three bedrooms, a bathroom, extra toilet and open plan kitchen/living/dining area.  There’s outdoor seating where me and Ben can relax once the children are in bed and if raining a TV with Sky.  It sounds absolutely ideal for our first family holiday, as well as very convenient with a four year old and one year old.  We hope to explore Cornwall in some beautiful sunshine (fingers crossed), but even if the weather is not on our side and also before/after outings there will be plenty for us to do in the holiday village with the children.

    I had sort of been dreaming of glamping in a Moroccan themed yurt.  It seems a very romantic idea, but I think better for me and Ben on our own.  I found a really beautiful one.  The only downsides being it had a composting toilet few hundred yards away and no electricity.  With two very young children and potentially a week of rain I think we would have had a miserable time!  I’m still intrigued by the idea, but think it will be a better option for me and Ben to go by ourselves or an idea for when the children are older and more independent.

    Our plans so far for our Cornish adventure include visiting family friends in Port Holland, a day trip to Perranporth (a bench in memory of Ben’s grandparents overlooks the beach), possibly a day out to the Eden Project, maybe a trip to a zoo or a nearby donkey sanctuary and exploring lots of beaches.  As well as plenty of relaxing, good food, treat food and cosy nights me and Ben without my head permanently attached to a laptop or mobile telephone!  Bliss!

     

  4. How to earn cashback on things you already buy!

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    how to earn cashback on things you already buy! lylia rose lifestyle blogHow we got over £100 cashback in the last week & will get lots more!

    To sign up and see what you can start getting money back on click here: http://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/victoriasully

    You’re going to think I’ve been paid to write this article, well I will get a little commission if you sign up from my link, but I genuinely can’t believe I’ve never used this cashback site before.  Once you see how amazing it is you’ll be giving a link to all your friends and family too.  I think mine are going to be pretty sick of me banging on at them about this site soon!  I’ve recently signed up and I’m super excited.

    Our home insurance renewal came through around three or four weeks ago and it had gone up quite a bit.  I always assume insurance will go down every year, especially if you don’t make a claim, but Ben tells me they put it up in the hope you’ll automatically renew with the same company and not bother with the hassle of looking around for a better deal.  Cheeky isn’t it!

    We’re not loaded, saving even £20 or £30 would be helpful, so out came the laptop and several open tabs with all the well-known comparison sites. We stumbled across an article about how to pick the best home insurance which had a video by that Martin guy (money saving expert, I’m sure you know the one), so we watched it.  I was super intrigued as he said the best deal he’s ever heard of following his advice was someone being paid £40 to take out some home insurance!  His quote was £60 and he applied through a cashback site offering £100 cashback for the type of policy he’d signed up for.  I normally wouldn’t believe things like this, but this Martin Lewis guy is very trustworthy so I wanted to know more.

    I think the reason I’ve always usually ignored adverts for cashback sites is because I thought there must be a catch or upfront fee.  I was so surprised you can just sign up for Top Cashback for free and start earning on your purchases.  They do have a higher membership where they take £5 of your cashback for the year, but you’ll probably earn that back as they give you higher cashback rates all year for this membership.  There’s also a totally free option, so you have nothing to lose, but lots of pennies to gain!

    We did a normal comparison site for home insurance and discovered which was the cheapest.   Ben then signed up for Top Cashback and we searched to see if the same insurance company offered cashback and to our surprise they did!  £75 cashback!  To get the cashback we just had to click the link to the insurance via Top Cashback and enter all our details again.  You have to click the link via Top Cashback so the order can be tracked to ensure the cashback is received.  Our insurance quote was £150 and we will get half back (it takes a few months for some cashback to come through, but it’s still totally worth it and will be a great way to save too!).

    I then noticed £7.50 was offered if you refer a friend and the friend earns at least £10 cashback in their account.  I told Ben to recommend me and I signed up straight away.  I wondered what sites I could save cashback on and I’m shocked we can save on literally EVERYTHING we already buy!

    There are thousands of online retailers, even eBay, loads of high street names (e.g. Next, BooHoo, ASOS, New Look), grocery shopping, takeaways (e.g. Dominos, Just Eat), hotels, Groupon, flights, basically anything you’d ever normally purchase online should be checked through Top Cashback to see if you can get some of your money back! 

    My phone contract ends in May and I’d already found a Tesco Mobile deal I wanted.  I searched to see if they offered cashback and couldn’t believe they were on there!  I signed up for the deal through the cashback site and got £32 cashback.  I’m so amazed (as you can probably tell) and this was something I was going to sign up for anyway. 

    We also visit Ben’s Gran yearly in Germany using Flybe as they’re the only airline to fly from near to us to Hannover.  I’ve just searched this morning and we can get cashback on our flights every time as well as our car hire.

    I’ve got a bit of cashback from eBay too.  You can click their link to shop on eBay and get cashback on everything you buy.  We use eBay quite a lot, so this is amazing.

    I also got £1.52 cashback for ordering a Graze Box for FREE.  You can get a box for free and then cancel your subscription right away if it’s not for you.

    The only drawback is to wait a while for the cashback, but I guess this protects the retailers.  I also don’t mind waiting as it will be a nice lump sum when it is available to withdraw.  I’m already thinking we can save up the extra cash all year and put it towards Christmas.  In your account you can see the total ’pending’ balance, so you can still keep an eye on how much cashback you’ve earned.  There’s an app too so you can check your account on the go and still buy things through the cashback site on your phone as well as check how much money you have made on the app.

    I wish we’d known of this site when we moved home as we spent thousands in B&Q and they offer cashback too!

    To sign up and see what you can start getting money back on click here: http://www.topcashback.co.uk/ref/victoriasully

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  5. Bella Meets the Easter Bunny!

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    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (7)

    Review - Breafast with the Easter Bunny at Gloucester Wyevale Garden Centre

    Today was a day Bella had been waiting for all week.  Every day she had asked me ‘Mum, when am I meeting the Easter bunny, today?’ Bless!

    This morning we went to Breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Gloucester Wyevale Garden Centre.  We love visiting this garden centre already as it also has a fab range of gifts, home décor, a café and a soft play.  So it’s very handy for a morning out with the children!  I’d noticed before now that they do Christmas and Easter craft events for children, but Bella was perhaps a little too young.  Now she’s a fully-fledged pre-schooler and loves doing crafts, especially any type of ‘decorating’ so it was the perfect event for her.

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (3) 

    At the time of booking we requested which meals we’d like and gave our names.  When we arrived the tables were already set up so there was no faffing around waiting to be seated.  There was even a sweet Easter card wishing The Sully’s (us) a happy Easter!  A colouring sheet was laid out with crayons, a name tag for Bella and children’s cutlery.  The cutlery was a welcome touch as lots of places that serve children’s meals seem to miss this important detail and adult cutlery is often far too large for them to manage.

     bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (5)

    Bella seemed amazed they knew her name and it added to the magic of the whole experience!  She got to work colouring in the Easter picture.  Colouring is always great entertainment for children whilst they wait for their food! 

    Oh, I can’t believe I almost forgot, but the table had a bundle of mini eggs!  ‘Ooooh’ exclaimed Bella!  ‘Who could they be for’ I said to Bella.  ‘I don’t know, who?’ asked Bella so innocently!  Bless her, she didn’t realise they were for her!  When I told her she was super excited and wanted one right away, but I told her she’d have to wait until later, or at least after breakfast!  ‘What do you think are in them Bella?’ ‘Chocolate!’ she replied with a big grin.

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (6)

    Bella was offered squash, but we prefer her to only drink milk or water so the waitress (dressed as Alice) kindly got Bella a cup of milk.  We were offered tea or coffee.  Ben had coffee and I asked for water.  I only drink green tea, so it would have been nice to have more hot drink options included. 

    Rather quickly our breakfasts were served, which was great as we usually have breakfast at 7am so we were pretty hungry!  As its pre-booked they knew what we wanted so things were nice and speedy!  I had a vegetarian breakfast, Ben had the Great British Breakfast and Bella had the Child’s Breakfast.

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (8)

    The breakfasts were cooked well and enjoyed by all of us.  Extra toast was served half way through and Bella and Reuben happily shared this!  I gave my fried bread to Ben as it was white and also too crunchy for my new brace!  My only other suggestion (fussy aren’t I) would be to offer wholemeal bread as well as white.  It’s much healthier!  Bella liked the look of my fried egg much better than her scrambled, so swapped with me!  ‘Mummy I want your egg please!’  The only thing left on our plates at the end was Ben’s black pudding.  Ben eats meat, but never eats black pudding.  He tried a bit but said it was too weird and he felt like a vampire!

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (4)

    After breakfast Alice said she needed the children’s help.  She gave them a bag each and they went on an egg hunt around the store!  I stayed with Reuben, but Ben went with Bella.  He told me afterwards they had to find pictures of eggs around the store.  When they came back she ran to me excitedly as her paper bag now contained some sweets!  She was super excited as we never let her have sweets at home, so this was a real treat!  They are now safely at home as a treat only as we would have had a sugar fuelled monkey otherwise!

    Then the big moment…

    The children had to shout ‘Easter Bunny’ with Alice and then he appeared!  They went to find more eggs with the Easter Bunny (a man in a big bunny costume in case you were curious!).  Bella looked so amazed by the bunny and gave him a wave!

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (1)

    Once back from the final egg hunt the bunny handed out a cuddly toy to each of the children.  Bella picked a cute chick and was super chuffed with it.

    Then… more sugar!  An Easter egg shaped cookie was given to Bella with pots of sprinkles, marshmallows and chocolate drops and some icing.  Bella absolutely adored decorating her cookie and luckily she resisted eating it, instead eating the left over sprinkles and chocolate drops.  (Right after this she was going to Nana’s to play for the day, so we avoided the dreaded sugar high.  Poor Nana!)

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (9) 

    Bella had a fantastic time and we’d definitely go to an event like this at Wyevale again.  In fact I want to book to meet Santa this year as I know Bella will love it.  It’s a much more magical experience for the children having a meal and getting crafty, rather than being rushed in and out to meet them.  The meals were tasty and the server made sure we had everything we needed.  I’m impressed with the whole event overall and would recommend it to anyone with young children.  My only recommendations would be more hot drink options, wholemeal bread and perhaps a craft that doesn’t involve more sugar!

    bella meets the easter bunny at gloucester wyevale garden centre (2)

    I asked Bella what her favourite thing about the event was and she said ‘decorating the egg’.  So I asked her if she liked anything else about the morning and she said ‘decorating the cookie’.  I think that was her favourite part!

    You can visit their main website here: http://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/

    Or why not book to meet the Easter Bunny yourself here: http://www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk/breakfast-or-tea-with-the-easter-bunny

    We were very kindly invited to breakfast with the Easter Bunny at Wyevale Garden Centre in Gloucester and this is my honest review.