Mid-Autumn Festival

Feeling rather nostalgic🙂 My mum sent along a gorgeous lantern for the little one in conjunction with the Mid-Autumn Festival. After Chinese New Year, this is the second most important festival. I used to love picking out my lantern with my brothers; this was a wonderful yearly affair for us and I remember choosing an assortment of animals where my brothers would go for a car or superhero lantern or something along those lines. It was also a lovely excuse to play with lots of candles when we were older. Oh so much fun to be had.

When I forwarded some of the pictures to my mum .. she replied saying we had to play with the lantern when its dark (Duh!) There’s a little spot for you to put a candle in the lantern. Major fire hazard as the little one was way too excited with her first lantern. She was flinging it around, running along the path and ‘showing it off’ with lots of joy. Besides, this was already about 7pm. We are already missing these long, warm summer days where we it felt like we had lots of time to explore but autumn can be beautiful too.

Managed to get some lovely pictures with her prized PINK butterfly lantern.

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Lots of love and thank you Nanna! xxx

Sunday Brunch at Waitrose Cafe

Aaaaah🙂 Once in a while when my husband ‘endures’ me, he will just have to sit patiently for a while whilst I browse Waitrose. I always tell him, not to fret .. only 10 minutes BUT it never really takes 10 minutes does it. A minimum of 45 minutes whizzing around with the little one in tow in a trusty trolley, not necessarily shopping but having a good browse!

Its a good thing they have a lovely cafe. How pretty is their teapot. Little one had a hot meal. Their allergy booklet is fab there, she could enjoy their fish fingers whilst we enjoyed our brunch.

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I did not buy loads with the husband imposed ‘time limit’ but enough to have the impression that Waitrose is not that pricey as what we think it is. Quality was amazing and ps. there were loads on offer. There’s a special half price event at the moment too.

As lovely as it is to browse and pick everything up, its easier to just do an online shop. Peek at the offers on HERE.

Hope you had a lovely Sunday too xx

 

 

Jinshan Jinbaoli Old Street

If you have the opportunity to be in the North of Taiwan along the coast line, Jinshan Old Street also known as Jinbaoli Old Street is worth pausing at especially if you are hungry or are looking for some street food. The atmosphere was busy and it was popular with locals and does not come across as an extremely touristy place which I loved. I had the chance to drop by with my mum whilst everyone else was having a rest at the hotel. If you have not read my previous post, we traveled to a wonderful hot springs resort in Yang Ming Shan to escape the bustle of downtown Taipei. Jinshan is only 10 minutes away by taxi.

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The street was lined on both sides with a variety of shops selling local biscuits, candies, fruits, flowers, souvenirs and of course a huge selection of food and drinks.

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What’s interesting is how they make everything ‘in-store’ For example, this lovely cookie shop. LOVE their black sesame biscuits, they were lush. The peanut brittle was exceptional too. They place their products on the front of the shop .. on the road on long tables and if you peek into their shop space, its their production line. Fascinating isn’t it.

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It was the same with the bubble tea / drinks vendors. The shop is by the street and the inside looks more like a well organised storage space. One man show .. he was so busy and the drinks hit the spot especially as it was so warm.

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We were recommended to try this winter melon honey lemon drink and wow, it was thirst quenching. We also bought Taiwanese Bubble Tea and Soya milk with grass jelly. All delicious.

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The highlight of this little street is definitely the food stall in front of the old temple main gate. It was very crowded and you pick your own food. There was a huge selection of different vegetables and meat. A must try is their famous steamed duck. The noodles were particularly delicious too. We had it to go to feed the rest waiting for us at the hotel and was pleasantly surprised to see how efficient it was. No spills with their sealed takeaway containers.

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Fried fish and steamed prawns. No photos of the duck nor the noodles or the veg! The boys must have dug into them before I had the chance to capture it.

Happy tummy –> and then it was back to lots of suncreen before we hit the hotel’s hot springs🙂

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Next post will be about Taiwan’s capital, Taipei!

Toodles xx

Taiwan : Hot Springs Retreat at Yangmingshan

 

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Start of our Taiwan Travels : Arrival at Taiwan Taoyuan Airport

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Nanna and her favourite grandchild off for holibobs

Touchdown in Taipei, Taiwan and we kick-started our travels by travelling to northern Taiwan namely Yangmingshan (Shan is mountain in Mandarin)  for some much needed rest and relaxation amidst splendid mountain views and lots of soothing hot-spring soaking. This little excursion beyond the city was such a good decision especially with our toddler as we stayed in a gorgeous child-friendly hotel. Initially I was very tempted to travel to Kenting or one of the beaches in the South but its just too much ground to cover with a little one. We took less than an hour to get to Yangmingshan by a private 7 seater van from Taipei’s airport and boy oh boy was the road windy.

We were all slightly tired when we arrived at the hotel but we were thrilled that it looks and feels fab from the moment we stepped foot in the lobby. Little one managed to spy the entrance into the kids playroom and she just knew it was ‘hers’. That huge sigh of relief, haha! Even if you have read a hundred reviews .. you still feel unsure especially if its in a foreign country. Holiday off to a good start.

We stayed for 2 nights at the Yang Ming Shan Tien Lai Resort & Spa. The plan was to enjoy the resort as much as possible and then do some sightseeing on the way down to Taipei. We were supposed to stop at Yehliu Geopark and Ocean World before heading down but there was a typhoon warning and we rushed to Taipei without giving it a second thought. The only exploring I managed to do in this area is Jinshan with my mum when little one was having a nap but will save this for the next post.

Now, to give you a little tour of the hotel.

This was our room, I have to say that the decor was lovely and I love the colour scheme. Safe to say, its like a trend now ..  every time we step somewhere new bubba LOVES it. She started running around the room with plenty of excitement. The room was rather large. We did not really need 2 king size beds and a cot to boot but oh well🙂 Very comfortable beds and bedding was plush.

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One to show her when she is older –> Evidence of little one running around with so much zest for life🙂

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Children’s room in the lobby.

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The misty peaks of Zhuzhi Shan

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Zhuzhi Shan like frozen waves, is a sight of breathtaking beauty whose face and contours are just like waves. Zhuzhi Shan gazes serenely into the sky and is also called the ‘Beautiful Mountain’. Zhuzhi Shan is one of a series of peaks of many different heights in the Yangming Shan system. Immersed in mist, it is mysterious and charming. Bathed in sunlight, it is magnificent. Watching the mountains and peaks bathed in mist from afar, one is reminded of the splendor of classical beauty.

This was beautifully written and I spotted it somewhere in the hotel. Very apt and true to the point.

Such a lovely location to appreciate such gorgeous landscape. The enjoyment of a relaxing dip in the hot spring at the Spa, with a view of the mist enshrouded peaks definitely relaxed us and took away some of our ‘stress’. We spent lots of time trying out the different pools, think there were about 14 all varying in temperature and size. They even had indoor hot springs as well as a huge outdoor pool. Little one was totally fine with the temperature of the water. We didn’t dip her in the very warm ones, just the bath like lukewarm ones. She tends to get really cold in pools so this was brilliant. She did not want to leave!

For older kids and adults, they had a very fun slide and some water park like facilities.

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Oh yes, for the brave ..  there’s nude bathing places too.

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Oh yes, the hot spring pools were open till late (if I am not mistaken 10 or 11pm). Therefore you can really make the most of the resort’s facilities.

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Great service and we had a relaxing time. It was not too crowded as we stayed during the week, heard it gets really busy during the weekends as this place is not too far from Taipei and the locals do enjoy their hot springs. You can enjoy the facilities with a day pass too.

The only downside of the resort was probably the food but nonetheless we were happy as we only stayed for 2 nights. They had a decent and varied buffet spread for breakfast which I enjoyed. We tried their Mongolian BBQ restaurant which was also a buffet for dinner and that was lovely. It is the same daily though, so you might get bored if you were to stay for a week or so.

and now for lots of holiday snaps! I love how they turned out, little one spent so much time with her grandparents, it was heartwarming to see them enjoying their company and vice versa. Of course, we enjoyed our time together with her too. Her daddy had the pleasure of being with her  24/7🙂

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Signing off and till the next post! Toodles xxx

 

 

Surviving Long Haul Flights with our Toddler

Summer break. Holiday. Holibobs – Foreign climate and preferably with SUN –> long flight.

We have done 13 hour flights when she was a baby and it was all fine and dandy as she slept a fair bit! Before we booked this holiday, I definitely did my share of worrying as she is now an energetic toddler.. one that needs to be kept entertained and oh she is one that loves to stretch her legs. What if she acts up or throws a fit on board? Not to fret, its not that easy but we coped quite well I must admit. We as in my husband and myself. Phew! We made a good team and it was a lovely travelling experience flying with our toddler.

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First thing first, get all the nitty gritty formal bits out of the way. Airline, food, bassinets. You may have to request in advance. Our little one is dairy and egg free and we had to get some special food requested for her.

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Get some sleep! We were all well rested before the long flight and this made a huge difference. We travelled to London the night before and spend the night at an airport hotel. You must check out Airparks. They have special airport hotel + parking deals which are great value for money. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza Heathrow for a night + 20 days parking for about £120!

Little one was well excited when we arrived in London! We have been prepping her and telling her that we will be going on an aeroplane when we go on holiday …

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and not even the real deal and she was hopping about the hotel’s reception. Haha! The room was large and very comfortable at the Crowne Plaza Heathrow. If you have older kids, the room has a sofa bed for them too. Such a great way to start the holiday stress-free and with a teeny touch of luxury too. Definitely worked out cheaper than just paying for airport parking on its own. Wanted to eliminate as much ‘stress’ as possible especially when we have a kid in tow .. this worked out really well.

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Fresh as a daisy and off we go to the airport for breakfast! You can hop on the shuttle or get a cab to the airport.

 

3.

Be prepared. Goodness knows how many times I wrote out our ‘hand luggage’ list. Never underestimate the novelty of a new ‘little’ toy and old favourites are also a must. In our case, we lugged her favourite Teletubby, Lala! (Ps we actually lost it in Taiwan, whoops)

I really thought the novelty of getting onboard the plane would have worn out eventually and she would just fall asleep. no such luck, she only napped for 2 hours out of the 13 hours and it was meant to be bedtime. Thankfully, I packed plenty of entertainment as well as snacks for the whole 13 hours.

I had a fab time planning her toys, I was about to order children headphones but decided against loading the Ipad with Peppa or Dora. There’s always in flight entertainment if all fails onboard.

What really worked for us ( she’s 19 months old) —

  • Magna Doodle. It does require quite a bit of effort on our end as she expects us to draw Peppa, clouds, the sun, and lots of different animals but it did keep her well entertained for a few hours and its still one of her favourite toys. Great value for money. I was deciding between this or the travel Aqua Doodle as that came highly recommended too.Peppa Magna Doodle
  • Lift the flap type books. She is very into ‘lift the flap’ books and her all time favourite show is Dora the Explorer. I was very lucky to stumble on a very well made board book that had lots of different colours and objects. She loved it and that is what matters. We also brought an all time classic too, The Very Hungry Caterpillar. We are quite lucky that she is very into her books, so we always bring a couple in my bag. (Don’t ask about the state of my bag, its always overflowing)Dora Book
  • Water Magic book. Oh this is really clever, just add water to the little pen that comes with it and the pen makes colours and pictures magically appear. Its recommended for 3 and up but the little one is quite a ‘pro’ at working the book now. Just my luck that I brought 2 ‘drawing type’ toys as we had another toddler seated next to us and they both wanted in on the crafty activities.Water Magic Books
  • Stickers. I have not met a toddler that doesn’t like stickers. Kept her entertained for ages and we gave some to our little friend seated next to us too. Oh yes if you have a window seat, the gel type stickers are a lovely distraction. You can even stick them on the food tray and you don’t need to worry too much about how to get them out.Gel stickers for travelling
  • Wet wipes, enough nappies, extra change of clothes. We brought 3 set of spare clothes for little one and an extra top each for my husband and myself.
  • SNACKS. Seriously, just arm yourself with lots of them and if all else fails remember to bring a few sweeties onboard too. We brought a little box of cereal, she loves Coco Pops with a passion. Ordered lots of ‘healthier’ goodies from Boots too as ideally .. we did not want her to go all ‘sugar high’ on us. Very convenient and there’s always lots of different offers as well when you buy a few. Snacks
  • The Ipad/ tablet. I try to limit screen time and lo and behold, we did not travel with one but if you are travelling alone with little ones.. definitely flash one out😀 It does work! Oh yes, you have to load it up with shows, films and songs beforehand.
  • Calpol or any other meds that little one might need.

4.

Enjoy and go with the flow🙂 Remember, flying is fun and magical especially for an excited child.

Oh yes indeed. She had the time of her life and I had muscle ache for first the few days of our holiday.

Ps. we must have walked around the plane about 50 times.

*All in all, we flew 13 hours to Malaysia. 5 hours to Taiwan and another 5 hours back with a transit in Singapore. Finally, another 13 hours back to London. Same toys and snacks etc were used for the whole trip.

Hope this helps and enjoy your travels xxx

 

 

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Back from Holiday!

We had such a lovely ‘long’ break but its always nice to come back home to our usual routines. Not really routine as we still have lovely sunny weather here in good old England🙂

We braved a very very long 13 hour flight and took our toddler to Malaysia and then went on to Taiwan which took another 5 hours. Armed with a bag of little toys and snacks, we survived! Definitely deserves a post on its own, so do look out for it.

It was a very busy holiday as we literally had something to do every morning, afternoon and evening taking in the sights as well as finding time to meet as many family and friends as possible. Easier said than done though!

Beautiful tropical Malaysia. Wished we had more days just lazing about in the pool sipping drinks and doing nothing🙂

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The Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur.

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Yang Ming Shan Tien Lai, hot springs resort in Taiwan.

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Sightseeing in Taipei

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Cannot wait to sit down and sort through pictures, print some of them for our family album as well as share some here for good old memories. Priceless. xxx

Dairy Free Entertaining

Planning a Dairy Free party requires more attention to detail and sometimes, its just so much easier to order delicious food from somewhere. My little one is currently 18 months and its impossible to spare too long in the kitchen without her wrecking havoc to all the cupboards and their belongings.

I had a good browse on  Waitrose Entertaining as it came highly recommended and ps. I was spoilt for choice. Easy to browse as there’s a dietary and lifestyle tab on the side. ‘No milk’ for us, just for the little one. I loved it as its not entirely catered so to say, as you still need to roast the beautifully presented food in the oven. Easier to claim that I have made it😉 Haha.

So, a little plan for a party of 8. Ps. some notice is require. Its about 6 days, dependent on the dish you want to order.

On the menu :

Carvery Leg of Lamb Studded with Garlic & Rosemary. Never disappoints and oh so easy to cook too, just pop it in the oven. Delicious flavour.

Beautiful Salmon side with Orange, Mustard and Dill.

Vegetarian Sushi Platter – very kid friendly for us

Fruity Moroccan Coucous Salad

and Homemade Dairy Free ‘Monkey’ Ice Cream.

Oh yes, if you are not looking for dairy free options, their baked goodies and children party food looks incredible! Super duper cute. Look!

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For dessert, some ice cream with this recipe. Such a hit with bubba and perfect for warmer weather🙂 We made them into some fun animal shapes with moulds from Baked By Me.

4 ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp honey
1tsp vanilla extract
100 ml coconut milk

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Whisk all the ingredients in a blender. Nothing complicated about this recipe. The most challenging bit was waiting for it to freeze so that we can enjoy some in the sun.

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Practice run was a success, she loved it! *Happy Dance* Am definitely going to use this recipe again but will most likely reduce the amount of honey as its already sweet with the ripe bananas.

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Face brimming with joy. At that point in time, I was so proud of my ‘ice cream making’ skills.

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It must be true, happy baby … happy mummy!

*Recipe for dairy free banana ice cream from the Waitrose site*

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