Remember remember the 5th of November

Remember, remember the fifth of November… Guy Fawkes Night, Bonfire Night, Fireworks Night. Whatever you call it, it sure is a fun albeit freezing night out for all the family celebrating the failure of Guy Fawkes’ infamous Bonfire Plot. Bonfires will be lit and fireworks will be illuminating the night’s sky with ‘BOOM BOOM BOOM’ as my toddler would put it.

We have been talking loads about fireworks as Diwali just passed and she had quite a few  fireworks themed activities for the past week. Her playgroup organised a lovely firework painting station for them, which she thoroughly enjoyed. We wrapped up warm and went to the annual Rainbows festival of fireworks at Leicester Racecourse. We were not sure whether to go for this or the biggest display at Abbey Park. I think we definitely made the right decision as we knew the toddler might be very tired and it might not go our way when the fireworks went off. Who knows, we might have to make a run for it  and Abbey Park was a much larger venue. Parking was a huge factor in this too. We were there from half 5 right up to the end of the children’s display which started at 7. We were frozen by then. A little someone who was never a fan of gloves kept asking us to ‘fix it’. Its very telling that she was cold 🙂

When we arrived, little one was excited to look around the funfair and we asked her whether she wanted to go on a centipede roller coaster. She profusely said no. However, we took her on a tamer train ride. She had her game face and was oh so serious when her daddy took her in the little train carriage but when she came out .. she was squealing with excitement and told me that she sat on a Choo Choo Train and rang the bell. Little joys in life, it was lovely to see her expressions.

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She especially loved the live music on stage, where she danced for at least half an hour whilst waiting for the children display. I forgot how expensive it can be for things like that. Our entrance was £7.50 each  (£5 for advance tickets), rides usually cost about £2.50 (double that as she is still wee to go unaccompanied), coffee / tea £2 and oh my word, the warm sugary donuts were 4 for £5! Oh well, all in all .. an experience to be had.

She was still excited when they were counting down to the kiddies display but all went a bit wrong when it started. She was not as excited as the last time she saw fireworks and started saying no and she was scared after a few minutes. My husband and I ran helter skelter working our way through the crowds whilst catching bits of it. She would look in amazement for a while and say lets go. We missed the lighting of the bonfire as well as the adults display (no surprises there)

As we were leaving and was in the vicinity of the carpark, she started wailing again as she wanted more fireworks. Oh the looks on our faces.

Till next year kiddo.

Pumpkin picking experience

Yes yes, its yet another pumpkin patch blog post on the internet but it is special for us as its our first experience with the little one in tow. It might have been easier ( *clears throat* photo opportunity ) last year as she was not yet a walking talking toddler .. I could have plopped her anywhere and it would have been picture perfect (jokes). Its nice to set little traditions for the family though and we will have to make a conscious effort to go again.

We went to Cattows Farm, a beautiful piece of Leicestershire countryside but their pumpkin patch was empty. They had a huge demand of Pick Your Own this year but no worries as they had a special plan in place for the kiddies. They just placed pre harvested pumpkins on their land 🙂 Well, who cares! We were there and we were going to make the best of it.

She was thrilled when she saw so many pumpkins but one would assume pumpkins would be the main attraction at a pumpkin farm? It was ALL about the dandelions and the daisies for her. She kept saying ‘Look Mummy ‘ ‘Look Daddy!’ ‘I am picking lots and lots’. It was adorable, bless.

Pumpkin Patch

Cattows Farm

Pumpkin Picking

Dandelion

Pumpkin Picking at Cattows Farm

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Dandelion Love

Daddy Daughter Time

Daisies

What a lovely experience for us to enjoy as a family, we must remember to go earlier in the month next year. Perhaps there will be actual pumpkins to harvest 🙂 Cattows Farm is a wonderful family friendly place, we had a good wander around the farm shop and made some purchases. Little one was pretty chuffed with her big and ‘little’ pumpkin. Oh yes, I have to mention the cakes in their tea room. Looks super delicious but unfortunately we already had food plans, therefore did not indulge this time around.

Cattows Farm Leicestershire

Cattows Farm Shop

They also had a little children play area which must be fab for the summer!

Cattows Farm

… no prize for guessing my height 😉

Cattows Farm

Last not but not least, a picture with their resident sheep and goat. Sure hit with bubba, she loved saying hello.

Cattows Farm

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Taipei with Kids – One day itinerary

We had a wonderful time in Taipei. We found it to be a well-mannered kid-friendly (toddler friendly) city with a variety of things to see and do. I mentioned well mannered as I always had the impression that I might be slightly put off by the people. Totally wrong as the people there are very kind and especially accommodating as we could speak some Mandarin. The city is very clean too. Stroller friendly and oh it just reminds me of Japan and Korea. Cultured.

There were too many things that I wanted to cover in Taiwan but we did not have time for them all. The weather was also not very pleasant on certain days as we were there during typhoon season. We managed to squeeze a little trip away from downtown Taipei to a hot springs resort and that’s a lovely touch. I would highly recommend it if you are travelling with children. Much needed rest and relax before or after covering the city. Ps. if you are planning any travels, I personally LOVE the DK Eyewitness travel guides.

I wrote about our experience at Taipei 101 and Din Tai Fung in my previous write up.

We had one full day left on our holiday, so here goes! This is a post covering our busy day exploring Taipei. We could have covered more ground but I think this is perfect if you are with kids. We even had cheeky cakes and coffee whilst little one had a long snooze in her pram. This post is also my entry in to the Trips100 Family Adventure Company blogger challenge. We would love for our little family to go on another adventure to Cambodia with them 🙂

First stop, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall. This place was spectacular, it was HUGE and oh so picturesque with the impending storm clouds. The view at CKS Memorial Hall was really something, from the moment you walk through the large Memorial Hall Doors, to the National Theatre & Concert Hall buildings on the left and right and they sure did save the best for last .. the sight you get to enjoy when you climb up 89 steps to the Memorial Hall. We were left ‘breathless’ .. properly gasping for air as I did not want to miss the changing of guards. You can imagine me trying to run up the stairs carrying the toddler whilst the boys had to fend for themselves and get my heavy handbag and the pram up those stairs.

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‘Come on, little one’. This might be one of my favourite pictures of all time.

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My beautiful mummy in front of the National Theatre.

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We made it! Caught the changing of guards ceremony which takes place every hour from 9am to 5pm. It was fascinating. If we got there earlier, little one might have enjoyed this with a better view. She was still mesmerised, probably viewing it through someone else’s phone. *jokes*

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Look at all the selfie sticks 😀

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We were all warm and sticky after our first stop and quickly hopped in to a taxi to the next attraction, Longshan Temple. Its also conveniently located next to Huaxi Street Night Market (which is open all day long) also known as Snake Alley. We decided to have lunch there. Ps. NOT snakes. Thank goodness we had lunch at a relatively normal and DELICIOUS stall before we walked passed all the ‘snakey stuff’

A large, red, palace-style archway marks the entrance to the market.

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We decided on this little stall, look at how they present their food. They charge you based on weight. All we did was point at the food we wanted and we were pleasantly surprised when the food arrived.

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Look at how little the shop is, the seating area is opposite. Picture of my mummy in front of the shop if you are in the area. Its very very good and not pretentious at all.

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Little one was quite happy playing with chopsticks and waiting for her food to arrive.

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The seafood was incredibly fresh. Delicious squid. I was quite surprised to see our tot eating this dish, she loved it paired with her noodles and rice.

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Clams, also very tasty.

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Huge pot of nutritious chicken soup.

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A very fine lunch I must say. Drooling, just thinking about it and it was not very costly too. Perhaps 20 quid for 5 adults.

We then walked around the market and I had goosebumps most of the time. There must be a reason why its called ‘Snake Alley’. They had specialty shops serving different parts of the snake and boy I was not amused. Little one was intrigued though.

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All fired up from a satisfying lunch, off we went to explore Longshan Temple. It was beautiful, mystical and bustling with all sorts of sights, smells and sounds. It is probably the busiest temple in Taipei but if you were to visit any, this would be it. I know most people would say that the temple isn’t the greatest place to visit with kids in tow but we managed to manoeuvre the little one through the temple without too much stress. We whizzed through the inside of the temple as it was very smoky with incense but little one really enjoyed the grounds of the temple. They had a waterfall and a lovely garden. I have been told to go in the evening as the candles and lights gives it a more special atmosphere. Next trip perhaps.

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We quickly hopped into a taxi for some ‘rest and relax’ at The Grand Hotel. Why a hotel? This is also one of Taipei’s popular landmarks featuring beautiful palace like exteriors and intricate interiors. Our little human was way overdue for her nap and she fell asleep oh so quickly in the taxi on the way there. Perfect timing! We had plans to drop by the very famous Shilin Night Market in the evening, so this pit stop was much appreciated after our busy morning. Ps. the Shilin Night Market is not too far from here too. Hence, this strategic and grand ‘rest station’

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Check out their keys, it symbolises wealth. Of course, following the trend of times The Grand Hotel (established in 1952)  has renovated all of their key systems to ensure better security but this wall display certainly caught my eye.

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We were really stuffed from lunch but if you are up for it the restaurant has a lovely afternoon tea buffet deal which was quite popular. We just ordered from their menu. I enjoyed a green tea slice accompanied by some lovely live music. Oh what a way to relax whilst bubba was snoozing.

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Look look, someone’s all rejuvenated after a long nap. Time to take more pictures! Grand Hotel?

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‘Hi Nanna’

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Next and final stop for the day, Shilin Night Market. Shilin is indisputably the most famous night market in Taiwan. Taipei is a food lovers dream, everything looks and tastes delicious. I had dreams about devouring everything and anything at the night markets but … unfortunately this was not the case.

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Yes, the market was filled to the brim with a wide variety of food stalls but night markets can be very overwhelming for an 18 month old. It got congested quickly and it was not particularly stroller friendly when it got busy. They are not many places to sit and there are queues everywhere.

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This might have been the trigger for her crying her eyes out. There’s a variety of amusing games in the night market too, she was thrilled with the monster my dad won for her but I think the popping of them balloons spooked her.

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We did however manage to get seats to try the famous oyster omelettes. A simple egg omelette with fresh oysters but boy did it taste good.

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Bubba was far from cooperative at this point, so we decided to call it a day and have dinner in the hotel. Once we got in the taxi, she was perfectly happy. All the hustle and bustle in the night market must have gotten to her.

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Very picture heavy post and pretty long for my standards but I am sure I will be thrilled to re-read this post when she is a bit older. Gosh, we really do love traveling especially with the little one in tow.

Hope you enjoyed reading about our travels in Taipei and do ask if you have any questions.

xxx

”Wanderlust

 

Baking with the Toddler – Dairy Free Shortbread

I always had this idyllic idea of baking with my child, where it will be so pretty and fun, like something from those adverts you see on telly.

I have been procrastinating for quite a few months as I knew that this would smash that lovely picture that I have painted in my head. I finally DID IT. Baking with my little one for the very first time at 21 months! A really good and fun age to start as she now understands the concept of cooking. At least, I think she does as she watches me in the kitchen and pretends to cook her own food when she is actually eating. Haha.

I set up all the ingredients in advance and before I could even explain or show her which one to mix, she started pouring the wrong ingredient to the huge mixing bowl much to my dismay. She was doing her own thing whilst I tried guiding her to ‘follow the recipe’. “At least she’s loving it”.. I kept repeating this in my head.

Good thing I hid the raspberries till the end as she conveniently forgot that she was still baking and started enjoying them. After munching on quite a few raspberries, she started cooperating again and she was a jolly good helper.

I am so glad that I waited till she was this age so that it wont be too much of a ‘fail’. Good fun, more mess than usual, double the time BUT yes, to more baking days ahead especially since its autumn 🙂

Enjoy our pictures, its chronological … includes the time where she toddled away and enjoyed some baking ingredients i.e the raspberries. Ingredients will be further down the post 🙂

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Looking back at the pictures, her face was a picture of concentration and she carried out her little tasks with focus. Awww bless nothing cuter than little kids attempting to bake. First time trying this dairy free recipe and thankfully it worked! Super easy and she loved pressing the dough into the elephant mould. She kept wanting to turn the mould upside down to look at their faces though.

Ingredients:

290g baking margarine, we used Stork (not the spreadable kind), room temp. diced

120g sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

270g plain flour

110g rice flour

100g raspberries (optional)

pinch of sea salt

Mix the ‘butter’, sugar and vanilla together until pale and fluffy. (Well my toddler wanted to do flour first) Add the flours to the creamed mixture. Fold together. We included some raspberries for fun. Place dough in moulds or prepared tin. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes, preheat oven to 170°C. Bake for 40 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from oven and score and do leave for it to completely cool before removing from mould or cutting the slices.

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We had one happy tot! Definitely makes it all worthwhile when you see her tucking into her little cookie. The elephants were a hit as she was so excited to eat the ears and then the eyes.

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For some other dairy free makes, check out my df banana ice cream and passion fruit cake. Hope you have a happy Sunday with your loved ones.

Ps. theres a huge range of animal moulds on Baked By Me. Great fun when baking with the kiddos.

The Adventures Of An Allergy Mummy

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

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.

1

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.

2

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 …

Crowne Plaza

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.

Crowne Plaza London Heathrow

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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