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5 Fun Things To Do In The Thames Valley

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The Thames Valley area is a beautiful and historic region west of London, encompassing parts of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. With charming towns and villages, stretches of countryside and of course, the River Thames flowing through, there's much to see and do. Here are 5 suggestions for fun things to explore in the Thames Valley area.

River Thames


Take a Cruise Along the Thames
From the heart of Oxford to the royal county of Windsor, the Thames offers wonderful vistas and plenty of attractions along its banks. Take a relaxing river cruise and view sights like Oxford’s spires, Abingdon’s vineyards, or Windsor Castle from a different perspective. Many cruises also stop along the way, allowing you to hop-on and hop-off to explore places in more depth.

Wander Around Beautiful Historic Towns
Thames Valley is home to some  pretty historic market towns and villages like Wallingford, Goring, Pangbourne and Cookham. Spend an afternoon wandering cobbled lanes, browsing antique shops, relaxing by the river or stopping for a traditional cream tea. Nearby larger towns also offer great exploring, especially royal Windsor with its imposing castle, Eton college and quaint high street.

family cycling through the countryside


Go Walking or Cycling Through the Countryside
Get active by embarking on walks or bike rides on established trails. Ramble through water meadows awash with colourful wildflowers in spring and summer. Or follow sections of the Thames Path taking in bucolic scenery, stopping at historic pubs or spotted deer grazing in water meadows along the way. The Chilterns area also boasts wonderful walking countryside criss-crossed by footpaths and bridleways with sweet villages dotted throughout. 

This is a great activity for parents and foster carers with children to entertain. If you are fostering in Thames Valley, plan a nature walk and ask your foster children to create a diary of the things they see and do.

See Local Attractions Like Basildon Park and River & Rowing Museum
Thames Valley offers a wealth of interesting cultural and historical attractions to visit. Basildon Park is a stunning 18th-century country house surrounded by 400 acres of parkland and gardens, located between Reading and Oxford. The River & Rowing Museum in Henley-on-Thames is dedicated to the heritage of the town’s rowing as well as the River Thames itself. Other popular attractions include Savill Garden in Windsor Great Park and Waterperry Gardens in Oxfordshire. 

sunday roast


Dine at Great Country Pubs
No trip to the Thames Valley countryside is complete without stopping for a meal at a traditional British pub along the way. The area certainly has its fair share of characterful old taverns, especially in riverside towns and villages where many establishments sit directly on the banks of the Thames itself. Look out for recommended gastropubs serving excellent seasonal fare or choose a country inn filled with roaring fires in winter and leafy beer gardens in summer. Sipping a crisp pint or two of real ale makes for an integral part of any visit.

With enticing towns, chocolate-box villages, nature trails, historic sites, gardens and of course classic country pubs, the Thames Valley offers wonderful ways to spend relaxing yet engaging days out.

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Michelle
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The Best Family Shows To Book in London this Half Term

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When it comes to watching a show at the theatre you really can't beat visiting London. We have travelled many times to the capital to watch shows such as Wicked, Phantom of the Opera, Fame and Grease. There's something magical about heading to the West End and if you are looking for something to do with the kids this half term then there are plenty of family shows in London to choose from. 

view from the circle in a theatre

It's only in the last year or so that we have enjoyed going to the theatre as a family, until then it was just the two of us. However there are so many family friendly shows to see it's a lovely day out with the kids. 

the lion king musical poster



The Lion King, Lyceum Theatre, Lyceum Theatre, ‍21 Wellington St, London WC2E 7RQ
The Lion King is probably one of my favourite shows I have ever seen. I am a huge fan of Disney so I was always going to love this, but it really does appeal to everyone of all ages. Everything about the show will take your breath away from the set, the music and the amazing puppets that grace the stage. It really is a show that you can watch over and over and it's no surprise that its has won multi awards.

The Lion King tells the tale of a young lion, Simba. Following the death of his father, Simba starts a new life away from the African Pride Lands. When responsibility beckons, Simba must return to his homeland to take on his foes and regain his crown as king.

Mrs Doubtfire musical poster


Mrs. Doubtfire The Musical, 210 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8DP
Mrs. Doubtfire The Musical went straight on my bucket list as soon as it was announced that they were creating a musical version of the much loved 90's classic movie, Mrs Doubtfire. Reviews for the show have been amazing stating it's "A Surefire Hit' and "She's On Fire".  

For those unfamiliar with the story out-of-work actor Daniel will do anything for his kids. After losing custody in a messy divorce, he creates the alter ego of Scottish nanny Euphegenia Doubtfire in a desperate attempt to stay in their lives. As his new character takes on a life of its own, Mrs. Doubtfire teaches Daniel more than he bargained for about how to be a father.

wicked poster


Wicked, Apollo Victoria Theatre, 17 Wilton Rd, London SW1V 1LG
Wicked is the show I have seen the most, first seeing it at the Apollo Victoria, then when it toured the UK a few years back and I have tickets booked again for this year when it heads to the North West. I didn't know anything about the show when I first saw it so I had no idea what to expect. It was the first show that ever made me cry (both times) and no doubt again when I see it next. 

Wicked imagines the fascinating backstory of Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz. Discover the decisions and events that shaped the two characters’ renowned destinies, as the unlikely friends begin their journey together in this heartwarming tale.

frozen musical


Frozen the Musical, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Catherine St, London WC2B 5JF
A classic Disney movie adapted for the stage. I don't think anyone could have imagined how popular Disney's Frozen would be but  Frozen The Musical is proving to be just as popular. This is another show that's on my bucket list as I absolutely love the movie and can only imagine how magical it would be to see on stage. 

When Queen Elsa’s hidden powers plunge the land of Arendelle into an eternal winter, her sister Anna sets out to find her and save the kingdom before it’s too late. But as the storm rages on, both sisters must learn that only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart.

sister act the musical poster


Sister Act, Dominion Theatre, 268-269 Tottenham Ct Rd, London W1T 7AQ
Playing at the first ever theatre in London I visited, Sister Act is up there with one of my favourite shows. As a huge fan of the movie and it's leading lady at the time Alexandra Burke I loved everything about the show when I saw it on it's UK tour a few years ago. It a feel good show with amazing music that will have you dancing in your seat. 

A story of music, mishaps and nuns on the run is a joyous and uplifting tale of finding your voice and singing out, with your sisters by your side.

There are lots more shows to see this half term in London and you can find out more, prices and book tickets by visiting London Box Office. 

What is your favourite show and what show would you love to see in the future?

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Michelle
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Four Fantastic Child-Friendly Restaurants in Central London

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Without a doubt, central London is great for a family day out. There are so many things to see and do, plus it’s easy to get the train to London from almost anywhere in the UK. But despite there being so many eateries available in the heart of the Big Smoke, it can be hard to know which are suitable for kids. But don’t panic, we’ve got you covered.  In this article, we’ll share four fantastic child-friendly restaurants in central London.

girl picking a chip from a bowl

Heddon Street Kitchen, Piccadilly Circus
If you asked for just one reason you should choose Heddon Street Kitchen, it’s because all kids eat for free. This is a great luxury at any restaurant, let alone one run by world-famous celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. The child-friendly menu includes kids’ classics like macaroni cheese, meatballs with pasta and burgers and chips, so you can be sure your little one will enjoy something on the menu. It’s also extremely easy to get to, located just off Regent’s Street in the heart of the West End.

Rosa’s Thai, Soho
If you’re in London then you’re never far away from a Rosa’s Thai in London, meaning it’s easy for you to get a delicious Thai meal at any time. While the menu has plenty of exotic flavours for adults, it’s also jam-packed with kid-friendly favourites like crispy spring rolls, chicken satay sticks and egg-fried rice. Your littluns are sure to have a great time, thanks to the friendly staff, light d├ęcor and upbeat music this chain is known for.

Darcie & May Green, Westminster
Fancy taking your kids somewhere a little different for brunch? Then consider Darcie & May Green, a colourful floating restaurant on a canal boat. It’s covered with bright pop art stencils that are sure to capture your children’s imagination, and the brunch food is guaranteed to be a hit too. Despite it being on a boat, there’s plenty of room to sit down. And even if it is smaller than most restaurants, the novelty of the experience for your kids is well worth it. 

Giraffe World Kitchen, Victoria
Like to sample a bit of everything? Then Giraffe World Kitchen could be the perfect restaurant for you. It serves dishes from around the world, from American-style burgers to Japanese Katsu curry. It has a great selection of options on the kid’s menu too, so it doesn’t how fussy your little ones are, you’re sure to find something suitable on the menu. 

Which of these child-friendly restaurants are you most excited to eat at next time you’re in central London? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.

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Michelle
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9 Must See London Landmarks Along The River Thames

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Last year during a getaway in London we decided to book a City Cruise along the River Thames. A river cruise is the perfect way to take in the London landmarks from the comfort of your seat. Most cruises will have a tour guide telling you some history about the sights and may also point out some London landmarks you may have missed. These are our 9 must see London landmarks along the River Thames.

boy looking at the london eye from a boat



Houses Of Parliament 
Built between 1840-1870 The Houses of Parliament stand on the North Bank of the River Thames. It's easy to spot with it's sand coloured limestone. It's also known as the Palace of Westminster and is made up of the House of Commons, the House of Lords and Westminster Hall. It is also where you will find Big Ben.

sights of London from the Thames


Big Ben
Standing for over 150 years the Elizabeth Tower is one of Londons most iconic landmarks however is mostly known as Big Ben. Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the clock tower and weighs more than 13 tons. 

The Shard
The 72 storey skyscraper is home to offices, restaurants and a hotel. It is a very popular visitor attraction also as you can enjoy a View From The Shard which offers you the chance to see for 40 miles across London on a clear day.

sights of London from the Thames


London Eye
The London Eye is one of the most popular attractions in London that charges an admission fee. Standing at 443ft the London Eye was the worlds most tallest ferris wheel from 1999-2006. Each one of the 32 capsules can hold up to 25 passengers for the 30 minute duration. The 32 capsules represents the 32 boroughs (together with the City of London) of Greater London. 

sights of London from the Thames


Tower Bridge
After 8 years of construction the Tower Bridge was opened in 1894, therefore spending over a century of being a defining iconic landmark for not just London but the United Kingdom too. The bridge has the ability to lift to let river traffic through and offers a whole range of other quirky features which can be seen along the bridge itself including a glass walkway. 

Cleopatra's Needle
The Obelisk was made in Egypt for the Pharaoh Thotmes III in 1460 BC, making it almost 3,500 years old. It is known as Cleopatra’s Needle as it was brought to London from Alexandria, the royal city of Cleopatra. 

sights of London from the Thames


St Paul's Cathedral 
Its dome, surrounded by the spires of Wren's City churches, has dominated the skyline for over 300 years. At 365 ft high, it was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1963. The dome is still one of the highest in the world. St Paul's is the second-largest church building in area in the United Kingdom, after Liverpool Cathedral.

sights of London from the Thames


Shakespeare's Globe
Shakespeare's Globe is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre, an Elizabethan playhouse for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays.It is recommended that if you go to watch a show at Shakespeares Globe that you dress appropriately for all weathers as the theatre has an open roof. 

HMS Belfast
HMS Belfast is a Town-class light cruiser that was built for the Royal Navy. She is now permanently moored as a museum ship on the River Thames in London and is operated by the Imperial War Museum.

sights of London from the Thames


Our Cruise
We were given the choice of four locations to board. We chose Westminster as it was closest to where we were visiting. You can also hop on a London Eye, Tower Bridge or Greenwich. The cruise offers 24 hours of hop on / hop off however you can stay on for the whole duration of the round trip but it can take over 2 hours. Each pier to pier trip is approx 40 minutes except for Westminster to London Eye which is approx 10 minutes. 

There were plenty of other sights to see along the way and the cruises usually have live or pre recorded commentary which point out landmarks and places of interest along the way. We found the cruise a great way to see the sights of London from the comfort of our seat.

Have you enjoyed a cruise along the River Thames? What was your favourite landmark?

Michelle

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Top 5 Most Luxurious Restaurants in London You Could Visit

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When it comes to enjoying a fine dining experience, there are plenty of excellent opportunities in London – and, with this in mind, we’ve outlined five of the most luxurious restaurants in London you could visit. After all, there’s a reason it’s so often considered one of the most luxurious and expensive cities in the world; and, with fine dining luxury restaurants like these, it’s definitely clear that London is home to multi-millionaires and billionaires alike.

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The Top 5 Most Luxurious Restaurants in London You Could Visit
So, you’ve been looking for the most luxurious restaurants in and around London? Whether you’re looking for somewhere to spend an extra special evening, or if you’re simply curious about how the other half lives, we’ve come up with some of the top five most luxurious restaurants in London to help you find an effective solution overall.

The Ritz London in Mayfair
We’ve all heard of the Ritz. However, for so many of us, thoughts of actually dining in this fine establishment are the things of dreams. Indeed, with a single omelette at the Ritz potentially costing as much as £180 (it’s made from caviar, admittedly), it’s clear to see that this level of luxury is restricted to a very specific few. Indeed, you might need to win the lottery or come into a massive inheritance to enjoy a meal at the Ritz – but if you ever got the chance, it’s sure to be more than worth it.

Hide
As recommended by the Conde Nast Traveller, f you’re looking for a more soothing and calming dining experience, the Hide restaurant in Mayfair might be just the opportunity you need. In fact, though it’s the newest restaurant on this list, it achieved its first Michelin star within half a year of opening; as such, diners can expect a lot when visiting this truly unique, split-floor dining destination.

When visiting, you absolutely have to try the restaurant’s most iconic dish – the Nest Egg – to enjoy the full experience. An irresistibly rich blend of egg yolk, smoked butter, cream, and gently toasted mushrooms, it’s undeniable that the Hide restaurant has firmly established itself as one of the most luxurious and creative in all London – truly a destination for those wanting a luxury, millionaire-worthy dining experience.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsey
Gordon Ramsey – he’s a household name, and with this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey offers an equally unparalleled experience. In fact, the restaurant holds three Michelin stars and has done so continuously since 2001 – that’s over two decades!

One of the most notable features of the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey has to be its tiny size; in fact, with only 14 small tables, booking is irrefutably necessary to get a space. All the same, this small-scale experience ensures that every dish is finished to perfection without compromise, and all guests hence know they will be treated to a truly incomparable experience overall. 

Head Chef de Cuisine, Matt Abe, never fails to pull out all of the stops to impress diners, just as his predecessor Clare Smyth had done. It’s this dedication that ensures every dish is cooked to perfection, and diners hence head into the Restaurant Gordon Ramsey with some of the highest expectations possible.

La Dame de Pic
If you have been looking for a luxurious dining experience in London, chances are, you’ll struggle to find a location that’s more sophisticated or sensual than La Dame de Pic. Indeed, it may not be one you’ve heard of in passing, but La Dame de Pic is a truly iconic restaurant that’s in equal parts a restaurant as it is a fine work of art in its own right.

La Dame de Pic was launched by Anne-Sophie Pic, who came from a long line of Michelin-starred chefs and internationally acclaimed culinary experts. As such, her uncompromising dedication to quality ensures that every diner knows just what to expect when they walk through those majestic doors – and this ensures that La Dame de Pic surely deserves a spot on this list.

Sketch Lecture Room and Library
It might not be quite as iconic as the Ritz, but few locations offer quite the same luxury as the Sketch Lecture Room and Library. Indeed, designed with a palette of deep reds and creams, this stunning property was even listed in the Michelin guide 2020, and for good reason! 

The stunning Grade II listed architecture perfectly compliments the refined and sophisticated feel of the interior; from studded ivory leather walls to luxury velvets and silk, there’s no expense spared for this truly iconic property. As such, if you can afford the meal prices, few celebrations are quite the same as a meal at the Sketch Lecture Room and Library – and, with a full 7-course meal on offer, you certainly won’t leave feeling hungry.

There’s no shortage of fine dining opportunities in London. Nevertheless, choosing that one perfect restaurant can seem like a challenge, in many cases; still, today’s top five picks are surely among the most luxurious restaurants in the big city.

While their prices ensure they typically remain reserved for just millionaire lottery winners and CEOs, there’s still something quite magical about the thought alone. And, after all, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy some time in the big city with these five fine luxury restaurants, too; you might just need to sacrifice a large lump on your savings in exchange for these once-in-a-lifetime dining experiences.

Michelle
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Theatre Review - Wicked at The Apollo Victoria, London

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A few weeks ago Daddy and I headed to London for the day. We got the 6:45am train and was in London by 9am. I had booked us tickets to see Wicked at the The Apollo Victoria. It’s not a musical I had wanted to see before but Daddy really liked the sound of it so I booked them for Father’s Day.
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Beat Bugs Netflix Event

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When we were asked to be a member of the Netflix Stream Team we were all so excited. We had heard of Netflix before but had never tried it, now it's used every day. We all have our different profiles set up which suggests programmes and films based on what we like. As it is the Summer holidays most of the day we are on little J's profile watching Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol and Beat Bugs. As a member of the Stream Team we were invited to a Netflix event in London and it was amazing.
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