Tips for Stress Free Train Journeys With Toddlers

I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers

The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.


I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers


This is a collaborative post 



Our Visit To Shrek’s Adventure London

The man, the boys and little old me have all been huge Shrek fans for many years, all giggling at the crazy antics of Donkey to all trying to perfect the Puss look when trying to get our own way so when we heard there was a place we could experience a Shrek story for ourselves at Shrek’s Adventure we’ve added it to our must do list.

Sat facing the London Eye and sandwiched between the London Dungeons and Sea Life London Aquarium it’s in prime position for a trip to the capital. So as a birthday treat for the tween, we set off from sleepy Devon at 7.30am and by 10.30am we were embracing the London crowds at Waterloo station trying to get our adjust to the unfamiliar sights and sounds. It’s been quite a few years since I visited the big smoke and despite meticulously planning our walking route and travel plans to make the most of our day, finding our way, on foot to the South Bank was ridiculously easy.

our visit to London with a toddler, tween and teenager began with a visit to Shrek's Adventure

Checking In To Our Shrek’s Adventure

There’s no mistaking the attraction and after an obligatory pose in front of the Donkey statue, we headed in to get our tickets. The staff were super chirpie and helpful and we whizzed through the line and security checks and there began the first part of the tour.

Each party is allocated 1 wrist band and you begin by going through a series of photo opportunities where you’re encouraged to pose against a green screen so the photo is edited into comical scenes. It really gets you into the fun of it all straight away and while Daz & I are up for joining in with these things, getting two image conscious teens to do the same was never going to happen. My guys don’t even take selfies and unless it’s a cool, model like pose, pretending to be a character in Shrek was quite a sight to see!

The next round of interactive fun was an unusual lift ride then onto a 4D adventure ride via a Dreamworks bus which was the high light of my adventure. With your 3d glasses you take a journey through clouds and roller coast style twists and turns while feeling wind and rain. I was a little concerned that our toddler would find it a little too frightening but my over zealous ‘wows’ and ‘yays’ seemed to reassure him!

our visit to London with a toddler, tween and teenager began with a visit to Shrek's Adventure

The actors which guided your through the rooms were fantastic, instead of meandering through at your own pace you become part of the story and I really couldn’t fault a thing. From the set, the props to even the unusual smells when you’re in Shrek’s swamp, when you emerge out the other side you really do feel like you’ve been on an adventure. * Warning there is some audience participation but it’s all good fun and your divided in small groups of around 10-15.*

Theres no filming allowed once you embark on the bus but once you reach your destination (I won’t give the plot away) you are given the chance to purchase a journal with the photos which were taken at the start. Theres no hard sell though which was a great relief as ours were terribly awkward looking! After this its through to an area where you can take your own photos.

Apologies for the quality of my shots, this was one of those experiences where I got to live it rather than dawdle behind taking photos which for me, was a refreshing change. So the best I could get was some token iPhone ones to give you an idea.

So to wrap it up, Shrek’s Adventure was an exhilarating and fun hour. I’d recommend it for families with children age 4  through to 12, maybe older if they’re real Shrek fans.

courtesy of shrek’s


We were given complimentary tickets for Shrek’s Adventure for the purpose of this review. All words and photos unless otherwise stated, are my own.


Some Thoughtful  Mothers Day Gift Ideas

While having a conversation with my husband last week about how the age of chivalry is dead, it occurred to me that I’d been giving all the wrong signals and with mother’s day fast approaching that’s not good!

I might be only female in our house but that doesn’t stop me mucking in and doing everything the males do. I’m more than happy lugging logs down from the log pile at the top of the garden or getting on and doing diy tasks which I know I can do, hell, I even walk the dog in the pouring rain when the rest of team blue fold laundry and prepare dinner.

That said, I do like to be treated like a lady from time to time and Mother’s Day is always the best day for my boys (and husband) to make me feel extra special, a break from daily chores with homemade cards and a coffee in bed will usually do the trick.

I do like flowers, if money were no object I’d have a fresh bunch every week. I’m also a complete chocoholic, some may even say connoisseur and I’m quite partial to a little thoughtful and meaningful gift. But if I’m being really honest, the latter does it for me every time and  it’s the thought which really counts.

So if you’re looking to get your mum (or wife if the children are young) a meaningful gift and score some serious brownie points try one of these ideas;

A Personalised print of typography

This is the perfect way to show how much you really know someone. You just think of 10 words which are unique to you both and they’re preserved forever within a beautiful piece of wall art. I created one of these for my husband on our anniversary, what I love the most about it is that only we know the meaning of it. you could think up some words from when you were younger, family holidays or just members of your family. (mine came from Toxic Fox but you could also try Not On The High Street or creating your own by downloading an app and printing it off. My boss made me a lovely one from a Twinkl download last year )
A lush personalised wedding gift, this typography print shows you've given some serious thought to the lucky recipient.

High Tea in a local hotel

While everyone is lunching out why not do something a little different and go for high tea instead? I recently did this and it was so much more relaxing than a lunch. We sat over looking Sidmouth bay drinking tea, eating mini rectangular sandwiches and nibbling on cake, eclairs and scones. It was an afternoon of complete gluttony and not something I would do very often but it really was a fantastic way to spend the afternoon.

thoughtful Mothers day gifts


Now I did question whether this was a sign of growing up (notice I said up and not old) now that I appreciate a good quality hand cream. I think it goes back to remembering my mum buying my Nanna some for Christmas, but either way, I always have a tube by my bed, every sink and in my changing bag. Not only is it a relief for dryness it’s also makes you smell good and is a nice alternative to perfume. There’s some really lovely ones out there with Cath Kidston, Neil’s Yard and l’Occitane being my favourites.  I’ using Australian brand for dry skin called Hopes which works wonders as just before bed cream and smells pretty divine too, even if it does look a little industrious! (I’ve also managed to bag you a 20% off code HOPE20)

A year of surprises

And finally, of you really want to show your nearest and dearest just how much they mean to you, why not spread out the love throughout the year with a whole year of surprises. My sister, brother and I did this for our mum and she looks forward to finding out what’s in store each month, Buy a pack of 12 sheets of pretty paper (I got mine from ebay in the scrap-book section) and some envelopes then each month write your surprise down. You don’t have to decide them all straight away and look out for Groupon offers. It could be something as simple as a picnic and walk in the park or as extravagant as a weekend away. The ideas are down to you and your budget.

A year of surprises as an alternative and thoughtful gift


My Captured Moment – My Caring Tween 

This week’s My Captured Moment is a shot capturing the caring relationship between my middle son, Tween, and his little brother. I know that I’ve shared my thoughts on how utterly amazing my older boys are with Toddler and for anyone worried about having a large age gap family, I can fully recommend it.

This shot was taken on a trip to The Eden Project where we visited the rain forest biome. Both Teenager and Tween took in turns to push their mischievous brother round, we tried to keep him in his buggy as long as possible as it was getting hotter and hotter the further we climbed so no one fancied hanging around while the little one checked every leaf, light and fellow tourist out.

With the temperature soaring, Tween stopped every so often to share his cold water, knowing that Toddler always prefers other people’s drinks  (he suffered terrible bottle envy!) Tween thought nothing of giving him a drink everytime we stopped.

Just a simple, ordinary moment which speaks volumes of a sibling relationship and makes an soppy old mum like me very proud.


Preserving a lasting memory of your summer holidays

I wanted to mark the summer of 2015 in a special and meaningful way, being the end of an era for Tween, the start of a summer of fun for Toddler and the last summer before Teenager would be free form the world of work. And as I’ve finally got to grips with the manual settings on my DSLR camera I’ve been photographing anything and everything so I’ve been searching for the perfect photo to use as a canvas from Snapfish that captured the essence of this special break. Buuuuuuut, that’s actually been ALOT harder than you imagine.

In my mind I wanted one of the five of us, but as chief and only photographer, that was never going to happen and I don’t own a selfie stick so any attempts to get us all in one shot just consists of a bunch of heads and eyes which just looks naff. My other thoughts were of a deckchair shot of the grandkids which my sister and I stage every summer for our parents, but I just could find one which jumped out and shouted ‘pick me!’

capturing families in restaged photos, this one is restaged every year on a beach in Devon


So I waited and waited until the perfect shot was found, the one which made my heart dance and reminded me of a perfect day, a day when there were no family bickering, a day when we were all together, a day which caught us unaware and captured the essence of our family summer. And in true British form (i’m thinking buses, you know the saying) not one photo caught my eye but three. Each telling a different story, albeit from the same fun fuelled week.

The impromptu evening surf, where the kids squealed with delight at catching waves on their body boards and running in and out of the warm beach pools;

An evening surf on Croyde beach in North Devon


The end of an evening having fish and chips on the beach

Capturing summer memories with the perfect photo


Or the times when the Teenager joined us, we know these days are limited so cherish every moment

Capturing family moments and the photo which defines our Summer

So you can see my dilemma. I wanted them all! But I had a task, one photo which defined our summer. My aim was to create a wall canvas that would stand the test of time, one which could be mistaken as being a stranger and that only we would know the real meaning behind that moment. I wanted a piece of art, our family art.

So after much deliberation I chose this, a sneaky photo taken of my husband and our toddler, playing with bubbles at the end of chilled festival day. which leaves me with my next problem; where to hang it?

Making summertime memories with a father and son moment


Now I’ve just got to decide where to put it!

finding the perfect summer photo and preserving it as a canvas wall art



This is a collaborative post

 photo 4d06e438-4e6a-4f3b-88b2-0c1093350397_zps361ad0e9.jpg

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