Disneyland Paris, 20th Anniversary celebrations and Disney Dreams! travel review

Nonstopmama ♥♥♥ Disney, so on our recent trip to France, we couldn’t. not. do. Disneyland Paris!

Frankly, any excuse!! :)

We were just an hour’s drive away, so we spent a wonderful, HOT (remember the heatwave of a few weeks back? That – hooray for air conditioned pit stops throughout!), fun-packed day at the Parks …

Right now, the 20th Anniversary celebrations are in full swing, which just adds to the sparkle of the way-too-many-to-mention fantastic rides, attractions and shows for all ages, including the main parade - Disney’s Magic On Parade! – in the Disneyland Park!

Getting the party started, Disney style  …

Spot the Princess with the very. Long. Hair …

Hanging with King Louie and Baloo …

And the ever-adorable …

… plus the Toy Story crew!!

This year, you can reserve (free of charge) a time slot to meet and greet a Disney Princess in the Princess Pavilion (a classic photo op!) at specific times throughout the day – a really sweet and, not surprisingly, super-popular attraction. (Top tip if you’re not staying into the evening, for whatever reason: queue as possible as possible in the day, to book your time slot for the same morning or afternoon. They go quickly, and run into the evening).

All you need to know, with timings, is in the Parks guide …

And if you can stay at the Parks for the night time Disney Dreams! Nighttime Show, you won’t be disappointed: it’s FANTASTIC!!

Featuring classic Disney music, characters and drama, the show centres on the famous Sleeping Beauty Castle, where the action is projected – amazing!! – with lots of special effects and impressive whooshing, shooting, Disney firework fun throughout!

We shot a quick vlog of the action from the bottom of Main Street, but do check out the official video at the Disneyland Paris website to get the full, spectacular picture!

In the meantime, here’s a (decidedly less spectacular), blurry shot, mid-awesome action …

Plus, of course, there are favourites, old and new (for Cars fans, Lighting McQueen now makes a guest appearance in the popular Moteurs… Action! Stunt Show Spectacular at Walt Disney Studios Park!).

There was still so much we didn’t get time to do!

But the biggest challenge? Getting our Mickey balloon. home. in. one. piece. (He wouldn’t fit in the boot, so we drove back to the UK with him skillfully wedged between seats and pillows, like some sort of official Disney airbag. But we managed it).

Relieved isn’t the word!!

All show and parade times vary, according to the season, but all the info you need is online at the Disneyland Paris website! :)

For more information on Disneyland Paris, the Parks, hotel accommodation and to book holidays and Park tickets online, visit disneylandparis.co.uk.

Chatting beauty, fashion and family travel with Becky of English Mum!

Just before schools broke up for summer (as in, yes, over 3 – maybe more, eek! – weeks ago), I did a podcast interview with the lovely (and very funny) Becky of English Mum on all things summer and her fab, much-loved food, travel and everything family blog.

That was before Becky set off with her hubby and two teen boys en famille on a French foodie vacance, during which she Tweeted, Instagramed and Facebooked their adventures (and made us all drool!).

I’d hoped to get our chat live before that, then during, but definitely before Becky set off on the Disney Cruise which she’s now on!

In the midst of the summer holiday spin, things got crazy and I also – somehow – managed to delete the start of our interview in the final edit (there’s a good reason why I don’t do much of the techy stuff at nonstopmama. At all.).

So, I thought I should share Becky’s great tips, tricks, recommendations and links while we’re in the last weeks of summer and she’s still on her hols!

As she often travels with her family for work, I was super-keen to know how Becky gets organised with packing and prepping. Her secret? A master checklist, edited as a computer spreadsheet (which you can download here at English Mum – hoorah! – to use for your next break, or as a basis for your own).

Becky (sanely) tries to avoid doing laundry on hols but, when she needs to, she told me she LOVES Dr Bronner’s All-In-One Magic Soaps, which are also a big hit with beauty insiders.

Sun protection-wise, she’s all about making sure her crew are well shielded from the rays and, having tested lots of lotions for her blog, those which come out on top include Hawaaiin Tropic (we agreed, you can’t beat that Eighties-evocative smell!) …

 

… she’s also a fan of Uvistat and the P20 range, which works for up to 10 hours and, hence, should only need to be applied once for day-long protection (more here!).

Becky’s summer bronzing make-up must-have? The total classic, BeneFit Hoola!

She’s also a lip balm aficionado, preferring a slick of balm to lipstick – Carmex is a fave – and recently discovered Clarins’ BB Skin Perfecting Cream SPF25 …

… although she admits she’d love it even more if it came in a fairer shade (we’ve tried this new tinted base at nonstopmama and ♥ it too! Great for everyday cover and colour, with decent daily sun protection).

Becky also loves Clarins’ mascara, and, skincare-wise, has been loving Dior’s Hydra Life Sorbet Creme …

Style-wise, I’m not believing Becky when she says that, wearing heels, she looks like a ‘giraffe on roller-skates’ ( :) ), preferring flats!

She also told me that she LOVES Gap and has a bit of a thing this summer for their bright tops and basics (something which she’s shared with her friend and fellow blogger, the lovely Amanda of Online Stylist).

There are lots in the summer Gap sale right now …

Of course, I had to ask Becky for her summer family meal favourites!

While her boys love wraps – and she loves their simplicity – among her top, crowd-pleasing meals are her Roasted Vegetable and Barbecue Chicken Skewers (which look totally. yum!!), this Buttermilk Jerk Chicken dish and these Fresh Sardines with Gremolata Dressing, which all look as healthy as they are delicious!

This summer, she’s also been experimenting with Tapas, including these scrummy-looking Spicy Garlic Prawns

My HUGE thanks to Becky for chatting to nonstopmama!!

See all Becky’s fabulous family recipes, travel tales and LOTS more at English Mum!

In the meantime, you can keep up to date with her adventures on deck with Disney on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest!

Bonnes Vacances! Canvas Holidays Camping la Croix de Vieux Pont, Paris

Until this month, we’d never done camping en famille.

At all. Anywhere.

Although some of my happiest Seventies childhood summer memories include those spent on family caravan hols in Brittany and the South of France, the closest we’d got to it was British self-catering in a forest chalet (which, I know, so doesn’t count. As my not-having-any-of-that-nonsense, semi-professional camping friends are the first to point out. And my brother, who disappears to Europe for the entire month of August every year with his extraordinary trailer-which-tada!-transforms-into-a-small-house. I’m awestruck).

Canvas Holidays, La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere

I was super-excited about having the opportunity to recreate le camping holidays of my childhood with Canvas Holidays, who have been offering fabulous, family-friendly camping overseas since the Sixties (making them the longest-running family tour operator of its sort in the UK).

We chose to stay at the enormously popular (and we now know why) Camping La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, located in a lovely rural setting about an hour outside Paris and so ideal for getting into the capital and (of course) Disneyland Paris!

We thought nonstopmamas might be interested in somewhere that offered the option to mix the family campsite experience with a spot of city sightseeing, museums et al and a Disney visit.

Just a couple of hours drive from Calais (Canvas Holidays packages include ferry travel, and they helpfully provide you with all the info you need on the best route to your destination), Camping La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere is tucked away in a lovely parkland setting, within a sweet little village.

Facilities at La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere

It’s amazing how hidden away the campsite is, given that it is, in fact, pretty big, with all the facilities you need in order to stay put and have a fabulous time without venturing further afield, should you choose not to.

There’s a great mini-supermarket, bakery – which, amazingly, never seemed to run out of baguettes! ….

… along with a boutique/gift shop (for newspapers, postcards and those essential pool inflatables) …

… plus a restaurant, bar (with Wi-Fi available) and lots of activities to keep all ages busy and entertained!

The swimming pool, inevitably, was the biggest hit (isn’t it always?): a really fab complex (with a cover for bad weather) catering for all ages, with water slides for the teeniest babes to the biggest kids (literally!) …

The atmosphere was incredibly warm, relaxed and family-friendly. Nothing was too much trouble for the on-site Canvas Holidays reps, who became a familiar sight in their bright orange tops, cycling around the site and communicating with eachother via walkie-talkies.

There is someone always ‘on call’, 24 hours a day (handy when you want to know when the nearest pharmacy opens early in the morning, as we did once. It’s worth remembering that, in France, you can only buy over-the-counter medicines in pharmacies, so don’t forget the Calpol!).

Canvas Holidays Accommodation Types

We were really impressed with our accommodation, a two bedroom Classic 2 Bedroom Mobile Home (pictured, top of post), which had a lovely deck area with a dining table and seating, so you can eat ‘al fresco’ in the evening …

Ours was located close to the main shopping/swimming pool area and was clean, modern, compact and very well equipped with a cooker, fridge, microwave, shower and sink in the bathroom and a separate loo.

We were also really impressed with the range of cooking utensils, pots and pans, plates, cutlery, coffee maker, kettle and so on provided, and throughout the mobile home there was plenty of storage space – plus extra pillows, blankets and throws (you can take your own bedlinen, or hire it on-site).

It’s the small things that make a difference, too – for example, the beds were all covered with fresh-looking mattress protectors.

You can park your car on your accommodation plot, too, which we found super-convenient.

There were lots of different accommodation options available on-site, including these very smart-looking new Luxury Lodges

… which would be well worth checking out, too, and possibly a good idea if you’re sharing with a bigger group.

Canvas Holidays Kids Holiday Clubs

Whilst we didn’t take advantage of the children’s holiday clubs and organised activities during our stay, they looked like lots of fun. We saw many a happy group – of different ages – having a great time around the site during the week. Check the website for more details on what’s on offer at specific destinations.

Activities at La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere

Other highlights included table tennis (free, if you borrow the bats and balls from the Canvas Holiday Reception) and a great adventure playground.

There’s also a bouncy castle, pedaloing on the picturesque lake and Go Karts for an additional fee (all very reasonable, and you can buy tokens which allow you to enjoy more activities for your money).

At Reception, you’ll also find lots of info on campsite events, the popular children’s clubs and local attractions – including Disneyland Paris, of course, which is just over an hour’s drive away or you can take a day trip on a bus from the campsite.

Here, this summer’s Magic On Parade! in full swing …

… and, if you can stay into the evening,  the Disney Dreams! nighttime spectacular is not to be missed (more on this soon!).

There are also day trips from the campsite available to Paris, and lots of great places to explore within an hour’s drive, including a certain famous (and very picturesque) region *hic!* …

And Reims is an easy drive away and home to the famous Cathedral, a buzzing city centre – and many ice cream opportunities …

Plus, there’s always time to squeeze in a pit stop to check out the local beauty goodies (here at the Galleries Lafayette!!) …

Since returning from our week away, I’ve already recommended Canvas Holidays, this type of self-catering set-up and the Camping La Croix Du Vieux Pont, Berny Riviere, specifically, to lots of mama friends.

It offers fantastic flexibility and the ability to control overall cost of your holiday. Accommodation prices vary according to type, of course, and this is where you can choose to save or spend more, accordingly. Plus, you can save further by taking your own linens and towels and that sort of thing.

Similarly, you can budget to spend as much or as little on food/eating out (or not) and extra excursions, and we found the range of facilities and activities available on site excellent in themselves.

Highly recommended!!

For more information on Canvas Holidays destinations throughout Europe, to watch videos and to book online, visit canvasholidays.co.uk.

Fun, fun, fun at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hero Factory Fun Day!

Meet Rocka!

I mean, really, how could I NOT get a photo taken with one of the Heroes at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort Hero Factory Fun Day on Saturday?

Although, I think I was the only over-8 that did, but no matter. :)

A FAB day in the recently opened Hero Factory area was had by all (including the winners of our nonstopmama competition, and look out for more fab opportunities to come!), with face painting, themed cookies …

… you know we are powerless to resist a themed cookie at nonstopmama :)

There were also ‘Speed Build Challenges’ to create your own Hero Factory Hero or Villain …

Plus, of course, the opportunity to meet the very awesome Heroes Rocka and Furno (although I thought the one photo moment would suffice).

Whilst the character appearances and special activities were only for the day, the Hero Factory area is a permanent feature at LEGOLAND Windsor Resort and great fun for kids to drop into and play at making their own figures and lots more (and don’t miss the fabulous, live pirates show and lots more that’s happening over the summer hols!).

More info and to book online at legoland.co.uk!

Family breaks: Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort review, and Feathered Friends Week at Tractor Ted’s Little Farm!

Earlier this spring, we posted about the lovely Tractor Ted’s Little Farm in Wiltshire, set in the beautiful landscaped Estate of Bowood House And Gardens.

I promised a follow-up review of the recently opened Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort (above) which makes a great place to stay if you want to make your visit into an overnight or short break.

The hotel is set in the gorgeous grounds of the Bowood Estate, which – along with the gardens – also features a FAB adventure playground (which we didn’t mention last time) – with some fantastic (and very high!) slides (plus shorter ones, for little ones), fun rope walks and a fabulous pirate’s ship to climb on.

Lots to keep all ages happily occupied!

The welcome was super-warm and family-friendly, and our room was clean and spacious (the hotel opened three years ago).

The Shelburne restaurant (above), overlooking the championship golf course which Bowood House is famous for, is very smart in the evening (in a dress for dinner, don’t start a food fight sort of way), and offers a kids’ menu. The seasonal menu features fresh produce sourced from Lord and Lady Lansdowne’s private garden on the Estate.

The Terrace – looks like it would be a more relaxed eating option, and would be gorgeous in the summer hols.

Breakfast in the Shelburne was super: a full buffet of hot and cold options and all very chilled and family-friendly.

Look out, too, for some fab summer holiday events: this week (until Sunday 28 July), it’s Feathered Friends Week at Tractor Ted’s Little Farm. Along with the farm animals, children will be able to see birds including an ostrich-like Rhea, newly hatched chicks and there will be organised games.

From Saturday 17 to Sunday 18 August, Tractor Ted’s Big Machines weekend offers the chance to see a range of BIG farm machinery in action, along with tractor and trailer rides and lots of fun and games.

More info onBowood House And Gardens, special events and the Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort here!

  • About

    Jenni Baden HowardDaily adventures in beauty, style, health and fitness, family, food and fun!

    I'm a beauty and lifestyle writer and juggle-from-home mama (the Italian genes explain the mad hair and love of bronzer). I've written for a wide range of British glossies, newspapers and weekend supplements, along with many beauty and lifestyle websites.

    Now in my Forties, I truly believe that true beauty is both ageless and timeless (although I could be biased).

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