Thursday 24 June 2021

A Bank Holiday Weekend in London & Surrounding Areas

 Way back in 2019, my husband booked surprise tickets for us all to visit Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford. Who'd have though two years later we'd still be waiting to visit! Having rebooked and cancelled several times, we were hopeful the easing Covid restrictions in May 2021 would allow us to finally visit. And thankfully WB Studio Tour opened it's doors to the public on 17th May giving us the green light to go - yay! 

We decided to book a few hotels either side of the tour date to allow us to have an extended weekend break and it was so fun to be able to plan things again - it's been too long! Here's what we got up to: 


We set off from sunny Dorset and our first port of call was Reading. My husband has a good friend who lives here that he went to uni with so we try and visit if we're in the area. We had a lovely stroll at a local country park called Dinton Pastures and we found an amazing play area for the kids. 

If you're ever in the Reading area with kids I'd highly recommend a trip here - the play area was absolutely massive and there was so much for the children to do.  

We had dinner at a local pub before heading to our first hotel of the weekend, the Holiday Inn Express in Hemel Hempstead. With these kind of chains, you can't usually go far wrong and this HI was more than adequate for a one night stay. It was a bit of a squeeze in the room with all four of us but it was clean which is the most important thing! We found the staff on the front desk really helpful too. Our car is electric and we asked if they had a charger - they let us plug in through a ground floor window and leave it charging all night. Very handy!


Breakfast was a bit different at the hotel due to Covid and there weren't any hot veggie options but there were sausage/bacon baps already packaged up and plenty of cold options like toast and cereal. The breakfast was included in the price of our stay and the kids were more than happy when they discovered the nutella sachets. 

We checked out and headed down the road to the Warner Bros Studios Tour and excitement levels were high when we spotted the huge buildings! I will probably do a separate review for the studio tours because it was absolutely brilliant and we had such a fantastic day. The last time I went was 8 years ago and there is so much more there now. I won't ruin it if you haven't been but Gringotts was AMAZING! 

The only disappointing point of the whole day was the long queues at lunchtime for the Backlot cafe but we made do with ice-cream and Butterbeer 🍦🍺

The gift shop is of course located just as you exit the tour and if you've never been before, it's pretty big. And they sell all sorts so you'd be hard pushed to leave empty handed! Elliot decided to spend his pocket money on a wand - always useful! 

We bid a fond farewell to the studio tour and started making our way into central London for the next stop on our mini break. 

Our hotel was the Premier Inn at Waterloo and the central location was really handy. We dropped off our bags and headed straight back out to enjoy the sunshine. The Southbank was really really busy - being a sunny bank holiday, everyone in London seemed to be out! We managed to get a table in Giraffe and found it was really reasonably priced for food,especially for the kids. 

We did plan on having a walk right along the Southbank but it had been a long day for the kids with lots of walking so we decided to head on back to our hotel. All in all, a great day 👍


We were up bright and early due to the hotel only having very early breakfast slots - 645am is a bit early to eat but as we'd already paid for breakfast it was either that or 1030am which was far too late! Bellies full, we checked out and headed towards the tube station (Waterloo) to start our next adventure. 

We hopped on the tube and headed over to the British Museum near Holborn. There are some fantastic FREE museums in London...I'll say that again - FREE! We did have to pre-book a time slot but I think that might just be due to Covid and staggering the amount of people visiting. From the outside the museum certainly looks impressive and we were excited to see what was inside. 

The British Mususem is one of the largest museums in the world and houses over 13 million objects, although obviously not all these are on display. The museum has nearly 100 galleries open to the public and you can see two million years of human history. Not bad for a free ticket! 

Currently the museum has Covid rules in place meaning there is a one way system around the galleries but we didn't feel this detracted from the experience at all. There were lots of staff around the museum who were happy to answer any questions or give some more information about particular exhibits.

The kids really enjoyed seeing the Egyptian Mummies and it was absolutely fascinating to see all the artifacts that had been discovered in the tombs.

There is SO much to see and you could probably spend all day without reading every single information board! I was a little unsure about how much our children would get out of it but we spent a good two hours and it was thumbs up from them. If you visit with children, check out the British Museum website where you can download activities and museum missions. 

After a visit to the Forbidden Planet shop for some comics, we stopped for lunch at a BrewDog pub. The weather was absolutely beautiful so it was lovely to sit outside with a nice cold drink. Not eaten at one of these before but the food was brilliant - lovely burgers and big portions, especially the kids meals. Check out the size of Elliot's burger! 

We spent the next few hours wandering through central London, taking in the sights and sounds. It was very busy, it's been a while since we've been to somewhere with that many people so it was a bit of a shock to the system. 

Our final stop for the day was Hamleys - the kids have been getting excited about this for so long and all complaints of being hot and tired went out of the window when they saw the famous red shop! It's not mine and Paul's idea of fun, especially as it was the temperature of a sauna inside, but the things you do for your kids eh! 

We explored every floor and eventually the boys split off to find the Lego and Erin and I found ourselves surrounded by Barbies and LOL dolls. It took a while but they finally managed to choose something to spend their pocket money on!

Back out in the fresh air (thank goodness) it was time to head back to the hotel to pick up the car. It been a long hot day of walking so those last few miles weren't the fastest! Predictably, Erin fell asleep as soon as she got into her carseat, my fitbit said we'd walked 22,000 steps so no wonder she was tired. 

We arrived in Slough around 730pm and after a quick stop at the local Tesco for some sandwiches, we checked in at the Holiday Inn Express. We had another family room booked and this was a lovely large room with two double beds. Alot of the time a family room will have a double and a sofa bed/pullout bed which are never very comfortable so this was good to see. Erin was wide awake after her dangernap so bedtime was a bit never ending but we got there in the end! 


Big thumbs up for the Holiday Inn breakfast, thought it might just be continental but you could have a full english as well as all the cold options. Really good for a "free" brekkie. 

Starting the day with the all important nutella!

We checked out of the hotel and made the short drive into Windsor. We parked up in Alexandra Gardens Car Park and headed towards the centre of town. First impressions of Windor were wow, that's an impressive castle! It's one of those places that I've seen on TV so many times and it felt a bit surreal to be stood in front of it. Erin was fascinated to know that the Queen lived there, I think she was expecting her to be stood by the window waving at passers by! 

Our original plan was to walk some, if not all of the Long Walk but the weather was rather warm and we decided to save that for another (cooler day!) - instead the kids were happy chasing each other and pouring water over their heads to cool down! 

We did have a peek through the gates and it was pretty cool to see the Queen's Guards. We were really hoping to catch the Changing of the Guards in the town but sadly due to Covid this isn't happening at the moment. 

We spent the rest of the morning exploring the town and we eventually found ourselves by the river. The boat trips seemed to be really popular with most of the time slots sold out. There were also huge queues to hire out boats, the lovely weather definitely made everyone want to be out on the water! 

The kids had a quick go on some of the rides in Alexandra Park but we decided to call it a day and head on home. Heat + tired children = cranky everyone!

There's so much more in Windsor that we didn't get round to seeing so I really hope we get to visit again one day. If you want an in depth Windsor day out write up, have a look at my blogger friend Sabrina's post - she lives in Slough and has lots of lovely photo of Windsor and Eton on there. I wish I'd read that post before we went, super useful 👑

Both children fell asleep in the car on the way home, this never happens. So I'm taking this as a sign of an action packed, fun, weekend away! 

Tuesday 15 June 2021

The Greyhound - Corfe Castle - Review

 Nestled right in the centre of Corfe Castle village is The Greyhound, a 16th Century Coaching Inn which is apparently the most photographed pub in the UK. If you've ever driven though the village, no doubt you have taken this very snap! I have lived in Dorset my entire life and have been visited Corfe Castle since I was a little girl, but I never get bored of this view.

Corfe Castle on a Cloudy Day

We were invited along to try out the food and having eaten at the Greyhound before on a number of occasions, I was looking forward to seeing what was on the current menu! 

We arrived at the pub for lunch and were shown to our table which was on the covered terrace. There were plenty of tables here, plus in the beer garden which overlooks the castle but it did get very busy so if you are planning to visit I would 100% book in advance to save disappointment. 

Standard Covid measures are in place at the Greyhound - masks on until you sit down, hand sanitiser on entry and they ask you to check in using the NHS Track & Trace - the QR code can be found on the menu which is handy. They do have a food ordering app to minimise contact but this wasn't working when we ate - the staff were all wearing masks though and happy to take orders. 

The menu is very varied and has options for vegan/veggies/ GF etc. It was great to see lots of local additions such as Portland crab, Dorset Blue Vinney Cheese and Purbeck Cider. The stonebaked pizzas sounded amazing but I chose Mussels with cider, leeks and chorizo. This came with chips and crusty bread. It's not a dish I'd ever attempt to make at home so I really wanted to try it - and I wasn't disappointed! The creamy sauce was so tasty and the portion was plentiful. The downside is the mess I created, maybe they could supply a bib for messy eaters too ;) 

My husband is vegan and he was excited see his favourite Moving Mountains burger on the menu. His only criticism was that he would have preferred a brioche roll rather than a standard burger bun but apart from that, he really enjoyed it! The sweet potato fries were especially nice. 

We weren't planning on having pudding but the waitress asked if we'd like to have a look at the menu and to be honest, we couldn't resist! I had vanilla cheesecake which was topped with Biscoff crunch and served with Biscoff sauce and salted caramel ice-cream. How could I say no to that?! Paul had the sticky toffee pudding which came with warm caramel sauce and ice-cream. And a flake! 

We visited on a weekday lunchtime and I expected the village to be quiet but it was very busy and felt like a weekend! The outside area of The Greyhound was buzzing with families having their lunch and it was great to see them so busy. The kitchen were doing a fab job in getting the food out fast! 

We really enjoyed our lunch and I'd definitely recommend a visit to The Greyhound. If you're spending the day in the village and have tickets for the castle then you can even get 10% off your bill.

Have you ever visited Corfe Castle?

*Disclaimer - We were invited for a gifted meal in exchange for an honest review. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...