SimplyBe Lingerie Review

I’ve written several times about my search for a well fitting bra and just how important good underwear is to me. When you wear the kind of sizes I do, you simply cannot do otherwise! So when SimplyBe asked me if I’d be interested in reviewing some of their lingerie I jumped at the chance. Just not too high and not without support, lest I give myself a black eye ūüėČ !

I’ve used SimplyBe many times over the years. They are a wonderful resource for all sorts of plus size wear. For example I’ve bought everything from swimwear to dresses to (wonderful wide fit) shoes from them. But for some reason I’ve never bought underwear from them. I don’t really know why, when they stock bras in back sizes 28-56 and cup sizes A-L. I guess I’ve been buying my bras from specialist retailers for so long now (gone are the days when M&S can help me any more!) that it just never occurred to me to get them online instead.

I was intrigued.

I was fitted by a specialist store not that long ago, meaning I was pretty sure of my size, but wary. As with all clothes just because a size fits in one style/make, doesn’t mean it’ll fit across the board. And unlike jeans, an ill fitting bra can be a serious detriment to your health! Despite being able to exchange the bras free of charge if they didn’t fit, I proceeded with caution.

I was actually really surprised at the range of lingerie brands SimplyBe carries. And also really pleased that, unlike some specialist store bras, these didn’t seem astronomical in price. I chose two very different brands and styles to try.

Elomi

The first brand I tried was Elomi. Funnily enough I’ve come across this brand before. My wedding basque was by Elomi and was absolutely beautiful. As it happened I couldn’t wear it on the big day as my dress was cut too low, but I did wear it many times under strapless dresses and loved how supportive it was. I’ve also worn bras from Elomi’s sister companies Fantastie and Freya, so couldn’t wait to try something from their range.

I decided to go for a very functional, every day, full coverage bra from Elomi in my current size. And I can honestly say I have never worn a more comfortable bra in my life! Even the ones I already had, in the same size and had been fitted professionally don’t feel as comfortable as this bad boy!

Don’t¬†get me wrong it’s not the prettiest thing to look at (there is a whiff of military grade issue about it ūüėā) but if you’re like me and need loooots of support in this arena, you’d have to go a long way to find anything more comfortable. And I love the shape it gives me. Somehow it accentuates my waist, giving me a rather curvy, 50s vibe. And it really does look smooth under my Surrey Mummy uniform of striped Breton top!

Curvy Kate

The second bra I chose was from Curvy Kate, a brand I’d never tried before. A balcony style, in a sheer fabric, it was much prettier than the Elomi, but still the kind of thing I’d wear every day. The style also means it’s much better for low cut tops.

I have to say, compared to the Elomi bra, this wasn’t as comfortable. I mean it wasn’t uncomfortable per se, but I definitely had to adjust it more during the day and was very ready to take it off come the evening (other larger busted ladies will totally know what I mean here!)

But it was much prettier and still gave me a great shape.

I also loved the advice from CoppaFeel, the charity dedicated to raising awareness of breast cancer in younger women, in the label. What better way to get that message across?

Thoughts

I have to admit I wasn’t convinced buying bras online would be for me. A professionally fitted bra is, in my opinion, one of life’s essentials. But I have to say, if you are pretty sure of your size, particularly those of you, like me, with a larger back and/or cup sizes, then I would highly recommend checking out the SimplyBe lingerie department. While they have a great range of affordable bras, they also stock all kinds of underwear, sleepwear and swimwear.

I know I’ll be revisiting for more Elomi bras. And who knows, I may even treat myself to matching knickers*

 

 

 

*yeah, I probably wont. What mama has time to match her underwear in the mornings??

 

Thank you so much to SimplyBe for gifting me these items for the purpose of this review.

I was not paid to write this post and as always all opinions are my own.

 

Boolino Friends Review – Follow Me Around the House by Camille Garoche

As a Boolino friend, you’re never really sure what kind of books are going to be offered for review. As Oscar’s tastes change at the speed of light at the moment, it’s lovely to have a real mix of reading material to choose from. When we were offered Follow Me Around the House by Camille¬†Garoche however, I wasn’t sure. It was described as a lift the flap, board book. Now I know Oscar still likes to revisit his old favourites occasionally (Dear Zoo anyone?), but really I thought we were over these kind of books. And we may well be. But Follow Me Around the House is nothing like the baby books of old.

Follow Me Round the House by Camille Garoche

The Book

Firstly the quality is far from the board books of our past. Matte finish and heavy, it’s extremely tactile. The story is cute but also very quirky in feel, (unsurprising when you consider Garoche is French. It definitely has that wonderful Gallic peculiarity about it). But all of this pales into insignificance when you come to the bones of the book; the illustration.

The Illustration

The book follows Luna, a Siamese cat, who leads her wards, three new puppies, round the house into which they have been born. Garoche has illustrated the most beautiful house and given an almost dream like quality to the amazing details.

Garoche’s illustrative background is clear to see in this whimsical tale

More than just a ‘lift the flap’ book

Lift the Flap

The ‘lift the flap’ elements are so well combined into the illustrations, that this feels like more of an immersive¬†experience than a children’s book. Seriously, I spent ages just exploring and finding the well hidden secret artwork.¬†It’s a joy to read, but it’s much more of a joy to be a part of.

The detail in this kitchen is beautiful

Just a cello?

Of course not! It’s a bunny bed!

Thoughts

I personally feel this is a book that would be more suited to older or more mature children who would enjoy the time this book demands. To be honest, I wouldn’t even be afraid to get this for an adult, particularly one who appreciates whimsy. Or cats.

Oscar has a bulging bookcase in his bedroom, with free access to hundreds of books. He also has a separate shelf, one he cannot reach alone, that holds a very special collection of books. Ones we feel he is too young for yet or ones that are too precious to risk him damaging. These are books we read together, or books we are saving for the future. Follow Me Around The House is such a gorgeous book, it deserves a bit more care than my boisterous four year old is ready to show just yet. And for that reason, it’ll be joining the others on the special shelf.

For now.

“Ooh, isn’t it delightful here”

Thai Cookery Lessons with Thaikhun Guildford

January. Christmas is over and the weather is dull. And cold. So flipping cold. And what better way to warm up a cold, miserable day, than with some warm, soul comforting food. I’ve spoken¬†on the blog before about the restaurant chain Thaikhun and when they asked me to come along and sample their new Thai cookery lesson at the Guildford branch I leapt at the chance. I couldn’t think of a nicer way to banish the winter blues.

We arrived to a delicious Mocktail and a bowl of spicy prawn crackers, while Map, our host, explained the structure of the evening. We would be watching the chef cook a two course menu, before having a go at preparing the same ourselves. All ingredients, equipment and aprons were provided and the chef was set up at a station away from the kitchen so we could all crowd round to watch.

This was fascinating, however I would mention that this course involved a lot of standing and watching. If you go, don’t do what I did and wear heels! Comfy shoes all the way!

Thai Vegetable Spring Rolls

The first course he, and then we, prepared was Thai Vegetable Spring Rolls. I love spring rolls and had no idea they were so simple to prepare! We shredded and cooked the filling, then wrapped the rolls and deep fried them. It was so obvious and the preparation so straightforward, but I would never have considered making them at home had someone not shown me how to do it!

Skills! Plus, I want a knife like this!

Watching the prep of the filling. Frenetic!

The cooking area was set up with four burners and prep stations. This was based on eight participants (the most the classes usually take), with two to a burner. This would make it a really fun activity for couples or a couple of friends to do. Unfortunately on the night I went I was the only lone participant in a group of nine. This was OK to begin with though as some other friendly bloggers let me muscle in on their rolls!

Then it was our turn!

Deep Fried!

Once the spring rolls were cooked, we sat to eat them, while the ingredients for the main course were prepared. It was lovely to sit and chat with the others in my group while we ate and it really broke the ice that we’d all just cooked the same thing for the first time!

I cooked those!!!

Thai Green Chicken Curry

The main course was Thai Green Chicken Curry, a real favourite of mine!¬†The chef explained the preparation of a real curry paste. However, due to time constraints (making a real paste from scratch, with a pestle and mortar, can take hours apparently) he was choosing to use a bought one. I was a little disappointed¬†at¬†this. I mean the paste was wonderful and gave a fantastic flavour, but it would have been fabulous¬†to see, and use, a¬†real homemade paste. Even a ” here’s one I made earlier” one.

Chef explaining the process of producing green curry paste and prepping the vegetables.

When it came to cooking the curry, the head chef took over. It was so interesting and fun to watch him work!

Then it was our turn. However, I didn’t feel as comfortable muscling in on another couple’s curry so I just watched.

A green curry paste and coconut milk base

It was a shame I didn’t feel like I could get involved, However Thaikhun were most apologetic and have suggested I go back another time to get the full experience and I’d love that!

As I hadn’t helped cook anything I didn’t feel I could ask to eat it either. So, rather cleverly I thought, I asked if the bowl¬†of curry the Head Chef’ had cooked was still around. And it was. I may not have got to cook it, but I did get to eat bowl of Head Chef prepared curry to make up for it. And boy did it! We all sat back down¬†together and were given bowls of rice to go with our curry. Delicious!

Thai Green Chicken Curry

All gone!

At the end of the meal we were given the opportunity to ask any more questions and given, what I thought, was a really thoughtful¬†gift bag, complete with a bottle of Fish Sauce, Palm Sugar and Coconut Milk, along with some vouchers for money off in the restaurant and printed recipes for the dishes we’d prepared. Lovely!

Thoughts

It really was a shame I wasn’t able to get involved in the cooking of the curry. Asking more than two to share a burner is never going to work, even if they were all friends. But as long as the numbers attending the course were kept low, this would be such a fun thing to do.

The restaurant have been these running cookery lessons for a while now. However, the Guildford branch is starting to host theirs from February 2017. They will be running them from 11am-1pm on the 2nd Sunday of every month. The cost is £50 per person and includes everything you could need, including ingredients, expertise and a full meal at the end of it. You can book the course on their website.

The course was so much fun and I learned a lot about Thai flavours. So much so in fact¬†that I’ve been totally inspired and have cooked the spring rolls and curry at home already. The rolls were so good. I may have to knock some up tonight as it goes.

Anyone want to come to dinner?

 

 

Thank you to Mapp and everyone at Thaikhun for a lovely evening.

I was invited to the course as a guest, however I was not paid to write this review. As always opinions are my own.

 

 

 

Hotter Shoes – can footwear really be comfy AND cute?

When I was a little girl, shoes were something of an obsession for me. I loved shoes. Looking at shoes, trying on shoes, playing with shoes. I loved everything about them. Except having school shoes fitted. Not because of the experience itself (which obsessive wouldn’t love going to a shop wholly dedicated¬†to their passion?) but because of the shoes that I was invariably made to have. And not because my parents were hell bent on me having strong, supportive shoes (I mean they were, but…) No, I hated the inevitable tears and heartbreak when I couldn’t have a pair I liked because a) my feet were too wide (seriously I was an H fit child) and b) they weren’t supportive enough for my pretty bad pronation. I would have given anything to leave with a pair of ¬†Clark’s delicate, single strap Magic Steps. Remember Magic Steps? With the hidden key in the heel? But no. I would come away every time with a face full of tears and a pair of T-Bar, if not double buckle, T-bar shoes. Double Buckle? Oh the shame!

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Double buckle Tbar shoes – oh the shame! Image courtesy of Pinterest

Now I’m a parent I feel for my poor mum, having to dash her little girl’s dreams every shoe shopping trip. And I also feel for her, because as soon as I was old enough to chose my own shoes,¬†all¬†thoughts of supportive footwear, that fit properly, flew out of the window! Most children grow out of their pronation, but not me. Likewise most children’s wide feet slim down as they grow. And once again, not me. It doesn’t mean my love of beautiful shoes has changed. I still struggle to find shoes I like that fit. I usually have to get my boots and shoes either from plus size retailers such as Evans or I buy cheap shoes that I don’t mind painfully stretching, often beyond recognition. It’s been that way for such a long time that I never really considered that there was an alternative.

Hotter Shoes

When I was invited to Hotter Shoes in Guildford to take a look at their AW16 range I was skeptical. I had heard of Hotter. I was pretty sure I knew the kinds of shoes they stocked and was also sure I wouldn’t be interested in the styles they sold. Turns out I was wrong.

Firstly I didn’t realise they were a British company who make all their shoes here in the UK and have been for over 50 years!¬†The family run company began in the slipper game back in 1959 and gradually moved into the comfortable shoe market, selling¬†via mail order and in garden centres,¬†over the next 50 years.

Hotter Shoes started in 1959 selling Slippers, which still form part of their core stock

Hotter Shoes started selling Slippers in 1959, which still forms part of their core business

It wasn’t until 2010 when they opened their first shop, that they really started to expand into fashionable styles, without compromising their unique construction and quality. Hotter shoes all have¬†air bubble filled soles and use super soft leathers. They also use a special process to create flexible soles that are molded to the upper, meaning there is no sole unit to come away from the upper. Genius! Waterproof and flexible they also have “special grooves that yield and support your feet as you walk and pillows of cushioning create a slipper like feeling underfoot”. Fancy!

The look

OK, so that sounded lovely and all, but what’s the point of having lovely comfy shoes if they look like the very devil? So the lovely ladies at the Guildford store gave us a chance to explore the shoes for ourselves and I can’t tell you how shocked I was.

Yes Hotter have a core stock of exactly the kind of shoes I was expecting to see.

img_6237

But they also had a range of the most beautiful boots and dress shoes. I was gob smacked. But the biggest shock for me was the fit. I mentioned to the store manager that I have (and always have had) wide feet and she sympathised. She explained that much of their stock came in three width fittings, but suggested I try on the standard fit, as I might be surprised.

The fit

I chose several pairs of boots and honestly expected to have to also ask for the wider fit in all of them. However, turns out Hotter’s standard fit is wider than most high street stores, and is in fact closer to Clark’s Wide Fit. Every single pair that came out, bar one, fitted first time. Shocked Face!

Surrounded by boots that fit!

Surrounded by boots that fit! I cant tell you how rare an occurrence this was for me!

And even better was that I liked every pair. I loved the high leg “Mystery” boots (although I found they fitted my huge man calves better in the wide fit) and was seriously tempted by the gorgeous “Lotty” boots that I’m wearing above. I couldn’t believe how comfy they were, and yet how good they looked. They actually made my feet look narrower, despite not pinching anywhere. It was a revelation in boot shopping. I tried on so many pairs and except for the beautiful brogue Chelsea Boot “County” (which was just a shade too narrow and doesn’t come in the wider fit) they all fitted so nicely.

mystery_range_land

“Mystery” Boots by Hotter Shoes

seattle_sl_land

“County” boots by Hotter Shoes

But when it came down to choosing a pair, I decided to go with the ones that made me happy. The ones I just adored on sight. The cute ones I would never have bought myself. The impractical suede ones, that make me feel a hundred foot tall. The¬†ones that made me smile the most. I chose my grown up version of my Magic Steps, but without compromising on fit. I chose a black pair of “Vanity“.

"Vanity" Boots by Hotter Shoes

“Vanity” Boots by Hotter Shoes

Thoughts

I love my Vanity boots. They go beautifully with leggings or tights, and¬†just as well with skinny jeans.¬†The heel is probably as high as I can take these days, but it’s chunky and sturdy. That coupled with the cushioned insole, make these some of the most comfortable heeled boots I’ve ever worn. And what with the Christmas season coming up, wear them I will.¬†I tell you now, I’ll be the last one on the dance floor, that’s for sure!

img_6258

My grown up version of Magic Steps. I got the ones I wanted!

They completely typify the kind of footwear I had no idea Hotter made. They’re comfortable, but they’re also beautiful. Who knew that could even be a combination? Not me.

I’ve had my eyes opened and I’ll definitely be back. Or maybe I could ask someone else to go back for me?

Now listen Santa, I’ve been very very good this year…. ūüėČ

 

EDIT:

Hotter have very kindly sent me a code for ¬£10 off a pair of shoes or boots, plus FREE delivery. So if you are tempted to try them out then now’s the time to do it!

Code: PQBTPD

T&C’s Р£10 off plus FREE delivery is for first orders only. You are entitled to £10 off the total order value of any full priced items in the Hotter range (excluding shoe care products) plus FREE delivery.  This offer cannot be used in conjunction with any other promotional offer or on Sale or Factory Clearance items and gift vouchers. Expires 29/1/17

 

 

 

 

Thank you to Hotter Shoes and the lovely ladies at the Guildford branch for a super evening. I was given a pair of boots for the purpose of this review, but was not paid for this post.

As always all opinions are honest and my own. 

 

SEN Family on Holiday at Moonfleet Manor

When we decided to go back to Moonfleet Manor this September, I was not only really looking forward to it (we had such a great time when we went two years ago) but I was super interested to see how the hotel would cope with us as an SEN family. Could they accommodate the needs Oscar, as an autistic child has, and give us as parents (and adults) a decent break too?

Moonfleet Manor in Weymouth

Moonfleet Manor in Weymouth

Preparation

I started to get a feeling that they just might, even before we arrived. Weeks before our stay I phoned the hotel to book Oscar into the onsite creche, sessions of which are included in the room price. I spoke to the Ofsted registered creche manager and explained about Oscar’s Autism¬†and asked whether they would be able to cope if he came to¬†spend time with them. She couldn’t have been any clearer that he would be welcomed with open arms, and explained they regularly have guests with disabilities including those on the Spectrum. Without prompting she asked whether we would like them to assign a member of creche staff to be Oscar’s one to one during his sessions. I was blown away by this as it was exactly what he needed, but was something I’d¬†never thought they’d be able to provide. They continued to outdo themselves when,¬†several days later, they emailed me a picture of the staff member who would be his one to one, so I could prepare Oscar beforehand. Again, above and beyond and highly appreciated.

I tried to prepare Oscar as best I could for the upcoming holiday, by talking about the hotel, showing him videos from Moonfleet’s¬†website and making him a visual board which we stuck to the lounge door for a week beforehand. He looked at it every time he went past and was soon telling me he needed to go swimming. By the time we left he was pretty excited I think.

Oscar's Moonfleet Manor Holiday visual board

Oscar’s Moonfleet Manor Holiday visual board

The journey to Weymouth, in Dorset was easy (and made all the easier by Thomas the Tank Engine films on the iPad!). We arrived too early to get access to our¬†room, but the staff happily checked us in and gave us our room name so we could order lunch. Oscar had a little wander round the gorgeous hotel lounges, looking at the vintage pieces on the walls, before finding the garden. We thought he’d be drawn to the trampoline, having been sat in the car for two hours, and he might have been had he not seen the giant sandpit. He happily¬†installed himself and his trains in the sand, leaving us to have a coffee and a biscuit, bought out to us in the garden. Aaaaaand relax. The fact that the sandpit was in a gated enclosure was a nice touch and the huge garden itself was fairly secure, although this did rely heavily on other guests closing the gate to the car park, which not all did.

boy in sandpit

Oscar adored the giant sand pit at Moonfleet Manor

The sandpit at Moonfleet Manor was in a gated enclosure, great for small children or those who need a little more secuirty

The sandpit at Moonfleet Manor was in a gated enclosure, great for small children or those who need a little more security. Plus, look at that view!

Coffee cup

When someone brings you coffee and a cookie almost as soon as you arrive, you know its going to be a good holiday!

Creche

At 3pm, we took him to his first creche session. We had booked him in for four sessions over the two days so were hopeful that would give us (and particularly me ūüėČ ) some time and space to be alone. We were introduced to his one to one, Tara, who we chatted to¬†about Oscar’s likes and dislikes etc. She asked some really relevant questions that kind of took me aback a little, until she told me she was also the mother of a SEN child herself and spoke Makaton at home. As any SEN parent knows, our children take a special kind of patience and knowing Tara had real life experience of this gave me even more confidence in his time at the creche. As I expected he would, Oscar ran straight in, excited to play with all the new toys (including of course the trains and track) and we were free for two hours.

Room

We checked into our room without Oscar, which allowed us both to lay out his things ready for him (making the unfamiliar a bit more friendly) but also to look round our accommodation. I was thrilled with the room. We had a Deluxe Two Bed Family room and couldn’t get over the space this afforded the three of us. As well as our huge (ridiculously comfy) bed and the generously proportioned bathroom (with bath, shower and double sinks), the room also had two twin beds, which were cleverly separated from the main room, giving the feel of two rooms. And each room had its own window, meaning that although this was a large space it didn’t feel too dark. Plus, what a view!

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The lounge area of the room. Behind those doors was a real surprise!

Double sinks! As the room could sleep a family of up to five I'm sure this detail would be most appreciated.

Double sinks! As the room could sleep a family of up to five I’m sure this detail would be most appreciated.

Moonfleet Fleet

View from our room at Moonfleet Manor. Across the gardens and down to the Fleet.

This was a wonderful and unexpected touch as we were worried how Oscar would cope with sleeping in the same room as us. As it happened he had a generously proportioned ‘room’ all to himself, with twin beds, it’s own storage and own TV. This room could have slept up to three, with a camping style bed being included at the foot of the twin beds. This had been made up despite us not needing it, and blow me, if Oscar didn’t insist on sleeping in it (very well I might add!) both nights! Funny child ūüėČ

beds

Oscar’s room was separated from us, which gave him his own space and a choice of beds!

When we bought Oscar up to the room after his creche session (and our relaxed Cream Tea in the lounge in our favourite chairs in the bay window!) he ran around giggling, jumping on the beds and then proceeded to get his trains out and play with them on the coffee table in the living room area. It was so nice to have that extra room and it gave him the space to regulate himself in peace after busy sessions in the creche/pool/garden etc.

We booked our cream tea before we arrived. Happiness in a scone. PS this jam cream combo is THE only way ;)

We booked our cream tea before we arrived. Happiness in a scone. PS this jam cream combo is THE only way ūüėČ

Food

One of the things we loved about Moonfleet last time was their ability to feed all age ranges so thoughtfully. Despite Oscar being a rather anxious eater, we knew there would probably be a few things he would eat on the menu and we were right. However, we hadn’t considered how difficult the dining room might be for him. The first night he managed it, just about. Although he didn’t get upset, there was just waaaaay too much going on for him to concentrate on eating. Or sitting. Add to that a new(ish) food and it just all got a bit much and we left before things spiralled. The next night, after a busy day in the creche and the pool, we just figured he’d¬†be more comfortable and¬†eat more if we ordered room service. It couldn’t have been easier and they bought up his naan bread pizza and fries with the requested squash in minutes. It was a genius plan and I was just so grateful that it’s a service the hotel are happy to provide. It made such a difference¬†and he ate the whole meal. It was also another time we were so grateful for the extra space the room provided.

He loved the naan bread pizza at Moonfleet Manor, but struggled with the dining room

He loved the naan bread pizza at Moonfleet Manor, but struggled with the dining room

Deciding to order him room service was an inspired plan. Oscar was thrilled it arrived with a 'hat'. I told him not to get used to it ;)

Deciding to order him room service was an inspired plan. Oscar was thrilled when it arrived with a ‘hat’. I told him not to get used to it ūüėČ

He ate much more in our room and was much more comfortable.

He ate much more in our room and was much more comfortable.

Breakfast was equally good with a menu to chose from or a running buffet of cooked breakfast items, along with the usual cereals, pastries etc. Again Oscar struggled a little with the dining room, although being tempted with Nutella on toast and the pastry basket was enough to get him to eat something and give us time to do the same. However, not before he insisted 8am was time for the sand pit! And who were we to argue? It was after all his holiday too!

Prebreakfast sand pit action.

Prebreakfast sand pit action.

There were healthyier options thank pain au chocolat and chocolate muffins on offer for breakfast at Moonfleet Manor, but I wasnt going to argue. It was his holiday too after all!

There were healthier options than pain au chocolat and chocolate muffins on offer for breakfast at Moonfleet Manor, but I wasn’t going to argue. It was his holiday too after all!

Baby Listening

The excellent food continued into the evening and due Moonfleet Manor’s wonderful baby listening service, we were able to thoroughly enjoy it! Each night we kept Oscar’s bedtime routine the same as home,¬†meaning when he got into this new bed he was ready for sleep. We called down to the reception to turn the baby listening service on and left him, with fingers crossed. And bless him if he wasn’t out like a light both nights! It was just so nice to have that time, sans child, to eat a delicious meal together, all the while knowing he was safe and monitored. We did see the receptionist come and find several families over the course of the two evenings. The majority of our fellow guests had young toddlers and babies, so that didn’t surprise me, but it did comfort me to know someone was actually¬†listening!

Evenings

Our evenings, just the two of us, were wonderful. So relaxed and so much fun. It really did feel like ‘going out’ for dinner both nights. We dressed up, although you totally didn’t need to. We started the evening with drinks and nibbles in the lounge, where we were bought the menu to order from. We were then called to our table when our food was imminent. And the food itself was delicious.¬†We played a game of who won each course both nights¬†and disagreed over the outcome of most, as everything was so good. Plus Ben had goats cheese and who can ever win with goats cheese!

Wine and nibbles before dinner. I can highly recommend the the Preignes le Vieux Viognier

Wine and nibbles before dinner. I can highly recommend a bottle of the the Preignes le Vieux Viognier!

My winning dinner

My winning dinner

Although Ben was adamant his choice was the winner

Although Ben was adamant his choice was the winner. He was wrong though!

Spa

Our opportunity to relax while Oscar was looked after in the creche continued in the onsite spa. Both Ben and I booked treatments for our second day. I had a body wrap and a pedicure and Ben a facial and massage. The fact that the hotel has a fully functioning spa onsite, would be a draw for any stressed out parent. We made our appointments at opposite ends of the day so neither one of us would be left to look after the boy alone.

Heated bootees in the Moonfleet Manor Spa! Stylish!

Heated bootees in the Moonfleet Manor Spa! Stylish!

I love a good pedi!

I love a good pedi!

While Ben went to have his treatments in the afternoon I had a nap!

While Ben went to have his treatments in the afternoon I had a nap! A nap! Imagine that!

Pool

As it happened my nap was disturbed half way through as Oscar had managed to wet every pair of trousers I had taken down to the creche for him (toilet training is a new and ongoing process for us). I took some more down to him, however once he saw me it became apparent he didn’t want to stay. I didn’t mind and chose instead to take him to the pool¬†next door.

Moonfleet Manor has a three small pools onsite, a baby pool, a small learning pool and a larger swimming pool. While it may not be as fancy looking as some other spa hotel pools I’ve seen, it certainly worked for us.

pool

I was unable to take my own photos in the pool and this is an old one taken before this year’s renovation. Those pillars are no longer there.

Having not been swimming for a long time I wasn’t sure how Oscar would react. I needn’t have worried. He was most interested in the swimming lessons taking place in the learning pool (all babies or young children) and happily snaffled a couple of pool noodles to play with from the teacher. I still don’t know where he found a pair of Peppa Pig armbands, but find them he did. Once he put them on there was literally no stopping him. We were in the pool for two hours and in the end I had to practically drag him out, he was having so much fun. So much in fact that we decided not to put him into the creche the morning of our departure and instead both took him to the pool. He just loved being in the water so much! I am definitely going to have to look into one to one swimming lessons for him.

As the pool wasn’t too large I could relax about him getting lost and it never got busy enough to be too much for him. The only thing that could have been better for me were the changing rooms. The facilities were unisex and yet there were very few cubicles. On days busy with guests or swimming students this would mean you could end up¬†changing in front of the opposite sex. Not ideal to say the least. However, there were decent baby changing facilities, free lockers, towels and toilets within the changing rooms. I would recommend changing into your swimwear in your room, meaning you only have to use the facilities at one end of your swim. Unless, unlike me, you have no body image issues!

The Verandah

One of Moonfleet Manor’s other assets is it’s enormous, and I mean enormous, play barn The Verandah. As we were only there for two days, we barely had time to fit it in, but did pop in for a quick run around before departing the hotel. Anything to let him burn off a bit of energy before getting in the car! He LOVED it, just as much as last time, and we actually ended up having this giant space, filled with soft play, trampolines, climbing equipment, football pitch, piano, ride on toys and air hockey tables to ourselves!

The Verandah. More fun than you could shake a stick at in one enormous room. Perfect for wet days!

The Verandah. More fun than you could shake a stick at in one enormous room. Perfect for wet days! Includes giant clambering beanbag bunny!

Oscar and daddy having a go at the highrope

Oscar and daddy having a go at the slackline

The boy's first game of air hockey. He thought it was hilarious every time he let a goal in!

The boy’s first game of air hockey. He thought it was hilarious every time he let a goal in!

Again the room was fairly secure and was a great place for Oscar to get some vestibular and propreoceptive sensory feedback! It also had a nice array of comfy seats for the adults, not that we got to use them!

Impressions

Moonfleet Manor remains a beautiful place to go. The amount of facilities available to all ages are more than you’d find at most other holiday resorts let alone other hotels and I’m so glad we went. Oscar’s issues with the dining room did make me realise how differently we manage food and it’s consumption at home. I came away feeling like self catering would have been much easier. For him and for us in terms of his behaviour. However, he’s since started school and is slowly learning to eat in a room with lots of others, which makes me think actually this wouldn’t be an issue again. But if it is for you I would highly recommend the room service option!

The staff couldn’t have been more friendly or helpful. Not once were ever made to feel we were any different to any other family. When, during his first session in the creche, Oscar needed a change of clothes. The hotel manager came to find us and once we’d grabbed the clothes insisted he take them over himself so we could resume our sitting/schlomping in the chairs by the window! A gesture that was most appreciated. Those two hours sure do fly by!

All the facilities aside, my favourite thing about Moonfleet Manor is it’s location. The views from the hotel and gardens down to the Fleet and Chesil Beach were just what I needed after a very stressful summer. Peaceful and calming, they breathed new life into all of us as a family.

Evening explore

Evening explore

Boats on the Fleet

Boats on the Fleet

The field of horses next to the garden were a great hit with Oscar!

The field of horses next to the garden were a great hit with Oscar!

Just like when we visited with a toddler, we came to Moonfleet Manor with our autistic son, looking for a chance to rest. We did just that.

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A beautiful day begins at Moonfleet Manor.

 

 

 

We would like to thank Moonfleet Manor for supporting us on our visit to their hotel. We paid for our room and treatments ourselves, however were gifted a complimentary room upgrade for this review.

As always all opinions are honest and my own.

You can find out more about Moonfleet Manor and the Luxury Family Hotel chain on their websites.