Toronto With Kids

I have to admit I was a bit nervous about doing a city break with the kids, having never done anything like this with them before. But since we were flying into Toronto from Edinburgh we couldn’t very well pass up a chance to see at least a little of this beautiful city on the first stop of our break in Ontario.

Thankfully Toronto is an incredibly child-friendly city with so much going on for the whole family that there was really nothing to worry about (apart from the searing heat, which really affected all our energy levels).

I’ve detailed below some of the things we got up to that will hopefully provide a lil inspiration if you’re thinking about visiting with your kids.

CN Tower Restaurant

The CN Tower used to be the highest free-standing structure in the world (at 1815 feet) until the Burj Khalifa overtook it in 2008. The prospect of going to the top of a ridiculously tall building is pretty exciting for kids (our eldest at least) so we didn’t want to leave without doing this.

We opted to make a reservation at the restaurant for lunch as it means skipping the queues (which can apparently be up to 2 hours long) and, although a bit pricey for food, removing the stress of trying to entertain two children in a huge queue…well that’s priceless isn’t it!

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To access the Tower itself costs 38 CAD (ages 13-64) and 28 CAD (ages 4-12) so for 65 CAD per adult and 12 CAD per child to eat AND access the glass floor afterwards doesn’t make the cost seem so eye-watering. The restaurant itself sits on a revolving floor so no matter where you’re seated, you’re guaranteed to see every view! All in the comfort of your own space with no crowds surrounding you and, if you’re like me, you’ll enjoy it all with a large glass of wine in your hand. The restaurant itself is really child-friendly. They get their own menu, special cups to drink from and some colouring in to do if, like our youngest, they’re not interested in watching planes land at Billy Bishop airport just across the lake or attempting to spot ant-like people walking in the streets below.

After our lunch we were escorted down to the next level to check out the view again and then the next floor down for the glass floor. To be honest, after experiencing the view from the restaurant, we didn’t feel like this had the same level of excitement for us. However T enjoyed chilling out on the glass floor for a bit.

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To plan your experience check out their website here.

Toronto Railway Museum

Conveniently located just across the road from the CN Tower and with a really low entrance fee (5 CAD for over 14s and 3 CAD for under 14s), this was a perfect way to while away an afternoon. There’s a fab train simulator so you can have a go yourself at being a train driver, plus you can explore some of the real carriages.

Note that if the kids want to go on the miniature train ride outside this is an extra cost (3.50 CAD for over 14s and 2.50 CAD for under 14s).

The museum is also conveniently located just beside the Steam Whistle Brewery, so you can grab one of Canada’s premium Pilsners and enjoy the views before heading on your way.

You can find out more about the Railway Museum here.

Centre Island

A perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city, and it’s only a 10 minute ferry journey (which in itself is an adventure for kids, well ours at least), you can easily visit Centre Island over a couple of days as there is just so much to see and do.

And why rush it? Take a picnic and check out the beautiful fountains, gardens, maze, Franklin Children’s Garden, beach, park and splash pad.

If that’s not enough for you, go along to Centreville Amusement Park for that carnival fun of times gone-by. Great for younger children, no scary rollercoasters, just great fun rides, including a Ferris Wheel with amazing views of the Toronto skyline, log flume, twirling teacups and pony rides. You can also pop along to the Far Away Farm petting zoo which is completely free.

For opening hours of both and prices for Centreville check out their website here.

If you have the time, and the funds allow, I would take a day to explore the Island and then pop back for another day just for Centreville and Far Away Farm.

You can get the Centre Island Ferry schedule and up to date pricing here.

Ontario Science Centre

We had THE best day out here. There is an entire floor of the Ontario Science Centre dedicated to children’s exploration and fun. There is genuinely too many activities to note. Our two didn’t even do everything there was on offer but they did have a chance to find out a little more about space, play with bubbles, water, torches and balls, help build some walls, play in the supermarket, play in the ‘vegetable patch’ and read books. And this is just some of the fun we had.

It’s a bit of a drive out of the city centre, but well worth a visit. There’s even an IMAX cinema!

For prices and opening hours and up to date info about what’s on, check out their website.

Chinatown

Head to Chinatown for dinner and let the kids explore the market stalls and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurants. We chose a fabulous low-key restaurant and were surprised at how child-friendly it was. We got great advice on the right kinds of dishes for the kids in terms of spice and portion size and they barely blinked at the mess and noise we created, and not just by the kids. I managed to drop a scalding bowl of soup and wontons were flying ALL over the place! Needless to stay, we didn’t stay too long after this. Also, after some of the expenses of the previous days we couldn’t believe our entire meal came to less than 50 CAD.

Harbour

We happened upon the harbour a little by chance as we had some time to kill before our lunch at the CN Tower and we could have easily made an afternoon of our visit. There’s a man-man beach with Muskoka chairs to chill in while watching the planes landing at Billy Bishop Airport just across the lake, or to take in the amazing view of the CN Tower.

Streetcars

The Toronto Streetcars are not only a fabulous way to get around the city, for children they are pretty darn exciting to hop on and off. The routes and pricing are really easy to get the hang of so don’t be afraid of trying them out. We loved this guide to the Streetcars when we were doing our research ‘How to Take a Streetcar in Toronto’ so do check it out.

There’s obviously soo many other things to do in Toronto with kids…Royal Ontario Museum, Ripley’s Aquarium, Hockey Hall of Fame and Riverdale Farm but we didn’t want to feel as thought we’d rushed around simply to tick things off a list. We had so much fun doing the things we did that we left the city feeling like we would happily visit again and again and always find something new to do.

Have you visited Toronto with your children? What are your recommendations?

Cx

Cuddle Fairy
Wanderlust Kids
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Fall In Love With Northumberland

It’s been an intense few months what with the house project getting into full flow and various other bits and bobs going on. So to say we were ready for our annual catch up with some very good friends is a bit of an understatement. I was champing at the bit to get going on Friday and finally, after popping up to the house to take receipt of our new kitchen (exciting) and waiting for the car to be serviced and being told it needed extra repairs (sob), we managed to get on our way.

This is our fourth trip away with these friends and our families have expanded somewhat since the first one, so we’ve leaned more towards booking more spacious cottages so there’s plenty of room for the kids to run about. They are inevitably more expensive but I do think it’s worth it. Especially since we do spend our nights in after being out and about during the day. Also because we go away with another family we do have a bit of freedom to book something a bit nicer than the norm.

So we booked East Bickerton, right in the heart of the Northumbrian countryside.

The cottage is absolutely stunning and Lizzie, the owner, lives right next door which is really handy if there is anything you specifically need. Not that we did need to contact her as she had thought of everything. Apart from on our final morning Alan woke up with a bug and wasn’t able to travel. Lizzie was so gracious in allowing us to stay past the 10am check out, telling us we could stay as long as we wanted. Thank you Lizzie! When we arrived there was milk, biscuits, tea and coffee awaiting us (I love little touches like that). As well as being a stunning home in a stunning location, it was also really family friendly. We were provided with two travel cots and two high chairs, a stair gate and boxes of toys for the kids to play with. One piece of feedback I would give Lizzie is to advertise this as it’s a huge draw for families and saves us packing our own. As if all that wasn’t enough we were able to order a supermarket delivery which she kindly took receipt of for us. All in all East Bickerton gets a massive thumbs up from us.

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An Apology To My Son

In the last couple of weeks or so the dreaded parenting guilt has crept in again. (note to self, read old post about dealing with the guilt...or write a better one!)

As anyone with more than one child will know, we become a lot more relaxed as parents the second time around. You know, you see your child eating Cheerios that they have cheerfully scraped off the floor and you nonchalantly realise you haven’t bought cheerios in a month rather than go running for the Calpol to help fend off the illnesses that’s-a-coming since they just ingested so many bad bad germs. Or you don’t go rushing to their bedroom every time they let out the smallest whimper and sit stroking their head till they fall back asleep, when you then commando crawl out the room. Now you wait till they’ve been screaming the house down for a good while….and even then you just tell them to sshh and stomp back out to finish watching House of Cards.

So I’m fine with all of that. We’ve found it all much easier the second time around and haven’t worried so much about the small things and that’s definitely a good thing.

What’s getting me though is the realisation now that some of the expectations we had for T were pretty unreasonable. Things that totally aren’t even a big deal, but they would stress me out so much at the time.

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Best Parks in Fife

Hey Fifers,

Anyone else sick to death of the sight of their local park? I am! But the kids love a park visit and it keeps them entertained for so long (unless your park is a little sad and tired like our current one!)

Days out with the kids can be an expensive business, by the time you’ve paid for wherever you’re going, travel, lunch and whatever crap treat you buy them while you’re there. This is where the park comes in. It’s expense free. And if you get a good one you can get a good part of the day out of it. So let’s get excited by the park again!

Say hello to

THE GREAT PARKS OF FIFE:

1. Culross

As you will have noticed from the Hidden Gems in Fife post, I LOVE Culross. I grew up here and never appreciated its beauty but really do now. The park here is new and has something for all ages. The slide is a lighthouse. It has a tunnel, it has sand, it has balance beams and it has picnic benches, a small beach right next to it and of course, the rest of the beautiful village if the kids do happen to get bored.

2. Pittencrief Public Park

Dunfermline’s public park, or ‘The Glen’ as we like to call it, is huge and has 3 playparks, lots of space to walk and explore, an old steam train, a cafe with small soft play, public toilets, squirrels galore and even the odd peacock. Definitely take a walk through the woodland areas and check out the glasshouse and Japanese gardens too.

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Check Out Our Autumn Plans

It’s the last day of the school term today here in Fife and seeing everyone’s lovely posts about Autumn recently have gotten me a bit excited myself about this season. Let’s face it, it’s usually overlooked as everyone is beginning to think about winter and the C word that I won’t mention!

So, I thought it would be nice to put together a little to-do list for our family for Autumn. It’s all pretty easy and mainly free to do so it shouldn’t be difficult. And it helps when thinking about what to do with the kids in the holidays to have a little plan.

I do have my own personal list which includes the obvious kind of stuff:

  1. Stop shaving legs
  2. Reduce hair washing to twice a week
  3. Buy a winter hat because of point 2
  4. Complain about how cold it is
  5. Buy a winter coat because of point 4

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10 Things You Should NEVER Say To A New Mum

My littlest baby turned 2 a few weeks ago and of course it got me thinking about when she and her brother were first born. While of course I’m sad that we won’t have that teeny tiny baby stage again, I’m also relieved that that stage is done because it’s bloody hard! And often not helped by comments that are well meaning but make you want to hit said person round the head with one of the dirty nappies you’re swimming in.

So, wondering what NOT to say to a brand new, war wounded, sleep deprived and completely overwhelmed mum? Here’s my handy list….

1. When are you due?

True story. Someone I know very well went to the corner shop a week or so after her youngest was born and bumped into someone from her village who stopped to chat and to enquire about when she was going to have her baby. Now I get it, this mistake could happen to anyone. But this woman, oh she couldn’t let it lie, instead of being mortified and apologising profusely upon being told he was at home with his dad she was insistent that Mum was joking! If you ever make the same grave error PLEASE just say sorry, tell the new Mum she looks great and swiftly move on. Or be at risk of being pummelled by the nearest object!

2. You look tired!

No shit Sherlock. A tiny person has just burst into their world and stolen sleep right from under them. They are slowly coming to the realisation that they have no, I repeat NO prospect of finding the kind of sleep they’ve been used to for a very, very long time! There’ll have been tears before your visit and no doubt more tears afterwards so, for the love of god, as with point 1, just tell her/them both that they look great. Or go a step further and offer to take the baby out for a walk so they can grab an hour’s kip.

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10 Hidden Gems in Fife For Kids

If you’re from, or visiting Fife, and, like me, you’re sick to death of taking your kids to soft play centres, with their overpricing, sticky carpets, lack of mute button and terrible, terrible food, then the below list is for you. I’ve explored a fair amount in Fife with my two children (5 and 2) and can vouch for the fact there’s so much to do. Sometimes we can all feel like we do the same things with our kids so I thought it would be nice to note down what I think are some ‘hidden gems’.

Before you read on I’d like to note that none of the companies listed have paid me anything in return for the high praise I’m about to bestow on them. I just really like them and it’s nice to spread the word when you discover something fun to do with the kids.

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Top Tips for Travelling with Children

The thought of travelling with children is pretty daunting. I’m by no means the most experienced of travellers, however we’ve been on a fair few trips both in the UK and abroad, with Tom and more recently, Lois, in tow.

So here’s my top tips to make those journeys a little less stressful:

  • First of all lower those expectations. I mean, get them right down. To the point where your goal is simply to get to the other side alive, and having not committed violence against another member of your family. By doing this you aren’t going to be disappointed are you?! I say this, because we’ve travelled in the past with lovely ideas of how it’s going to go down and it just never goes this way. For example, we decided to drive back from Cornwall to Scotland in a day, with a stop in Manchester to go to the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre for a few hours. Setting off and stop off times were planned around Tom’s naps. We didn’t factor in leaving on the first day of half term in England and being stuck in traffic for the entire day, missing LEGOLAND and Tom staying awake for the entire 12 hour journey. Actually, that’s a lie, he fell asleep 45 minutes from home, then we had the added fun of the car to bed transfer.  It stressed us right out but the funny thing is, looking back, Tom was completely chilled out. If we’d had no plans for how the day SHOULD go, we might have been the same.

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