Why The Four Seasons Hampshire is Perfect For a Weekend Away With a Toddler

Last weekend, A and I escaped London for 24 hours at the Four Seasons in Hampshire and it was glorious!

It’s only 40 mins on the train from Waterloo, the best part of this was that a couple and their slightly older toddler for on next to us and basically the 2 toddlers entertained each other and then the dad started singing nursery rhymes! Travelling alone with a toddler isn’t easy, with 2 bags and a buggy, I felt like a mule!

Yep A is wearing pearls a la Theresa May…

This was the easiest train ride with A ever. We then took a 10 mins taxi ride from the station, of course A fell asleep en route and woke the min we got there!
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I booked the stay via my American Express Platinum card that has a great program for certain hotels, this is one of them and so we got early check-in, late checkout (4pm), a room upgrade and ¬£85 towards food and drink. These extras really made the stay very enjoyable, you don’t want to be hanging around with a toddler for ever!

The room had everything we needed (including Childs Farm products that we adore!)


After dropping our bags in the really spacious room that looked out onto the massive grounds, the first thing we did was have a great lunch outside, it was so nice to eat outside, doesn’t happen often in late September!


Then it was time for a nap, I thought she was asleep in her cot (this is a real cot, not a travel cot, which makes a big difference comfort wise) but she woke after 2 mins! I will be sad the day naps end!

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Took her another 30 mins to finally fall asleep on “mummy’s bed”, I actually fell asleep next to her, that bed was so comfortable!!!


We went to the playground, to see the chickens and finally we went swimming in the very warm pool. We tried to go cycling but the only helmet left didn’t fit ūüė¶


I had a lovely margarita whilst she had dinner then it was time for milk in the very big bed whilst watching telly. One of the best parts about the hotel is you can go to the bar and give your toddler dinner and nobody bats an eye lid, there were other families around so I felt totally comfortable with A. The staff were very sweet to both of us and are clearly experienced with dealing with children! I have to say it feels very indulgent to order warm milk for your toddler and have it arrive on a silver tray! The milk came really quickly so credit to room service!

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I then came up with the genius plan to put the cot in the bathroom for the night (clearly this only works with a big bathroom!) so I could order room service and watch X Factor without disturbing her. I highly recommend doing this!


The next day, we went down for breakfast after more room service milk in bed! Now this is where travelling with a toddler is a real pain in my opinion, you can’t (well I never can) have a long leisurely breakfast with a toddler. It’s always rushed and a bit of a pain really! Such a waste, I need to work on this! The continental breakfast was included in our room rate but I was dying to eat some sausages and bacon!

We finally managed to go cycling after breakfast and it was one of my favourite things I have ever done with A, it was the perfect morning but man cycling up a hill with a 12 kg toddler behind you is not easy! I stopped for a min to take it all in, we were in such beautiful peaceful surroundings and I felt very grateful for being there.


Before leaving, A made a friend in the free kids club, where she had a great time and they both ran to a helicopter that had been hired by guests and were keen to climb in!

It was then time for some last delicious food before falling asleep in the taxi again!

Thank you to all the staff, who looked after us, I hope to come back soon!
In the meantime, here’s a summary of why it’s a great place to go with children:
-Child’s Farm products in the bathroom
-free nappies, swimming nappies and a pack of wipes (less to carry!)
-free food and drink for under 5s
-free kids club (you have to stay with under 3s)
-a massive estate to run around on
-a proper cot not an uncomfortable travel one
-a toy box at reception where they can pick a gift
-very friendly staff who never make you feel like you’re child isn’t welcome
-children’s cutlery and plastic bowls, plates etc
-small bikes or seats for them on the back that are free to hire

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A Perfect Friday or A Cooking Class At Leith’s

For my birthday, my husband bought me a gift voucher for a cooking class at Leith’s called “Flavours of the Pacific Rim”. I had already been to a knife skills course there before and really enjoyed it so was really excited to go back. I don’t work Fridays and the idea of no work, A in nursery and a cooking course was basically my idea of heaven and¬†I wasn’t disappointed!

Leith’s¬†was founded in 1974 by Prue Leith and Caroline Waldegrave, it offers professional (Lorraine Pascale is an alumni for example)¬†and non-professional courses and a lot more (they have a shop, organise corporate events etc). If When I am rich, I will definitely be hiring one of their chefs to come to my house! They are based in West London and so off to Shepherd’s Bush I went on a rainy August Friday morning.

The school is at the end of a very pretty street, I was nosing into the houses as I went along

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The class was from 10 til 2.30PM and I have to say I was exhausted and elated by the end. Anyway back to the beginning! They provide tea, coffee and freshly cooked pastries, whilst you are waiting for the class to start

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All sorts of people go to these classes the first lady I met was house-sitting in Brixton (she lives in France most of the time) and then I was paired up with an American and a Anglo-American couple, I was really lucky, my group was really fun, we had a seriously good laugh, Tom, who I was paired with was super enthusiastic, I thought he was going to jump into the oil to eat a wonton at some point!

I won’t go into all the details of each recipe but point out the tips (I have provided photos of them all). After a safety briefing, we went off to start making dessert in the nice big room that was at the perfect temperature (I thought it might be stuffy). Our main teacher for the day, Jess was really great. She was very clear, hands on, miraculously seem to manage to spend time with all of us (we were 10) and had amazing eyelashes!

Everything is prepared for you, all ingredients weighed out etc

The menu we were about to make was as follows:

  • Deep Fried Wontons with Nam Prik dipping sauce and miso dipping sauce
  • Pan fried duck breasts with plum and teriyaki sauce
  • Sesame soba noodle salad
  • Mango and passion fruit pavlova

We started by making the pavlova as it takes 1h30mins to cook, here is the recipe:

img_0469The key tips I retained from this part are:

  • use¬† metal instruments and make sure they are grease free
  • older egg whites work betterimg_0374
  • start by beating the eggs slowly and remember to incorporate all the mixture and go round the sides or there won’t be an even consistency (Jess’s eagle eyes spotted I was making this mistake)
  • You can use some of the mixture to stick the baking sheet down in the corners
  • Always add icing sugar to the cream or it can taste a bit too savoury

Nope we didn’t do the over the head test but apparently mine was a really good consistency! I took to a party the next day and it was a great success.

Here is one the others made (I decided to not eat mine or the day but had some of theirs!)

And here’s a video of the cream whipping action:

We were then take through the wonton recipe including a little chopping demo:

The wontons were DELICIOUS! Fiddly but seriously delicious, so more-ish.

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The top tips for these amazing babies are:

  • You have to¬†remove a ¬†lot of the layers from the lemongrass and discard the top 3rd, what’s left should be pliable, soft and thin. I had clearly not been discarding enough! You can use the rest to add flavor to sauces etc but you cant eat it.
  • Expel as much air as possible to avoid exploding wontons! and make sure there are no holes
  • Wrapping them isn’t easy, use water to stick the edges together and aim for a “moneybag” shape.

We checked the first one but it was still raw inside so we turned the oil down so the inside would cook but the outside wouldn’t burn. The next ones were perfect and delicious!

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The main tips for the super easy sauces was to peal the ginger and roll the limes before juicing, both super efficient!

Finally, we made the duck, its sauce and the soba noodle salad (which was a doddle).

Here is the duck recipe and the beautiful meat:

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The duck was all about the rendering…I had never rendered any meat but it is so easy and worth it! You basically just get rid of the fat by really slowly heating the duck to get rid of as much fat as possible, you need to start with a cold pan and then wait about 8 mins on a low heat. I turned mine up a bit too high so it was slightly burnt…

We then put it in the oven and made the soba noodle salad , which could not have been simpler and prepared the delicious teriyaki, plum and red wine sauce:

And here it is all coming together:

I had such a great time, I’m¬†really considering¬†doing their Cooking with Confidence evening course and will definitely do some more day classes. They are super professional, friendly, organised and make it all seem so easy. If you like cooking, you can’t go wrong with Leiths!

Linking up with Honest Mum’s Brilliant Blog posts because it really was a brilliant day!

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

The Friday Happiness Project – Week 1

Happy Friday!

On Sunday night, I watched the “Happy Movie” (http://www.thehappymovie.com/), it was a really positive movie with some interesting scientific facts thrown in (some people are genetically less predisposed to happiness – unfortunate for them!). It made me think about what makes me happy and what would make me happier. I recently wrote a post about winning the lottery, for me the main advantage to becoming a millionaire would be to be able to make others happy, indeed winning the lottery won’t make me happier – this is actually a scientific fact “As people earn more money, their day-to-day happiness rises. Until you hit $75,000. After that, it is just more stuff, with no gain in happiness.”. What would definitely make me happy would be to make my closest friends and family financially secure and to be able to spend time with them by going on amazing holidays!

The plan is reflect on the week every Friday and remind myself of some happy moments in the past week. So here goes:

  • Arabella getting her second tooth this week, this means that hopefully the crazy night teething will pause for a few days! Its also really cute to see her with 2 bottom teeth.
  • Eating a delicious lunch at Shake Shack with my best friend and our babies
  • My brother is working at my sister’s company for the summer and he got an email thanking him from a customer on his third day at work, that made me really happy
  • Monday was a really happy day, my sister came to visit us and its so nice to see how excited she was to see and play with Arabella

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  • Arabella wearing her first hair clip – so cute!

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So this week, a lot of the happy moments came from family and friends, not material things (well except a cheap hairclip). Some THING that is going to make me happy is the Chipotle Burrito my husband will bring back tonight for dinner!

Have a happy weekend everybody!