Since Smash Enterprises smashed their way into the UK, they are making shopping for lucnch gear a whole lot easier for frazzled parents to cope with. The Wilson’s are huge fans of the collections, and every year we crush on them a little more than the last! *How do they do that??
UK friends, hold your breath!
You are about to get their newest range, hitting ASDA stores from today!!!
Asda are stocking brand new Smash products right now…..
…which your kids are not only going to love, they are going to be begging you for! Every base is covered, from unicorn lovers to dinosaur fans, to your more grown up “style conscious” kids. I know first hand how hard it can be “it has to be a BLUE DINOSAUR WITH GREEN LEGS MUMMMM” Yes, more awesome stuff for on the go eating, for even the fussiest kids around!
Stop the press…… **The sequins!!!!!
‘Smash are experts in Back to School! We know what kids need at different stages of their school life, and we know what parents expect from the products they buy. Parents love the reliability of Smash.’ – Smash Enterprises
Summer is well and truly here for the UK (how hot has it been??) and it’s the perfect time to get some of that Back2School stuff done before the kids are on holidays and whinging in your ears. Buying all the ‘lunch gear’ as soon as it hits Asda means that not only have you ticked one chore off the list of many, the kids can spend the summer holidays outside exploring nature, and eating on the go with one of the funkiest lunch collections on the market! Come on, we all love the kids going outside to play…..all day!
When the kids and I saw this new Asda collection from Smash, we knew that it would be a hit. There’s a design for every child, the drinks bottles have great new matt colours which are really funky, and Smash have come up with even better ways to keep your kids food fresher than ever before. We love the gel packs for keeping food at the right temperature, and the magic lining that makes sure the germs are kept at bay! Happy mum right here!
If your job title this summer is ‘person in charge of lunches’ this is where you can get ahead of the game, and nail a Back2School job too. Let’s be honest we all have a love/hate relationship with the constant holiday food consumption, so why not grab an awesome new lunch box and serve up ‘packed lunches’ every day this summer. *Lunch that they make THEMSELVES!!! What’s in the box is what they get, FULL STOP!
Asda will be stocking this brand new range of awesome Smash products from 10th July.. That’s today!! Like… NOW!! There’s no excuse to miss out!
Throw the kids at Granny and head to Asda before they sell out. Stock is limited so don’t wait until tomorrow! This Aussie born lunch style is not going to be around long enough for you to leave purchasing until the last minute.
Show your kids your “Smash Attitude” and be one of the first parents in line for this new range.
Just to add some immediate irritation to your reading, I want to let you know I am writing this poolside, overlooking Melbourne at Crown. I’d like to say I was lying here in a bikini, all tanned, sipping on a large cocktail, but I’d be lying. After a few too many amazing Melbourne burgers, too much wine, and over the top stress chocolate eating, I am actually lying here, fully clothed, bollocking the kids for jumping in the pool every so often! Believe me, it’s bliss compared to being at home and bollocking them for putting their dirty hands on the walls or stealing spoonfuls of Nutella out of the pantry! *Only mum is allowed to do that….
Mr W booked a staycation for this weekend. Oh I can’t tell you how much I was looking forward to this. Just getting away from the laundry is good enough for me to be honest. Staying in your own city means you can really switch off, put your feet up and relax. No stress to get up early and sightsee, no fast paced trips round the local museums, no dragging your kids out of the pool because you have four more “must see” spots to visit before check out.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love going away, exploring new places, trawling the kids round ancient monuments, and making them try obscure foods that make their faces scrunch. This though, is just so good.
The Wilson’s were “staycation” virgins until now. As you know, we love travelling, and we’re usually quick to save our cash to go somewhere new… I’m now thinking staycations could be a regular thing for us. How many amazing hotels can we try in Melbourne I wonder?
We checked in to Crown yesterday, all ready for a snooze filled weekend. Poppy had played a game of netball, Monty had been to a birthday party at Extreme Air and the Mr and I have been working full on for weeks. We were all exhausted. We got to the room and leapt into bed. Aren’t those black out curtains in hotels AMAZING?! You can convince the kids it’s actually bed time even though it’s blatantly 5:45pm. The snooze sesh didn’t last long. Living in Melbourne means the kids know exactly what is downstairs and they were absolutely fighting the zz’s and hyper for the movies, and the roulette and blackjack tables… Kidding! We only gamble responsibly, usually a Friday night, after lots of wine, and a boogie!
Mr W and I reluctantly dragged ourselves out of bed… Of course the first thing we had to do was eat, because we actually can’t go anywhere without eating… We went to Guillaume. For those of you who don’t know this restaurant, it’s introduction on the website says:
Inspired by the popular neighbourhood bistros of Paris, Bistro Guillaume offers a menu rich with French classics in a stylish setting on the Crown Riverwalk. The service style is relaxed and diners are encouraged to sit back and enjoy good French food and wine in an unpretentious atmosphere.
The food is amazing, the service was beautiful…. If only the customers were as unpretentious as the restaurant promises it is. One of my pet hates about eating out is that if you have children, people seem to think you have to eat in shit restaurants. As soon as we walked in you could feel the eyes. Couples in the ‘Autumn of their lives’, turning to look. To be fair Monty looked like he’d been dragged through a hedge backwards and Poppy hadn’t even sat down before she was spreading butter on the bread, and herself, however….
The food and wine was divine. We ate, the kids made the most of the wifi, and we left. Oh I love French food and free internet connection.
Yesterday was a warm day in Melbourne. 32 degrees and super windy. We didn’t need to be out and about so we made the most of the pool on the 27th floor. What a view! The kids quickly made some friends so Mr W and I chilled on the loungers whilst the other parents were on pool duty.. (remember that awesome tip right there)… Got to love a hotel pool.
Room service was a must on our staycation. There is nothing more satisfying than siting in your undies, air con blasting, nice and warm under the sheets, watching trashy tv and eating a huge club sandwich! Total bliss right there. As soon as I had taken my last mouthful and was ready to lie down, the kids were up, dressed again and begging to go for a walk… Arghhhh I must try harder to teach them the art of hotel relaxation! *someone have my kids for the weekend!!
Off we went back down in the elevator, two VERY tired kids, one sleepy dad and a very full, rather swollen mum.
Gradi are holding a pizza festival this weekend. Poppy is a Gradi superfan so she was thrilled, although way too full of schnitzel and hot chips from the room to be eating any pizzas. Monty begged and begged for a $50.00 toy car off the Ferrari stand (Formula 1 is coming to Melbs) and threw a huge ‘tanty’ when I said no!
Turned out to be a beautiful evening stroll in this wonderful city! Mr W ended up carrying a sobbing Monty through the hotel, Poppy and I waddling behind begging him to slow down. This race to the lift was made so much worse by the fact that the Crown on a Saturday night is filled with romantic couples, laughing at each others jokes, super slinky show gals and plenty of bars bursting into life… * exactly where Mr W and I would rather be at this precise moment… In to the elevator…. Bed time!!
Sunday morning, after a great sleep, and hurrah no hangover, it’s time for the hotel brekkie! *insert dancing mama emoji right here! This is a big one for us. The Wilson’s love a hotel breakfast! Poppy always heads straight for the sweet pastries and the hash browns, Monty just gets a huge pile of bacon and a pain au chocolate, Mr W and I do the strategic breakfast buffet eating. Start one end and make sure you’ve tried at least one of everything before going back to the start again! We’ve mastered the art I can assure you!
So sadly we’re just one more swim before we go; before we head back to normality, back to the laundry and back to preparing the school bags for another week. You know what though, I wouldn’t have it any other way; despite the bags under my eyes, and the little tears on my cheek as we hand back the room key….. Staycations are absolutely my new fave thing. Enjoying hotels in your own city, not even leaving the building if you don’t want to, has to be one of the best breaks ever!!
Thank you Melbourne, thank you Crown, thank you Mr W… Here’s to another staycation really REAAALLLLY soon! Pretty please!
‘Sometimes a break from your routine is all you need’ – Unknown
We booked our stay direct with Crown, you can use this link , although there are many other sites you can use.
We collect Crown rewards which allow us to get points on all our purchases in the Crown, and give us free parking. You can join here for free! Worth doing if you visit Crown here in Melbourne or Perth!
If you’re thinking of travelling to Melbourne anytime soon, make sure you check out Crown; not just for your accomodation but for entertainment, family fun, restaurants, bars and the world famous casino. A must see in Melbourne.
I’ll be honest, I felt a little nervous about going to Japan as a family. Our kids are quite young; 3 years and the other turned 9 years whilst we were away. We’ve travelled overseas with them before, but Japan is just so different from anywhere else in the world. How would we all cope?
I worried about what they’d eat, both being incredibly fussy eaters; they don’t eat sushi and aren’t particularly fond of plain rice or noodles. I worried about the 10-hour day time flight and what I would do to entertain them for that long. How would the kids deal with culture shock? Particularly Mr.3, who on our last trip to Bali, asked to go home constantly for three days straight!! I questioned how we’d get by with literally no Japanese. What would happen if the kids needed the toilet and we didn’t know how to ask for the nearest loo?
I needn’t have worried at all. We did just fine. The kids ate and were far more experimental with their choices. Thanks to the in-flight entertainment the 10-hour flight didn’t seem quite so bad. Thankfully our 3yo only asked to go home twice; and then said he didn’t want to go home when it was time to. Oh, and public toilets are all over the place and easy to get to; we had no near-accidents whatsoever.
I must say, organising a walking day tour of Tokyo on the first day turned out to be a huge saving. This helped us get our bearings of the vastness of Tokyo and showed us how to conquer the (incredibly efficient) public transport service.
In the following couple of weeks of our adventure, I took note of the surprises our trip to Japan unveiled. Almost every day I took note of something new. I imagine staying longer would unveil even more.
Here’s my list of unexpected discoveries during our family trip to Japan:
You’ll be hard pushed to find a rubbish bin. In Melbourne, we’re so used to throwing our litter away in public bins. In Japan, there are no bins. Well that’s not entirely true, you might be lucky enough to find one in a convenience store (7 Eleven or equivalent) and occasionally on the platform of a main railway station, but not often. There are no bins on the subway, no bins in parks, no bins in public spaces. None. You take your rubbish home with you. This proved to be fun when Mr.3 didn’t want to finish his banana. Smelly times after walking the streets of Tokyo for hours on end. Despite this, you won’t find any stray litter in the streets. Japans streets are clean beyond belief.
Mount Fuji is not always capped with snow. Call me naive but I thought Mt. Fuji would be snow-capped year-round. Wrong. We got to see Mt. Fuji from the bullet train window when travelling from Tokyo to Kyoto. (Top tip: get a window seat on the right side of the train when travelling to Tokyo. You’ll spot Mt. Fuji after about an hour out of Tokyo, but only for 10 minutes before it’s out of sight again). When travelling in September (Autumn), Mt. Fuji was not snow-capped, but still an incredible sight to see regardless.
There are queues for everything. Japanese are incredibly polite, they also love a queue. Dare I say more than us Brits and that’s saying something. It is not uncommon to see queues out of the door of a cafe, restaurant, vending machine, ticket booth or public toilet. We once queued for 45 minutes just to get a frappe from Starbucks. I kid you not. On the subway, passengers wait patiently in file. There are wait lists at popular venues, you must put your name down on the list, if you don’t, you miss out. We learnt the hard way when the kids missed out on the fabulous play area in the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo because we didn’t put our names down when we first arrived.
Despite being so busy, Tokyo is quiet. I don’t usually consider my kids to be super loud, but in Japan they seemed like the loudest children in the universe. Japan, Tokyo especially, is densely populated. You’d expect it to be horrendously busy and loud. Busy it is, but loud? Not really. Japanese people are quiet. You’ll notice when walking around the city that many locals are heads down, faces buried in their mobile phones. Families, friends and couples talk quietly to each other. I don’t recall hearing anyone shout during our two week stay. I felt quite embarrassed by the volume of my kid’s voices at times.
Yes, it is expensive in Japan but the food is reasonable. Unlike many other Asian countries, Japan is not a cheap destination by any means. That said, it’s the accommodation, travel and main tourist attractions that eat up most of your money. Food is reasonable. If you choose to eat in one of the many eateries off the main streets, you can eat a good meal for a fraction of what you’d otherwise pay. Convenience stores are also excellent for snacks, sandwiches, hot food, sushi and pre-packaged foods. We often bought lunch from a convenience store (they are everywhere) back at our hotel and would eat well for around $20.
Occasional English word. I found it funny to hear random English words thrown into conversations or to see an English word in text somewhere. Not a major thing, but funny nonetheless. It also surprised me how many people spoke broken English, even a homeless man (a rare sight) who once asked us for food by saying “hungry’. It’s easy to get by with zero Japanese knowledge, although it’s always worth a try if you do know the odd word or two.
There aren’t many birds around in the city. I’m so used to seeing little birds around Melbourne. Pigeons at the train stations, sparrows, Indian Minor birds and seagulls. So much so, I barely notice them. That said, in Japan I couldn’t help but notice the lack of feathered friends. No little sparrows and rarely any pigeons. Pigeons seem so rare in fact, that my eldest son even took photo evidence when he did see one. A Japanese parent pointed to a sole pigeon at the train station, gaining the attention of her smiling son. I can only assume the lack of birds is due to the lack of litter around, as per point no.1.
Japanese convenience food is packaged to the max. Japanese convenience food and products are seriously over packaged. Bananas individually wrapped in plastic, little face washers in restaurants given out with chopsticks or cutlery, all individually wrapped in plastic. Biscuits in convenience stores, individually wrapped, sometimes inside another wrapper, and then boxed. Considering litter is at an absolute minimum on the streets and there are hardly any rubbish bins anywhere (as per point no.1) I found this quite contradictory!
Japanese TV is absolutely nuts. This isn’t really a huge surprise I know, but when your hotel’s TV is filled with Japanese shows you get to see how cray-cray it really is. My 9yo couldn’t stop laughing at a kid’s morning programme with a TV presenter dressed in a pink cow costume, sitting in a bath with no water. His co-presenter? A talking blue chair. This is just the start, TV shows for adults are just as hilarious. Hours of entertainment right there.
There’s a button on the Japanese toilets to give you privacy when you poo. Japanese toilets are so far advanced that I’m surprised the rest of the world hasn’t caught on. With buttons to wash your bum and bits, heat your seat and warm the water, these loos are super tech. The one function that made me giggle the most? The music note button. I thought this might play a tune while you pee. Not so, it’s a button to mimic the flushing of the toilet, without the flush happening. I therefore assume this drowns out the noise if one needs to do a number two without fellow toilet goers noticing. Funny eh?
There’s a huge American influence in Japan’s main cities. In Tokyo and Kyotothere are Starbucks and McDonalds all over the place. They are super busy too. What is the most popular spectator sport in Japan? Sumo wrestling you might think. Nope, it’s baseball; a sport most commonly thought of as an American pastime. When strolling around the cities I couldn’t help but notice American clothing shops and stores dedicated to Hawaiian themed goods, too.In travel agent shop windows, I noticed holidays to Hawaii heavily advertised. American influences are alive and well in Japan.
Smoking is permitted in restaurants. With the ban of smoking in public spaces in the UK and Australia, I found it quite confronting dealing with smoking in restaurants in Japan. It can be quite uncomfortable eating food with my family whilst a neighbouring table would spark up a ciggie or two. Not a big deal to a local, but to a non-smoker, this can be challenging. What I would say though, is this didn’t happen all the time, only once or twice during our stay.
Despite the secondary smoke with our dinner, we absolutely loved our time in Japan. It’s a new favourite destination and I hope you consider the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ for your next family holiday.
Have you travelled to Japan before? If so, what surprised you the most?
Erica is a British Expat living in Melbourne, Australia with her two sons, husband and little black rescue cat. She left Hertfordshire for brighter skies and Bayside living, and spends most of her time writing and exploring all the cool things to do with kids in Melbourne and beyond. Follow her Melbourne adventures on her website KidTown Melbourne and catch all the latest Melbourne fun on Facebook and Instagram too!!!
Hong Kong Disneyland sometimes gets a bit of a hard time from your avid Disney fans. If you have been to the States and visited Disneyland or Walt Disney World, then yes, you will be shocked to discover this somewhat small, quaint Disney Park. In my opinion this park is ideal for smaller kids, for first timers, and for those who aren’t too fussed about the epic thrill rides.
The Hong Kong Disney experience is just as magical; the kids adored seeing their favourite characters in the streets, and the shows, they loved the Iron-Man shaped waffles, and adored the rides. They had a true ‘Disney Experience’, and left the park after 7 hours with a whole heap of sweat dripping down their backs and oodles of Mickey Magic in their hearts.
The day we visited it was nearly 38 degrees and very humid, so I had made sure our bag was full of water, umbrellas and suncream. There is very little shade in the park, and I would highly recommend a fan of some description to keep you cool whilst queuing. Yes, the dreaded queues are the same as any other park. You can opt to get a fast pass at a few of the rides, which would save you a good deal of time in line. We did this at the Iron Man Experience and went straight in. It was fab! We were very sweaty by the time we got to ride 3 and the air con was a treat!
Hong Kong Disneyland is so much busier than it was when we last visited 7 years ago. Although it was a regular Monday in Hong Kong, the queues were longer, the crowds were bigger, and it took far longer to get lunch. This may have been as it was a public holiday in mainland China, or because the park is much more popular.
The set up in the park is just like the other Disney parks. The castle overlooks Main Street which is full of shops and restaurants. This is the perfect place for grabbing some food, and for purchasing all your Mickey Mouse souvenirs on the way out.
Hong Kong Disneyland is laid out in 6 different ‘Lands’. Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point and Toy Story Land. Each one very different, with lots of fun attractions for everyone and it’s well worth trying to get through all of them. Monty (5) didn’t miss out on anything he wanted to do, and was thrilled that he was the right height for everything! There are so many great rides, our favourites included “It’s a Small World” the ‘Jungle River Cruise’, the Buzz Lightyear ride, and the Iron Man Experience!
The Wilson’s top ride!
The Iron Man Experience is a fairly new ride at the park. It’s a thrill ride, that takes you flying above and through the streets of Hong Kong, trying to save the city from attack. It’s incredible. One of the greatest rides we have been on. We would highly recommend it for all super hero fans.
Don’t miss out on a show!
We stopped at the Storybook Theatre to see Mickey and the Wondrous Book, which was a mind blowing 28 minute stage show bringing the Disney classics to life. Although the characters were speaking Chinese, the children didn’t mind at all. I whispered the subtitles, and we all sang along to the famous songs. Disney really know’s how to put on a show.
Grab your spot for the parade!
The Parades are always a must see. We made sure we had a good spot for the 4pm parade, within reach of the shops aircon, right on the pavement, in the thick of it. The parade throws the park into a magical frenzy as everyone is waving and hollering at their favourite characters. The children’s faces were a picture. It is real life Magic!
The Wilson’s Top Tips for Hong Kong Disney
Get there early!! Before it even opens!
The train on the Disneyland Resort line from Sunny Bay Station is Disney Themed and worth a ride.
Plan your day, your breaks, and use the loo when you see it!!
Find out when and where you can see your favourite characters! It’s such a shame to miss them!