Travelodge double room

Last weekend was a special weekend as I attended the annual conference BritMums Live but what made it special is my daughter Megan came along too. 

You may remember we have recently set up Folgaria News where we chat about what’s going on in TWO languages, English and Italian. We’ve been writing since April and decided the best thing for Megan, a newbie to blogging, was to visit the conference and learn as much as she could.

Her verdict: LOVED it! She’s written all about it on Folgaria News – and then I translated it all ;)

As her plane wasn’t leaving until early Sunday morning we decided to spend the night in London and treat ourselves to a little one on one time. We were invited to stay at the Travelodge London Covent Garden as a stopover and here’s our thoughts.

travelodge facilites

Location location location

Travelodge Covent Garden is the perfect choice for a hotel within walking distance of the centre. It sits at the top of Drury Lane and is walking distance to the Travelodge London High Holborn which we ended up staying in as the two are connected. You have all the theatres on your doorstep, Covent Garden at the end of the road and London stretching out ready for exploring.

travelodge view

 

What are the rooms like?

We were given a double room on the 9th floor, I was pleased to see the door through to the lift and rooms was only accessible by a room key card meaning only guests could access them.

travelodge double room

Our room was large, clean and pleasantly furnished, the bed was comfortable and the bathroom had a great shower (bath too but I am a shower person). There were tea/coffee making facilities and a television too but no phone so we weren’t able to book a wake up call – sign of the times eh with mobile phones being so popular?

travelodge bathroom

We were on the 9th floor and I was hoping for a cracking view, it would have been fantastic if that building in front didn’t look so derelict, never mind, look past that and I could see for miles as the sun began it’s descent over London.

Service

Cannot be faulted, an extremely easy and pleasant check in where the receptionist Alin chose to accompany us to the High Holborn Travelodge to allow us a room with a view, the staff on the desk at Travelodge went to great lengths to try and secure us a taxi for 5 am the following day which wasn’t an easy task I was surprised to discover. In fact the taxi didn’t turn up, through no fault of Travelodge but luckily there were black cabs going past frequently so we managed to get to Liverpool Street Station on time for the bus to Stansted.

travelodge tv in room

Breakfast

Breakfast is not included in the room price but for £7.95 you can help yourself to an Eat All You Want Buffet offering a cooked breakfast, cereals, juice, toast and more. The restaurant area is calm and spacious and very inviting, I’d advise to consider this option as it is an excellent way to fill up for a busy day sightseeing ahead.

Travelodge cooked breakfast

Price

A quick look on Travelodge is showing prices for £169 for a double room, there are a few other Travelodges dotted around the city of London and I can assure you a clean, comfortable stay should you choose this option.

undercroft skate Southbank

My nan used to live in Waterloo and lots of our weekends as children were spent visiting her and staying over; the Southbank was our ‘park’ and both of my brothers would bring their skateboards along; they would watch the skilled skaters for hours and then they would try and learn new tricks. It was a continual source of inspiration for them.

In fact the Undercroft is known as the birthplace of British Skateboarding and celebrates 40 years. It is the home of skateboarders, BMX riders and graffiti artists making it one of the oldest recognised and still existing skateboarding spaces in the world.

undercroft skateboarding southbank

This weekend, I walked along with my daughter Megan as we made our way to the Royal Festival Hall for a jug of Pimms, I told her how her uncles spent hours and hours there trying to be as good as the others and we watched the amazing skateboarders perform in front of us, expertly using the ramps, jumps and curves (is that the technical word for the curved walls?) 

undercroft southbank

I love the Undercroft as it brings back so many happy memories of childhood. I love the art on the walls, the skills of the skateboarders who I could watch for hours and I love the buzz, the alive feeling I get when I am there. It’s special, you have to see it to understand.

At dinner I reminisced with my brother about those times and was disappointed to hear the Southbank Centre had plans to move the Undercroft and replace it with retail units as described in the Feilden Clegg Bradley’s controversial plans for a much more ambitious redevelopment.

brutalist buildings southbank

Of course it goes without saying that stretch along the Thames is a hugely popular area and would most likely rake in thousands no, millions but at what cost?

It’s true the 1960’s brutalist buildings are in desperate need of refurbishment but moving the Undercroft to a specially designed skatepark under Hungerford Bridge which is just a bit further along the way is not the solution, take a look at this video by Long Live Southbank and you’ll see why.

 

Even London’s mayor Boris Johnson stepped in saying he supports much of Southbank’s redevelopment plans, but not moving the skaters from the Undercroft.

You see the Undercroft wasn’t “designed” to be a skate park but the space was adapted by skaters – you can’t rebuild that. There were plenty of attempts during the 90’s to stop kids skating, gravel thrown down on the surfaces, parts of their area taken away but still they continued to do what they loved most.

The beauty of the Undercroft is that all levels of skaters use it and it has a “cool” factor among skaters. I like the fact that the Undercroft is a space that has grown, it has been nurtured for decades by people passionate about skateboarding, this fight comes from the heart and that is why I am adding my name to their battle so future skateboarders can discover the thrill of street skating in a safe place alongside top skateboarders.

royal festival hall 2014

Megan told me our Gracey has a skateboard on her birthday wishlist this year,  I took a look at the Z-Flex Skateboard – you never know, we may be looking at a future pro here.

Fortunately the Southbank Centre has recently won a £16 million grant towards the conservation and the refurbishment of the brutalist buildings, the Feilden Clegg Bradley is back to the drawing board to see what they can come up with and expects to make recommendations towards the end of the year and one last word is

You must visit the Festival of Love at the Royal Festival Hall this summer if you are in town, I had a quick look and it looks amazing, I’m definitely bringing the girls up to explore more this summer.

agape festival hall

 

Travelodge double room

What better way to enjoy the sunshine this summer than by heading to a festival that showcases some of your favourite musicians, bands and artistes from around the world? While you could easily head to a field in the middle of nowhere to enjoy the mud-ridden festivals such as Glastonbury or Download, you could alternatively stay in the heart of London and enjoy one (or more) of the London festivals that this vibrant city has to offer. Stay in the city affordably by booking a Travelodge in Covent Garden, right in the heart of the city, and enjoy one of these fantastic festivals that can be found in the city this summer. 

Lovebox – Victoria Park – 18-19th July 

If you’re up for a party and a chance to dance your socks off, Lovebox is it! With plenty of artistes being announced already, including the awesome Chase & Status, attendees will be in for a real treat this July. From live bands to DJs and electronic acts, Lovebox is a melting pot of all things funky, with both underground and mainstream names topping the bill. 

lovebox logo

Wireless – Finsbury Park – 4-6th July 

Having moved home, again, Wireless is back this year at its new digs in Finsbury Park, with a star-studded line-up to suit. From Kanye West to Pharrell Williams, you can guarantee yourself a festival to remember, with some awesome R&B and hip-hop tunes to fill the air. If this is your scene, Wireless is the place to be this July. 

Field Day – Victoria Park – 7-8th June 

It’s the first time that this festival spans an entire weekend, and that change should go down a storm with fans of the event. With a whole host of alternative acts planned, ranging from pop and rock to dance, Field Day is arguably one of the best festivals in the city and it’s certainly one not to be missed. 

Whether you’ve been to the festival before, or you’re willing to try something a little different, Field Day has a whole load of talent ready in the wings this year, including rock giants, Pixies, that’ll be sure to bring in an almighty crowd. 

British Summer Time – Hyde Park

This 10-day stint that gives people the chance to appreciate music of all shapes and sounds is back, with some top names topping the bill throughout the festival. From boy band faves, McBusted (McFly and Busted combined) and Backstreet Boys, to Canadian rocker Neil Young, Hyde Park is in for a treat this summer, and so is anyone who decides to join the party. 

So what if the heavens decide to open and flood the grounds with rain? So what if mud seeps into your shoes as you try and wade through the fields and walkways? Grab your wellies, your shades and your best dance moves and spend a weekend appreciating the festival experience in the heart of London this summer. Festivals don’t have to be in the middle of nowhere, you know! 

 Disclosure: This is a partnered post

canary wharrf

 

 

One of my earlier attempts at great photography and an image I am particularly proud of. I took it at Canary Wharf London one summer when we went up to meet daddy on his lunch break.

It was a sunny day and Canary Wharf was a happy smiley place to be.

I love the way the buildings opposite are reflected in the windows in front of the girls and I also like the way all the powerful glass and steel is counterbalanced with the cuteness of the 3 year old twins swinging on the railings and having fun.

fish alternatives london sealife

 

A great family day out we recently experienced was Sea Life London Aquarium.

At the desk where we collected out tickets we were offered to buy a brochure and an ‘Ocean Explorer’ notebook for £2.50 per child so I got one to see what it was all about and I’m glad I did as although too advanced for my 5 year olds this woud be brilliant for older children. An interactive way to get them to really look hard and read what’s on the signs and walls around them.

The brochure is full of fabulous photos and further information on life found in the oceans and seas of our world

The notebook is a ring binded book that runs through the entire aquarium, asking the kids to look out for certain features, fish and plants as they progress along their Sealife journey .

Each page of the notebook has a ‘Look out for’, Conservation Fact, Sea Life Sea Happy news and a WOW! interesting piece of information.

As each section of the Sea Life aquarium is completed there is also a machine that will stamp your book saying you have passed through. A perfect, economically priced souvenir that keeps the experience and information alive for long after the visit.

The journey is divided into 14 sections, let me take you through it

Sea Life London Aquarium

1. Shark Walk, a 5m by 1.6m glass walkway which takes you inches above the 2.2m brown sharks swimming beneath and trust me it’s scary to walk over as it seems you’re going to fall in.

shark walk london sealife

Then you arrive at the lifts or stairs leading down to

sealife london

2. Atlantic Depths

And here’s a couple of the many tanks you can see in the Atlantic Depths.

Notebook Conservation fact: Common Lobsters can live up to 15 years and grow up to one metre long, however due to overfishing very few of them do.

atlantic depths sealife london

3. Tidal Reach

tidal reach sealife london

and jellyfish central

LOOK OUT! Look through my transparent body; I have no brain, heart, blood or gills.

jellyfish facts sealife london

and the upside down jellyfish

upside down jellyfish london sealife

4. Ray Lagoon

Can you believe this Ray came over to us and looked as if he was waving and smiling at us!

WOW! Rays are closely related to sharks – they evolved from sharks around 150 million years ago!

ray lagoon sealife london

5. Dive discovery

An open tank where a Sea Life expert is on han to tell you all sorts of facts about starfish and even invite you to stroke one. I did and so did the girls

Did you know that if a starfish loses one of it’s legs it can grow another one in its place?

starfish london sealife

6. Ocean Tunnel –  leading through to some fabulous underwater plants

Get Involved – Many sea turtles try to eat plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish and choking on them! Over 100 million sea creatures are killed each year by plastic debris in the ocean.

underwater flora london sealife

7. Pacific Wreck

LOOK OUT! Brown Shark – Can you spot us? We have a streamlined grey body, a square nose and all of our teeth are hidden from sight. We never stop swimming or sit on the bottom.

pacific wreck london sealife

8. Nemo’s Coral Caves

WOW! All Clownfish are born boys. When they get older the biggest, toughest male Clownfish will then turn into girls. So female Clownfish are bigger than male clownfish

nemo sealife london

9. Seahorse Temple

WOW! Male and female seahorses dance with each other. This can involve changing colour, holding each other’s tails whilst swimming and spinning around the same bit of grass. The whole dance can last up to 8 hours!

seahorse london sealife

10. Rainforests of the World

GET INVOLVED! We can help save the Green Puffer Fish’s home by purchasing cold water prawns instead of large tropical species such as tiger prawns, or avoid eating prawns all together.

rainforests london sealife

11. The River Thames Story

River Thames fact 1 sealife london

river thames sealife london

…and this fact …

river thames sealife london

12. Penguins: Ice Adventure

I’m afraid to say I don’t like seeing penguins in captivity, ever since the time we went to Seaworld in Florida :(

penguins sealife london

13. SEA LIFE Sea Happy

And a couple of great photo opportunities if you don’t want to buy the Sea Life ones

london sealife photo opportunity

14. Shark Reef Encounter

sharks sealife london

Disclosure: We, as a family, were invited by Superbreak to visit the London Aquarium in return for this post. All photos and opinions are my own