Sunday, 25 June 2017

Hollywood - Walk of Fame

If you've never been to Hollywood let me start by telling you that it's a funny old place. Obviously it's hugely exciting to see the Hollywood Sign and some parts of Hollywood are super fancy and cater to the stars and the vastly, humongously rich. This is mainly in West Hollywood (WeHo) as all the signs told us when we there recently. This is the part that runs down Sunset Boulevard (hello rock clubs) and butts up to Beverley Hills.

Most of the main tourist areas though are quite run down and there are lots of homeless people and beggars - think Pretty Woman! I only mention this because the man was quite shocked at how different it was from his perception when we were there. However I can't say that I've ever felt unsafe there. So to the cool stuff......

Grauman's Chinese Theatre is on Hollywood and Highland and is one of the must see sights of Hollywood:

This is also the site of the handprints and footprints of the famous. I've done this before but it's still cool and Chick loved it:

The Walk of Fame is also really cool and a must see for anyone visiting LA, especially for the first time. The stars run for 15 blocks along Hollywood and there are over 2,500 of them. It's so much fun looking out for your favourite famous people. In fact I was having so much fun that I only took one proper photo:

And then as vodka is my favourite tipple ever, also had to take this one:

As we had Chick with us we obviously had to do the obligatory teen shopping - hello Forever 21 and Victoria's Secret at Hollywood and Highland Shopping:

Even the man couldn't complain when you have this view from the mall:

Hollywood is also the home of Jimmy Kimmel Live:

Have you ever been to Hollywood? Do you have any top trips for fellow travelers?

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Campsite Review - Wicksteed Park, Northamptonshire

We've stayed at many campsites over the years and if I'm honest we normally venture a little bit further from home. For our holiday last year Littlest was unfortunately having a flare up and we needed to be within driving distance of the hospital, so we looked around and decided that we would camp at Wicksteed Park.

Wicksteed Park is just on the outskirts of Kettering and is set in 147 acres of parkland. It is home to plenty of play equipment as well as more theme park type rides. Not all of our kids are big fan of rides and at Wicksteed you can either buy a wristband or individual tickets and then decide who goes on what. Me and the boys normally share tickets between us and then the girls have bands so they can go on everything. Due to their unusual system, as campers it means that you can access the whole park including picnic areas, play areas and facilities and you obviously don't need to pay for parking either. If you aren't interested in the rides then they do have a wildlife area, natural play area, arboretum, aviary and lake walks.

The campsite is at the far end of the park and set away from the main areas. It's a huge open expanse, overlooking the lake and you can choose any plot. We chose to be at the top of the hill overlooking the lake:

The bathrooms and showers were always clean and were well supplied with loo roll and the man who looked after them was really lovely. We had a couple of long conversations with him. For me the lake view and the price were absolutely the best part.  For 2 adults, 4 children under 16, the biggest tent known to man and 2 cars it only cost us £60 for 4 nights. In comparison our usual Lake District campsite is £40 a night so an absolute bargain. As well as the convenience of being a 5 minute drive from the nearest big supermarket and shops and in our case in driving distance of the hospital.

For me the only downside was the generic white noise that comes from being near a big town and major roads. Although I say it was a downside for me, the rest of the family didn't notice it at all!! I think it's probably because we live in a very quiet area in a tiny village so I'm only used to hearing birds!!

Although the weather wasn't great we did get the true camping experience and the kids weren't on their phones all week which is exactly why we camp!!! You just can't beat sunsets and s'mores!!

We did have one full day at the park on the rides but we used some of the facilities every day especially the play park:

Wristbands are £18 for a child and £15 for an adult. Campers do get discounts after the first day. Ride tickets start £1.25 each or you can buy sheets of 20 or 40 that start at £22. I think that some of the activities aren't included in this price though such as Rush which is a huge jump on to an air pillow or the zip wire. The car parking fee for all day is £6. 

Even if you don't fancy camping it's a pretty cool day out or alternatively they do have some holiday homes onsite if you aren't a fan of canvas living.

Do you have a recommended campsite in the UK?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Griffiths Observatory and Park, Los Angeles

On our recent big road trip, our first stop was the City of Angels. I've been there a couple of tines before but O has only been to Disney there a couple of times and the man had never been so obviously we had to take in some of the coolest sites. We stayed at the Hollywood Travelodge which was in an immense location and was only a 5 minutes drive from Griffith Park and Observatory. When we return to LA next year we'll definitely stay here again:

As Griffith Park was so close we decided to head there on our first full day in LA. We had hideous jet lag so were there super early and it's just such an amazing place especially before all of the other tourists get there!!

Now as regular readers will know, I'm a proper geek that loves California and one thing that I always find myself squealing at is the Hollywood Sign. There's just something so cool and iconic about it. Griffiths park is one of the easiest places to be able to get a sideways view from:

It's actually smaller than you think! When I first visited it used to be possible to get high up in Hollywood Hills but this time we couldn't get anywhere near it by car so we stuck with this. Next year I'm determined to hike up as close as possible to the sign!!

We didn't go into the observatory as we were way too early but it's such a lovely, peaceful place to hang out:

Not only is the building beautiful but it's surrounded by flowers, wildlife, nature and 22 hiking trails. The thing that got me most was that California smell after being away for so long. It's a combination of pine, warm air, mountain and nostalgia, I think!!

Of course one of the best things about the Observatory are the views across the city:

The next best thing about the observatory is that it's completely free to park there and accessible to all. Unfortunately therein lies the downside that every tourist now knows how amazing it is and doesn't need to pay for it!! As we were there so early parking wasn't a problem and nor did we run into too many other people.

We tried to get up there at night and it was a complete bun fight and you couldn't get anywhere near. My advice is to park at the bottom and walk up. It's actually quicker and easier - you just need to watch out for the wildlife!!! 

If anyone knows of a great hike up to the Hollywood sign then please let me know!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

A family night out with Prezzo

The Man and I occasionally eat out on date nights but it's quite rare that we eat out as a family. When I saw this challenge with Brit Mums and Prezzo I thought it was a great opportunity to change that. Our nearest Prezzo is in on Silver Street in the historic centre of Leicester by the Cathedral and Guildhall and apparently it used to be a night club back in the day:

The interior is pretty cool and is a mix of tables and booths. The decor is really funky:

A really cool feature of the restaurant is that it has an open plan/display kitchen so you can see your food being prepared:

The menu had some lovely items on it but we agreed (eventually) on a La Famiglia Sharing dish that serves up to 4 people. We chose a garlic bread starter and then the Penne Alla Rusticana. It was all incredible! We had a plain garlic bread and one with cheese. They were both so light and yummy:

Our main was absolutely goregeous and although it's billed as a sharing dish for 2 adults and 2 children it could easily feed more in my opinion. It comes to the table in a huge sharing bowl and then if you want cheese they add it at the table. I was trying to take a shot of the food but also managed to catch O's reaction in the background:

I loved having a big sharing dish for all of us to dig into. I always have proper food envy of whatever the Man orders as his always manages to look better so this was a good way to eliminate that! He also eats more than me and O so it was a winner for him too!! This was the dish after we'd all had a decent portion:

So we all managed seconds and some even managed thirds! I was trying to have a sneaky look at the food of all of the other diners and everyone's looked fab! The guy on the table next to us had the most incredible pizza that O managed to get a picture of when he disappeared for a minute:

I think we'll all be trying this the next time that we go. 

One of the things that can be quite difficult to judge when you are reviewing is the customer service as generally if staff know that's what you are there for they can become overly attentive. Whilst we were at Prezzo it was fairly busy so I was watching the staff whilst they worked and honestly the service was second to none, not just for us but for the whole restaurant. The food came so quickly that it was almost too fast and we have to have a break between our main and gelato as I just couldn't fit in any more food that quickly. 

Once we'd had a few minutes to let our mains go down we moved on to gelato and sorbet and actually got a family picture taken!

We had a really variety for dessert. Mine was strawberry and chocolate gelato and I have genuinely never tasted anything so good as the strawberry. I'd go so far as to say that it's the nicest ice cream that I've ever eaten even the man agreed with me and he's an ice cream aficionado!! He had chocolate and sea salt and then melon and lime sorbet. O had vanilla and blood orange sorbet which was again completely incredible.

Honestly the food and the service was second to none and we're already planning out next visit. Not only was the food lovely but actually we got to spend some lovely quality time together as a family and what better way to bond than over awesome food. 

Prices obviously vary depending on what you want to order but mains we're between £8 - £13 generally which I think is more than reasonable for good quality food. Our sharing dish was £18.95 but like I say can feed at least 4 people. The dessert was £4 for two scoops of gelato or sorbet and I can't find enough superlatives to describe how good it was! 

Pre-booking is advised as we went at 6pm on a Saturday and it was way busier that I would have expected. The Prezzo website has some great special offers available too so make sure you check it out before you book. Booking online is literally a 3 click process!!

*Disclaimer* This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo