Our festive living room

The Williams household became all festive on Friday. Well when I say festive, there is no tinsel or sparkly decorations hanging from the ceiling. I am definitely in the ‘less is more’ camp when it comes to Christmas decorations. Anyway I thought I would share our festive living room. Plus I always forget where everything goes, so will be nice to look back on this post in a years time !

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This is the first Christmas since we did our living room back in March, and this year I had new units and our marble fireplace to decorate.  I love the garland over the mantelpiece which was bought from Tesco a few years ago for £10.00. I have hung my Forever Friends mini stockings from it. I have had these for around 20 years from when I first had my flat at 21 ! The Father Christmas on the right is actually an annoying  musical one, and after having it for 10 years I am surprised that it still works !

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I absolutely LOVE my owl decoration which my friend bought me last year. The santa stop sign was bought 2 years ago at a Christmas craft fair, and think we paid around £5.00 for it. The china house (next to our wedding picture) is a tea light holder, and was purchased from Centerparcs around 5 years ago. I love it as holds many memories of Christmas breaks there.

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The advent stockings were purchased this year from Home and Bargains for £4.99 ! They look great hung up over the front window. Another purchase this year is the Lego Santa scene which I ordered from Lego.com. And I had to feature the lovely snuggly reindeer, which we have had for years. Our fibre optic tree is still going strong after 14 years, and is very hypnotic after a few Christmas wines ! Don’t worry though, you still won’t catch me putting the decorations up in November ! Happy Christmas x

 

 

Premier Inn – Trafford Centre West

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Premier Inn is one of my favourite hotel brands, and the one we have stayed in the most is the Trafford Centre West. Even though we are less than 30 minutes away, I have stayed at the hotel 12 times and I love it there. The main reason we stay there is the close proximity to the Trafford Centre. There are actually 3 Premier Inns within minutes of the Trafford Centre, but we always pick the West one to stay in. It has a large car pack and it is less than a 10 minute walk to the shops and restaurants.

Out of the 12 visits, around 9 of them have been with the children. We love combining a night there with a trip to  Legoland Discovery Centre and Sealife Centre. The family rooms are big and spacious and have 2 large double beds in. Its worth noting that the bathrooms just have showers in and not baths, but this is fine with us. The front of the hotel gives you wonderful views of the Trafford Centre, and the side of the hotel gives you a view of the nearby Chill Factor. The majority of our stays have been very peaceful, and there is very little or no noise from neighbouring rooms. The only incident we had was when the bins were being emptied right outside our room at 5am in the morning. But all credit to Premier Inn who immediately apologised, and we were refunded the cost of the room under their ‘Good night sleep’  policy.

One of our many stays back in 2011

One of our many stays back in 2011

Talking of the cost of rooms, I have always managed to bag a room here at their saver rate. This means I have never paid more than £35 for a family room. I even have had a few for £19.00. Add the cost of the breakfast which is £8.25 per adult for a full cooked breakfast, PLUS 2 kids eat free for every adult, and you have a fantastic value break away.

Our latest stay was in October when hubby and I went to a concert at the Manchester Apollo. City centre hotels were coming in at over £100.00, but luckily I managed to book our favourite at £35.00. We got the bus into the city from the Trafford Centre which was £3.00 each. It took around 30 minutes to get into the centre. Coming home we paid for a taxi, which was just under £20.00. Factor in all this, the Trafford Centre West was still great value. The hotel is also really handy for Event City. We stayed there when we visited the Ideal Home Show back in May.

I am sure we will back soon for our 13th visit ! Thank you Trafford Centre West for being such a welcoming hotel, and having such friendly and helpful staff.

Someone was not sleepy at 11pm !!!

Someone was not sleepy at 11pm !!!

 

Girls night away at Cottons Hotel Knutsford

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Back in June it was time to head off for another girlie night away. Two of my friends had turned 40 in April and August, and June was a good time to go away and celebrate. After much research by my friend, we decided to head to Cottons Hotel which is in leafy Knutsford in Cheshire. We were impressed with the different packages Cottons have on offer, and we decided on The Girls Night Out Package for £117.00 each. This included the following

  • pre-dinner cocktails served in the bar
  • an overnight stay with breakfast in a luxurious guest room
  • delicious 3 course dinner with an option to take desserts in your room
  • half a bottle of wine per person
  • selection of chick flick DVD’s and popcorn
  • a goody bag for everyone on arrival
  • a gift from ESPA worth £20.00

We arrived on the Saturday around 2pm and we were quickly checked in. As there were 5 of us, we had 2 rooms which were along the corridor from each other. After the unpacking of the alcohol and hanging up of dresses, we headed to the spa area complete with our fluffy robes. The spa area was lovely which had a large swimming pool, indoor AND outdoor Jacuzzi and plenty of beds for relaxing in. We headed to the outdoor Jacuzzi which was just bliss. The indoor Jacuzzi got busy as children were allowed in there.

After a few hours of relaxation and chatting away, we headed back to our rooms to get ready. After much straightening of hair and spraying of perfume we were good to go. We headed to the bar area where we were served our ‘pre-dinner cocktails’.

Cocktail time

Cocktail time

We were then called into the restaurant, and advised as part of our package we had £30.00 towards our meal. I ordered the ‘Taste of Cheshire’ plate for my starter which was fantastic, and steak and salad for the main course. The £30.00 more than covered my meal. We also had half a bottle of wine, and I was pleased I could choose Rose. The service was fantastic, and the overall atmosphere was relaxed. We had such a lovely evening enjoying good food, and a good old girlie gossip.

We headed back to our room and it was time for our girlie movie. We decided on Cocktail complete with a huge bowl of popcorn which was supplied as part of the package.

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Popcorn time

The next day we were back in the restaurant for our breakfast. The breakfast was lovely and fresh and you could have as much as you wanted. More relaxing in the room after breakfast, and then we went for another swim and Jacuzzi before we had to check out.

I thought the package we were on at £117.00 was great value. I didn’t spend anything else whilst we were, and it was lovely to get all dressed up without the hassle of getting a taxi at the end of the night. We also had goody bags on our beds when we got to the room. Anyone who knows me will know I LOVE a goody bag. These bags included a Jessica nail varnish ! We also got an ESPA gift voucher for £20.00 to spend online. I purchased a lovely gift set for myself with the voucher.

Any girls looking for an excuse for a night away I would highly recommend Cottons. They have a good selection of other packages available on their website. Thank you Cottons for great service and a fantastic time away with 4 of my friends.

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10 things you won’t find me doing this Christmas

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10 things you won’t find me doing this Christmas

1 – Putting the tree up in November. Quite simply Christmas is in December NOT November. Its now the 7th December and still no tree up in The Williams house. Our tree goes up the middle weekend in December and one year it went up the third weekend….. Gasp !!!

2 – Braving the shops ANYTIME in December. My Christmas shopping is done via a laptop, Pyjamas on with a large glass of gin/wine/baileys.

3 – Taking about 4 hours to write Christmas cards. Sorry but I don’t see the point in Christmas cards anymore, and have not sent one in about 8 years. We do however give to a local charity.

4 – Stressing out about Christmas dinner…. its just a roast dinner with added crackers !

5 – Going to Asda/Tesco/Morrisons/Sainsburys on Christmas Eve to fight with other shoppers for the last bag of parsnips. Online food shop has been done and I await its arrival on the 23rd December.

6 – Doing Christmas crafts with the kids. Nope sorry I am so not creative and I HATE glitter. Enough said. Plus they do lots of Christmassy craft things at school/cubs.

7 – Decorating my house with a million lights, blow up Snowmen and whatever tat Home and Bargains sell. Couldn’t be bothered with putting it all up and then taking it all down again. Plus I am too tight to pay for the extra electricity !

8 – Wrapping on Christmas Eve. 75% off my presents are all wrapped and sent to Santa, with the other 25% being wrapped on my day off this week. Christmas Eve is about tucking into The Celebrations NOT fighting with the sellotape.

9 – Inviting 25 distant relatives around on Christmas Day to make polite chat and spend at least 10 hours cooking a huge turkey. Its just the 4 of us which means no pressure and we can stay in our Christmas Jim Jams all day if we want to.

10 – Doing Elf on a Shelf. I really don’t understand the concept of moving a cuddly Elf around your home doing naughty things. But hey that’s just me, and don’t get me wrong I have been seriously impressed with the amount of effort parents put in.

So there we have it. There is probably 10 things that you WILL catch me doing at Christmas, such as spreading a packet of glitter and oats over the garden to guide Santa to us !

xx Merry Christmas xx

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The £10.00 Christmas – 2014

Last year some of you may remember I blogged about ‘Amazing what you can get for a tenner’. Hubby and I have a limit of £10.00 for each others Christmas presents. Yep no Radley bags or Pandora charms for me. We started our tradition around 4 years ago when we were saving to go to Florida, and we now do it every year. Its amazing how much thought you put into it with only a small budget. I am great at sourcing bargains, and this year he has a total of 9 presents to open on the big day, beating his 8 of last year. We do have some rules….. has to be EXACTLY £10.00. Not a penny over or under. I had 71p left but after much searching managed to find 2 items for 10p and 61p. The other rule is you can’t just go to Poundland and buy 10 items.

Presents are now all bought and wrapped as you can see below. Will do a follow up post after Christmas with all the shite exciting presents I got. Just need to work on the kids now and get them to agree to a ‘tenner Christmas’ !!!

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The Williams and Walt Disney World

I have been blogging for 18 months now, and the one subject I have not yet written about is Walt Disney World in Florida. So here goes with my first post about my favourite place on earth.

2011 - Walt Disney World

2011 – Walt Disney World

2011 – We went on our ‘once in a lifetime’ trip in April 2011. We chose that year as we were celebrating 10 years of marriage and the hubby was turning 40. We went for 2 weeks and stayed in a huge villa, along with my mum, step dad, step sister and her family. This was the first time I had been to America, and I fell in love with Orlando and of course Disney.  Our children were 8 and 5 at the time, and it was a great age for their first visit. Walking up Main Street and seeing the castle for the first time took my breath away, and we made many memories during those 2 weeks. At the start of the holiday we were already discussing that we should return in 2 years. This soon led to ‘lets do it next year’. As our plane touched down in a dreary Manchester at the end of an amazing holiday, I was already planning our return for the following year.

2012 - Walt Disney World

2012 – Walt Disney World

2012 – So after a lot of planning, and eating beans on toast for tea, we returned to Orlando. This time we went with my mum and stepdad, and for the first week they went off on their own around Florida golfing. We were staying in a Disney hotel for the first week, and then joining the parents in a villa for the second week. I never imagined we would be able to afford to stay in a Disney hotel, but with the offer of FREE dining for the first week, it made it affordable. We decided on Old Key West, which is classed as a deluxe villa resort on Disney property. All our meals were included during our hotel stay, and this meant we could dine in pretty much ANY of the Disney restaurants, including the character meals. The highlight of the first 7 days was dining in the actual castle, amazing experience made even better by being on the Disney Dining Plan. The second week in the villa was taken at a more relaxed pace, and we visited NASA and SeaWorld.

2013 - Walt Disney World

2013 – Walt Disney World

2013 – Yep another year and we were back again to our favourite place, 1 year almost to the day we had last been. This time it was just the 4 of us, and because neither myself or husband fancied driving in America, we decided to stay in a Disney hotel for the full 2 weeks. As we had loved Old Key West, we had to return. As we were only doing Disney on this trip, the pace would be much more relaxed. We had plenty of days chilling out by the pool which has such a relaxed atmosphere. Again we had the FREE Disney Dining plan for the whole 2 weeks. Again we ate at some truly amazing restaurants, and loved visiting the different hotels within Walt Disney World. It was such a relaxing trip, and we were truly in a Disney bubble for 2 whole weeks.

2014 - Corfu

2014 – Corfu

2014 – So this is the first year we have not been since our first visit in 2011. This year Disney was replaced by going to Corfu and watching our wonderful friends get married. Totally different holiday, but we had an amazing time. The children had only been on a plane to Orlando, so a 3 hour journey to Corfu was a piece of cake for them. As for our future plans we will probably definitely return in 2016. I LOVE all the planning that comes with a Florida holiday, and really missed it this year.  Though I am sure the husband was glad I wasn’t nattering on about Florida this, Disney that the whole year !

Have you been on a ‘once in a lifetime’ trip to Walt Disney World ? And has anyone managed to go just the once ?

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Pesto Restaurant – Trafford Centre

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On Friday evening hubby and I decided to go to Pesto which is in the Trafford Centre. This was the very first time we had visited a Pesto. I was looking forward to it as I had heard good things about it from my best friend. When we got there, we were quickly seated and handed our menus. What I love about Pesto is that it is an Italian restaurant, but the portions are served on small plates. Like an Italian Tapas ! Ideal restaurant for those people who want to try a few different dishes as they can never make up their mind….. yep that is me !

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We decided we would have 2 dishes each and then 1 to share. I decided on deep fried Risotto balls and Hungarian beef stew. Hubby had a Risotto dish and Meatballs, and we shared a spicy potato dish. The dishes were typically priced under £4.00 which I thought was really good value. I have to say the food was delicious, and we quickly polished off our 5 dishes between us. And we even had room for dessert. I opted for the 3 mini puddings on one plate and hubby had a chocolate dish. Again all delicious and fresh tasting.

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With soft drinks the bill came to £37.00 which I thought was good value for the quality of the meal. Our server was friendly and attentive throughout, and I loved the overall atmosphere of the restaurant. We will definitely return to Pesto next time we visit the Trafford Centre, and I think it will also be a good place to bring the kids as they can try different dishes.

I actually thought Pesto was a huge national chain, but they only have 6 restaurants, and we are lucky that 3 of them are local to us. Looking forward to trying the restaurants in Widnes and also at Cabbage Hall in Tarporley in the very near future. Thank you Pesto for a lovely meal and service.