Melbourne Zoo – We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo. How about you, you, you?”

Come on, who doesn’t love the zoo!

It’s fantastic for kids of all ages.

 

Even as an adult, I LOVE visiting the Melbourne Zoo there’s a great diversity of animals on display and plenty of interesting things to see and do.

Even though we don’t live in Melbourne, we have been quite often, and try to fit in a trip when we visit a couple of times a year, as it never gets boring!

At the zoo you can move around and tire out the little ones, there is a playground and lots of spaces to sit and rest, food, coffee and lots of different animals to see.

We usually spend about 4 -5 hours there, its not a place you want to rush, we take our time and have a picnic lunch under a big shady tree around midday. A packed picnic lunch and snacks really helps minimises the cost of the day, food is expensive and isn’t of the best tasting I’ve tired in places like this, so I highly recommend bringing your own.

We find the location easy to get to, we normally drive to the zoo and parking has never been an issue but I’m told that it can be a nightmare if going on the weekend. We have caught the train also a few times which drops you right out the front of the entrance and makes for a fun and easy travel solution with kids.

Make sure you find out the show times upon entry so you can catch the shows on throughout the day, they teach you more about the particular animals, the ‘Meet The Keeper’ has a lot of information and may even allow you to pat an animal they have been talking about.

The thing I like most, beside the animals of course is that most of the zoo is shaded by trees, so even on a hot day you can enjoy the visit you don’t feel like you are in a concrete jungle.

It does get busy and can be very tiring for little ones so if they are walking its a good idea to pack the pram and lots of water, each time we have gone it has taken us around 4 plus hours just to walk around the zoo, that’s a lot of steps for little legs.

Price as of October 2017

Children 3 years and under receive FREE entry every day

Children 4 – 15 years FREE weekends and Victoria school holidays but Mon – Fri (outside holidays)  $18.00

Concession $27 and Seniors $32.50

Yearly Zoo Membership is available for Melbourne zoo, Werribee zoo and Healsville and locals tell me it’s definitely worth the money for an adult pass as children are free with that ticket and it gives you unlimited entry to 3 zoos, kids register for FREE and access to VIP members only events.

I love the zoo and will be going back again on our next visit as its always a highlight of our Melbourne trip.

For more information visit the official zoo website Click Here



Marriott Resort and Spa Merlin Beach – Phuket Paradise

I have had so many questions on where we stayed in Phuket recently and I have no hesitation in recommending the Marriott Resort and Spa Merlin Beach

They have all the bases covered for an active holiday, regardless of weather conditions.

Just how Marriott has managed to keep the personal touch in such large grounds is a mystery, yet also a welcome surprise.

Located on a secluded stretch of Tri-Tang Beach it’s close to the excitement of Patong close by, but the serene surroundings make it seem a world away.

Take advantage of the Phuket weather and relax by one of the three outdoor pools, while the kids  enjoy some time at the kids club with an all day activity program available from 8am to 8pm.

I can’t speak highly enough of all the staff, they were all fantastic and so very welcoming, the whole resort is just so beautifully set out and clean.

Of course you get all the little extras that 5 star offers like slippers and bathrobes and the cute towel animals on your bed every day but the main thing is being able to walk straight into the pool from your room. It is such a nice touch to wake up, open the curtains and step into the pool for an early swim before heading over to a huge breakfast at one of the two buffets available.

The private beach was right on our doorstep and if that’s not enough beach for you the hotel has a free bus that leaves 4 times a day that can drop you down to Patong for some local shopping and lots and lots of food plus more beach!

Below are a couple of real highlights that you can do with out even leaving the hotel.

Indulge At The Thai Pantry

Dinning at the Thai Pantry at the Marriott Resort and Spa Merlin Beach is a must do! You must order the chicken and pork satay, papaya salad and vegetable rolls topped off with some fresh mango juice. Good value for top class cooking in an elegant restaurant, service was so friendly and professional we ate here on the first night staying at the hotel and knew straight away that another visit would be needed before we left.

Learn To Cook

While in Phuket, there is no better place to learn to cook world-renowned Thai food, what an awesome experience it was to learn to cook three dishes, all of which were simple to make, and exploded with taste.

The Marriott Resort and Spa Merlin Beach classes provide a fascinating insight into Thai life, beliefs and culture through learning about its food, cooking and culinary myths, we learnt about the exotic herbs and spices used in everyday dishes.
Classes are part demonstration, part hands-on and are held in the Pantry restaurant at the Marriott Resort and Spa Merlin Beach a couple of times a week. We had a blast, the staff were amazing teachers and very patient with me (someone with pretty lousy cooking skills) but the best bit is getting to eat the lavish feast you have prepared at the end.

Visit The Butterflies

It is always fascinating to learn how nature works her magic turning the caterpillars into beautiful butterflies. If you want to see lots of butterflies, this is the place to come. There are also a large numbers of insects and other creepy crawlies and educational displays. We had an enjoyable hour getting hands on and learning from our guide Katy. Located in the heart of the Marriott Merlin Beach it’s available for in-house guests and made for a great educational experience for us and the kids.

It’s a great resort that I highly recommend for families with children, the best thing is the kids are asking when we’re going back and I’m ready to go anytime.

 

 

*This post was written in collaboration with Marriott but, as always, opinions are honest and my own.

 

 



Salad in a Jar – Mason Jar Salads Tips and Recipes

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Mason jar salads

Tasty and Easy to  make, plus they make for a stylish way to impress your guests.

Storing the salad in glass (mason) jar keeps it fresh for 5-7 days.

A big tick from me is prepping your meal ahead of time.

You can use any ingredients you like, just follow the special technique to the salad assembly to keep all the contents fresh – The vegetables and protein need to be layered in a particular way so it doesn’t go soggy.

Layer 1 – Dressing – 1-2 tablespoons.
Layer 2 – Hard vegetables – carrot, capsicum, red onion, cucumber
Layer 3 – Pasta or rice or quinoa
Layer 4 – Soft vegetables – avocado, tomato
Layer 5 – Protein – chicken, egg and cheese
Layer 6 – Salad greens – lettuce or baby spinach

Making these salads is really easy. Just complete any cooking or chopping tasks and let every thing cool before assembly.

 

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These are the Steps and ingredients that went into the ones pictured but be creative and mix it up with what you  like.

  • Poached or shred BBQ chicken
  • Cook pasta, following packet directions
  • Cook rice, following packet directions
  • Cook quinoa, following packet directions
  • Boil eggs
  • Wash vegetables
  • Chop vegetables and dry
Ingredients
  • 1-2 tablespoons of you favourite store or homemade dressing
  • Cucumber, cubed
  • Carrot, grated
  • Capsicum, diced
  • red onion, finely sliced
  • Corn kernels
  • Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • Pasta or rice or quinoa
  •  bbq Chicken
  • Egg, boiled
  • grated cheese
  • Lettuce, finely sliced

 

  • Place all ingredients in the order listed above into a clean mason jar
  • Seal tightly, refrigerate and use within 7 days.

 

Be sure to let us know what you think?

Enjoy Love Kerry and Piper xoxo

 

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Family Friendly accommodation-Novotel Brisbane School Holiday Saver

“Mum, Dad, are we there yet?” If these are the words causing you ‘car anxiety’ every time you pack the kids into the car, then simply avoid the question by making your next family vacation closer to home.

http://www.accorhotels.com/1749

This Easter break we enjoyed some Novotel Brisbane hospitality and had a staycation in our home town, road testing the ‘School Holiday Saver’ which includes free buffet breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children, free carparking and late checkout* for the family (2 x adults and 2 x children)

My own approach when choosing accommodation for our family is to lean towards venues that make an extra effort to cater to families with children.  At all Novotel hotels around the world, your children are important guests and accommodation and breakfast are free for two children under 16 years. Plus the rooms have every thing you need including ipod docking stations, internet access and in room movies.

Brisbane Novotel

Since we were staying at Easter we were also able to partake in all the special activities the hotel had happening over the holiday period like the scavenger hunt to help find the Easter bunnies lost eggs.

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Plus we enjoyed some much needed relaxation while the kids visited the games room with an array of Xbox games and consoles plus they coloured the day away doing the Easter colouring in pages while mum and dad enjoyed the Easter cocktails, mocktails and snacks in the newly renovated Gourmet bar.

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Kids rooms are always bonus.

For dinner we decided to stay in and enjoy the family meal deal in the pantry restaurant on the ground floor. It was a really relaxed and casual it made for a nice change to just head downstairs and not have to push a pram and drag tired children around the city plus the kids ate free which is always a bonus, while we enjoyed a 2 course dinner with a glass of beer or wine for only $65.00 which was delish and excellent value.

Plus it’s always great to wake refreshed to a good hotel buffet breakfast and this didn’t disappoint relaxed, simple, fresh and tasty and something for every one is always a winner in our family.

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Best way to start the day.

Nestled in the heart of the Brisbane CBD, Novotel is a great location, it’s a short walk to shops, cafes and all the best Brisbane has to offer, it’s spacious and welcoming and the Novotel family room is designed to accommodate 2 adults and 2 children in the greatest comfort.

It’s the perfect place to stay where you can experience and share precious moments.

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Always at home in a hotel.

Just a few of the benefits that families that chose to stay at Novotel Brisbane City will benefit from:

    • Sofa bed
    • Baby cot
    • Non-smoking rooms
    • Children’s television channel
    • Dedicated play areas
    • Balanced meals
    • Children’s menus
    • Bottle-warmers and high chairs at your disposal
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Checking out her social channels on the free wifi.

When your next in Brisbane and looking for family friendly accommodation you must check out Novotel Brisbane at www.novotelbrisbane.com.au they always have some great special happening, current specials include Kids Stay and Eat Free, check website for terms and conditions. the perfect place to base yourself for all the best Brisbane has to offer.

Novotel Brisbane – 200 Creek Street Brisbane Queensland 07 3309 3309

 



Hotel Jen Brisbane – Review

When it comes to keeping the little ones happy so you can relax, this centrally located hotel (between the Brisbane CBD and Brisbane Airport) has it all covered.

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Park the car, check into Hotel Jen and explore Brisbane City for a day or two (or more!).

Hotel Jen caters incredibly well to families, offering wonderful service, outstanding facilities, and a selection of room types with city views.

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There is so much to do within walking distance of the hotel with kids, particularly along the Brisbane River. It’s within walking distance of all of Brisbane’s best attractions for kids, including the Queensland Museum and Art Gallery, South Bank, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, Botanic Gardens and Queen Street Mall.

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Hotel Jen extremely convenient location  is within Brisbane city and walking distance to the mall, the location is perfect….next door literally is Roma St Station (only 50m from Roma St station) which will take you anywhere in Queensland and so super easy for door-to-door transfers from the airport to the hotel on the rail train, plus its just a short walk to the shops and city ferries and then an easy walk into the CBD to experience all the local cafes and restaurants.

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Its a perfect base from which to relax and explore Brisbane it also makes for the perfect spot for a weekend getaway with friends and family to beat those winter blues.

A few of Brisbane’s best kid-friendly venues are located in the Cultural Centre precinct—the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Queensland Museum, The Sciencentre (great for toddlers too!), The State Library of Queensland, and The Queensland Art Gallery and GOMA. Each of these venues feature events aimed at kids of varying ages almost all year round many with free entry.

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Our Personal Experience –

Throughout our entire stay at Hotel Jen we were repeatedly impressed by the friendliness of each and every staff member we encountered. The genuine attentiveness from staff, from the front desk who struck up a conversation with our kids as we checked in, to the hotel staff we passed by in the hallways who always smiled and said hello, made us feel welcome, relaxed and made us feel that we could ask for assistance at any time without a hassle. As a mum, this really was a big plus for me, as I often feel like the kids get to enjoy themselves on holidays, but I often don’t unwind quite enough. At Hotel Jen, I really felt like the kids were welcome and therefore nobody would complain about them doing the things that kids do, like making a bit of noise or rushing to press the lift buttons before anyone else.

If you’re heading to Brisbane I can strongly recommend this as a great base for all your city activities, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will be back!

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Some extra info for you:

Services and Facilities

  • Fast free WiFi everywhere, always
  • Rooftop studio fitness centre
  • A range of global and local dining options
  • 24-hour in-room dining service
  • Disability-friendly facilities
  • Airtrain ticket service
    • Foreign exchange
    • Non-smoking rooms
    • Laundry and dry-cleaning services
    • Taxi and limousine services
    • Covered car park facilities
    • Shopping facilities within the Brisbane Transit Centre complex and nearby Queen Street Mall

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    General Information

    Phone+61 7 3238 2222Fax+61 7 3238 2288Email[email protected]Address159 Roma Street, Brisbane, QLD, 4000, AustraliaCheck-in / Check-outCheck in: 2pm
    Check out: 11am

 

Any Questions about our stay just feel free to send us a message and we will be happy to help you out.

Love Kerry and Miss Piper xoxo