Doubletree by Hilton Hyde Park Hotel Review

October 14, 2014 in Holidays, Reviews, Travel, Uncategorized by Emma Day

The night of the MAD Blog Awards, which was hosted in Kensington (where I was lucky to be a finalist in the Outstanding Contribution category) I decided to stay in the nearby Doubletree by Hilton Hotel at Hyde Park.

First impressions

It was a beautiful sunny day, so I walked from Paddington station, the scenic route (as it’s actually quite close by), through Hyde Park. I arrived way before my check-in time, but I was still greeted with a warm chocolate chip cookie (a pretty amazing tasting cookie), which I thought was a charming and delightful novelty. Check-in was smooth and easy and the staff were very friendly. The reception was clean, bright and airy and I was excited about seeing my room later on. I left my heavy bag there and headed to Oxford street for a spot of window shopping.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (5) (Small)

The Room

The room was clean, modern and contained most of the things the modern traveller needs in a hotel, like an iron, ironing board, hairdryer, fridge, telephone, safe and large flatscreen tv. There were a few nice extras in the room too, like a bowl of fruit, a mini box of complimentary truffles, ipod dock and a posh coffee machine. For those not adventurous enough to use the coffee machine, there are also normal tea and coffee making facilities. It would have been nice if there were instructions for the air conditioning though, as once it was on, it was hard to figure out how to turn it off again and I woke up in the night cold.

Little touches

The bed

The bed was spacious and extremely comfortable, which could be something to do with “The signature Sweet DreamsTM by DoubleTree Sleep Experience” which includes a custom-designed mattress, plush pillows and luxurious linens. I slept like a baby!

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (2) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (9) (Small)Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (8) (Small)

The decor

The room was decorated in a simple, sleek, and clean design, in natural earthy colours, with everything coordinating perfectly and crisp white sheets. This style is suitable for anyone from individuals away on business, or couples on a leisure break to families with young children. The grassy views out the window were a pleasant surprise for a London hotel.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (20) (Small)Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (21) (Small)

The bathroom

Small but spotlessly clean, the bathroom contained the usual high quality hotel toiletries and a placard stating extra items you could get by calling reception, if needed. The large shower was hot and powerful, just how it should be and there was a plentiful supply of white fluffy towels.

Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (1) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (18) (Small) Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (17) (Small)

The negatives

The only downside I found to my room, was that the design seem more geared towards men. There was no mirror situated near to a plug socket and the mirror in the bathroom had extremely unflattering lighting. As I was getting ready for the awards, this made doing my hair and makeup difficult. I had to dry and straighten my hair in the reflection of the tv and my makeup looked very different in the light of day, to what it did in the bathroom. This also meant that there wasn’t anywhere to sit and do make-up, so I had to get ready for the awards standing up. The positives for this hotel, far outweigh those few minor negatives though and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay.

Breakfast

Serving times for breakfast went right up to 11am, so I didn’t have to rush in the morning. I was greeted in a bright airy restaurant with a huge selection of buffet items. These included contintental meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, pastries, cereals, a selection of fruit juices and a full hot buffet. I had hoped to sample a bit of everything, but my hangover sadly refined me to just the hot buffet.

Doubletree by Hilton Breakfast

Breakfast at the Doubletree by Hilton 

Overall

The service, the style, the food and everything about this hotel seemed effortless. It was everything you expect from a four star hotel, barr the socket-mirror issue. I would happily stay in another Doubletree by Hilton, with my whole family. I would also love to see how Doubletree compares to the other Hilton brands.
Doubletree by Hilton London Hyde Park (27) (Small)

A bit about Doubletree by Hilton

Doubletree by Hilton have more than 400 locations in 33+ countries on six continents and every guest is always greeted with a hot chocolate chip cookie. Doubletree are part of Hiltons huge loyalty rewards programme HHonors which allows you to earn airmiles for a large choice of airlines, as well as free stays at Hilton hotels. The Wake Up DoubleTree BreakfastTM provides a wide range of full and low-calorie buffet items from both a hot and cold selection. You will find complimetary gourmet coffee and high quality Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries in every hotel room. At most Doubletree by Hilton hotels, you will also find state of the art conference and leisure facilities.

Blogging has changed my life

October 13, 2014 in Blogging, Uncategorized by Emma Day

There’s a blog post I wrote in December 2013, but didn’t publish. A post that explains just why my blog is so important to me. There are a lot of people who read my blog, who have no idea how incredible this community is or how life changing some of the opportunities are. How theraputic writing can be or how passionate I am about writing. Today I read a blog post by a very admirable blogger and entrepreneur, Sally at Who’s The Mummy. She asked, “What’s blogging ever done for us?”

Sometimes I admit, there are times when I get a bit disheartened if my stats plummet or I get a post with only a few comments. I think that happens to us all from time to time, but most of us blog because it is our passion, rather than for the number of readers we please. That is something to hold onto.

This… is what my blog means to me…

This… is what my blog has done for me…

 

Blogging has changed my life and filled my heart with glee.

It has ignited a passion and motivated ambitions that I couldn’t find within me.

It has been my prayer throughout illness and my friend when I’m alone.

It is my sanctuary, my therapy and a little piece of my soul.

It’s a celebration and a photo album of memories and unforgettable moments.

It is a new faith in humanity and a wider world to explore.

It’s an outlet for creativity and inspiration and a place to inspire too.

 

It opens your mind in a way that both softens you, and toughens you.

It’s words on a page, journeys, products, brands, handshakes, pictures and faces.

New ways of life and a new appreciation of life.

It’s an olive branch and a weeping willow.

It is collective tears and collective smiles.

A virtual hug.

A firework that sparks a twinkle in my eye.

A fundraiser, a community and an army of supportive parents, incredible writers and loyal readers.

It’s a glimpse of a future full of opportunity.

It’s taught me about the kind of person I want to be.

It’s a little piece of me.


Life as a poorly mum

October 12, 2014 in Health, Medical, Parenting, Radioactive mum by Emma Day

pills

They say that mum’s don’t have time to be ill. The truth us, being poorly, is ten times harder when you are a mum. You have to keep going, you have to still do everything, no matter how bad you feel. 

 

Unfortunately for me, I have an immune system which totally sucks, thanks to the chemo I had twenty years ago and doubly thanks now, to having no thyroid. I seem to get ill nowadays just from “overdoing it”. I wonder if yesterdays #MarchOnCancer was too much for me? Or was I getting ill anyway?

I catch everything going and always suffer to the worst degree. The flu, for example, knocks me out for about 4 weeks. Kidney infections, of which I’m now a connoisseur, usually need at least twenty days of anti-biotics and then kick me harder with a throat infection – the two always come together.

I am so very in tune with my body. I know before I get ill. I know how high my temperature is, without a thermometer.

Sometimes, I can even tell the doctor what is wrong with me, before I reach their office. Like I do with every infection. Like I did with Thyroid Cancer.

I’m so sick of being ill. When I’m ill, I feel like I am useless, worthless and a total failure at being a mum.

I hated the look on my girls faces today, when they wanted mummy, but mummy was in bed, with so little energy, that I couldn’t even cry. The bed sheets on top of me, feeling more like a blanket of rocks. Their sweet little pudgy fingers stroking my arm gently, feeling more like a punch.

Today I couldn’t get out of bed. I don’t know what is wrong, but everything hurts. I have spent the last 22 hours drifting in and out of consciousness, only to wake up in pain and with a fever. I hate being ill and being ill makes me feel depressed. What use am I to them, when I am like this all the time? How am I going to cope with the school run tomorrow, when today I could barely make it to the toilet without falling over. I want someone else’s body now. Someone else’s strength. Because I’m all out. 

Now the girls are in bed, I have finally summoned up the energy to cry, and I can’t tell you what a relief that is. 

I know there must be more people out there, like me, with shit immune systems, that get ill all the time, whether cancer or tonsillitis. Sometimes I wish I knew some of them, so that I felt less alone, when I’m in my dark place. When I’m lying in bed, full of self pity and hating my body for never giving me a break. Will my kids grow up saying “oh mum’s always ill”. Will they remember all the times I wasn’t well enough to play? Will hospital visits always be a routine part of their lives? Will they resent the messy house, all the times I was too poorly to clean?

I’m a mum, so I have to suck it up and get on with it… but sometimes, being poorly a lot, is really really hard.

My husband is drumming for the Cardiff March on Cancer

October 11, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Family, Health, Medical, Radioactive mum, Sport, Travel by Emma Day

Stand Up To Cancer March On Cancer

This year the Stand Up To Cancer appeal is going to be bigger and better than ever and hopefully raise a ton of money for Cancer Research UK. One of the events is the March On Cancer, which is happening tonight, in fifteen cities across the UK. Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Chester, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Sheffield and Southampton will all March On Cancer tonight.

I am very proud to say that my husband is the drummer who will be leading the Cardiff March On Cancer. Hopefully, Myself, Bunny and the Twins will march too. The march is for 2-3 miles and lasts about 45 minutes, but there is entertainment in each city making the event last an hour and a half in total.

As you all know, I’ve fought Cancer twice (Leukaemia and Thyroid cancer) and am about to have minor surgery to prevent a third cancer, after pre-cancerous cells were found on my cervix. So Cancer Research UK and the Stand Up To Cancer appeal are both very close to mine and my husbands hearts.

I would be truly grateful if you could spare £1 or two to sponsor my husband, who will be both marching and drumming to lead this event through the streets of Cardiff. I have also linked his fundraising page to the #EmmasArmy team page.

If you are near to a city which is participating in the March On Cancer… please do go down and support the event… the marchers, the drummers, the singers or if you want to – you can even march yourself. More details are on the Stand Up To Cancer’s March on Cancer website.

Please share this post, and ReTweet anything you see on Twitter about #StandUpToCancer or #MarchOnCancer over the next week or so. Channel 4’s Stand Up To Cancer TV show will air on Friday 17th October 2014. 

I am growing to hate my daughter’s school

October 8, 2014 in Childhood, Parenting, rants, School, Uncategorized by Emma Day

I started writing this post, two years ago! Then I thought, no, I’m being harsh. Two years on though, I still feel the same. I am actually growing to loathe my daughter’s school.

Bunny outside school

You may have seen my recent post about whether or not to change my daughter to a new school, since moving house. I think that decision has thoroughly been set in my mind this week. I want to move her. (Thank you to every one who also offered advice – I found it hugely helpful). A friend moved her son out of Bunny’s school, due to a total lack of support at a time when he was grieving and now he has moved schools, he is thriving.

There are many things they have done to thoroughly get my goat, some I used to fear were intentional, as they seemed to have some sort of vendetta against me for not living in the posh part of town. That got better for a while, but today, I was spoken to in a sickeningly patronising tone, by a teacher, who made a snap judgement about me. I was livid and I loudly exclaimed “What a stupid comment to make”, back at her, in response. But I wish I’d said more. I went home feeling angry for the next few hours. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I once got tutted at, by a teacher, because I asked Bunny to walk down the steps to me, instead of trying to get the twins and their pushchair up four steps!

I used to have a lot of issues with a certain member of staff at the school, but after a two way shouting confrontation in front of an audience last year, and a formal complaint, that person is now possibly my favourite member of staff in that school.

You may have read my school lunch expose, or heard me moaning on Twitter about them promising her house points for certain tasks, and then not giving them to her when she has completed them. Two years ago, I also talked about how they moved my daughter into a different class for Year 1 and took her away from all of her friends. She had nightmares for weeks and cried about going to school, but they refused point blank to put her back with her friends. She had done nothing wrong, yet felt she was being punished.

You may have heard me ranting about them tipping Bunny’s drink down the sink and leaving her to dehydrate because they don’t approve of her having a tiny bit of squash in her water (on her doctors orders). Bunny had been suffering with tummy cramps for months, which caused absences from school. They turned out to be caused by dehydration because the teachers were tipping her drink down the sink and she wont drink water. It took me three trips to a doctor, one trip to the hospital, a letter from her doctor and an argument with the school secretary to get it sorted!

We often find out about things happening at school, with very little notice and if we don’t get the reply slips in by 9am the next day, our child has to miss out.

Sometimes we get “invited to make a VOLUNTARY contribution” to certain things… then get bombarded with letters, texts and emails asking why we haven’t paid it yet.

We’ve also had a lot of issues with bullying and my daughter has recently announced she wants to quit the choir, because someone bullies her and the teacher is mean.

There are also the parents evenings, which are so early in the year, that they barely know my daughter and sound like they are reading from a very vague script!

Then there are school plays and nativities, which we love watching (yes I’m one of those proud mummies that gets all teary). Bunny takes school plays seriously and practices at home, yet they often enforce a STRICTLY NO BABIES OR TODDLERS policy for the shows. This “policy” excludes probably around half of the parents in the school, who have toddlers or infants. I am absolutely disgusted by this. Those infants they are banning – are the future pupils of the school. It doesn’t fill you with confidence when the staff at your child’s school are instilling policies that are not child friendly!

We sent Bunny to this school because it was reported to be one of the best in the area. The schools more local to us at the time were renowned for the 5 year old’s being connoisseurs of verbal diarrhoea, disrespect and swearing, and the ten year old’s being regular smokers. A lot of the children from Bunny’s school go on to Grammar school, but it quite frankly sucks how much nonsense we have to take from them during the journey.

Yes it is a rather snobby school, but then I’m a little bit of a snob myself. But snobs aside, the parents I’ve met are nice, caring parents, with well behaved and thoughtful children. Bunny has many friends, but I resent the school for it’s policies and I hate how condescending and self righteous some of the staff are. Bunny WANTS to move schools!

I am now going to hurry up with my applications for her new school. In addition to me hoping that a local community school will be a happier place for Bunny, there will be numerous other benefits for our family, including losing the two hour school run and all the petrol costs.

My Sunday Photo – BA from BA

October 5, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, My Sunday Photo, Photography by Emma Day

BA from BA

OneDad3Girls

To move schools or not to move schools?

September 27, 2014 in Childhood, Parenting, School, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Sports Day July 2014 (54)

Bunny is in year 3 at school. Some days she comes home from school excited about the great day she has had, and other times, she says she hates school. She chats constantly about her friends some days, but other days, says her friends have been nasty to her. This is just children being children though isn’t it? My girl is quite the drama queen at the best of times.

Her school is graded “outstanding” by OFSTED and has numerous other awards for things like arts, and environment. There are lots of after school clubs, a breakfast club and a nice friendly atmosphere. It is in one of the more affluent areas of Gloucestershire and is an overly popular school, but admittedly, there is a fair bit of school-gate snobbery from parents and teachers alike. Equally I’ve had my rifts with a few members of staff there. Having read Suzanne’s post from 3 Children & IT, I wonder if I might be a Helicopter parent, but if I am… I don’t care. It’s all about what is best for my daughter.

We have recently moved house. To another town. School is now a twenty to thirty minute drive in rush hour. The school run takes up a full two hours of every day. That’s two hours that the twins are stuck in the car and I’m not able to do more productive things.

There are two schools within walking distance of our new house. One a five minute walk, and one a ten minute walk. These schools are both graded “Good” by OFSTED, but also have both had quite a few “Inadequate” ratings in the past. Should I overlook past scores and focus on the now? How important are OFSTED scores anyway?

Both schools have a waiting list for year 3… surely that’s a good sign? One got converted to an academy after numerous OFSTED failures and has since shown considerable improvement. I’ve heard the other school raved about in the local park, for being brilliant.

Part of me thinks that moving to a less snobby school, will be good for the bad attitude Bunny has recently developed. It might help me to be less of a snob too!

If she moves school, we will save a fortune on petrol, be a more environmentally friendly family, as we wont use the car every day and I will have a lot more time at home to play with the twins and to focus on my housework writing.

But… what if she doesn’t make friends very quickly or doesn’t settle? After reception class, Bunny’s friends were all split into different classes and it really upset her. It took almost a year for her to settle back in and in that year we had night terrors, lots of dreading school and her learning suffered. She has caught up now, but what if it happens again? 

I’ve asked her opinion and she says she’d like to move schools, but she is only seven, she hasn’t thought about all the angles. 

What if the teachers aren’t as good, the education isn’t quite as high a standard? The school has excellent resources for children who are struggling, but what if her talents aren’t encouraged? 

There are so many what-if’s and it seems such a big decision to make. This is my daughter’s education and her happiness too. There are pro and cons to both moving her to a new school or keeping her in her current school.

I’ve had a look around one of the schools, but it hasn’t helped my decision at all. It seemed much nicer than I anticipated, but really quite different to the school she is in now. I can’t work out if that is a positive thing or a negative one.  

I hope to look around the other school soon too, but would love to hear opinions of other parents who have moved their children from one school to another. What kinds of things did you consider? How did you know which school to choose? What are the most important factors to consider and how do you know where your child will thrive and be happiest?

Family time with the X Factor

September 26, 2014 in Entertainment, Family by Emma Day

We are an X factor watching family. However, sometimes we have to watch it separately! Why? Because Hubs and I divide dramatically on our opinions. 

I love to hear peoples back stories. How they got there. Why there are auditioning. What makes them think they can win. Why they couldn’t make it on their own. Especially when people have had a tough time or gone through huge ordeals to get to where they are now. I am quite happy to shed a tear or two for the emotional stories. I like to root for inspiring and determined people who have overcome obstacles. 

Hubs… hates hearing the stories. He gets stroppy, sarcastic and moans at “all the sob stories”. He feels that the stories outshine the talent and that some of the contestants only do well because of their stories.

So to avoid rows… we often watch the X factor separately.

Bunny, however, who has always had a huge interest in fashion and fashion design, loves looking at the outfits and commenting on the outifts, even more than the singing! Particularly the judges, who always look phenomenal. So I decided to put together a quick mood board of the kind of dresses I would wear if I got to be an X-factor judge for the day…

Wear the X Factor

 

Unbelievably – two of those dresses only cost £18 to buy online! I wouldn’t recommend adding the bracelet to your Christmas list though – not unless you have a spare £115k *gasps*.

So here’s where I come clean… I am a betting woman. I like the odd flutter here and there. Only £1 or so, but still… it gets the adrenaline racing. I found out the other day, that you can actually bet on the X Factor! So now, for me, the X-factor has just gotten ten times more interesting!

The finals are always the night we watch the X Factor together as a family. There is a little bickering and a few “I told you so’s”, but it’s a great excuse to get some good snacks and drinks in and veg out on the sofa for some family time. 

Family time

 

 

In exchange for writing this post, I was given a voucher to cover the cost of a good family night in, watching the Xfactor.

That first post-cancer check up

September 25, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Radioactive mum, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Macmillan booklet

My 6 month post-cancer check up with my consultant oncologist got a little bit delayed, due to a bout of depression and a phase in which I kept cancelling my appointments. It ended up being a 10 month post-cancer check up.

I dutifully popped to the hospital to get my bloods taken the week before, which was actually quite funny. The twins were being really loud and naughty. Fluffy kept leaving the toy area and running off, so I strapped her into the pushchair and chaos ensued. There were 11 people in front of me in the queue, when the nurse came over to me and quietly said “shall we pretend you’re next – would you like to come in now?”. To be fair, she was probably just saving the eardrums of the other patients in line.

Anyway, the point of the bloods…

1) To check I am on the correct dose of Thyroxine. This is the hormone your thyroid produces, but since I had my thyroid cut out, I now have to take those hormones by tablet. To prevent the Cancer from returning, I have to always be slightly overdosed on Thyroxine. When Thyroxine levels drop, something called TSH, tells the brain to produce more. My brain forgets that I don’t have a thyroid and sends out signals anyway. If Cancer cells are present in the body, these signals would encourage the Cancer cells to grow. So I have to make sure my TSH is constantly surpressed. Still with me? Right…

2) To check for Thyroglobulin. Thyroglobulin are indicators of thyroid cancer. So basically, cancer markers. The aim is to not find any Thyroglobulin in the blood. Thyroglobulin is a bad sign – we don’t want it.

So my results…

My Thyroxine is at the correct level.

Thyroglobulin… completely undetectable!

This is the best news.

I have however, still been finding it hard to recover, physically I have a lot less energy that when I had a thyroid, and lately I’ve been suffering from headaches, palpitations and high blood pressure. All of these things are unusual for me. Mentally… I have off days. In light of this, my consultant agreed, that my results were SO good, that we could take a little more risk and lower my dose of Thyroxine. This will hopefully, make me start feeling better in a few months time.

All round a great result.

My consultant said, “Well done, you’ve done really well and I’m very pleased with you”. I found this a bit strange… afterall, I didn’t do anything! Him and his team treated me. I was just there for the ride (and to get rid of the Cancer). I was a bit sad I didn’t get to see my favourite radiographer, but… maybe next time. I will have these tests every year for the rest of my life, but until I’m feeling 100% back to normal, it will be every 6 months.

LeapReader teacher testimonials and why I want one for the twins

September 25, 2014 in Baby development, Childhood, Parenting, School, Shopping, Technology, Toys, Videos by Emma Day

Bunny loves reading. She recently joined the library, completed the summer reading challenge and she reads every single evening before bed. At 7 years old, she is very competent at reading, but she hasn’t always been. When she was 5 years old, she used to get frustrated and cross if she couldn’t read a word. When reading first clicked, she would concentrate on how fast she could read, but wouldn’t actually take in the content that she was reading. If you asked her questions about it afterwards, she wouldn’t know what the story was about. Now, at 7, she will give a long and thorough description of the book she has just read.

If I had known about the LeapReader from LeapFrog, I would have got her that, to help her with her reading. It’s aimed at 4-8 year olds and is definitely on my to-buy list for the twins when they turn four. My twins have had a developmental delay in reaching most of their milestones so far, so I really think a LeapReader will help them catch up as they reach school age. 

LeapReader

The LeapReader helps children to learn to read independently, understand what they are reading, learn phonics and pronunciation and take in the content. It has stories of fiction and non fiction, interactive games and a voice that speaks the words and sounds. Using the LeapReader pen, children can touch the words and pictures to sound them out, or use the pen to keep track of where they are. 

LeapReader have launched eight videos on YouTube of teacher testimonials. All the teachers explain what’s so good about the LeapReader and how it helps school children progress with their reading and writing skills, as well as helping children with learning disabilities and developmental delay.

Here’s one of the videos:

 

You can find all the other LeapReader teacher testimonial videos by clicking here.

There is a big range of books available for the LeapReader, from Disney stories, princesses and characters to learning about geography, food and science, just to name a few. You can find out more on the LeapFrog website.

%d bloggers like this: