Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc’s beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. I’ve wanted to visit for ages, so I was beside myself with excitement. As I drove up, I dithered outside the front gate in my car, not really knowing what to do, and instantly, a friendly gentleman in an immaculate suit rushed out to help, escorting me to the reception and driving my car off to park it for me. First impressions? Pretty darned good.
So if you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I headed over to Orlando last month to check out the fantastic dining options at Walt Disney World. Here’s my video report from my trip. Remember, you’ve only got one week left to book your 2015 holiday and take advantage of the free dining offer. Read all about it here!
Our lovely visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando seems such a long time ago now. I’m already pining for the sunshine, for Anna and Elsa, and, more importantly, all that amazing food.
Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I think most people thought that all you could probably eat while you were at Walt Disney World parks and resorts was junk food, or maybe Mickey-shaped ice creams. Now, people are starting to realise that Walt Disney World features some of the best dining in the world, whether you’re after a snack, quick-service, grab and go option, or proper fine dining with table service.
So what can you expect?
What have you got planned this autumn? It’s the perfect time to get out and about, I always think – crunching through piles of golden leaves and wrapping up, getting out and discovering new places, all looking beautiful in their glowy autumn colours. To give you a bit of inspiration, I’ve teamed up with English Heritage to give two lucky winners a fabulous 12 month English Heritage family membership.
One of my absolute favourite adventures while we were in Walt Disney World was a special, money can’t buy visit to Chef Jeff, Executive Chef at Disney’s beautiful Contemporary Resort, one of my top five Walt Disney World resort hotels. Chef Jeff and his team are responsible for all the patisserie for the resort, from gorgeous special occasion cakes, to the wonderful cupcakes available in the café.
I love Halloween. What’s not to love about dressing up, socialising and eating loads of sweets? It’s like it was made for me. It’s also brilliant that it coincides with half term too, which means it’s a fab time to get away for a little ‘staycation’ with the family.
So as I mentioned recently, I’ve been in Orlando for a few days with my friend Laura, experiencing the fabulous food (plus the odd ride, parade, and other lovely things) available throughout Walt Disney World.
One of the highlights of Walt Disney World for me is Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I adore the showbiz theming – it feels like a real movie set, with all the main areas seamlessly blending into each other.
So after all the begging and pleading, yesterday I finally got to slip on my new favourite LBD (thank you, Mint Velvet) and my gorgeous sparkly new necklace from Alice’s Wonders, lash a load of concealer over my hideous jetlaggy eye bags, and head off to London for the Cruise International Cruise Awards 2014.
So this week I’ve been at Walt Disney World at the UK Culinary Showcase, discovering everything about the Disney Dining Plan (much more of this coming up shortly – including a special offer) and also whizzing around on a few rides and hugging a few Disney characters, as you do.
One of the huge perks of my job is all the travel. I get to visit some wonderful places and cruise on amazing ships. I’m always pinching myself at how lucky I am. One of the bits that I enjoy the least, though, is getting to the airport. We actually only live about half an hour from Heathrow, but depending on how things are on the M25, that half hour can magically change into an hour or even longer.
So as you’re reading this, I’m out in Orlando at Walt Disney World, catching up on the latest in food and wine (and tackling the odd ride, obviously). During my last trip to Walt Disney World, I was lucky enough to stay in Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort. I love the theming of the Disney resorts and this is one of my favourites. Based on the old American Northwest, the hotel sits on the shores of Bay Lake, nestled within beautiful forests. The interior is like a big old log cabin, with wonderful outdoor areas and access to the Magic Kingdom via the lovely boat service (or of course the free Disney coach service) that takes you to Seven Seas Lagoon (click on the gallery to see my pictures):
So on Monday, Royal Caribbean hosted a live reveal of some of the pretty incredible technology you’re going to encounter if you’re lucky enough to sail on their newest Quantum Class vessels: Quantum of the Seas, rolling out first, and then Anthem of the Seas.
These days, everyone has a smartphone, so Royal Caribbean have ramped up their latest ships into, well, smartships. Here’s what to expect:
Every parent of teenagers knows that feeling when you start to wonder exactly how long your children will keep wanting to come on holiday with you. As they grow up, they naturally develop their own tastes, likes and dislikes (and even more naturally, these will tend to be the exact opposite to yours), so agreeing on a holiday destination (and indeed, persuading them to dump their mates and come on holiday with you) is never easy.
Enter, the Caribbean cruise. Here’s why:
As a family, we’re pretty divided when it comes to phones. Mr English is a sworn iPhone devotee. The rest of us are mad on Samsung. At the moment, Charlie and Sam both have a Galaxy S4, and I’ve got an S3 (I did have an S4 too, but then Sam dropped his in the sea on a Biology field trip and he was so gutted I gave him mine – motherly love eh?).
We’ve tested a few cars in the past, most notably the Honda CR-V that we drove around France, and really love doing it (basically, a lovely man appears on your doorstep with a brand new car and gives you the keys, leaving the car with you for a week – what’s not to love?). This time, Honda asked if we’d like to try their new Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual and, being a big car loving family, we jumped at the chance…
I’ve always written about travel. But over the last few years I’ve been writing more and more about cruising. I adore cruise holidays and have become almost evangelical in my attempt to get the word out to everyone just what a FABULOUS holiday you can have aboard a cruise ship. Last month, as part of my job as an ambassador for Royal Caribbean (follow us on Twitter and Instagram – our hashtag is #RoyalMums) we travelled to the Caribbean on the largest cruise ship in the world, the Allure of the Seas…
Regular readers will know that I adore a Walt Disney resort hotel (click here to see my top five) and there’s much excitement in Orlando at the moment as there’s a new hotel opening very shortly. This one’s a bit different as although it’s placed within the boundaries of Walt Disney World, it’s actually a Four Seasons. The Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort to give it its full title (bit of a mouthful, admittedly) is shaping up to be an absolute beauty.
So recently I got invited to a very swish private screening of the third series of Sky Living’s drama, Scandal. If you’re not already hooked (bet you are), it stars the gorgeous Kerry Washington (who we all remember most as the blind lady who dated The Thing in the Fantastic Four, but who was also amazing in Django Unchained), as White House fixer Olivia Pope. It’s full of intrigue, secrets and cover-ups and is seriously good.
So how did the evening pan out? I’m not sure you’ll believe it…
I love a cute little infographic and this one all about summer at Center Parcs really caught my eye. Everybody knows that when the sun is shining, there’s no nicer place to be than right here at home and there’s a lot to be said for missing out all the queues at security and that airport parking to enjoy a summer holiday here in the UK.
Our cruise aboard the beautiful Allure of the Seas took us around the Eastern Caribbean. Starting from Fort Lauderdale , where we stayed one night at the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina – a gorgeous hotel with the most beautiful views of the marina (the clue’s in the name)…
So if you’re a boy, second on your list of important things on the ship after being first in line for the FlowRider is sorting out where you’re going to stuff your face. Happily, on the Allure of the Seas (in fact, ANY Royal Caribbean cruise ship) you can pretty much eat 24 hours a day, with loads of choice too.
So yesterday I had a very special date with a certain Mr Mouse at a Disney drinks party at the beautiful new Ham Yard Hotel in Soho. Of course I had to ask Mickey if he had any juicy gossip to share. Here are a few of the things I heard:
- Win £125 Berry Bros & Rudd wine vouchers with Vivino October 22, 2014
- The Raymond Blanc Cookery School at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with Kenwood Chef Sense October 19, 2014
- Wine tasting and deli platters at No 2 Pound Street October 17, 2014
- Video: fabulous Disney dining and the free dining offer – just one week left! October 15, 2014
- Taste of London Winter: 20-23 November 2014 October 14, 2014