I can’t believe it’s over! We have come home from two weeks of adventure, laughter, fun and lots and lots of walking…wow there’s lots of walking in Orlando! But let’s just say that’s probably for the better, as without the walking, I don’t doubt Tom and I would’ve come home two stone heavier!! Anyway, we have arrived home safely, with extra suitcases filled to the brim with souvenirs, gifts and lots of Disney merchandise, that now we’re home, we have no idea what we’re going to ever do with it (yes, you do get carried away there don’t you!). I mean we needed a goblet that lights up for our juice in the morning right? And I definitely needed a stuffed Dumbo that comes with his very own blanket, yeah? Ermmm maybe not, but hey, what the hell – these things don’t come around often, so when they do, you go all out!

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We spent the majority of our trip in Walt Disney World, as well as visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, which houses the amazing Wizarding World of Harry Potter! The trip was unforgettable and everything we’d hoped for and more. However, it was such as shame that during in our visit, Orlando experienced some extremely sad times – the Orlando shooting (the worst in US history), a little boy was killed by an alligator on Disney property and Christina Grimmie (whom I was such a fan of) was shot dead by a deranged ‘fan’ of hers at a meet and greet – so of course our emotions were slightly mixed throughout the trip due to the tragedies that occurred within only a couple of days of each other. We did however, keep our spirits up and make sure that our trip was not so affected by these things that were very much out of our control.

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Disney World is magical – I even saw a sparkle in Tom’s eye every time we stepped foot in that place! You honestly go from serious adults who only buy things they actually need, to being big kids, wanting to buy every single thing they sell that is shiny, colourful and somewhat tacky. It’s madness! We did budget for this though – so we’ve come home with our fair share of ‘tat’…It’s obligatory!

We did every Disney Park, apart from the water parks, with Hollywood Studios being Tom’s favourite and Magic Kingdom being mine. Despite the fact we’re in our twenties and childless, we made time to meet with characters, buy Minnie Ears and go on baby rides – and trust me, you have to do this! The nighttime firework displays are out of this world and being someone that doesn’t typically enjoy fireworks, I could’t have enjoyed this part of our day any more – it was truly spectacular. Missing this so much – thank god I filmed it, I can watch it whenever I feel crap!

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The Universal Parks were more action packed and full of thrill rides, which of course Tom and I revelled in, but we have to admit that it doesn’t come close our experiences at Disney World. We were however, blown away by The Wizarding World of Harry Potter though – being huge HP fans, this is something we’d been looking forward to for a very long while now, and it absolutely met our expectations! I’d love to visit it at quieter times though as you can’t take it all in with such crowds.

So I’ve done a quick list of things we loved and what we would recommend, as well as including some of our photos. I will, however, be doing separate blog posts on our WDW photos and experience, and a blog post about our hotel visit. Plus maybe our WDW haul – so watch this space Youtube…!!!

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Favourite Rides

Universal Studios – Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Escape from Gringotts & Dragon Challenge

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Tower of Terror & Hollywoods Rock N Roller Coaster

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Expedition Everest & Kilimanjaro Safaris

Disney’s Epcot – Test Track & Soarin’

Disney’s Magic Kingdom – Space Mountain & Splash Mountain

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Food We Loved

Universal Studios – Doughnuts from The Simpsons Land – May I suggest just one between 4 people…we got one each and barely touched them – they are SO big!!!

Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Fish & Chips at Three Broomsticks

Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Toffee popcorn & visit Mama Melrose Italian for dinner (the steak with mac and cheese was amazing)

Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Mickey Pretzel

Disney’s Epcot – Pastries from France Pavilion – these are seriously good!

Disney’s Magic Kingdom – You must get a Dolewhip Float!! Plus have dinner at Be Our Guest if you can get in – and make sure you get the drinks in a Goblet too!!

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Thank you so much for reading, I hope you enjoyed it! Also, I just wanted to say that all of these photos are my own and none of them have been edited at all.

Come back on Monday for more Disney World Blog Posts!

Jessica Xx

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As some of you may know, it was my Mum’s big birthday in April, and as one of her gifts (yes one of – we well and truly spoilt her!) my two sisters and I booked to stay at the Grosvenor Pulford Hotel & Spa in Chester. After reading numerous TripAdvisor reviews, the choice of where to book seemed really quite easy, and so we booked the hotel months in advance. On my Mum’s actual birthday, we revealed the hotel surprise to her, she was thrilled to be going on a break away with her three girls – something she hasn’t done since her 50th birthday!

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Firstly, the hotel was extremely easy to find, and once we did arrive, we were delighted to be met by gorgeous grounds, a large car park and a stunning building which looked even better than the photographs, which is always reassuring! Mum, being the designated driver, pulled up right to the entrance (as it was raining at this point) and dropped us at the front, whilst the three of us ran into the reception with all the bags and waited for poor Mum to park the car in the rain (sorry Mum!). Luckily, she parked easily and was soon inside, undercover and away from the wet weather.

We were met by the lovely Jane at the hotel desk, whom in my Mum’s words “gave us the best welcome to a hotel in a very long time”, which she followed up with “and I’ve stayed at a lot of hotels in my time” – very true! Mum wasn’t lying, Jane was wonderful at her job and had only been there 6 weeks, so thank you to you Jane (if you ever see this!). The reception was absolutely stunning, a true mix of modern and traditional decor – it was very luxurious and definitely was a hit with my Mum.

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We had booked two rooms: a deluxe twin room and an executive twin room. The executive room was more spacious, including a small lounge area which was perfect for the four of us to sit and enjoy a glass of celebratory champagne in! Whilst the deluxe room was decorated the same with almost the same amenities, just without the extra space. Both rooms were decorated to a very high standard and were beautifully cleaned and well maintained. We were all impressed!

As I said earlier, we were met with 5* quality service on arrival, and this did not dip at any one point during in our stay. We requested an ice bucket up to our room for our vintage champagne, and within 5 minutes we had our ice bucket along with four glasses. We also had a slight issue (on our part) as we could not get the heating to work, but once again, within only a few moments of asking for help with this, someone was upstairs and sorting out our problem – nothing seemed too much to ask, which is something you expect when you are paying to stay somewhere.

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We booked a table at the hotels restaurant Ciro’s Brasserie at 8pm as none of us felt like venturing too far after our day of shopping at Cheshire Oaks. Once again, we were pleasantly surprised, as considering there was a wedding dinner being served in the function room at the same time as our dinner, the service never fell short and the food was delicious. The restaurant had a fabulous menu, making it hard to choose, and also included lots of local produce, which is nice to see. Our dinner was absolutely scrumptious and I would absolutely recommend a visit to Ciro’s if you stay at the Grosvenor Pulford!

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On our visit, we also used some of the spa facilities – although none of us had a treatment – and I would say that the pool, steam and sauna rooms are in need of an update. It is slightly outdated and looks very used and worn down, yet the size of the pool and the surrounding areas are fabulous. We had a lovely swim, but unfortunately the jacuzzi was not working, so it was more like sitting in a bath, and the steam room felt more leisure centre than luxury spa. This was not something that we were overly bothered by though, and with the high standards throughout the hotel, we were able to overlook this. Plus the Japanese garden next to the spa area was absolutely mesmerising.

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Overall our visit was a huge success and I would definitely recommend the hotel. The service was fantastic, the hotel was beautiful and the food was delicious – and they made it very special for my Mum too. For more information on The Grosvenor Pulford Hotel visit their website here: www.grosvenorpulfordhotel.co.uk

Thanks for reading and do let me know if you ever visit the hotel!

Jessica Xx

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46, 45, 44…

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Photo from OhYeahDisney Instagram (check them out, they’re seriously amazing!!)

How is time flying so quickly? We only have 43 days left until we fly away to Orlando, to visit Walt Disney World, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Universal Studios, and all the attractions that Orlando has to offer (except Seaworld of course!). I literally feel as though this holiday is going to be here in no time at all, which is why I am trying to organise the essentials now, so we are can relax, and feel nothing but excitement.

I have started to realise just how much organisation and planning must go into a holiday such as Orlando, Florida. Of course, it’s not overly stressful, yet missing out on important arrangements, and you risk ruining or seriously impacting your holiday. Basically, it’s just not as simple as hopping on a plane to Spain! With this in mind, I have been researching, booking, buying and organising as much as possible. Of course, there’s the obvious – I have been shopping for all kinds of wonderful, fun things to take away with us: clothing, accessories and travel essentials, but I have also been arranging travel insurance, entry into the US and checking we both have the correct Passport, as the rules have recently changed as of April 2016 (see below).

Travel Essentials

ESTA

This, I have yet to sort out, although you do have up until 72 hours before you travel to do so, however, I am going to do it in the next few days so that we can put it behind us and not worry about forgetting it! ESTA is the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, which basically is a visa which allows you to travel to the United States multiple times over a two year period. It is only about £12-15 per person, and from what I can see, seems pretty simple and easy to apply for.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance for any holiday is vital, however, with health care in the US being private only, it is even more important that you cover yourselves before travelling. Having read that you should buy travel insurance as soon as you book your holiday somewhere, just incase of any cancellations or changes between booking and travelling, I decided to buy our travel insurance the week I booked the holiday so that we could put our minds to rest if anything happened to go pear-shaped! I used CompareTheMarket.com to buy our insurance, and made sure to meet the minimum requirements which were suggested to us.

Passport Change

As of April 2016, you are now required to have an ePassport for entry into the US, please see more information on USA Travel Advice here at GOVUK. I, of course, panicked initially, however, both Tom and I have newer passports and therefore we didn’t have to arrange getting new ones before June – thank God!

Clothing & Accessories

Things I have bought recently…let me know if you want me to do either a video or a blog post showcasing my haul!

Clothes

Uniqlo Disney T’shirts

Primark Disney PJ’s & T’shirts

Accessories

New Look Shell Watch

Books & Films

Books

Harry Potter 7 Piece Book Set

Brit Guide to Orlando 2016

Films

Disney’s Inside Out, The Lion King, The Jungle Book, Tangled

Meals, Tickets & FastPass

Meals

Be Our Guest Restaurant for Dinner

Tickets

Disney Tickets 14 day

Universal Tickets 14 day

FastPass will be available to us 30 days before travel, so we’re working on our itinerary at the moment in order to get ready to book the rides appropriate for the days we will be at certain parks.

Anyway, what do you think? Am I missing anything so far? Please comment below if you have been before and you have any tips or advice before we go, we’d really appreciate it! Plus I hope some of this information is helpful to you, or if not, you’re just enjoying hearing about our plans for our big trip! It’s something we have both wanted to do in so long now, and just seeing the days fly by and the countdown getting closer and closer, makes all the hard work, life stresses and god knows what else, seem so much more worth it!

Thank you so much for reading, I love the support I am getting for this blog, I appreciate you all, please let me know if there are certain blog posts you’re preferring or wanting to see more of, and I will try to cater to all my readers!!

Much love,

Jessica Xx

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After Valentines Day came and went in the blink of an eye, Tom and I decided a day out, at a Spa, would be the perfect opportunity to spend some well deserved time together. We have both been equally as stressed out recently (work, life, money – the usual!) and agreed a day of pampering was what we needed – money worries aside. I did a lot of research, and Rowhill Grange Hotel and Utopia Spa came up as a local hotel and spa that seemed to tick all the boxes. We were considering a full Spa Day, however, as the prices were a little steep and Tom wasn’t too sure if he was interested in any of the other treatments, we decided on booking a side by side, full body massage in a dual treatment room.

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On Sunday the weather was glorious; we arrived up through the long and scenic drive to the hotel and spa, passing ‘Ducks Crossing’ signs (how adorable!) and fields of daffodils (I suddenly felt very far from the cities hustle and bustle). The calm, serene ambiance of the grounds met my expectations of what a Spa Day is all about;  I got out of the car and felt immediately relaxed and I hadn’t even had my massage yet!

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Obviously this time we were not staying in the hotel, so I have no opinions on the hotel itself, rather the facilities it has. The Spa was well sign posted, just off to the right of the hotel, up some stairs and through some glass doors, opposite the Elements Bar and Lounge. The entrance into the spa is decorated beautifully, with gold and deep browns being the theme of the decor (all very luxurious). We were greeted by two very friendly and welcoming receptionists, and asked to fill out a health form prior to our treatments. Then once done, we were shown to a very dark waiting room, which due to us not being on actual ‘spa days’, we felt a little out of place being the only ones not wearing robes; I think we would’ve felt more appropriate waiting in the main entrance. It also seemed a little busy and too noisy for a waiting room fit for a spa – with workers loudly discussing what they had for dinner the night before, and the constant passing of people with cases, drinks or god knows what else (felt slightly less relaxed at this point!).

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Anyway, we were met by our two very lovely therapists (unfortunately I can not remember their names) and shown downstairs to our dual treatment room. I have to say, I was a little disappointed by the room, it seemed a little less ‘luxury massage room’ and a little more ‘let me wax your hairy legs room’! However, that aside, the therapists did a good job and setting the scene with relaxing music, dimming the lighting and spraying the room with what I can only imagine was a lavender based scent (ahhh, I do love lavender). Tom and I had the giggles initially, this is our first massage together for starters and we tend to be a little immature together at the best of times, however this soon passed once our treatment begun.

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The therapists checked we were happy with the pressure initially, but then never checked back in with us, which I found a little disconcerting as not many people are brave enough to say ‘actually now that’s too hard/soft etc’, so I do think this needed to be re-assessed throughout the treatment. Of course, I don’t mean every few minutes, but just maybe twice throughout the massage, to give someone the opportunity to speak up if needs be.

I loved how when the massage begun, my therapist asked me to deeply inhale a beautiful, tranquil scent which really relaxed me. Due to Tom not wanting a full body massage, he opted to focus on his back, shoulders and backs of legs, whereas I went for the full body option, turning over half way through the treatment in order to massage my arms, head and the front of my legs.

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I loved the back massage, my therapist did a brilliant job on my back, and when she focused on my head too (although I didn’t take my hair down – my mistake!), but I wasn’t so much of a fan of the neck massage (felt rather intrusive) or the backs of my legs (too ticklish!), I guess I know this for next time. Tom thoroughly enjoyed his whole massage, stating he could’ve had another hour! We both finished our treatments feeling calm, relaxed and stress free, which obviously meant they did a fantastic job.

What deeply annoyed me though, is that I paid for a 55 minute massage (stated online and over the phone) yet we were only taken to our treatment room (undressed and lay down ready) for 1.10pm and the massage was finished at 1.45pm – so only actually about 35 minutes long, if that. Now for £156 for the two of us, and having actually paid for a ’55 minute side by side massage’, I would’ve expected it to start at 1pm/1.05pm and finish at 1.55pm – this was a little cheeky and I think the spa needs to change the wording online and over the phone if this is the case for all of the dual treatments.

Timing aside, I would love to go back and try other treatments at the spa, plus also stay at the hotel. It seems like a gorgeous escape from reality, and the afternoon tea sounds delightful. Apparently to get a table at the afternoon tea, you must book quite far in advance, which must mean it’s quite delicious, and I am quite the fan of tea and cake!

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All in all, we had a wonderful time at the spa and can not wait to go back, and would absolutely recommend it (hopefully a few tweaks would be made in order to make it that little bit better). I hope you enjoyed the read, and if you fancy visiting Rowhill Grange yourself, take a look at their special offers online now: Rowhill Grange Hotel & Spa.

Thank you for reading, much love,

Jessica Xx

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