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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Bateaux Lunch Cruise Review


Did you know that everyone at Activity Superstore gets a free staff experience once a year? Well, Sally from our call centre decided to put hers to good use and treat her Mum to a Bateaux Lunch Cruise along the Thames for Mother's Day.

Here's how they got on...

I took my mum for the Bateaux lunch cruise trip as a Mother’s Day present. We arrived earlier than we needed to so we had a small wonder around by the river and the pier. It is situated in a really lovely area, Victoria Embankment gardens is practically opposite the pier so we took a leisurely stroll through the park before boarding on the cruise trip.

After waiting around in the Bateaux reception area for a short while, we were invited to board the ‘Symphony’ boat. The staff on board were very welcoming and we were greeted by a line of waiters ready to take each person or group of people to their table which I thought was a nice touch and made my mum and I feel looked after from the moment we were on board.

We were sat next to the window which is what I had requested so I was really pleased. We were stationary for a short while whilst the other guests were being seated and getting comfortable and whilst we were very lucky with the weather (bright sunshine), it actually got quite hot and stuffy whilst we were waiting and I was worried the whole trip would be like that. Fortunately, the staff put on the air conditioning once we started moving and really... who can complain about the sunshine?!

The food was served very quickly and the drinks were topped up at regular intervals. One thing I find annoying at restaurants is when the staff take an excessive amount of time between each meal to clear the table ready to get the next meal ‘in the oven’ if you like! With the Bateaux however, you are on the boat for a set time and so the staff had to be extremely efficient and attentive and brought out the meals and cleared the tables promptly, but without rushing us.

The food was lovely and the commentary was insightful and occasionally quite funny. The only point for improvement there was that quite a lot of information about the variety and details of executions that took place in London – slightly off-putting when eating your food!

To sum up the whole experience, my mum and I had a pretty much perfect afternoon in the sun doing something slightly different together. It will be a lovely memory for both me and her!

What were the best bits?

1. The views – had a great table on the boat.
2. The service – lovely, friendly staff that were assertive and helpful.
3. The memories – had a lovely time and was able to treat my mum.


What did you do with your Mum for Mother's Day?

Friday, 28 March 2014

Don't Forget it's Mother's Day on Sunday!


Unless you've been living under a rock this past month (with no telly), then like the rest of us, you'll have been bombarded with Mother's Day deals, special offers, cards, flowers, chocolates and a wealth of gift ideas that are way outside anybody's sensible budget.

Am I really going to spend over £100 on my Mum on Mother's Day when all she ever asks for is a card, some flowers and to come over and spend some time with her?

Of course not.

That's not to say I don't love my Mum. She makes the best roast dinner in the world. And her chocolate fudge cake with grand-marnier in the icing is to die for! Food aside, she's a wonderful person who always picks me up when I'm down and makes countless cups of tea while we're talking.

And that's why I've put an afternoon tea gift voucher inside her Mother's Day card this year. I'll also pick up a bunch of daffodils this weekend, before I pop round for a roast dinner and we all take the dog out for a walk.

The History of Mum and Tea

When I was a little boy, oh so long ago, my Mum and my Nan would take me shopping with them at Brent Cross or Harlow. This was back in the days before shopping centres like Lakeside and Westfield existed. And half way through the day, we'd always stop at a BHS or a little cafe for a cup of tea and a bite to eat. Nan would always get me a jam doughnut and I'd always make a real mess!

Whenever I've been out shopping with Mum (which I admit, is rare nowadays), we always make sure that we stop for a cup of tea and a slice of cake to keep us going. Shopping is hard work after all. We'll often reminisce about going out shopping with Nan and stopping for a cup of tea.

Last week I went to the BHS in Harlow, where we used to go with my Nan, and the cafe upstairs hasn't changed one bit! The same goes for the little bakery with upstairs cafe in Brent Cross. So I may take Mum back to both of these places in the summer.

But first, we'll hop on the train to Cambridge for a day out very soon, which is one of the locations on the voucher. And what better way to enjoy tea, sandwiches, scones and cakes than in the sunny streets of such a lovely place? We can walk it all off afterwards. Because if you've ever been shopping in Cambridge, you'll know you need to do a lot of walking!

Conclusion

The point I'm trying to make is that you don't have to spend a fortune on your Mum. Because it's that thought that counts. So think of something small, special and sentimental that would make your Mum happy. Even if it's just spending some time together with her children.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for last minute Mother's Day gift ideas, check out our Mother's Day page for something special to put inside her card.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Formula 1 2014 Season Starts This Weekend!


Spring has finally begun. The days are brighter, the birds are singing and the engines are roaring. Yes, it's time to start getting up early on a Sunday morning to watch Formula 1 on the telly again.

Formula 1: Australian Grand Prix, Melbourne
Excitement is already building this morning after Fernando Alonso prevailed over Jenson Button as McLaren and Ferrari traded places up front in the first Formula 1 practice session.

Obviously, there's loads of speculation over who the best drivers, the best cars and the best teams will be. But anything could happen during the qualifying on Saturday.

The Australian Grand Prix is live on Sky Sports F1 from 4:30am to 6am on Sunday. So be sure to set your alarm for that. Otherwise the Australian Grand Prix highlights are on BBC1 from 2pm.

After Australia, the Formula 1 goes to Kuala Lumpur for the Malaysian Grand Prix. But it the British Grand Prix at Silverstone won't be until the 4th, 5th and 6th of July.

Off to the British Grand Prix!
I'm going to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone with my Dad on the 4th to 6th of July! Is it for a special occasion? Of course not. We just wanted to go - and then spent a absolute fortune on tickets.

So stay tuned for photos, video and a complete review of actually physically being there at the Formula 1 and most importantly, being at Silverstone, the home of British motor racing.

But it is his 60th birthday this year... So I am tempted to treat him to a Single Seater Thrill at Silverstone. As much as I've love to give him a real Formula One Driving Session I really cannot afford £1,500! Maybe when I get around to winning that lottery? After all, that's the next thing on my 'to do' list after the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Nothing Says "I Love You" Like an E-Voucher


Actually, it really doesn't. But if you need to buy a gift for Valentines Day fast, this is probably your best option!

How To Buy An E-Voucher:

Step 1: Go to our Valentines Day section and choose something.

Step 2: Place your order as normal, entering your email address.
Step 3: You will receive an email confirmation, including an e-voucher for your chosen gift.
Step 4: Print off the e-voucher and place it inside Valentines Day Card as your gift.

Hooray! Valentines Day is Saved!

Step 5: Wait for the gift pack to arrive in a few days time.
Step 6: Give the person of your affections the gift pack which has everything they (or you) need to book the gift experience.


CONCLUSION

If you've left it right up until the last minute to buy something, it doesn't mean you can't buy wow someone before it's too late. After all, an e-voucher is definitely better than scrambling around the supermarket desperately searching for something (anything!) as a gift.

That said, you might want to buy a bouquet of flowers on your way home from work if you haven't sorted those out either!

Best of luck and happy Valentines Day!

Friday, 7 February 2014

Only 1 Week Left Until Valentines Day!


If you haven't already, now is a good time to start thinking about Valentines Day. The clock is counting down quickly. So book that table, buy some flowers, buy a card (write something meaningful inside it) and get them a gift to remember.

In the ongoing saga of organising my own Valentines Day, I can proudly say that everything has been taken care of. But that's only because I totally screwed it up last year!

You may recall that I burnt the dinner and made it up to my girlfriend with a a West End Theatre & Two Course Dinner For Two? That was a costly mistake to say the least. And while I may have redeemed myself with a fantastic night out, Valentines Day still tends to be quite a time sensitive thing.

But thankfully, this year Valentines Day falls on a Friday. So that gives you a whole weekend to plan stuff around! Although you really should exchange cards and gifts on Friday evening without fail.

Not Sure Where To Start?
The toughest part is picking a gift that goes beyond the standard flowers, card and box of chocolates.

I booked a table at a swanky restuarant, bought a card (then spent ages looking up poetry online to help me write something meaningful inside), some flowers and a meaningful keepsake for her.

For anyone stuck on poetry, "Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven" by Yeats is particularly good. Especially if you're a bit skint!

If you're still wondering what to get as a gift, here are a number of suggestions if you're still stuck for Valentines Day ideas.

But for some reason it's men who are apparently the difficult ones to buy for...

What Do You Buy The Man Who Has Everything? As the saying goes, "Girls grow into women, while boys grow into bigger boys" and it's completely true. This is why I find it baffling (possibly because I am a man) that men should be difficult to buy for. Truly, if you bought your boyfriend a Transformer or a box of Lego he would be over the moon! But we have to be adult about this and have proper grow up gifts.

That said, the list of Valentines day gifts for men weren't very grown up, with things like steam trains, paintball and curry among the 'most searched for' things to do for men.

CONCLUSION
Corporate comercial consumerism aside, Valentine's Day is the feast day of Saint Valentine, a widely recognised third-century Roman saint associated since the High Middle Ages with a tradition of courtly love.

Although many of the current legends that characterise Saint Valentine were invented in the fourteenth century in England by Geoffrey Chaucer and his circle, when the feast day of February 14 first became associated with romantic love.

During the middle ages it was also believed that birds paired couples in mid-February, which is why we see so many birds (turtle doves in particular) on our Valentines Day cards. Bet you didn't know that!

But it's easy to forget that we're meant to be celebrating something on February 14th and not just buying token gifts because it's expected of us. So if you do truly cherish someone, make sure that you do genuinely show how much you love them.

Meanwhile, if you need a little help in finding something meaningful for someone special, our Valentines day gifts section is now open.