Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog


The Royal Mint Christmas Experience, Llantrisant, Wales

The Royal Mint

*We were provided tickets in exchange for an honest review. Words 100% my own 

The Royal Mint Experience in Llantrisant, where all the UK's coins are made, have pulled out all the stops this year and has turned into a magical winter wonderland.  Walking up the path you are transported to a land of snow and festivities and are met with a huge Christmas tree, a polar bear chair and giant candy canes. Inside the Mint is no different with decorations hanging, more beautifully decorated trees and Santa's sleigh which children can sit in. 

You can either head to the Cafe for a mince pie before your tour or head straight to the ticket desk to check in for a special festive tour of the Mint, which is part of the Christmas Experience. Each tour sets off at a specific time so make sure to arrive around 15mins beforehand, you will need to go through a brief security check before heading into a cosy room with soft throw-covered seating, where you meet your very knowledgeable tour guide. It's here you will watch a short video about The Mint and hear more about the story of Santa, Stockings and Coins and how they are all connected. The story continues throughout the tour and is easy to follow and entertaining for all ages. 

The Royal Mint

Do remind your children to bring along their Christmas lists which can be posted in a special postbox, which lights up when you pop your letter into it. You can print out a special Royal Mint letter to take with you - here. We were assured all letters were then sent directly to the big man himself. 

After posting of the letters you walk over to Santa's sorting room, where you hear more stories and touch on the history of the Mint and the different coins that are made on-site. You then get a chance to see some of the factory floor and how the coins are made before having the chance to strike your own coin. Striking of a limited edition 50p coin is optional and has an extra small surcharge, this is a very unique experience and perfect for those 5yrs+.

Once everyone who wants to strike a coin has, you make your way through to see Santa and a very authentic Santa indeed, in fact, one of the best ones we have seen in a while. Santa was so welcoming and really took time to listen to what each child had to say and didn't rush anyone, before handing over a very special Christmas present. My youngest came away telling me that he was sure that was the real Santa. 

The Royal Mint

Once everyone has had a turn to sit and speak with Santa, you move across to the exhibition space. While the official part of the tour is over you are free to explore the exhibition at your own leisure, there are lots of things to see and do in this area, including interactive exhibits and you get to see the 2012 London Olympic Medals which were made in the Royal Mint. 

I would say the whole experience is around 45mins-1hr and there is a lovely gift shop and Cafe on site. The Christmas experience costs £10 per child and £15 per adult and the gift the children receive is worth more than their ticket so in terms of value it's really good. 

You can read more about it and book here


Snippets from our Interrail Adventure

The Vatican
Chillin in The Vatican

We have recently got back from the most amazing adventure, by train, across Europe, on a budget. I have so much to write up about our trip but I thought I would share a few snippets while I put more in-depth posts together. 

Firstly it was amazing to be able to travel again in what felt like pre-pandemic times, yes we had to wear masks on all the German trains but that didn't bother us at all and we are more than happy to comply with any travel requirements, as long as we can travel. 

I was so excited to take the kid's Interrailing as it's something I've done myself a few times before having children and it's certainly not just for 20's something backpackers but suitable for all ages!

Looking out across Salzburg

After lots of planning, with a variety of routes we could have taken, we settle on whizzing down from London to Turin in Italy and then spending time exploring Levanto, The Cinque Terra, Pisa, Florence and Rome before taking a night train to Salzburg in Austria, across to Stuttgart in Germany and then finishing it off with a night in Paris. 

We managed to tick off 5 Countries - France, Italy, The Vatican, Austria and Germany! As this was our first dip into family interrailing, we definitely have plans to do more next year and go even further afield. I myself have been as far as Croatia, Hungry, Czech Republic and Slovakia all by train as the European network is so well connected. 

Cinque Terra
Riomaggiore in the Cinque Terra

As I said I will be writing more in-depth into how you go about planning an Interrail trip from costs to train supplements, tips, hacks and best routes. As well as sharing family destination guides to the places we stopped and where we stayed. 

We stayed in a mixture of mainly Hostels and backpackers with some budget hotels and a self-catering apartment (in Levanto). All I have to say is don't be put off by the idea of Hostels - all of the ones we stayed in we had a private ensuite room in central locations with fantastic amenities - again I will be writing about this more in-depth. 

Disclaimer - we were provided with adult and youth Interrail passes - as standard my youngest had a free pass as ALL children under 12 get a free pass with an adult. All supplements, food, accommodation and activities were paid for by me. My words are 100% my own and I will always provide an honest and unbiased review. 

Florence, Italy


Getting creative with k'nex


*We were kindly provided with a k'nex box to review

If you are looking for a Christmas present this year that inspires creativity and thinking out of the box, literally, then k'nex is a great option! We were recently sent the k'nex 300 starter box, which provides enough pieces to make 20 builds although of course kid don't have to follow the instructions and just like lego can create their own builds. 

What is really unique about k'nex is that the rod and connector building system no only allows you to build some pretty awesome things but they also move! My son built the mini swing and loved that it actually worked and with the wheels provided in the kids the cars move.


While k'nex isn't suitable for under 3yrs old due to small pieces, it is suitable for a variety of ages as there are different skill levels, so both of my children, who are 7 & 12, found knex fun and engaging. I did think that perhaps my eldest would find it boring but he didn't at all and he really liked the harder, more challenging builds, in fact so did I (who doesn't love a creative challenge) 

What I also like about K'nex is children can build and expand their collection as they go, as the sets are all compatible with each other. There is a huge range including working rollercoasters, cranes, cars and also  educational packs that focus on STEM exploration, offering that perfect combo of fun and learning. 


We all want our children to spend less time on screens and k'nex is not only fun but also builds on dexterity skills, design and creativity. You can read more about knex on the Basic Fun website and John Lewis offers a great range starting from around £8.50.


Fire Safety Tips for home & away


*This post contains affiliate links

Luckily I've never had to deal with more than very minor issues when it comes to fire although I once had to evacuate my house for a short time as my neighbour had a fire in her kitchen & smoke was coming into my home. I've also been one of those travellers who has had to stand outside the hotel because someone set the fire alarm off due to smoking in their room (which of course you can't do). But since having kids, fire safety has become even more of a priority and not just in our own homes but also when we are travelling. 

Fires can occur in any kind of property, from your home to a school, workplace or even a hotel, so having basic knowledge of fire safety, improving safety in your home and what to do in an emergency is so important. Here are a few ways to make sure your home and travels are safer

1. Install a fire alarm & make sure your holiday property has one

Firstly fit at least one smoke alarm in your home, preferably two (one on each level). It's the easiest way to protect your home and family and they are both cheap and easy to install. If you are travelling, especially if you are using sites light Airbnb, make sure to get in touch with the owner to check if the property has been fitted with a fire alarm and it may also be worth asking if they have done a proper fire risk assessment of the property, something which they are responsible to do but it's always monitored with individual holiday rentals. 

2. Establish an escape route

While most hotels have the fire escape route placed in your room (usually behind the door), you should also have a plan for your home and every family member should be aware of it. The escape route should be straight forward and keeping that route clear daily is key. Unlike the home Hotels have fire doors which add an extra level of protection and should have regular checks and a fire door survey done. 

fire safety

3. Make sure both you and your children know basic fire safety

You and your children so know how to dial 999 and make an emergency call and if there is smoke to keep low where the air is clearer. You should both also know the Stop, Drop and Roll technique should your clothes catch fire as running around makes the flames worse, what you need to do is immediately lie down and roll around. 

4. Don't overload plugs

Electrical fires happen more than you think and can occur both at home or when travelling. There are simple ways to prevent them such as not overloading extension plugs and unplugging small appliances when not in use

5. Have a nighttime checklist

You are more at risk of a fire when you are asleep, so doing a nighttime check before you go to bed can really help reduce the chance of fire by doing a few simple things. 

1. Turning off and unplugging electrical appliances, including your cooker, unless they were designed to be left on, such as a fridge or freezer. The same goes when you are travelling, try not to leave phones or cameras charging in your hotel room overnight. 

2. Make sure things like candles are fully blown out and turn off your heaters.

3. Make sure exits are clear and know where your door and window keys are, both in your home or while you are travelling, especially if you are hiring an apartment or Airbnb

It's surprising how many people don't do this but in an emergency having clear exists and being able to access your front and back door keys are essential so you can get out quickly

camp fire

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...