Bring Your Holiday Home with James Villas

james villas holidays

Last week I was asked along to a special Mallorcan themed event in London with James Villas Holidays, for a day of Mediterranean crafting! It was to celebrate the real essence of holidays and what makes them so memorable… be it the weather, the food, the culture, the simply getting away from it all…. and how you can capture some of that special magic and bring it home!

Held in the back room of lively cafe Drink Shop Do in the heart of bustling King’s Cross, it was the perfect location for an intimate gathering of some wonderful Bloggers, all ready to get their craft on! I couldn’t have been happier to see the lovely faces of what I consider to be some of the ‘original’ bloggers that I remember from when I started… especially Marianne from Maris World who I haven’t seen in such a long time.. absolutely wonderful to see her! There was also Penny who writes Parentshaped, Joy from Pink Oddy, Penny from Being Mrs C, super craft blogger extraordinaire Maggie from Red Ted Art and last but not least, my lovely friend Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby!

I couldn’t make the first session of the day which was weaving, as I was working, but that looked fab and everyone made some gorgeous creations! You can’t help but think of rustic little Mediterranean streets and local people sat spending hazy days making these very same products! Beautiful!

I manged to get there for the second session.. taking my daughter with me after the school run because she absolutely loves coming to events and I knew she would like this one a LOT! I arrived just at the right moment because everyone was tucking into some wonderful Mediterranean food, which was delicious…. and let’s not forget, food is a major part of being on holiday and can even influence where we go. It’s also one of the best ways to bring that holiday feeling back home! We all like to hunt out that special little eatery while we’re away, a place to return to time and time again that cooks up the most amazing dishes… then recreate those same dishes back home…. instantly taking you back there. The smell, the tastes…. you could even buy some traditional cookware and serving dishes to make it even more authentic!

For OUR crafting session, we were making Espadrilles! I was actually very excited about this! I’m not a crafter in any way so this was something completely out of my comfort zone but hello? Making a pair of actual SHOES that I could wear? How cool is that? I couldn’t wait to get started!

james villas crafting espidrilles

All the vibrantly coloured fabrics were laid out on the table and we rummaged around for our correct shoe sizes, hoping they came with our preferred fabric choice! But really, I wouldn’t have cared which pattern I had as they were all equally fabulous! I chose the yellow and blue ones (below), picked out my thread, then it was time to get started!

Making espadrilles is a lot harder than it looks… Getting the fabric in the right place around the toe section was tricky and had to be pinned first. The needle and thread was quite stiff to push in and pull through the sole of the espadrille, making way for very sore fingers! Luckily we had a teacher on hand… we definitely needed one let me tell you, and she came in the form of Ota, from sewing and craft shop Luchi & Ota in EdgwareShe was great fun! Full of encouragement as she swept around the room like a bubbly whirlwind, sharing entertaining stories and helping us get our stitching right! She was such a jolly character and great company, I hope to take my daughter and twins along to her shop at some point in the future as it isn’t that far from me!

james villas espadrilles making craft

red ted art

As well as us bloggers, a few members of the James Villas team joined in with the crafting and they were super lovely! The atmosphere was relaxed and easy, we laughed and talked and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We sniggered at some of the sewing skills around the table, especially mine… although they weren’t as bad as Gary’s from James Villas… his were terrible ;) For the most part, everyone did a grand job. It’s a pity we ran out of time…. it really did fly by… so we didn’t manage to finish our creations but we vowed to complete them at home, which I will, just haven’t got round to it yet! My daughter’s espadrilles, meanwhile, were beautiful! I couldn’t believe how lovely and neat they were, considering she’s only just turned 12, she certainly put mine to shame!

james villas espadrilles summer holidays

James Villas were the perfect hosts and this event was perfectly timed… the end of the summer when everyone is trying to come to terms with Autumn drawing in but at the same time, not willing to put away that holiday feeling just yet. With that in mind, making the effort to do things like our Mallorcan crafting is another way we can really bring the holiday home… reminding us of those special times. As can things like souvenirs. I don’t know if it’s just me but people don’t seem to buy souvenirs as much anymore do they? I remember when it was the done thing to visit the local shops when on holiday, even if it was in the UK, to buy little gifts for family and friends… but now I think we just buy the occasional thing for our own homes. Something authentic is best, like a hand sewn cushion or some beautifully painted ceramics. James Villas has a lovely post on their blog with some great ideas… They also suggest making a Smash Book to keep all those awesome holiday memories alive. A cross between a travel journal and a scrapbook, making one of these is an activity the whole family can get involved in.

Lastly, I think talking about our holidays, reminiscing with family and looking through photo’s, is probably the nicest way to remember holidays. I love to do this and it always puts a huge smile on my face. Or brings a tear to my eye, depending on how I’m feeling… a reminder of how much the kids have grown. We haven’t had a proper holiday for a few years now so I’m a bit fed up of looking at old photo’s, however wonderful they are. I want some new ones. Some new memories. I’m craving some sunshine, some fun and some relaxation. I want to hear my children squealing with delight as they jump in and splash around in a swimming pool all day. I want to explore somewhere brand new and lay on a beach feeling the hot sun on my skin… without a care in the world.

I NEED a holiday!

Ever since the event I’ve been browsing the James Villas website and flicking through their free magazine, wishing I could jump into the pages. I’ve always imagined they were expensive, don’t know why because I’ve haven’t looked but there are so many options for every taste and budget. It’s impossible not to find something you love. I’m wondering why we haven’t considered them before. We usually stay in hotels… with the all inclusive option, believing that to be best so we don’t need to worry about food and cooking and constantly buying drinks for the kids. But actually, staying in a hotel like that can be incredibly restricting and can become quite tedious. I haven’t stayed in a villa before, EVER… But I’m coming round the idea. I rather fancy the idea now of the seclusion that only a villa can give. Having my own little kitchen to prepare food and eat when we feel like it. Not having to worry about other people or timings. Enjoying that outdoor space and pool! Sounds idyllic doesn’t it?

I need to book something now, for next Summer so I have something to look forward to! If it’s booked, we’re going. No way I’m leaving it to the last minute like we did this year, then end up not going anywhere!

We need to create some brand new holiday memories to bring back home!

A big thank you to James Villas for a wonderful, inspiring day.

Easter holidays 2017 and Tatton Park

So all the kids are back at school this week after the Easter holidays! Mine went back last week actually but most areas in the UK went back today.

Are you glad to get back into some sort of routine? The majority of parents are in agreement I think that they adore having the kids at home, but equally adore regaining a bit of structure to the day and getting their sanity back!! It also means we can get on with the things that we really can’t do when kids are around all the time!

I LOVE having my children home with me though. I could happily wallow in a bubble of just me and them for ever! I just like them being around.. they’re good kids… and I LOVE not having to rush out of the door in the morning on the school run! I say this after every holidays I know. I just wish I could have my children home more.. childhood goes so fast and in the blink of an eye they’re all grown up!

We had a relaxing couple of weeks off. We didn’t do THAT much. I had to work Monday and Tuesday the first week. But on the Wednesday we babysat for my friends baby. He has Down Syndrome and he is the most gorgeous boy ever! We adore him, especially my daughter… she is absolutely obsessed with him and I’ll be lucky to get near him when she’s around! She loves him to bits! He’s so well behaved and happy!

Here he is…… He’d just had his lunch in this photo and he ate it all up… such a good boy!

On Thursday I took the kids over to a friends house! They played with her children in their swimming pool in the garden most of the day which was wonderful! Even if it was a bit chilly outside… they didn’t care at all! It was a lovely day, always nice to catch up with friends and we stayed quite late so really made the most of it!

swimming pool garden fun

pool garden

At the weekend I drove up to Lancashire to my Dad’s house. It always seems like a mammoth task packing the car for myself and the three kids and driving around 200 miles to get there, fighting traffic and roadworks, but it’s exciting too and feels like a mini holiday! I love being with my Dad and staying at his house. It’s quite strange now that I don’t always take Teen. He ALWAYS loved going to my Dad’s (used to be my Mum there too until she sadly passed away almost 9 years ago now) but because he’s 18 now and has a part time job, he’s often working, as is my OH so they stay at home together! Teen also likes to stay behind because of friends. Hopefully though he will come with us next time!

We made the most of the lovely weather (while it lasted) and visited the gorgeous Tatton Park in Cheshire whilst at my Dads! It’s part of the National Trust and is a great day out… lots to see and do and the best thing is, it doesn’t cost a fortune!

You could really spend all day here, it’s absolutely a wonderful place, we didn’t even get round to seeing everything after arriving at just before lunch, so if you go, get there early is all I can say!

There’s a cute little farm to walk around which has the most fascinating outbuildings. Some of them are miniature museums showing how people used to live there last century! There’s a fairground and adventure playground where the kids can go crazy for a while, there are the beautiful, huge gardens… my children loved exploring these, there’s parkland where you can spot deer, there’s shops and a lovely restaurant too! Then of course there’s the mansion itself that you can go inside of and look around.

tatton park days out cheshire

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays flowers pretty

tatton park days out cheshire easter holidays

Just some of the lovely grounds and gardens there at Tatton Park! Even though it was a lovely day, it’s still very early Spring and most of the flowers hadn’t bloomed, but you can imagine how pretty it’s all going to look once that happens? We hope to make another visit here in the Summer!

Another day we had a trip to the cinema to see Moana! The kids had been wanting to see it for a while but we hadn’t got round to it, so I checked to see if it was on the Kids AM deal at Vue cinemas and it was! Bonus! Nice and cheap tickets for us :) Have you been to the Kids AM at Vue before? At weekends and school holidays you can take the kids (it’s only families that are allowed this deal) to see a film for £2.50! When you have a big family like mine, a trip to the cinema for everyone can be costly…. if you can wait (the films showing are usually those that have been out for a while) it’s definitely worth it!

We LOVED Moana… such a good film! We even bought some Moana cupcakes to make at home during that second week of the holidays when the weather was pretty dire, in Lancashire anyway!

moana cakes

We spent the rest of the time at my Dad’s just chillin’ (perfect) and being together and catching up with family members.

We had a lovely time! I really didn’t want to come home and back to the daily grind but hey ho…. that’s life I guess…. until I win the lottery that is ;)

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter…. roll on half term!

Top Places for a Doggie Holiday

If you are looking for a real family holiday where you can take your dog along and have a fantastic time then it can be hard to find dog-friendly hotels and other types of accommodation. Luckily there are lots of people out there that understand how important it is to bring your dog with you so it doesn’t miss out on the fun.

dog on holiday beach

There are various sites where you can find dog-friendly accommodation and helpfully The Telegraph published an article recently to name the best pet-friendly hotels in Britain. The list comprises of some fairly expensive, top quality options including:

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire 

If you want to mix great quality with pet-friendly facilities then try the Four Seasons at Hampshire. At £275 per night as a minimum, you certainly won’t be keeping costs down but if your budget stretches to this hotel then the whole family should be happy.

Hotel Endsleigh, Devon 

A more reasonable offering from this Devonshire hotel, from around £165 per night plus £20 per night for any furry friends. The area has great surroundings making it an ideal place to go out walking.

The Milestone Hotel, London 

At around £300 per night, you need to have deep pockets to stay at this place. Whilst the quality is top-class (even has a Pet Concierge!), I’m not sure how much dogs will appreciate traipsing around the paved streets of London and I’d hate to see the scenes at Trafalgar Square when they catch sight of all of those pigeons!

Now for those people who haven’t won the lottery, what are the more realistically priced options for dog lovers? 

The Lake District 

The Lakes in the north of England provides some of the best trails in Britain and is the ideal place for walking. You will find plenty of dog-friendly pubs, restaurants and hotels including:

  • Ouse Bridge Guest House
  • Fellside Holiday Cottages
  • The Old Vicarage
  • Lane Head Farm Country Guest House

Dogs simply love the Lake District, with its numerous lakes and gorgeous green surroundings. You can pick walks as difficult or easy as you like, from hikes up the selection of peaks or a flatter option of walking around one of the lakes. Windermere is hugely popular and if you go in the warmer months you will be able to find a lovely traditional pub to sit outside and enjoy the weather.

Travelling to the lakes is fairly simple as it is close to the M6 motorway and getting around the place is pretty easy by car. If you want to have a few drinks and leave the car, then you can always look up local taxi services and car sharing services like Ridester.com.

If you want to treat all of the family, including the dog to a great holiday this year head to the stunning Lake District and take in the fresh air in the quaint countryside. As well as being doggie friendly, you can easily keep the kids entertained with a range of watersports and adventure activities.

*Collaborative post

Talking to Young Children About Going on Holiday Abroad for the First Time

taking kids on holiday for first time

If you’re making plans for your summer holidays and have decided to take your young child abroad for the first time, you’re in for some exciting and memorable times wherever you choose to go. Kids can learn so much from travelling to other countries and seeing how they are different from home – and what is the same – and it will be a positive experience that will hopefully give them a love of travel that will last a lifetime and lead to all kinds of great adventures.

Travelling with kids can be really easy and rewarding too, and you can find some great child friendly holidays at awaywiththekids.co.uk.

Of course, the first time abroad will probably mean a lot of ‘firsts’ for your child, and it is a good idea to talk to them about some of the things they can expect and answer any questions they have in the run up to the holiday. Depending on how old they are, they may already have some ideas about what the country you are going to is like based on people they know who have been, but these may not always be entirely accurate! Here are some points you may want to talk to them about:

Language

Children who are already confident in speaking and listening may need to be prepared for visiting a country where people will be speaking a different language. Whether they are already aware that people in other countries do speak differently or not, the concept may not really make sense to them until they actually hear people around them all going about their normal lives speaking in another tongue! Explaining that this may mean other children they might try and chat to won’t be able to understand them can also be helpful, so they don’t feel frustrated or rejected if they are the kind of child who likes to talk to everyone! If you want, you can even teach them a few words in a language like French or Spanish and have fun preparing to say them to people on holiday!

Flying

If you are flying to your holiday destination and it is the first time your child has been on a plane, they are sure to have some questions about the whole process, from what happens at the airport to what being on a plane is like. Some kids will be extremely excited about getting to go on a plane, others may be nervous, but make sure you always talk about it as a positive thing that allows you to go anywhere in the world you want (even if you hate flying yourself), and that the people who work at the airport and on the plane are there to make sure you are safe and happy so everyone (including grown ups) has to do what they say.

Other Differences

Get your child excited about some of the things they might get to try, see or do on holiday, so they can build up a picture in their mind of what it will be like. Explain what the weather will probably be like, some of the foods they can eat, and about things like the beach.

Kids tend to be less stressed when they have an idea of what to expect, and so thinking about things they can relate to positively already like sunshine and ice cream can help them look forward to the holiday even if they have no point of reference yet for some aspects of it.

Collaborative Post

Holidays Blues

We haven’t got a summer holiday booked this year… well OK we’ve just been to Butlins which was fabulous,  but I mean an aeroplane type holiday abroad somewhere HOT! We didn’t go last year either due to heavy building work starting on our house (which is still going on I might add!) but we did go the year before to Gran Canaria and it was amazing. I desperately want to go back to the very same place because I loved it so much!

My favourite part was this infinity pool which has stunning views across the beautiful bay. It was simply heavenly and my children spent most of the holiday in it!!

infinity pool gran canaria

Gran Canaria

DSCF1565

infinity pools

infinity pool

I could overload with photo’s but I won’t. I was just reminiscing and feeling depressed that I haven’t got a holiday to look forward to so thought I’d share some of these with you!

 

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