Creating a Cozy Home This Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching. You might already be shopping for gifts or planning your home decoration. The streets are lined with lights and other displays, Christmas music is playing in stores and festive markets are thriving. If you’ve got kids, you might be planning fun events like visiting Santa or going ice skating, and letters to Santa might already be written. 

One of the best things about Christmas is getting cosy at home. Nothing beats cuddling up on the sofa in our PJs with a Christmas movie on Netflix. Sipping hot chocolate and indulging in our favourite festive treats. It’s warm and comfortable, and part of the season that most of us love. 

But, sometimes, getting cosy at home is harder than we’d like it to be. If your home is cold and sparse, or your rooms are particularly large, you might struggle to feel warm and cosy. You might even have a hard time filling it with Christmas cheer. So, let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to create a cosy home this holiday. 

Add Some Texture

Texture is a crucial ingredient when it comes to creating a cosy home. Add texture with cushions, heavy curtains, throws and blankets, and rugs on engineered wood flooring. Try to use different materials, such as velvet, wool, and cotton, and include some reflective surfaces to maximise the effect. Colour can also add the appearance of more texture. Use multiple shades of the same key colours in your decor, layering them to add depth and texture to your rooms. 

Keep it Warm

It’s almost impossible to feel cosy and comfortable when you’re cold, and there’s very little worse than being cold when you are at home. Be sure to get your boiler serviced, bleed radiators if they need it, and invest in, or make draught excluders. Add throws and blankets to your sofa, and don’t underestimate the power of a hot water bottle and slippers. 

Use Festive Shades

Christmas and cosy go together like peas in a pod. So, make the most of the connection even before you decorate for the holidays. Add accessories and soft furnishings in festive shades such as red and dark green. 

Add Lighting Options

Lighting can have a massive effect on the atmosphere in our rooms. Bright overhead lights can make even smaller rooms feel open and spacious. Dimmer, soft lighting can have the opposite effect. They can make a room feel smaller and more romantic. If you want a truly cosy atmosphere, nothing beats candles and fairy lights. 

Bring the Outside In

What’s the first Christmas decoration that you think about? For many of us, it’s the tree. So, why not bring more of the outdoors in to create a more festive atmosphere? Bring natural elements in with wreaths and other displays. 

Make the Most of Festive Scents

Most of us have scents that we associate with Christmas, as well as colours and decorations. These scents can help your home to feel more festive, as well as cosier. Think mulled wine and cinnamon, winter spices, vanilla, Nordic pine, and other Christmas favourites. 

Nozstock – The Hidden Valley – Festival

nozstock family festival

For the last few years we’ve kicked off the Summer Holidays with a Festival and we love it! We always go with friends and we always look forward to this annual get together, but having been to the same festival the past few years and seeing it change, we decided to try something different.

nozstock the hidden valley

So this year, after doing some research, we decided on Nozstock – The Hidden Valley, which seemed perfect! It’s intentionally not as commercialised as other festivals which was a massive draw for us. The organisers are made up of the Nozworthy family who own the farm and land it takes place on, and along with their friends and employees have grown the festival year on year until the 5000 person capacity it is today! It’s smaller than other festivals, a bit more traditional with a great family provision and just sounded altogether very appealing.

We were offered tickets in exchange for an honest review and looked forward to our weekend getaway for weeks and weeks! We couldn’t wait to get there and experience all that Nozstock had to offer! Situated in rural Herefordshire, it was a good couple of hours drive for us but our usual camp mates…. Ruth from Rocknrollerbaby, Katy from Modern Mummy and Emma from That’s the way the Cookie Crumbles were already there and waiting for us!

kids at nozstock
Yay finally here, very excited and loaded up with stuff! Hugo carrying his pillow… can’t go camping without our pillows!

On arrival, the first thing I noticed was how near the car parks were to the festival! This might sound like a minor thing but if you’re a regular at festivals, especially with kids… this is MAJOR! The amount of luggage you need when you go camping with kids usually means a couple of trips to the car, which is a killer if it’s miles away, so not having too far to go was an absolute game changer as far as I was concerned!

The second thing that blew me away was the HELPFULNESS of the car park staff/volunteers. They were super happy and friendly! This lovely chap offered to pull my trolley all the way to the entrance from my car! What a star!

nozstock festival
What a nice young man!

We opted for Pre-Pitched camping this year. This was provided by a company called Camplight who rescue tents from festivals, clean them up and re-use them! This fits in perfectly with Nozstock’s ‘green ambition’ ethos of keeping things as sustainable as possible…. helping to fight the disposable culture which is damaging our planet. Nozstock provided many activities and fun workshops to promote this- it was a big feature. They were encouraging people to re-use their cups to cut down on plastics as well as hosting competitions to incentivise campers to keep the festival tidy!

We were in the Family Camping area which was a lovely space, separate to the other camping fields. Definitely the nicest one we’ve stayed in so far. It just felt cosy, for want of a better word. There was a little playground area for kids.. mostly made from wood and sustainable materials of course, the portaloos were clean at all times and there were also some eco-friendly tiny toilets for young children with little toilet seats that looked like potties! There was even a baby changing facilities gazebo stocked up with free nappies, wipes, lotions and suncreams for anyone to use! I thought this was a lovely touch.

zoo bells bell tents
My lovely Zoo Bells tent

The weather, unfortunately hadn’t been kind the first day of the festival which meant the tents took a bit of a battering and one or two became waterlogged! Because the others arrived before me they all swapped around to get the driest ones. The organisers were super helpful anyway offering to take down and bring new ones if need be. Luckily for me though, the nearby glamping field was full of gorgeous tents provided by Zoo Bells and one of their generous employees on site happened to walk by and offered one of their spare ones to me! I mean…. whoop whoop yes please! My Bell tent was fabulous, we haven’t stayed in one before but would definitely consider one next time for sure!

Once settled we headed into the festival and straight into the Little Wonderland kids area which is a dedicated zone for families and children to enjoy age related fun activities all day long. There’s a sand pit, circus skills, workshops in break dancing, graffiti, beat boxing, felt-making, crazy cartoons, up-cycling clothes and lots more. Our’s decided on some sculpting with clay!

little wonderland nozstock
nozstock little wonderland
Fabulous creation!
It was great to get all the kids together again!

The childrens area is a wonderful space that incorporates shows and music too, with so much more to get involved with… it’s really worth checking the timetable so you don’t miss anything you’d like to catch. The family aspect of the festival is something one of the creators, Ella Nozworthy is passionate about, especially now that she has children of her own. Speaking of the new elements for this year she said .. “after listening to feedback and realising there are some simple things we can do to enhance the experience for families – that’s what this is all about.”

Lots of fun little toys and bits and bobs to make or dress up in!
nozstock festival
I couldn’t resist!

The music lineup at Nozstock this year was brilliant, although I think when you go as a family, depending on ages of children, you might not get to see the headliner DJ’s and bands that play into the early hours but there’s definitely something for every taste with ten stages to choose from! My twenty year old son who didn’t come with us was absolutely gutted when he saw the lineup… the Hospitality takeover on Friday night was a massive coup for the younger festival goers! Then there’s so many different, more chilled artists playing all kinds of music during the day before kicking off again later on!

nozstock

The theme of this years Nozstock was the Wizard of Noz which was evident throughout the festival. Some of the stages were designed on the theme!

This stage was supposed to be Dorothy’s wrecked house from the hurricane and even included the witched legs and feet if you look to the top left!
elephants graveyard nozstock
There was a raggae stage that was found via a pathway which led to this bizarre open space called The Elephants Graveyeard! It was rather groovy!

We loved watching Elvana (an Elvis fronted Nirvana tribute act) on Saturday afternoon on the main Orchard Stage! This was completely nuts but very entertaining!

elvana nozstock

My favourite stage was The Coppice. I could’ve stayed in here for hours listening to the dreamy trance music and getting lost in all the decorations set up in the trees. This was run by Tribe of Frogs, a psychedelic DJ dance event organiser who are amazing! My kids loved all the lights, special effects and the way everything glowed!

tribe of frog nozstock
tribe of frog nozstock the coppice

There were hidden stages too, like The Cabinet of Lost Secrets which you found through a secret doorway… as modelled here by my friend Emma!

We had a great time at this stage dancing the night away… even my 9 year old twin boys had a dance! That’s the first time in all their festival going years that they’ve actually danced! There’ll be no stopping them now! We boogied on down to fab swing band Year of the Dog and funk quintet The Happy Daggers!

year of the dog nozstock
nozstock family festival

The headliners on Saturday night were DJ superstars Rudimental. As their 10pm start time approached, you could feel all the different areas emptying out a little as everyone seemed to be making their way to the main stage! I was praying that my children stayed awake at least for a little while so we could catch some of the set! And I got lucky!

Katy and Ruth headed back to the tents but myself and Emma stayed out to partayy! And boy did it kick off big time when Rudimental came on! They were amazing! We hovered around the back of the crowd at first as the bass line was too much for the kids, although, incidentally, you can go and grab ear plugs for free if you need them from a little on site kiosk which offers all kind of helpful stuff! I grabbed some for mine earlier in the day!

Back to Rudimental. Emma was not satisfied with standing at the back so she instructed her husband, Andy, to watch all of our kids for a second and grabbed my hand to storm down to the front. Barging through the crowd like a mad woman on a mission, probably ruffling some feathers in the process but we didn’t care! It was funny and worth it because from there we got to experience the music and atmosphere so much more, right in the thick of it!

rudimental nozstock
rudimental nozstock
Grainy photo but this was an action shot of us ‘having it’!

One of the reasons we love a festival is that we get to don the glitter! Oh how we love the glitter! The family camp site at Nozstock was so chilled and relaxed, we enjoyed just hanging around there in the mornings, leisurely getting ready, chatting and eating breakfast that was made by Rocknrollerbaby for all of us! Feeling the fresh morning air while the kids played – even with other children that were camping nearby! In a world where kids are often indoors on some kind of screen, camping brings such a welcome change.

nozstock festival glitter
My hair and makeup being done by Poppie and Florence!
nozstock family camping
festival hair and makeup
nozstock bell tents
festival hair
My daughter does everyone’s hair!
rosies tea rooms nozstock
We loved this little cafe, Rosie’s Tea Rooms, at the entrance to family camping where they sold teas, coffees and delicious crepes! It was so nice, cosy and friendly!

Around Nozstock there’s loads of weird and wonderful acts everywhere you look, a real feast for the eyes. As well as music there’s comedy, acting, dance and film too!

We loved the human jukebox…
nozstock
..and this unbelievable fire maze!
nozstock wedding
There was even and wedding taking place at Nozstock!

My favourite thing about our Nozstock weekend was simply just wandering around, discovering new areas and enjoying the whole place. The site isn’t huge so nowhere feels too far to get to, yet there’s always something new to see or do. It was compact yet felt incredibly spacious where the children could run freely and enjoy the different zones!

nozstock
nozstock festival family
nozstock
nozstock
henna tattoo nozstock
nozstock
Nozstock ambassadors festival

Even though it wasn’t just a festival for families, there were children playing everywhere and everyone just mingled seamlessly together. At no time did I feel worried about the children, or thought I shouldn’t have them in a particular area, which I know is a concern for a lot of parents. Safety was paramount for the kids….. they are given wristbands on arrival with a space to write your telephone number on, so you can be reached should you get separated. There’s also a dedicated lost child tent that they can find easily should they need help.

Nozstock gives you that special kind of fuzzy, warm feeling and has an atmosphere that has been missing at other festivals. It’s fun and immersive, you really feel like you’re taking part in a wonderful imaginary story! Yet it manages to stay intimate and considerate. There isn’t anything I would change, we had the best time in the best place with the best people!

I can’t wait to do it all again next year!

Super early bird tickets are now on sale for 2020 Nozstock – The Hidden Valley which takes place Thursday 23rd – Sunday 26th July 2020

https://nozstock.com/tickets/buy-tickets-online/
www.nozstock.com @nozstock

3 Must Visit Countries for Your Family

Who doesn’t love a holiday? It’s the perfect time to unwind, destress, and forgot about all of your day-to-day worries. It’s also the best time to spend with loved ones and family. You make memories for life, and you get to experience a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your time away will vary depending on how you want to spend your holiday, whether that be a relaxing time on the beach or daily excursions out and about, or maybe you want a snowy holiday in the mountains, skiing, and snowboarding. Whatever you preference of holiday, you’ve got to make it count, as they don’t come around all that often.

As enjoyable as the holidays are, the time that leads up to your holiday, finding a location, booking hotels, flights and finding the right prices, can be a stressful and time-consuming ordeal. Nowadays, there are a million-and-one tourist destination’s with a variety of reputable price comparison websites and pin-pointing that ideal location can be incredibly hard. One destination might seem cheaper than the other, and then you browse on another website, and it’s more expensive, and vice versa. This makes just finding a location difficult, though it’s important to remember that your location should tick the boxes that you need it to tick, not just price-wise.

Your location should cater to the type of holiday that you want, so you can be sure that you and your family enjoy themselves. Otherwise, it’s precious time and money wasted, and no one wants that! You must consider the factors of everyone, and what they enjoy, perhaps you’ll have to find a destination which offers an array of things to do and places to see, to keep everyone happy. After all, it’s a family holiday, and it’s about the family – everyone should be included.


Malaysia

Southeast Asia is an incredible part of the world; unfortunately, many do not get to see and experience the culture. Malaysia offers a vast landscape which can cater to the needs of your whole family. From their modern capital of Kuala Lumpur to the untouched coastal areas, there’s something for everyone. Malaysia guarantees a fantastic trip for the entire family, their tourism has shot up for this reason, and so it would make sense to nip it in the bud now and look at Malaysia as your next family break.In recent years, Malaysia has had a substantial structural resurgence, and breathtaking city skylines have formed, with some of the most mesmerising architecture you will have ever laid witness to. Malaysia is worth a look, and you can find a Malaysia Condo price quite easily to check out whether that’s somewhere you could visit and potentially look into buying a holiday home, or as an investment. Wherever you’re looking to stay, it’s sure that Malaysia will have something you’ll love.

Spain

If you’re not looking to as far afield as Malaysia, Spain can offer a lot of what you might be after. Spain is a notoriously famous tourist location, especially as a Brit, and for a good reason too. It’s conveniently close, so you don’t have to worry about long haul flights and days spent travelling. There is a smaller communication barrier, English is taught in many schools, and they’re encouraged to pick up English as their second language. Therefore you don’t have to concern yourself with awkward conversations and to resort to pulling dodgy hand gestures and sign language to imitate what you mean. The discussion should flow smoothly, allowing you to do what you need to do. 

There are many locations that you can visit, even in one trip. There are reliable road and transport infrastructures in place which encourages travelling between frequented tourist destinations. This is great if you have a fussy family who does not wish to spend all their time at the beach, you can go into the cities like Barcelona and also enjoy Valencia’s incredible coastal line. If you’ve got kids who are football crazy (or you are yourself), you can go and see Barcelona’s very own Camp Nou, which is home to FC Barcelona, one of the most prestigious and widely known football teams in the world.

Due to Spain’s massive tourist industry, booking flights and places to stay are a doddle. After a bit of research on where you’re looking to go, it’s probably best to look up a reputable price comparison website so you can get the best prices possible. There are many places to see and visit, so it’s purely down to you and your family’s preference for where you go. The joy of Spain is that there will almost certainly be something for all of you to enjoy and forward to, whatever that may be.


USA

America is one for the bucket list. It encompasses a variety of cultures, peoples, weathers, and climates. We’ve all heard of the many landmarks and popular places across the States: Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Palm Springs, Texas, Miami, Orlando. The list goes on and on. And with the various must-visit destinations, it’s hard to pick just one. Again, you should choose a place based on the boxes that it ticks. Disneyland, Florida might be the ideal place for you if you’ve got children that want to go there. It’s entirely subjective as to where is good to go, and where isn’t, it’s all about what everyone wants to do and see.

As the USA is a completely English-speaking country, this makes communication a lot easier. They’re not worlds apart, and though culture and ways of life can be different, it’s not as diverse as visiting rural Africa. So if you’re concerned about visiting somewhere that may be a bit out of your comfort zone, America is most likely going to be the most fitting place for you to enjoy a holiday abroad.

It’s interesting to visit Britain’s friends across the pond and enjoy their ever-changing country. The USA has also become accustomed to the tourist industry that has been brought upon them, with people visiting from all over the world, it’s become somewhat of a phenomenon to visit America and soak up the American way of life. Wherever you go, you’re going to have a fantastic time.

Spending Christmas Away With The Children Without Hassle

Christmas is just around the corner, and whether we like it or not it’s time to begin thinking about plans for Christmas. We’re sure that you’re already aware that going anywhere with children is no simple task, so if you’re invited to spend Christmas at a family member or friends home, it’s likely that you’re dreading how you’re going to pull this off without any drama. Luckily, I’ve compiled a little guide on how you can spend Christmas away with the children, without any hassle and still enjoy yourself! 

christmas reading child

Pack the car to the brim

When you’re staying away overnight in a strange place, you can never predict how your children are going to react to their surroundings. That’s why it’s important to ensure that you’re armed with everything they could ever need to help keep them calm and happy. Packing the car with their favourite teddies, comfort blankets, snacks, drinks, clothes, and anything else that you think could help your children settle easier will make your Christmas run much smoother. You don’t necessarily have to bring everything into your accommodation with you, but knowing that it’s there if you need it will certainly help you rest with ease.

Make nap time easier

If you’ve got young children, the thought of putting them down for naps might be playing on your mind. Perhaps your friends and family don’t have anywhere that you’d like to safely leave your child to have a nap, or maybe you’re worried your child won’t nap with ease? You can buy kids travel systems that can help make sure your baby gets the nap they need without any worry on your behalf! Again, making sure they’ve got their favourite teddy or blanket will make the world of difference!

Keep them busy

There’s nothing worse than bored children, and as you’re probably already aware, when children are bored, the adults will suffer too. Before you even think about travelling, prearrange activities for your children to keep them busy and entertained. Perhaps you could get them a portable DVD player or some board games to keep them occupied? Alternatively, check to see if there are going to be any other children there for them to play with!

Baby proof everything!

Finally, children can get into pretty much anything if they put their mind to it, and when you’re in a strange environment you never know where dangers might be lurking! Ask your family members and friends to baby/child proof their homes so that not only will your children be able to safely roam around, but you will have one less worry on your hands!

Travelling away with children doesn’t have to be as stressful as you may think, so follow these tips and have a wonderful Christmas!

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
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