Things to do with kids during lockdown…

Things to do with kids during lockdown

It’s strange and scary times we are living in right now, if you’ve got young kids, you’ll know how hard it is to keep them entertained all day while we’re all in lockdown during the Coronavirus outbreak. 

I am loving being able to spend so much time with Emily especially before baby number 2 arrives, but I’m not gonna lie some days are hard work. Some days I feel guilty for letting her watch too much tv because I’m feeling knackered or mentally, I’m just not having a good day. These are exceptional circumstances that none of us have been through before so it’s ok not to be ok all the time. It’s also ok if your little ones have watched Frozen twice in one day followed by a ton of crap on YouTube…that’s what I’m telling myself anyway!  At the end of the day they are safe, well and happy and that’s all that matters right now!

There are without a doubt good and bad days and of course every day in isolation isn’t going to be fun but I’ve found that having a bit of structure helps.

Finding things to do with kids during lockdown can be exhausting, you might be running out of ideas for daily activities so hopefully there’s a few things I’ve listed here that you’ve not tried yet..

 

Things to watch:

Although we all try our best not to let kids watch TV or their tablets for too long, it’s inevitable that there’s always going to be some screen time; especially during lockdown! For your own sanity and five minutes downtime with a cuppa it is necessary! There are lots of people out there doing some fun and creative things online, here are our favourites:

  • If you’ve not heard about him already, every day at 9am Joe Wicks, The Body Coach is doing live workout sessions aimed at families. We’ve done P.E with Joe a few times now and I’ve got to say my muscles have been aching for a few days afterwards. Emily loves joining in too although we never quite finish the full 30-minute session.
  • If your little ones attend Baby Ballet classes our local franchise have moved their classes online, so you can do ballet every day of the week if you like and join in with all the different classes. It’s so nice for Emily to still be able to see her teacher Miss Claire and maintain a little bit of normal in all this madness!
  • For five minutes of entertainment head to Google, search for an animal and click on ‘view in 3D’. It brings your camera up and thirty seconds later you have an animal in your room!
  • Over on their YouTube channel Jiggy Wrigglers have moved their fun classes online so your kids can dance and get active at home.

 

 

Fun things to do outside during lockdown:

If lockdown rules allow it there are so many fun things to do outside as a family, most of the time these are really simple too and don’t need many resources.

Scavenger hunt

This one is really simple and can be done in the garden or out on your daily walk from home. I found a gift bag and then came up with a list of things to find, a feather, a stick, a petal and a leaf. It kept Emily entertained for at least 15 minutes or so anyway!

Garden potions

My clever friend Sam, who is a teacher, came up with this lovely idea for the garden. All you need is some bottles or something to put your potion in, food colouring and things from the garden to chop up and add to your mix, grass, petals sticks etc. If you don’t have food colouring to add, then plain old water works fine and is just as fun.

Volcano experiment

This has to be purchased but is a lot of fun: Violent Volcano. Since writing this Galt aren’t currently taking on any online orders but I’m sure you can find something similar on Amazon.

It is recommended for ages 8 and above. Emily is three so I added most of the ingredients to the volcano while she watched and wore the safety goggles that were included, which she loved! Following the instructions once everything has been added in stand back and watch as it explodes into the air!

 

 

Online resources:

There are some great free downloadable resources out there, these are some of Emily’s favourite lockdown activities:

  • Orchard Toys have some nice activity sheets aimed at younger children.
  • If like me you are missing the sea The Wave Project have some great ocean themed activity books to download with a new one every week.
  • Twinkl is a huge educational resource, create an account for free during school closures and download worksheets. Everyone is catered for from pre-school to secondary.
  • The Sussex Wildlife Trust have a some lovely indoor activity sheets which I’ve just discovered.

 

Five Minute Mum book: Everybody going through lockdown with kids needs this book in their lives! It has an amazing collection of activities to do indoors and out. Our favourites are the restaurant game and the toy tombola game. Follow her Instagram handle too for more genius activities to do at home. There are tons of fun things to do with kids during lockdown in this book, I don’t know where I’d be without it!

 

 

Indoor fun:

There are so many fun things to do as a family inside while on lockdown. It can be hard to keep the momentum going, especially if it’s a rainy day and you can’t get outside. Hopefully this list will give you some inspiration to get through those potentially dull days!

Make a rainbow

Make a rainbow for your window: Orchard Toys who I mentioned above have a downloadable rainbow colouring sheet. You can of course just go free hand with your own design. We jazzed ours up by adding cotton wool clouds and stuck it in our lounge window.

Use household recycling to make something crafty

Save up toilet rolls, cardboard and egg boxes to make something fun, for example a crocodile. Paper plates are also an easy thing to get creative with, even if you just stick a load of glitter, beads and sequins on. We’ve also got a new addition to our cardboard family in the form of a rocket! It has captured Emily’s imagination about space and she now wants to be an astronaut…

Mask making

Emily’s favourite superhero character is Owlette from PJ Masks, so we designed and made her own mask. She loved running around the house in her superhero costume with it on!

Zip line

This is very entertaining and a bit educational too. All you need is some string, hangers with clips on and soft toys. Find a spot to fasten the string and turn it into a zip line. Attach the toys to the hangers and send them down the zip wire. I asked Emily which of the cuddly toys travelled faster and explained it was because that some of them were lighter than others.

Ice painting

Add food colouring to water in ice cube trays, pop some lolly sticks in and put in the freezer. When frozen you’ve got a new fun way to paint. 

Scavenger hunt

This is the indoor version and an opportunity to get creative with hunting for things around the house. It might even give you five minutes to grab a cuppa. I focused on things all over the house to give Emily a bit of variety and get her up and active. This one didn’t last for as long as I had hoped, Emily did it twice and then I was left with a huge pile of crap to tidy away! She had fun though!

 

Hope you found this list useful and I’ll update it with more activities as we do them. I would love some more suggestions if you have any? Let me know in the comments below….

 

 

 

 

Cruising the Baltic Sea…

A flat lay image of my travel must haves: Baltic Sea Ports Marco Polo Travel Guide, sunglasses and camera

Cruising the Baltic Sea:

Marco Polo travel guides have recently published a range of cruise guides offering insights into ports around the world which are very useful for deciding on what to do at each destination. The guides come with handy pull out maps, perfect for planning your adventures at sea. The range includes ports in the Baltic Sea, Canary Islands, Caribbean and Mediterranean. The lovely people at Marco Polo sent me a guide to help with my future cruise planning. I chose Baltic Sea cruise ports, as I’d love to explore this incredible area of Europe.

Ad: This post has been produced in collaboration with Marco Polo Travel Guides.

Here’s my dream itinerary:

  • Firstly I’d choose Southampton to depart and arrive back into as it’s near to where I live so would eliminate having to get flights anywhere. This would make cruising the Baltic Sea very relaxing from the word go!
  • Helsinki – Finland: The scenery is something that draws me to this part of the world and I’ve heard it’s a scenic journey into the port, past small islands and craggy coastline. I’d make sure I’d be up on deck to take it all in. I would jump on a vintage tram ride to see the city’s top sites and visit the Old Market Hall to buy some Finnish cakes.
  • Stockholm – Sweden: I love an old town and Stockholm’s Gamla Stan sounds like it ticks all the boxes for me; cobbled streets, quirky buildings and cool coffee shops to sit and watch the world go by in.
  • Gdansk – Poland: I’d love to stop in Gdansk to try out traditional Polish food and to take some photos of the picture perfect streets. I’d also like to climb to the top of St. Catherine’s Church Tower to take in the city views.
  • St. Petersburg – Russia: I have never been to Russia so a stop in St. Petersburg would be firmly on my itinerary. I’d love to see the historical buildings and beautiful architecture. The colourful domes of the Church of the Resurrection of Christ are something I’d like to see in person.
  • Tallinn – Estonia: The capital of Estonia, this lovely looking city has plenty of charm with Gothic landmarks and an old town full of cafes and cobbled streets. If I had time on my day there I’d head slightly out of the city to the Teletorn TV Tower. There is an outdoor viewing platform right at the top and on clear days you can see across to Finland.

Why you need to go on a cruise:

These days cruising isn’t just for the older generation it has become popular with younger people in a big way. Cruise companies have modernised their ships, upped their marketing and onboard itineraries to appeal to not only younger couples and singles but families too.

A cruise is certainly something on my travel wish list; Matt and I got a taste for the cruising lifestyle after we went on a mini-cruise to France last year. I can definitely see us enjoying a longer cruise at some point in the future.

 

In case you need some persuasion here are my reasons as to why you need to go on a cruise…

  • It’s such a fantastic way to see the world; you get to wake up in a new destination everyday.
  • Enjoy complete relaxation on sea days. While there’s nothing but blue horizons all around it’s the perfect opportunity to kick back and relax with a book, enjoy the entertainment onboard, go to a fitness class or enjoy all the food if you are on an all inclusive package.
  • A lot of cruise companies have removed formal dining in favour of a more relaxed experience, so while formal dining may still exist there are now other options such as buffets and fast food restaurants onboard. This means you won’t have to pack your bow tie and tux if you don’t want to.
  • This also applies to dress codes; whilst there are still opportunities to don your bow tie many cruise ships have a less formal dress code making cruises much more relaxed.
  • There is so much going on onboard that you’ll never want to get off! From cinemas to shows, casinos to coffee shops, spas, climbing walls and waterslides, not to mention kids clubs if you have children with you. It’s like a floating city!

 

I spent a day on MSC Preziosa as part of a press event, head over to my post: My Day on a Cruise Ship with MSC Cruises to read all about it. For more on planning a cruise, Cruise Critic is a great website to discover cruise itineraries, they have a section just for Baltic Sea Cruises. Cruise blogger, Emma writes all about life at sea over at Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People; check it out for all you need to know on cruising.

 

My 2019 travel highlights…

Apart from travelling with work, I hadn’t planned on actually doing much personal travel this year. Matt and I moved and renovated a house; I’m also expecting baby number two so I had intended to slow down. But writing up this post I’m surprised how much I’ve managed to squeeze in. I just get itchy feet and being grounded from my job as cabin crew while I’m pregnant has meant that I’ve been living a ‘normal’ life for a while. Whatever that is?! Anyway too much of normal and I get a little bit bored so I’ve been lucky to have a few opportunities to jump on a plane and fulfil my wanderlust!

 

January: Mexico 
2019 started off with a mini adventure in Mexico. I had a work trip to Cancun falling over New Years Eve, so it was the perfect opportunity for Matt to come away with me. One of the perks of my job is discounted flights and getting to take Matt along while I’m working is so nice. We arrived on New Years Eve, got some room service and gorged on enchiladas, guacamole, tortillas and all things Mexican. We were so tired that we didn’t make it to midnight in the end but it was still a great evening! The following day it was time for exploring so we jumped on a local bus to a nearby ferry terminal and boarded a boat to Isla Mujeres. If you are going to Cancun I really recommend a trip to this little island. We hired a golf buggy and whizzed around the island, you can cover the whole of it in a couple of hours. The main town has brightly coloured buildings and beachfront bars, there’s mangroves and secluded beaches to relax on as well as a small turtle sanctuary. Don’t miss the drive through garage, perfect for picking up Coronas to have on the beach. My favourite beach is Playa Norte, although it was really busy on New Years Day so not as peaceful as I’ve seen it in the past.

 

 

February and March: Dubai and Fort Lauderdale
In February Matt and I moved house it had been a long painful process so it was amazing to finally get the keys. Although it needed a lot of work so we stayed with my lovely in-laws while we did it up. A new boiler, radiators, bathroom, electrics, plastering, decorating and new carpets were amongst the many things that needed doing.
The day after completing on the house I went to Dubai with my Mum! I hadn’t planned it that way, as we should have initially completed in November 2018 so it all felt a little bit stressful but it was lovely to have a little getaway. Dubai isn’t somewhere that’s really appealed to me in the past but we wanted to go somewhere with a bit of sun that wasn’t too far to fly so it ticked those boxes. I can honestly say I loved it, we crammed so much into the three days we were there for and there’s still so much I want to see. My highlights were a desert safari, going to the top of the Burj Khalifa and strolling along ‘The Walk’ on the beachfront at JBR.
For more on my new favourite part of the world head here: A mini guide to Dubai…

 

 

A work trip to Fort Lauderdale in the middle of house renovations was a fun adventure. It was a layover, which meant two nights and whole day to explore. Famous for its waterways lined with million dollars houses, it only seemed right to jump on a water taxi and take in the views. The water taxis are really easy to use and you can jump on and off to spend time along the route. I loved the bars and restaurants that lined the waterfront, we enjoyed food and drinks overlooking the sparkling canals in between checking out the local area. It also happened to be Pride the weekend I was there so we had a walk around the festival on the beach. I also got some time to chill out by the pool and catch some sun before flying home.

 

 

April: Dominican Republic and the Isle of Wight
In April I had my first work trip to the Dominican Republic, staying in an all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana it was a very relaxing experience! I had a day and a half to sunbathe, have a beer or two and swim in the warm, sparkling ocean.

 

 

My brother and his girlfriend bought Matt and I a voucher to walk with alpacas as a Christmas present so April saw us heading to Hensting Alpaca Farm in Ottterbourne  Hampshire. It was a really relaxing two-hour stroll through a meadow by the River Itchen. The alpacas were gorgeous and it was such a different thing to do. For more on this unique experience click here: Walking with alpacas in the Hampshire countryside…

 

 

On Emily’s 3rd birthday we went on a day trip to the Isle of Wight. We went as foot passengers on the Wightlink ferry from Lymington and used the open top buses to explore. It’s such a fun and easy way to see the island, there are different routes and regular buses so you can hop on and off at your leisure. We chose the route that went to the Needles and were treated to incredible views of Alum Bay and the mainland on the journey to The Needles Battery. After a few more stop offs we went back to Yarmouth for lunch at a pub and an ice cream and a walk along the pier before catching the ferry back to the mainland.

 

 

May: Toronto
I got to go to one of my favourite cities in May, Toronto. Another work trip, I had two nights and a day and a half to spend there. Having been a few times before it was nice to explore some new areas. I visited Graffiti Alley, which is a really cool spot to take photos. Kensington Market for brunch and my first proper experience of Poutine. Canadian comfort food at its best: chips, cheese curd and gravy. If you’ve not tried it before, you should. I also visited a pop up gallery called Eye Candy, the perfect place if you love taking photos for Instagram. It has small rooms all individually decorated in bright colours and different themes.
I’ve written a blog post all about things to do in my favourite Canadian city: Planning the perfect trip to Toronto… 

 

 

June: Yorkshire
Matt, Emily and I had a mini break to Yorkshire; Matt had some work there so Emily and I tagged along. We stayed at Woodland Lakes Lodges in Thirsk, our lodge had a hot tub, there were ponds full of friendly ducks and geese and it was a great base for exploring the local area.

 

Hot tub, Woodland Lakes Lodges, Yorkshire
Hot tub, Woodland Lakes Lodges, Yorkshire

 

Summer hit the UK so it was all about time at the beach in Milford on Sea and HIghcliffe, paddle boarding and barbecues.

 

 

July: UK
July saw us spending lots more time on the beach and Emily sitting on my paddle board with me for the first time.  We discovered the Cliff House in Barton on Sea. It’s the loveliest bar on the cliff top over looking the Solent, Isle Wight and Dorset. We also went on the hunt for pubs in the New forest with play parks for kids. The Rising Sun in Bashley is our new favourite, not only is it 10 minutes drive from our house, but it looks right out onto the forest and has an awesome kids play park. I feel like this should be a future blog post!

 

 

We moved into our house after 5 months of renovating, it was such an amazing feeling after all the work we put in and a couple of weeks later I found out I was pregnant with baby number two. So all in all a very exciting month!

 

 

August: Warmwell, Dorset
I love having my birthday in the summer; Matt took me on a surprise trip to Dorset. We stayed on the same glamping site as last year in a shepherds hut. We had typical British weather, one day full of rain and the next sunshine, but we didn’t let it stop us enjoying our mini break away and it inspired me to write this post: What to pack for a glamping trip in the UK. It was super cosy listening to the rain in the hut and the log burner was all it needed to keep it warm. Our glamping retreat consisted of three shepherds huts, the main one had a double bed, seating area and log burner, while the other two housed a kitchen and a bathroom. A fire pit and hammock completed the set up. Thankfully with the weather being nice on day two we sat out all evening by the fire. We went on some lovely walks and being just the two of us enjoyed a bit of quiet time reading magazines and having long lazy lie-ins, a rarity when you’ve got kids!

 

 

Back at home and being the height of the summer we spent a lot of time on the beach, paddleboarding and meeting up with friends from school.

 

 

September: West Bay, Dorset 
In September we crammed in our final beach visits and headed off for four nights in West Bay in Dorset. West Bay has an incredible cliff formation that has been made famous by the TV series Broadchurch. The imposing cliffs are found on East Cliff Beach. The tiny fishing town is full of quintessential British charm, fish and chip huts line the harbour front and seagulls keep a beady eye out for ice creams. The George is a good pub for a drink and Rise does the best poached eggs and smashed avocado on sourdough for breakfast. This coastline or Jurassic coast as it is known is famous for fossil hunting; Charmouth Beach is a popular spot for uncovering treasures. We spent hours on there hunting for fossils and sea glass. It’s such a fun thing to do even on a wintery day.

 

 

October and November: France and Bermuda
October and November were exciting months with a mini cruise to France with Brittany Ferries and a trip to Bermuda. First off France, two nights on the ferry and a whole day to explore France. We got on the ferry in Portsmouth and sailed to St Malo. The mini cruises run over the winter months and are really good value for money. What’s more you get to keep your cabin so you can leave your luggage onboard while you spend the day in France. Highlights of the trip were walking to Mont St Michel, lunch in the pretty town of Dinan and shopping in the huge supermarkets! The crossings were so much fun with evening entertainment, bars and restaurants. For more on this unique trip head here: A mini cruise with Brittany Ferries…

 

 

Next was Bermuda, while pregnant I am ‘grounded’ from my job as cabin crew, I was missing crew life so took the opportunity to join one of my good work friends on a trip she was rostered to Bermuda. It was lovely to catch up with work friends and spend time in one of my favourite parts of the world. My friend and I had the loveliest little break, being cold and rainy in the UK it was so nice to spend some time in the sun. We went to the beach, did some paddle boarding, ate good food and explored the pretty streets of the capital Hamilton.

 

 

December
No travels in December just getting into the festive spirit and enjoying lots of family time. We took Emily to see Father Christmas at Stewerts Garden Centre in Christchurch, every year they have a winter wonderland walkway and a really great Father Christmas. Matt and I hosted Christmas for my family in our new home, we enjoyed chilly beach walks and I’ve eaten far too much chocolate!

 

It’s been a year of highs and lows but the highs have definitely out weighed the lows and I’m really looking forward to seeing what the new year brings.
I’m not going to worry about resolutions for the year ahead, looking back through previous years one of my aims is always to write more blog posts…but I’m not going to put any pressure on myself for 2020 as I think I’ll be pretty busy with a new baby! I’ve worked on some cool brand campaigns this year and have worked with more companies on sponsored posts than last year, so if I can carry on building my freelance writing business then that would be my aim for 2020.
The first trip for 2020 is a holiday to Fuerteventura; this will be the last time I fly before having baby number two in April. We’ve got a trip to Center Parcs in Longleat booked for June and who knows after that but we’re definitely aiming to travel again more once we’ve settled into being a family of four.
Happy New Year to you all and happy travels for 2020!

 

A mini guide to Dubai…

Me, mid air jump on top of a sand dune in Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve
Dubai has never been somewhere that has really appealed to me, I don’t know why but it’s not been at the top of my list of places to visit. However, having now spent 3 nights in this vibrant city I can safely say that my mind has well and truly changed. I loved my time there and can’t believe how much there is to see and do. The locals are friendly, the streets are clean and the climate in February when I visited was perfect; warm, sunny and a steady 25°C. I also presumed that there wouldn’t be much to do in Dubai, how wrong I was! For those that like adventure there’s the desert, ziplines, ski slopes and skydiving. For sun worshippers there’s the beach. If you’re a shopaholic the shopping malls are out of this world and then there’s the sightseeing; so much of it that I didn’t get to see it all! Read on for the lowdown on my adventures in the UAE and what you need to do on your trip there…

 

From the airport:
Catch a taxi, red roof taxis are all over Dubai, ignore people trying to usher you to the more expensive cars. There is an official taxi rank so once you’ve got your bags follow the signs outside the airport. Taxis are metered, I paid AED 105 and gave a AED 20 tip for the journey to JBR Residence, which took around 30 minutes.

 

What to wear:
I wasn’t sure what to pack for Dubai as I didn’t know how strict the country was on dress code. Dubai is a Muslim country so dress conservatively, ladies should keep shoulders and knees covered. The JBR Residence and the marina area seemed to be a bit more relaxed when it came to dress code. I was surprised to see people wearing all sorts, tiny shorts, skimpy tops and little beach dresses. I believe in dressing respectfully depending on where I am so went for maxi dresses, floaty trousers and tops covering my shoulders. Although dressing conservatively does seem to be less of a need than I expected.
Swimwear is fine on the beach or by the pool but cover up modestly when leaving and take something to change into, wet swimwear under clothes is classed as inappropriate.
When visiting a mosque covering up head to toe is a must, pack scarves and pashminas or hire when you visit.
I went on a desert safari and would really recommend comfy, closed toe footwear. I’m a flip-flop girl but I’m so pleased I wore my converse in the desert; the amount of sand I emptied out of them after sand boarding was incredible!

 

Transport:
Taxis are everywhere and pretty cheap. The metro and tram are all easy to use and there’s a monorail which goes to The Palm. Sightseeing buses are a great way to see the city, more on this below.

 

 

Where to stay:
Dubai Marina and JBR
I stayed in this area and absolutely loved it. The beach, Marina Mall and The Walk; a mile long ocean side promenade with shops and restaurants are all there. I loved sipping on mocktails in cafés overlooking the ocean and browsing the market stalls. Yalseah Arabic Lounge and Cafe was my favourite, stop by for mango smoothies and crêpes. There is a public beach area too so there’s no need to pay to go on a private beach if you don’t want to. For daredevils there’s a zipline, XLine is the world’s longest zipline. It’s super pricey but looks like an incredible experience, zoom from 170 metres high down to ground level at exhilerating speeds with awesome views.

 

Downtown
Downtown is a good spot to be for some of Dubai’s top sights, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai Fountains and the Dubai Mall are all there.  It’s around 20 minutes drive from the airport, Dubai Creek is also nearby. Most of the hotels in the downtown area are within walking distance of all the attractions making it a very convenient place to stay.

 

Jumeirah Beach
The Burj al Arab, the Wild Wadi Waterpark and La Mer are all on the doorstep of Jumeirah Beach as are some amazing hotels. It’s a beautiful spot with most of the hotels having their own private beaches. This is the spot for sun worshippers and those looking for beautiful hotels with gorgeous ocean views. Jumeirah Beach is also only around a 15 minute drive from Downtown Dubai.

 

 

Things to see:
Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa stands at a height of 2716.5 ft making it the world’s tallest building. Work started on this incredible structure in 2004 and was completed in 2010 with up to 12,000 people working on it everyday. Step into the worlds fastest elevator and take in the views of Dubai on the 124th and 125th floor, at 456 metres up it’s well worth a visit.  Be prepared for long queues. I booked an 11.30am slot and must have spent an hour queuing to go up in the lift and then back down again. Book a mega early slot to watch the sunrise and enjoy breakfast afterwards. The views from ‘At the Top’ are amazing and what a thing to be able to say you’ve seen Dubai from the world’s tallest building.

 

Dubai Fountains
These fountains reminded me of the fountains outside the Bellagio in Las Vegas and they are in fact created by the same people. Set to music the water show is mesmerizing, with the dramatic backdrop of the city skyscrapers and the Burj it’s a really nice experience. The show only lasts for a few minutes so time your visit to the Dubai Mall to see one. There are shows during the day and evening, check on the website for times. Watch them at night and marvel at the Burj Khalifa illuminated in a dazzling  fashion.

 

Desert Safari
This was one of my favourite parts of the trip, a morning dune drive with camel riding, sand boarding and breakfast in a Bedouin camp. We were collected from our hotel at 7.30am and driven to the Dubai Desert Conservation Area. After the tyres on the 4×4 vehicles were lowered we set off in convoy into the desert. Driving up and down the dunes was thrilling. We stopped in the dunes to take photos and then continued on the adventure. After the drive we arrived at a camp and had the opportunity to try sand boarding. Next was a short camel ride and finally a sit down in the Bedouin camp along with Arabic coffee, dates and breakfast. I booked the trip with Arabian Adventures,they have a load of other fantastic experiences including a ‘Sunset Dune Dinner Safari’.

 

Bus Tour
A bus tour is a great way to see Dubai. We used City Sightseeing Dubai; with a one-day pass you get to travel on all four routes as well as a boat trip. We unfortunately didn’t have time to go on the boat trip but I think it’s really great value for money at AED 300. Water was provided on the buses as well as headphones to listen to the guided tour. I found it really informative and it was nice to see different parts of the city you don’t get to see in a taxi. My favourite routes were the blue route covering sights such as the Jumeirah mosque and the Burj al Arab and the yellow route, this went around the marina and onto The Palm.

 

 

Where to drink:
Being a Muslim country alcohol is only permitted in hotels so you’ll find that cafes and bars only serve soft drinks. Shishas are very popular; you can’t go far without spotting someone smoking one. But bars are aplenty, head to a hotel for G & T or cocktail with a view. Pick a hotel with a rooftop bar, I really recommend visiting one at sunset. Jumeirah Beach Hotel has an amazing bar overlooking the ocean and the Burj al Arab. I stayed at the Ramada Plaza at the Jumeirah Beach Residence. The rooftop bar had  amazing views of the marina, ocean and The Palm. The Sofitel downtown has a chic rooftop bar with infinity pool, it’s open during the day as well as the evening and has incredible views of the Burj Khalifa. Pure Sky Lounge at the Hilton on The Walk is another perfect spot for sundowners with views of the Arabian Gulf and The Palm, time your happy hour drink for sunset.

 

Shopping:
This wasn’t high on my agenda for Dubai but the UAE certainly knows how to do shopping malls! The Dubai Mall has it’s own aquarium and ice rink and you’ll find the Dubai Fountains right outside, plus the Burk Khalifa next door. The Dubai Mall app has a map to help navigate this vast shopping extravaganza, it’s really useful for finding your way around. Mall of the Emirates has ski slopes with an alpine lodge you can stay overnight in and ski lifts to get up to the top of the ski runs. If you have time they really are worth a visit.

 

Mosques:
The only mosque open to non-Muslims in Dubai is the Jumeirah Mosque. Tours run 6 days a week at 10am and last for 75 minutes. Plan a visit here while on a bus tour; the City Sightseeing Dubai buses stop nearby. Further afield is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi which is around a 1 hour 30 minute drive from Dubai. If you have a day spare in your trip you should put this in your itinerary. One of the world’s largest mosques it has an open-door policy and is just incredible. Huge white domes   house not only the prayer hall but also the world’s largest hand-made carpet and chandelier. Entry is free.

 

Happy Dubai planning!

 

My day on a cruise ship with MSC Cruises…

I’ve never been on a cruise but it’s definitely something I’ve always wanted to try, so when the opportunity to spend a day on a cruise ship popped up I jumped at the chance to go.  Arriving at Southampton City Cruise Terminal I was blown away by the size of MSC Preziosa and couldn’t wait to meet other bloggers for #BlogCampOnBoard.  Hosted by MSC Cruises and organised by Sally Whittle from Tots 100 the day consisted of blogging workshops, lunch, a tour of the ship and a Q & A with the MSC marketing team and Antonio Paradiso, MD of MSC Cruises for the UK and Ireland.  It was a fantastic day and I loved having the opportunity to meet bloggers from completely different niches to my own, family, food, cruise and lifestyle to name just a few.
Now for a bit about the ship, Preziosa is part of a fleet of 16 owned by MSC Cruises, is 333 metres in length and can hold 4345 guests; which is mind-boggling!  The luxurious interior is incredible, one of my favourite parts was the Swarovski crystal staircase, just so sparkly!  I loved touring the ship and got to see plenty of aspects of cruising life.  Preziosa has an incredible spa with indoor and outdoor pool, jacuzzi and comfy sunbeds, plus gorgeous treatment rooms with floor to ceiling windows and a gym at the stern with uninterrupted views of the ocean.  All things I would love to indulge in if I was cruising.  There’s a theatre, a 4D cinema, a casino, a library and a huge selection of bars and restaurants to choose from too.
I was really interested to find out what was onboard for children, as having Emily who is now 18 months old means a slightly different kind of planning when it comes to deciding on trips.  Cruising is often misconstrued as a holiday choice for the older generation, but visiting the ship I got to see a whole new side.  MSC has worked hard to create a huge variety of activities for children onboard.  Kids club Doremi, a mini aqua park, a partnership with LEGO and Chicco and web series ‘Kelly & Khloe Onboard’ mean there is an endless amount of activities for children.  All day entertainment runs from 9am-11pm so parents can take some time to relax while the kids have fun!
MSC have just announced that they will be introducing kettles in cabins on MSC Magnifica, (something pretty important to us tea loving Brits) the addition of afternoon tea and most importantly a new partnership with yorkshire tea, who will be providing the perfect brew whilst at sea.
From March 2018 MSC Magnifica will be setting sail from Southampton as well as Preziosa.  Climb aboard for Northern European and Mediterranean adventures with a laid back and luxurious twist.
After spending a day on MSC Preziosa I think cruising could be my new thing!

To travel or not to travel?

I stopped to get fuel for my car on my way home from work today.  As I was in my uniform the lady in the garage asked what I did.  I explained that I worked for an airline as cabin crew, to which she replied, “I couldn’t do your job!” I asked if it was because she was scared of flying?  She went on to explain that she wasn’t scared but that she had never been on a plane in her life.  I told her she should go for it, she simply said “oh no thanks” and seemed pretty content with her answer.  It just got me thinking that of course not everyone has the want or need to travel, but when I think about my job I realise how lucky I am to fly overseas to different countries every week; along with countries I have travelled to in my own time.  I feel so privileged and lucky to have done so and can’t imagine not ever wanting to travel, to never having that urge to step on foreign soil, to taste different foods or to experience a new culture.  I’ve learnt so much by travelling to different countries and feel I am a richer person for doing so.  Like I said this conversation showed me that there are lots of people who are happy with not seeing other parts of the world, but boy does our world have so much to offer!  I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had so far and look forward to the new experiences I will continue to have through my love of visiting pastures new.  Be it in the UK or further afield I never want to stop exploring…And I encourage with all my heart everyone to do the same…Hope you agree with me?….