A Log Cabin Break in the Forest of Dean…

A luxurious log cabin in the woods:

I’ve just got home from a four night break with Forest Holidays in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.  We stayed in a luxurious log cabin with its own private hot tub nestled amongst woodland.  The weather was perfect for cabin living, bright crisp, chilly mornings and some snow which made a dip in the hot tub even more fun.  There was nothing but the rustling of leaves, birds tweeting and squirrels foraging in the undergrowth.  It was so peaceful.  Matt, Emily and I stayed with our friends Sam and Graham and Emily’s best baby buddy Heidi.  Set over two floors our log cabin had four rooms, two doubles, one with an en suite and two twin rooms.  We packed our own travel cots for the girls who had a room each.  The cabin also had two family sized bathrooms, this meant there was ample room for us all to spread out.  A spacious lounge with log burner and a floor to ceiling window overlooking the hot tub was a gorgeous place to relax.  Plus a kitchen kitted out with everything imaginable for self catering made our stay a very comfortable one.  Our log cabin also had an outdoor decked area with table, chairs and barbecue.  We spent our days exploring the local area, followed by a soak in the hot tub and cosy evenings playing scrabble in front of the fire.  The Forest Retreat, a café/bar area, reception and a small shop was a short stroll through the woods and across the meadow.

 

 

What I liked about Forest Holidays:

  • Someone checked the water quality and cleaned our hot tub everyday.  A rubber duck was placed on top of the cover to let us know it was ready to use.
  • The hot tub water is changed before each new arrival.
  • The Forest Retreat was perfect for buying take away drinks, fresh bread and supplies.  We also bought wood here for the log burner.
  • We loved ordering ‘room service’ to our cabin through the menu on the tv.
  • A small kitchen starter pack containing bin bags, a sponge and enough dishwasher tablets for the duration of our stay was a nice touch.
  • Ample towels were provided along with some for the hot tub.
  • We had stair gates for our little ones.
  • I loved the underfloor heating!
  • Choosing dates in between school holidays and being low season meant we got a great deal.  Check out Forest Holidays for prices and locations.

 

What I didn’t like:

  • The table in the kitchen was too large, it was a struggle to move around if more than one person was in the kitchen at same time.
  • The stair gate wasn’t great.  Although it was fixed in place for us, it ended up coming loose and unsafe so we took in down.  This is probably something we should have mentioned at check out.
  • Check-in is at 4pm, for an early check-in from 2pm we had to pay £35.  I thought this was a little on the steep side.
  • There was no ice-cube tray…sounds like a minor issue but ice is very important for a G&T!  We got creative and filled egg cups with water.  But for such a well equipped kitchen it is something I would have expected to find.

 

Things to do in the area:

This was my first visit to the Forest of Dean, I hadn’t realised there was so much see and do.  From caves to waterfalls and hundreds of hiking trails I definitely need to go back to explore more.  Beechenhurst has a café, children’s play area, a sculpture trail, climbing tower and Tree Top Junior.  The café does a delicious sausage baguette and cup of tea too.  Symonds Yat Rock is a must visit, the viewpoint is set high up above the River Wye and has gorgeous views.  Biblins Bridge is fun to cross, the rope style suspension bridge is set over the River Wye.  Only 6 people are allowed to cross over on it at once.  I must admit I wasn’t overly sure about crossing over, but it turned out to be fun!  It’s an adventure in itself getting to the bridge, start at Symonds Yat Rock viewpoint and walk down into the valley.  The walk is sign posted and is around 2.8 miles.  Jump on the little ferry by the Saracens Head, but double-check it’s running before commencing the walk as I don’t think it operates all year round.  Once the other side of the river head for Biblins campsite.  For more detail on this walk click here: Symonds Yat Rock to Biblins.  We were unable to do the walk as we hadn’t bought our rucksack carrier for Emily, but we had a lot of fun trying to find it in the car.  Unable to pinpoint an exact location on google map, I did some research and discovered we could get to the bridge through Biblins Campsite.  We drove for a few miles along some very tiny lanes and eventually picked up signs for the campsite.  We parked up and walked down a very steep track in the woods for around a mile until reaching the bottom of the valley and the bridge.  Matt and I underestimated how steep the walk back up would be, a screaming, over tired Emily and two very sweaty parents pushing a buggy for a mile uphill was not a pretty sight! I found a great blog post from Family Days Tried and Tested about their Biblins Bridge adventure, they have some great images of their day out. If you have time it is worth driving over the border into Wales.  We visited Brecon and absolutely loved the views of snowy mountainsides and driving on roads with not a soul around.  If you are looking for a good soft play by the way there’s a fab one just before Brecon called The Play Barn.

 

Road Tripping with a Baby in California….

*Thanks to JUCY campers for helping Matt, Emily and I make this road trip possible.  Find out more at www.jucyusa.com and follow them on social media @JUCYworld.

 

Roadtripping with a baby in California…in a campervan. It might not be everyone’s idea of fun, but if you plan it right it’s the best way to explore and a fantastic way for kids to enjoy the outdoors.  We’ve done a lot of road trips over the years; our last one with JUCY was back in 2013 in Australia and New Zealand. This trip was a bit different as we now have Emily who is 20 months old. Planning involved choosing shorter drives with more stops and campgrounds with good facilities.  We chose to hire a campervan with JUCY as we had used them before and loved the compact size of their vans.
One thing that I love about JUCY is that they provide everything you could possibly need to camp very comfortably. Pillows, duvets, bed linen and towels are all included as is kitchen utensils, crockery, cutlery and the kitchen sink. Not all camper companies provide all of this. For an extra charge you can hire camping chairs, sat nav, car seats and add-on mileage packages.
The trip didn’t get off to a great start, after landing in San Francisco I received a text from our airline to say our car seat hadn’t made it on our flight. Not good for a road trip! After the initial stress we hatched a plan, rather than wait for it to arrive which would ruin the beginning of our adventure we chose to hire one with JUCY. We found a taxi company who provided car seats to get us to the Jucy branch in Oakland and on arrival explained our problem. The lovely JUCY crew were so accommodating and had so many seats to choose from. At $40 for our whole 19-day trip it was a bargain.
The JUCY Trailblazer Van:
So let me tell you more about our van. We hired the JUCY Trailblazer, its compact size is perfect for winding national park roads and means you can park up anywhere and fit into pretty much any campground you fancy. This seems to be quite a unique concept for America as it’s all about the huge RVs that are the size of buses! We loved the size of this van, it was comfortable to drive and didn’t feel too big. The Trailblazer sleeps four, two in the roof and two in the main part of the camper. Inside the two bench seats convert into a bed and in the floor there is tons of storage space plus a table for use inside the van. The roof pops up with the turn of a handle or with the push of a button and reveals the comfiest double bed with canvas sides. The kitchen is at the back in the boot and comes complete with cupboard space, a chiller, sink and two gas stoves. There is everything you need from cutlery, to pots and pans, crockery and most importantly a kettle for a cuppa and a bottle opener for beer! I should mention the campers also come with DVD players.  Emily and I slept in the main part of the van while Matt had the roof ‘penthouse’ all to himself. This set up worked well and it meant that there was plenty of space for Emily to move around in her sleep!
Useful tips and tricks:
Pick up your van and head straight to a supermarket to stock up on essentials, food, water, baby food, alcohol, (definitely an essential when camping with a toddler!) etc. We found this really useful to do before we set off, that way we knew we had all our supplies with us.
Hire a car seat or take your own, if we hadn’t needed ours for the car journey to and from the airport in the UK I would definitely have just hired it through Jucy.
Be sure to have a good supply of water with you as a lot of campgrounds, especially national park ones don’t have water on site. There are no on site stores either so it’s a good idea to take everything you’ll need with you. If you camp at a private campground that’s not owned by the National Park Service they will often have a camp shop with a few basic supplies.
We booked our campsites in advance but you can often turn up and enquire about availability. Some campgrounds only offer walk up sites while others have to be booked months in advance as they are so popular.
Be flexible, if you don’t have fixed dates, book campgrounds as you go along.  Although now we have Emily we prefer to pre-book, but it’s sometimes fun to change plans and head somewhere different. Our plans altered slightly due to the wildfires in California
I would definitely recommend getting to campgrounds early in the afternoon to get set up and organised.  On a few nights we were racing against the light and nearing Emily’s dinner time so it was sometimes a bit stressful. I struggled to get used to living with Emily in such a small space for the first few days but once we got organised and into a little routine it all worked out perfectly. She had so much fun checking out her new little home and loved exploring the penthouse.
Cooking was really easy, Emily enjoys a lot of finger food so we could whip up a little buffet style meal for her straight from the chiller or use the camping stove to heat up something warm. The kettle came in handy to boil water to heat through her bottles and she loved eating at the bench by the campfire.
We factored in our drives along our route to fit around Emily’s daily nap, which worked out really well.
Packing:
We tried to pack as minimally as we could due to space restrictions in the van, it was made a little bit harder by having to pack for colder conditions in northern California as well as for the sunnier part of our trip further down the coast.  Plenty of private campgrounds do have washing machines so if you pack lightly you should be able to find laundry facilities at some point on your trip.
Some things I couldn’t live without when camping are:
Anti-bac wipes, tea bags, washing up liquid, sponge; snacks for Emily and nappies are all on my essential packing list. I love to have a few things with me before I arrive. Knowing I’ve got tea bags for a decent cuppa is always high on my packing list!
A torch or led lights are perfect for campfire cooking and going to and from the toilet block in the middle of the night.
Zip lock bags are great for storing perishables on the road.
A portable charger for your phone is always a good thing to have. There were USB ports in our Jucy van so we were able to charge phones on the road.
Our favourite campgrounds:
Morro Strand State Beach Bay:  Right on the beach, the facilities are basic and there are no showers but it’s worth it for the views and beach access.  Pitches have a fire pit and bench. We had a pitch overlooking the beach, I loved lying in bed listening to the ocean.
Carpinteria State Beach:  A really nice, clean campsite by the beach, walking distance to a few local shops and a lovely spot for building sand castles.
Lake Jennings Campground:  Around 30 minutes east of San Diego this is a gorgeous campground overlooking the lake. Popular with fishermen it’s a quiet spot. Sites have a bench and fire pit, we chose a really lovely one with fantastic views of the water.  Don’t expect much from the toilet and shower block as it was pretty basic but they were clean and tidy.  The campground also has a play park.
A campervan is perfect for a road trip, choose your route, stop for a cuppa along the way and park up for the night at beach campground.  It’s really easy to do with a baby too, it just involves a little bit more planning and organisation.  We soon got the hang of it and enjoyed exploring at a slower pace than before we had Emily.  There’s nothing quite like having the freedom to explore in a very cool van with everything you could possibly need to have an awesome adventure!
Do you camp or go on road trips with your kids?  Let me know in the comments below, I’d love to hear all about your adventures…

 

Bali, Cornwall & California, my 2017 travel roundup…

I’m writing this from a campervan in California overlooking the Pacific Ocean, I’m working with the lovely folks at Jucy campers and spending some time with Matt and Emily exploring a small part of the west coast of America.  2017 has been an exciting year for me in terms of blogging and travel.  I’ve collaborated with some awesome travel brands and taken on some new freelance clients.  I have also returned to my day job as a flight attendant after being on maternity leave.  Emily was born in 2016 and has become our mini travel buddy, she’s been away with Matt and I on a few trips and has already racked up quite a lot of airmiles in her 20 months of being on this planet.  From Cornwall to Bali she is lucky to have experienced some beautiful parts of the world so far.  Read on for my round-up of 2017 and travel plans for 2018….

 

January:  Cheddar, Somerset
Matt surprised me on Christmas day with a trip to Cheddar in Somerset for New Years Eve.  We stayed in a tiny chocolate box cottage with an open fire and lots of old worldy character.  Three days of exploring Cheddar including a trip to the famous gorge and caves, long scenic walks and a cosy evening in by fire the with a bottle of Champagne on New Years Eve made it the perfect way to see in 2017.  Read more on my Cheddar adventure here: A lovely long weekend in Cheddar, Somerset.

 

March: France
In March, Matt, Emily and I went to France with our lovely friends Sam and Graham and Emily’s bestest baby buddy Heidi.  We travelled by ferry from Portsmouth to Caen, I loved the ferry it made a nice change to flying.  Once in France we made our way to the gorgeous harbour town of Port en Bessin and stayed in a three-storey cottage right on the harbour front.  The 5 days saw us going on sunny strolls around the harbour and cliff tops and learning about the D-Day landings the beaches in this area are so famous for.  Eating fresh seafood from the local fish market, enjoying typical French breakfasts in traditional cafes and of course enjoying plenty of bread, wine and cheese; a must do when in this part of the world!  This trip was quite different as working around Emily and Heidi’s nap times often saw us spending time apart from Sam and Graham as the girls’ snoozing patterns didn’t always happen at the same time…but we would always come together in the evenings for a gin and tonic just outside on the harbour wall with the baby monitor by our side and dinner and wine while watching the tide come in from the lounge window.  I loved waking up in the morning to the sounds of the sea, you could view it from pretty much all the rooms in the house.

 

May: London and Menorca
A trip to London for two nights for the Traverse travel blogging conference was awesome.  I was a little nervous about attending by myself, although I needn’t have worried as I met some lovely people and had an amazing two days at the event.  I learnt so much and even got some work from it.  After pitching an idea to the Spanish tourist board I also got invited on a week-long press trip to Menorca, pretty exciting stuff!
A couple of weeks after Traverse, I attended a seven-day press trip in Menorca with a group of bloggers, vloggers and Instagrammers.  It was organised by Traverse Events, the Spanish tourist board and Jet2 Holidays, I had the best week.  There was a one day conference with some really interesting sessions and workshops focussing on a whole range of skills from SEO to using a drone.  There were activities and evening events running all week with the opportunity to explore the island.  One of my favourites was a kayaking trip, we paddled along picture perfect coastline and explored caves, which was pretty cool.  The evening events were wonderful too, from tapas at a vineyard to drinks in a cave at sunset overlooking the ocean.  I had such a blast and met so many interesting people, some of which I’m still in contact with, it’s so nice to have friends in the blogging world!

 

June: Beach time and returning to work
June involved lots of sunny beach time and my maternity leave coming to an end.  I really loved being on maternity leave, getting to spend so much time with Emily and Matt and being able to go on some fantastic trips.  I was petrified of returning to my day job as a flight attendant but knowing I was going back on a part-time basis made it feel a little bit easier to handle and by the end of the 8 day training course I was ready to return to the skies!

 

July: Jersey, New York and Cornwall
My first flying roster consisted of a New York and a Jersey nightstop along with some other shorthaul flights.  In New York I explored the West side of Manhattan, took a stroll along the High Line and visited Chelsea Market.  In Jersey there was just enough time for a walk along the seafront and dinner with the crew.
Matt, Emily and I also went on a mini road trip down to Cornwall for a few nights as Matt had some work in Newquay.  We enjoyed a couple of pub lunches, breakfast at Fistral Beach, a walk at Watergate Bay, a bit of shopping in the town and I got to surf at Fistral too.

 

August: New York and Midhurst, West Sussex
I went back to New York twice again in August, which was definitely not a hardship!  On one of the trips I went to see the views from Top of the Rock, the viewing platforms on top of the Rockefeller Center.  I went up years ago but couldn’t resist another visit.  I love the views of the Manhattan skyline and from the Rockefeller Center you can see Central Park, the Empire State Building and pretty much all of Manhattan including the One World Trade Center and the Statue of Liberty.  It’s such a breathtaking view.  I also explored Central Park with a lovely crew and visited Times Square.  It’s been hard getting used to leaving Emily when I go away, some days I feel really emotional about it.  It’s so nice to be able to see her on FaceTime, it makes me feel not so far away.  Its been great working with other parents too, to know I’m not the only one who struggles with my emotions sometimes!
It was my birthday in August and to celebrate Matt surprised me with a night away while Emily spent the night with hr grandparents.  We stayed at the Spread Eagle Hotel in Midhurst, it has the most gorgeous spa and pool area which we loved relaxing in.  We also enjoyed a G & T or two in the cosy bar area and dinner was just divine.  We finished off our very relaxing 24 hours with a crab salad and a glass of rose at Seven Fish, just so tasty.

 

August & September: Bali
At the end of September we flew out to Bali, via Kuala Lumpur, Matt and I were pretty apprehensive about flying with Emily.  Although we had already done a fair few flights with her, this was the first one with her as a toddler who loves nothing more than running around and exploring!  The flights were full of ups and downs but in general she was such a good girl, after a traumatic beginning to our flight home we did decide we wouldn’t be flying again with her until she was about ten!  Having reflected on it we made a pact that we would only do night flights in the hope that she would sleep for some of it!  Anyway, Bali was just beautiful, we stayed in a private villa with Matt’s parents In Sanur where we enjoyed leisurely mornings by the pool, afternoon strolls along the beach and cocktails while Emily snoozed or played in the sand.  We had a night glamping in Ubud at Sandat Glamping Resort and then a few nights in Canggu.  Seeing the rice terraces and temples was a great experience but I was surprised at just how touristy some of these sights were.  Bali is such a family friendly place so if you are thinking about an adventurous family trip away, I would definitely recommend Indonesia.  For more check out my blog post: Bali with a Baby.

 

October: MSC Cruises and Mallorca
I got an invite to attend #BlogCampOnBoard in October, a blogging event onboard a cruise ship, I of course accepted the invite and found myself climbing aboard the very impressive MSC Preziosa.  The day consisted of a tour of the ship, some interesting blogging sessions, lunch and a Q and A with the MD of MSC UK and Ireland and the marketing team.  I throughly enjoyed exploring the ship and made some lovely new blogging friends, everyone was so friendly and it was great to meet others from different blogging niches from cruising to food and parent bloggers onboard.

 

November: Mallorca and London
I jetted of to Mallorca for some winter sun in November as part of the Spanish and Balearic tourist boards #betterinwinter campaign.  The Balearic Islands are well-known to the British as summer holiday destinations but they are just as lovely in the winter.  There was sunshine everyday in Mallorca while I was there, it was definitely warm enough to sit on the beach.  I spent four days exploring this gorgeous island with four lovely Instagrammers.  We enjoyed tapas in some delightful locations, visited some stunning hotels, strolled around Mallorca’s capital Palma and took in glorious views of the city from the top of Palma Cathedral.  One of my favourite things was a trip to Flor de Sal where salt is produced.  It was such a different thing to do and standing next to 10ft salt mountains was a unique experience.  I loved strolling around the market in Santanyi, it was hard to believe it was November with all the sunshine we had.
I landed from Mallorca and headed straight to London for a few days of sightseeing and shopping with my Mum.  We checked in to the Premier Inn Hub Hotel on Brick Lane in East London.  Our cosy and compact room was perfect for our two night stay and I loved exploring this very cool part of London.  We had breakfast at Spitalfields market, shopped on Oxford Street and took in the views of the city from the Shard.  Earlier on in the year I won tickets at Traverse to visit the Shard, so Mum and I made the most of it by going up at sunset and enjoying the views with a few glasses of champagne.  We also had the best curry back on Brick Lane, if you find yourself in that part of London head to The Monsoon for Thali, so, so good.

 

December: California
As I mentioned in the first few lines, Matt, Emily and I are currently in America.  We are here to spend Christmas with family, it’s so strange to celebrate Christmas in the sunshine compared to the cold, frosty December days in the UK.  I’m not complaining though it’s a very nice change and I also love seeing how Americans embrace Christmas, people definitely decorate the outside of their houses in a much more exciting way than in the UK!  We have also spent ten days roadtripping along the west coast of California within a very cool Jucy campervan.  Its been slightly different to normal as it’s the first road trip we’ve done with Emily.  Picking up our van in San Francisco we travelled up to Point Reyes National Sea Shore, followed by a few nights in Monterey, Morro Bay, Carpinteria and now Carlsbad near San Diego.  More blog posts to come on our adventures soon…It’s safe to say 2017 has been an awesome year and finishing up with Christmas in California is a wonderful way to round it all up.
Travel plans for 2018 so far include a break away with friends to The forest of Dean in February and a family holiday with my parents in Menorca in June.  Matt and I are hoping to explore somewhere far-flung at some point in the year while Emily holidays with her Grandparents…thanks in advance Nana, Grandad, Nanny and Pops!

 

Finding Winter Sunshine in Mallorca…

*Thanks to the Balearics Tourist Board and Visit Spain for inviting me to Mallorca. I visited the island as part of the #betterinwinter campaign along with some lovely Instagrammers from Igers London….

 

I love the Balearic Islands, found in the Mediterranean off of the eastern coast of Spain, Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza and Formentera are perfect for a sunny break away.  I enjoyed many summer family holidays in the Balearics when I was younger and have always thought of it as a summer holiday destination.  That is until I visited Mallorca in October, I was really surprised at how gorgeous the temperature was.  Highs of 24 degrees during the day and lows of 12 to 15 degrees in the evening.  Not only is it warm enough to spend time on the beach, being out of season there are less crowds to contend with, especially if you avoid the UK October half-term break.  Mallorca is often known to us Brits as Majorca and is the largest of the Balearics, it’s the perfect destination for some winter sun and what’s more not only are there plenty of beaches for relaxing on, there are also a lot of things to see and do.  Read on for my favourite Mallorca adventures best enjoyed in the winter sun…

 

Santanyí Market
Santanyí is a picture perfect Mallorcan town, rustic buildings, cobbled streets and a market held twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays amongst the winding streets and alleyways.  This bustling market is a must visit and operates until the end of October.  Stroll the streets, people watch and browse stalls full of leather bags, scarves, handmade jewellery, clothes, local produce including fruits, veg, meats and cheeses and some tasty looking cakes.  Try haggling too, stall owners are quite happy to bend their prices a little.

 

Lunch at Laudat
Combine a trip to the market in Santanyí with lunch at Laudat, a lovely restaurant in the heart of the town perfect fo catching your breath away from the hustle and bustle of the market.  Sit and enjoy sangria with your lunch amongst lemon trees and white washed walls in a gorgeous shaded court-yard garden.  The food here is some of the best I tasted while in Mallorca, starters I tried included beef tartar (my first time trying it, big thumbs up) and prawn salad with mango.  For the main I had steak with mashed potato, it was delicious and cooked to perfection.  Dessert was out of this world, a kind of chocolate cake drizzled with ice cream and fruity goodness.

 

Sunset cocktail at Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel and Spa
I don’t think I have ever seen a sunset quite like the one from the Sunset Sushi Lounge at this hotel.  This is definitely a really special thing to do.  What’s more the bars and restaurants at the Jumeirah are open to non-residents so you can spend an evening sipping on cocktails and watching the sunset over the ocean.  There are so many cocktails on the menu here it’s hard to know what to choose!  I went for the Kuler made with a local gin, it was the perfect accompaniment for admiring the ever-changing colours of the sky as the sun sunk below the horizon.

 

Cocktail at Puerto Portals
If you love cocktails with a view head to Baiben found right on the waterfront at Puerto Portals.  Sip away on a refreshing  beverage overlooking fancy yachts and the sparkling waters in the port.  Baiben have an extensive cocktail menu and will even rustle you up something on request if it’s not listed.  Being a lover of gin I chose the Mediterranean Julep, Gin Mare, Mediterranean herbs, bitter and elderflower.  Such a gorgeous cocktail in a lovely location.  Afterwards you can stroll along the waterfront shops and admire the yachts moored up.

 

Flor de Sal d’es Trenc
For a unique day trip visit Flor de Sal and find out how salt is harvested on a tour of the salt flats.  From evaporation to crystallization and drying techniques it is so interesting to see how salt is produced.  Plenty of sunshine, a gentle breeze and low air moisture are all required for the production of this completely natural product.  The salt is harvested by hand and deposited into huge salt mountains which can tower up to 10 metres high.  You could be mistaken for thinking you are in the Swiss Alps rather than next to a salt mountain in Mallorca! It certainly is an extraordinary place to visit.  This is sustainable tourism at its finest, an eco system generated from the salt production is home to over 200 hundred species of birds who live amongst the salt marshes, including flamencos and avocets.  Spot these pretty creatures in the distance amongst the marshes of this protected area.  Try some of the salt, purchase from the on-sight shop and enjoy a coffee right next to the salt flats.  Go on a tour of the salt production from April to October.

 

Es Trenc Beach
Crystal clear turquoise waters, backed by pine forests and sand dunes this beach is a beauty.  Located right by Flor de Sal d’es Trenc, combine a visit to the salt farm with some beach time, you won’t be disappointed.  Perfect for families the water is shallow and calm and busy areas of the beach have lifeguards on duty.  The shoreline stretches for 2km along Mallorca’s south coast.  Apart from paddle boarding there are no watersports on this beach so you can enjoy a tranquil, unspoilt day on the beach.  Snorkel, explore the sand dunes and swim in the turquoise waters.

 

Explore Palma on foot
The beautiful capital city of Mallorca is best discovered on foot.  Stroll the cobbled alleyways taking in the gorgeous architecture, stop for a traditional Mallorcan pastry (Ensaimada) at one of the many bakeries or coffee shops and be sure to visit the cathedral.  Gothic in style this beautiful building can be visited throughout the year.  Admire the beautiful stain glass windows and go on a rooftop tour to gain a completely different perspective on this magnificent building.  The view of the city from the rooftops is wonderful and to see the architecture of the cathedral from the roof is amazing.  The huge stained glass windows are just as beautiful from the outside as they are on the inside, the rose window on the east side of the building is one of the largest in the world.

 

Cala Figuera
This quaint fishing village is a lovely place to visit out of season.  Tranquil and full of rustic Mallorcan charm I loved wandering along the narrow waterfront past boat sheds, white washed buildings with coloured doors touching the water, cats perch on doorsteps and fishermen bringing in their catch.  Pretty boats line the tiny port and the crystal clear waters look beautiful under the Mediterranean sunshine.  A very picturesque spot.

 

Bellver Castle
I’m not normally one for castles but there’s something about Bellver Castle that makes it stand out.  Built in the 14th century it is Gothic in style with imposing towers and circular in shape, the open interior is very impressive.  Climb the castle steps to the rooftops for magnificent views of Palma and look back down towards the centre of the castle, it’s fascinating.

 

Tapas at Belmond La Residencia
Originally owned by Richard Branson La Residencia is stunning.  Perched amongst towering hillsides and looking down onto quaint villages, the views are breathtaking.  Stay a night or two and visit the resident donkeys who live amongst the hotels olive groves or grab a paint brush and paint the surroundings with the resident artist.  Even if you don’t stay here book in for lunch, the tapas is to die for with traditional dishes and cured meats, this is a place to enjoy Mallorca at its finest.

 

Stay in a rural retreat
I spent two night at Hilton Sa Torre, once a stately home, dating back to the 14th century it is unlike an other Hilton I have stayed in before.  The buildings original features have all been lovingly restored and each of the rooms retain old charm and character.  Within the grounds there are two swimming pools, an indoor pool and spa, a running track, a chapel and even a beautiful windmill.  Although only 20 minutes from Palma airport Sa Torre is located in a rural area, making it a very tranquil retreat.  Breakfast included a huge variety from continental to cooked and local pastries.  Evening meals here are divine, if it’s on the menu try the Sa Torre’s Pigeon with marmalade, I loved it.

 

 

This island is definitely better in winter…
 

Bali with a baby…

Emily and I on the beach at sunset in Canggu.
I’m not gonna lie, travelling with a baby is like travelling with a ticking time bomb…one false move and all hell can break loose!  A 13 hour flight to Kuala Lumpur followed by another 3 hour flight to Bali is never going to be one hundred percent fun or plain sailing, as a tiny person is sometimes very scary to travel with.   But don’t let that put you off, it’s most definitely (in my opinion) worth it and arriving in Bali we knew we had made the right decision.  Especially as Matt and I went with the lowest expectations of our flight with Emily to be greeted with something a lot better than we could have imagined.  Choosing a night flight is my main recommendation, along with books, new toys, an iPad for entertainment and plenty of food and snacks.  For more tips on flying with a baby take a look at my blog all about it: Flying with a baby
First off the people in Bali absolutely adore children so be prepared for your little one to be whisked off in restaurants, waved at and cuddled pretty much wherever you go.  Emily received cookies and fruit in bars and restaurants when we were out and absolutely loved all the attention, waving and saying hi to anyone that looked her way.  Bali is very child friendly with plenty for families to enjoy, beaches, villas with private pools, day trips to some very cool places and gorgeous food that kids will love.  We spent 17 days in Indonesia and Malaysia and I’m excited to share all my family travel tips and recommendations with you..

 

Staying in Bali:
Sanur
Sanur is such a gorgeous place, located on the south-east of the island about 45 minutes drive from the airport, it’s a bustling town with lovely beaches making it the perfect place for families.  The pavements along the main street in town were slightly dodgy with a pushchair but nothing we couldn’t handle!  The footpath stretching for around 2.5 miles along the beachfront dotted with bars, restaurants, markets, hotels and fishing boats was a lovely place to explore.  It was great for a stroll while Emily was napping in her buggy and meant we got to fit in a sneaky beer stop too.  The shallow, calm waters here make it a gorgeous beach for children with much of it protected by reef.
We stayed at Villa Kamboja, three bedrooms, a private pool and an outdoor living concept made it the perfect place for relaxing.  Emily had a lovely cot with mosquito net too.  We felt throughly looked after and split by Kadek our lovely housekeeper who came in daily to cook breakfast, do any laundry and clean.  The villa was a 10 minute walk to Sanur town centre and the main street Jalan Danau Tamblingan; accessed via tiny winding streets that were often filled with incense and plenty of friendly locals working in their Warungs.
Our favourite beach front bar and restaurants in Sanur:
Segara: Full of laid back beach vibes, playing reggae music and the best children’s play area right on the sand.  Emily had such a lovely time playing while Matt and I got enjoy a beer and snacks.  They also had highchairs.
La playa:  A bit of a stroll past the Hyatt Hotel but worth it for the delicious food, friendly staff and high chairs.  I had the best seared tuna starter and salad and loved the glorious views of the turquoise ocean.  Emily got spoiled by our waitress and was given complimentary melon.
Nelayan: We visited this place a lot, the staff were lovely, they had highchairs and pulled out toys for Emily.  Matt and I loved sitting on the comfy bean bags right on the sand.  They were also really good about providing smaller portions for Emily even though they didn’t have a children’s menu.

 

Ubud
Great for a day trip, kids will love the Scared Monkey Forest, although the monkeys made me feel a little bit uncomfortable it was nice to stroll around the forest area and easy if you have a pushchair as it was all paved.  The entrance fee is £4.20 for adults and £3.15 for children.  Don’t take anything valuable with you and leave bags behind as the monkeys take a keen interest in human things.  You can feed them bananas but I preferred just to watch them and take photos.  There are also some interesting temples in the forest too.
I loved visiting Tegalalang Rice Terraces, although a little more touristy than I expected the views were just stunning.  We stopped in a lovely café overlooking the terraces to escape the heat and ordered a fresh coconut water; it’s now Emily’s new favourite drink.  We hired a driver for the day trip to Ubud, Emily had a few naps in the car and although it was a long day I’m so pleased we did it as we got to tick a lot off our must see list.
If you fancy an escape head to Sandat Glamping on the outskirts of Ubud.  We stayed in Bali for a big part of the time with Matt’s parents who very kindly looked after Emily while we escaped for the night.  We had our own luxurious safari tent with our own private plunge pool, surround by jungle and rice paddies.  No TVs or phones meant total relaxation, we enjoyed a wonderful meal surrounded by candlelight in Sandat’s amazing bamboo structure and fell asleep to the sounds of the jungle.  It was the perfect jungle retreat.  For more on our dreamy stay check out my blog post all about it: The Ultimate Glamping Retreat in Bali…

 

Canggu
Whilst it’s not the most baby friendly place to visit in Bali, there were no pavements and beach access wasn’t easy with a pushchair, there are family friendly places to stay and visit.  It wasn’t that easy to find baby essentials, but we did stumble across a pharmacy selling nappies and baby wipes.  The in-house restaurant at the villa complex we stayed at provided us with milk so we actually got by just fine.
Matt, Emily and I stayed at Villa Berawa in Canggu, we had a two bedroom villa with its own pool, kitchen and open lounge/dining area which looked directly onto the pool.  Emily had a cot with mosquito net and I loved the stylish rooms.  The only downside was that our villa was right on the main road so at times it was quite noisy.  Villa Berawa do make you aware of this before you book so it wasn’t a complete surprise.  On arrival we were greeted with a welcome drink and escorted to our villa.  The staff were amazing and so attentive, we had breakfast delivered to our villa every morning, dinner was also bought directly to us and set up at our table overlooking the pool.  For us this was the perfect compromise, with Emily tucked up in bed we felt like we were dining out.  The food was so delicious and reasonably priced too, as was the wine.  I became hooked on Palga Sauvignon Blanc, produced in Bali and very quaffable!
We struggled to find somewhere we felt comfortable taking Emily to for food but did come across Cinta Cafe.  It had a nice kids menu and small play park at the front plus gorgeous open views of paddy fields at the back.  Healthy smoothies and breakfasts, plus prosecco, beer, cider and snacks for a late afternoon or early evening  stop off.  Legong Keraton Beach Hotel was another favourite for lunch, highchairs, a kids menu and gorgeous beach views.

 

Baby essentials:
Essentials such as nappies, wipes, milk, baby food and snacks can be purchased in Bali from supermarkets such as Hardy’s and some of the small Warungs often had milk.  As I mentioned we struggled in Canggu as there were no supermarkets near us, but found a pharmacy selling wipes and nappies and got milk from the restaurant at Villa Berawa.
If you eat out and there’s not a children’s menu, ask for a kids portion.  We often asked for things like plain chicken and rice and  most restaurants were really accommodating with this.
The style of our trips away have of course changed since having Emily, we can’t go out for late night drinks or romantic meals by ourselves so having the option of takeaway deliveries from local restaurants to the villa in Sanur was a fantastic option.  We were also very lucky to be staying with Matt’s parents for part of the trip and they very kindly babysat for a few nights for us so we could go out for dinner.  If you don’t have that option and don’t want to hire a babysitter then if local restaurants deliver it’s a big bonus.
Pool fencing: If you are staying in a villa with a private pool find out about safety fences.  Villa Kamboja in Sanur had this as an optional extra, it was well worth the extra cost as it allowed us to relax knowing that Emily was safe.
We took our car seat with us as we weren’t too sure if all taxis companies would provide one and what standard they would be.  It certainly isn’t the norm in Bali after seeing families of four on a scooter and our house keeper Kadek at Villa Kamboja was completely amazed by ours!  We checked our car seat it into the hold, with British Airways strollers and car seats can be checked in for free.  For the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bali with Air Asia baby equipment is included in the luggage allowance.  This meant we decided to purchase extra kgs when booking our tickets and is definitely something to bear in mind when planning your trip.
Matt and I spent a bit of time scouting out restaurants and beach bars with highchairs, most had them but we packed a travel highchair which was perfect for using on the go. (See mini hacking list below for link.)

 

Jetleg:
Jet lag, can be a bit of killer, especially with a little one.  We broke up our journey by staying in Kuala Lumpur, which definitely helped.  I really recommend Sama Sama Hotel located in the main terminal at Kula Lumpur airport.  It is connected via a walkway from the terminal, check-in is at baggage reclaim and you can jump on a buggy for a lift with your bags to the hotel.  Emily LOVED the ride.  Sama Sama has very comfy rooms, with black-out blinds, cots, good breakfast, plus great room service and an awesome pool with views of the air traffic control tower.  After the flight from London Emily was awake for most of the night so Matt and I were up at midnight having a cuppa and a biscuit….I guess the one thing we realised is that you need to go with the flow when you are travelling with a baby.  Matt and I chatted about this a lot and we both pointed out that we were the ones changing Emily’s time zone, so we just had to go with it.  With this relaxed attitude in around 4 to 5 days she was back in a normal sleep pattern.

 

Mini packing list:
Here’s just a few things I have found really useful to have with me for Emily on trips away…
Giant muslin: Bought as a gift for us from Jo Jo Maman Bebe, this has been so useful in multiple situations.  Shading Emily from the sun and keeping her warm on an aircraft, it’s brilliant.
Foutala towels are perfect to use as beach towels. Lightweight and quick drying, plus they come in really lovely designs and are so much easier to pack than the normal types of thick beach towel. 
– High chair: A lot of cafes and restaurants we visited had highchairs but not all so if you’ve got room in your luggage it’s potentially a good idea to take your own.  This one by Mountain Buggy clamps onto tables and is compact for travelling, it was a lifesaver at lunchtimes at beach cafes.
– Push chair: We absolutely love the Mothercare XSS stroller, it folds down into a bag and is small enough to fit in an aircraft overhead locker. Although since Mothercare shut down it is not as easy to find, we bought ours from eBay for £50.
Sunglasses: I bought Emily some sunglasses from Boots, she loves wearing them!
– Car seat bag: We took our own car seat and bought a car seat bag for checking it in with our hold luggage.
– Pack plenty of snacks and food for your long haul flight. You can take baby food, milk and water in a beaker through airport security, just pop them in a small liquids bag along with your other liquids.

 

We made the decision before we had Emily that we weren’t going to stop travelling when she came along.  Trips and holidays have changed slightly, I guess we have had to slow down a bit and perhaps not see and do as much as we used to.   We also have to incorporate Emily’s nap into a day, great for an hour or two relaxing by the pool or as I mentioned above a stroll along the beach and a quick beer!  Bali is a fantastic place to take children, if you are planning a family trip to Bali I’d love to hear where you are staying or if you’ve been already what were your favourite bits?

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!

9 Things to do in Menorca…

Menorca sits in the Mediterranean and can be reached in around two hours flying time from London. One of the Balearic Islands, Menorca is perhaps a little lesser known than its sister islands Ibiza and Majorca but don’t overlook it as this little gem has something for everyone. For adventure seekers there are a whole host of activities from kayaking to horse riding and paragliding. Outdoor enthusiasts will love adventuring along Cami de Cavalls, 180 kms of walking routes that cover the whole of the island. For history buffs there are forts and megalithic monuments and lets not forget the beach lovers, Menorca’s 160km of coastline is covered in white sand beaches with turquoise waters just right for kicking back and relaxing on. Families will also love this idyllic island. A Biosphere Reserve, Menorca proudly preserves its natural environment and I can see why. After being invited on a weeklong press trip with Spain, Menorca and Traverse Events I am now desperate to get back there! The trip consisted of dinner and drinks at some of Menorca’s best bars and restaurants and the days were jam packed with boat trips, exploring pretty towns and historical landmarks, gin tasting, (right up my street!) a visit to a shoe factory and the opportunity to see some of Menorca’s finest beaches. I also managed to squeeze in a bit of pool time in honour of the hashtag #MenorcaSlow! Read on for my 9 must do’s in Menorca…
Explore Mahon
Mahon, the capital of Menorca is full of beautiful architecture, white washed buildings and tiny lanes, which are great for exploring. Steeped in history and home to one of the world’s largest natural harbours there is plenty to see and do in this pretty city. For a different view take a boat tour around the harbour, Yellow Catamarans have glass bottom boats, great for spotting marine life. The one-hour trip cruises around the harbour, past fortifications, the pretty fishing village of Es Castells and hidden beaches. A stop in a gorgeous cove with the opportunity to pop below deck to the glass bottom for a bit of sea life spotting is a fun extra. Back on dry land stroll around the quaint streets, pick up a frozen Pomada (I’ll talk more about this below) and people watch. Mahon is great for shopping; visit the fish market and Mercat del Claustre del Carme which is full of local produce, the famous Mahon cheese, clothes and jewellery. Shoe shopping is a must here, Menorca is famous for its sandals, they come in all sorts of colours and can be found in many shops around the city. I’ve never seen such beautiful leather sandals in so many different colours!
Visit a gin distillery
If like me you love a drop of gin then this place is a must visit! The Xoriguer gin distillery in Mahon is a fun and interesting visit, sample Menorca’s favourite tipple in the tasting room, also try the other flavours, chocolate, peppermint and chamomile to name just a few. The distillery can be viewed through glass windows, I was lucky enough to step foot behind inside and marvel at the gin making process. The gin is distilled using water from the harbour and infused with juniper berries. It can be purchased in glass and ceramic bottles; the latter were supposedly used by pirates and can be kept and refilled. I have added Xoriguer to my own gin collection and now only drink it with lemon…
Drink Pomada in a cave
Still on the gin theme, Pomada is a local creation; gin mixed with cloudy lemonade, or Lemon Fanta, its delicious and is now my new favourite drink! Order it frozen or straight up as it is. The best place to drink this fabulous gin concoction has to be at Cova D‘En Xoroi a bar in a cave on the edge of the ocean. A unique setting to watch the sunset this place was originally used by pirates for smuggling. Today the caves have cosy corners with awesome sea views, a decked area out on a breezy edge and plenty of Pomada! This has to be one of the best bars on the island and an unforgettable place to have a drink.
Jump into the ocean
There are a lot of rocky outcrops dotted along the coast just right for jumping into the crystal clear Mediterranean ocean. The tiny fishing community of Alcaufar was my favourite place to do this. A gorgeous inlet of turquoise water and a good snorkelling spot. Take care to check out where you are jumping, be sure the water is deep enough and there is enough clearance away from rocks. I stayed in S’Algar, a 15-minute walk across the rocks from Alcaufar, although it has no beach there are ladders on the rocks to swim in the sea and some good spots for jumping in. Check out Brendan Van Son’s Menorca Vlog, 3 minutes in I join him and his GoPro for some awesome saltwater jumps!

 

Have dinner with incredible views at Cap Roig
Plan to get to Cap Roig before sunset, high up on a bluff overlooking the town of Sa Mesquida and the ocean the views are stunning, especially if you get to see the sun go down. It’s picture perfect setting with fantastic service, gorgeous food and great wine. I sampled some great seafood here; small starter plates included squid, cuttlefish, cured ham and sea anemone. This was the first time I had tried sea anemone and I’ve got to say I’m not much of a fan, I’m glad I tried it though! For my main I had hake with chips and it did not disappoint, washed down with a crisp white wine and taking in the spectacular sunset was a wonderful way to spend a Friday evening.

 

Visit a winery
For a special evening out Binifadet winery is the one, take a stroll around the vines in the evening light and sample one of the many wines produced here along with tapas dishes or a main meal. The setting is gorgeous with tables outside overlooking the vines.
Relax on a beach
Menorca has 160 km of coastline and over 100 beaches, so relaxing on a beach is not hard to do. Find your own unspoilt bay such as Cala Binidali or Trebalúger, only reached on foot or by boat they are often very quiet. In the north the beaches are quite different with red sand, try Cavalleria, a lovely bay perfect for swimming and snorkelling. The water temperature is an average of 18°c and very inviting in the heat of the day. I know I’ve mentioned it more than once but the sparkling turquoise sea and perfectly white sand is just such a dreamy combination!
Kayak
Kayaking is a must do in Menorca, join an organised trip with an instructor and see the island from a different angle. Hiring a double kayak is a lot of fun and a good way to start off if you’ve not kayaked before. Discover caves and hidden beaches that you wouldn’t get to see from the land. I kayaked with a guide from Cala Galdana and got to explore some incredible caves as well as snorkel in the crystal clear Mediterranean, check out my blog post for more information: Kayaking Adventures in Menorca.  Thanks to Steve from Biggsy Travels for the gorgeous image of me kayaking through the cliffs.
Eat like a local
Menorcans are seafood lovers, I am too so I got to sample a lot of the local seafood. Menorca is all about long lazy lunches with many different courses. Famous for its cheese this is often served up during the starter courses with cured meats. Tomato bread is a favourite of mine too. Be wary though not to fill up too much on the starter plates, as there are always some good main dishes to follow! A lovely place to eat in Mahon on the waterfront is La Minerva, part of the restaurant can be found floating on the ocean and the menu has a fabulous tapas selection.  Thanks to the lovely Nienke Krook from The Travel Tester for the images.
Visit Fort Marlborough
If you are interested in learning a little bit of history while in Menorca then Fort Marlborough is definitely worth a visit. Built by the British during the 1700s to protect the entrance of Mahon Harbour it is an impressive structure. Walk through tunnels carved out of rock and up on to the roof of the fort where there are views of the sea and surrounding countryside. A self-guided, audio tour takes around one hour and brings the fort to life. Park up and walk through the quaint waterside dwelling of Cala de Sant Esteve or walk the 2km from Es Castell.
Thanks to Jet2 for getting me to Menorca and to Visit Spain, Turismo Menorca and Traverse Events for inviting me.

 

Exploring Port en Bessin, France…

Chances are if you are planning a trip to Normandy in France then the quaint fishing town of Port en Bessin will be on your radar.  This area is well-known for the drama that unfolded on D-Day on 6th June 1945.  It is hard to imagine now in such picturesque and peaceful surroundings the horrendous scenes that unfolded that day, not just in Port en Bessin but all along this coast.  In short the town had been under German control for four years, it took 47 Royal Marines Commando two days to regain the town in what was a dramatic battle resulting in a huge loss of life. You can’t go far here without stumbling across a piece of history be it the Mulberry Harbours sitting out at sea or the bunkers along the clifftop; all are stark reminders of the past.  I am ashamed to say I had very little knowledge of what happened during D-Day so found the small snippets of information and memorials to 47 Commando dotted around the town really interesting.  I found a great article from the Telegraph all about the history of  Port en Bessin too. This little town is not only about the war it has a huge fishing industry, a daily fish market on the quayside is the best place to pick up some fresh fish and the many restaurants serving locally caught fish are a must visit.  L’Ecailler was my favourite, I loved the choice of set menus, the sashimi I had to start was to die for! There are plenty of scenic strolls around the harbour walls, up along the clifftops and to the west a lovely viewpoint looking down on the harbour from the Marines memorial.  For breakfast, coffee and afternoon drinks Cafe du Port right on the harbour front was a firm favourite, always bustling with locals it was so nice to sit outside and watch the world go by.  On Sundays the streets are lined with a farmers market and look out for the beach covered in scallop shells, I have never seen anything like it.  Leaving Port en Bessin behind there are some fantastic beaches on this coastline, when the tide is out Omaha Beach has miles of golden sand to explore and the nearby seaside town of Arromanches is another nice spot.  My favourite place for ice cream in the sunshine was Courseulles-sur-Mer.  Inland, Bayeux is a must visit, gourgoues buildings and architecture, bakeries full of artisan bread, the very impressive Notre Dame Cathedral and the Bayeux Tapestry.  A drive along the country lanes reveals old stone buildings, rolling fields and cider farms. Normandy is the perfect place for a weekend break or even longer and is so easy reach from the UK.
Getting there: Getting to Normandy from the UK is very straightforward, Matt and I went with Brittany Ferries from Portsmouth to Caen.  Living in Chichester meant an easy 20 minute drive to the ferry terminal, it was a nice alternative from flying and very easy to simply pack up the car and not have to worry about weight limits on baggage, especially with a baby in the mix!  The crossing is six hours, we added a cabin onto our reservation which was really useful for when Emily needed a nap.
Where to stay: We stayed at La Mer est Belle, a gorgeous three storey house right on the harbour in Port en Bessin.  A stylish beachy chic interior and a sea view out of every window made it the perfect place to stay for the week.  The kitchen was so well equipped along with three bedrooms and four bathrooms meant there was plenty of room for four adults and two babies to spread out in.

 

Flying with a baby…

The time has come to take Emily our four month old on her first proper adventure. We are off to Italy tomorrow to the Puglia region for two weeks of sunshine, exploring and hopefully a little relaxation too. This will be our first time flying with her and although I’m not feeling anxious about it, it definitely isn’t as easy as just packing a suitcase for two, jumping in the car and then relaxing on the aircraft with a G&T and Lonely Planet guide! (Hopefully there might be a little of this as we are going with Emily’s grandparents so I’m sure they are looking forward to some quality Emily time on the aircraft and beyond!) Anyway I’ve been doing quite a bit of research about flying with a baby in the build up to our trip and have found all sorts of useful info and tips, which I thought I would share…
Here’s my Baby travel checklist:
  • Pre order baby formula to Boots stores airside in UK airports and pick it up after security. It is possible to take baby milk and food through airport security, although you maybe asked to open and taste it. You can of course take baby food and liquids but having not gone through airport security with a baby before I’m unsure how strict they are so this would be an easier option. When ordering on the Boots website you can pre-pay and choose the collection date.
  • For steralising bottles, dummies etc, I’ve just discovered these genius Steriliser bags, wash up your bits and bobs, fill the bag with 60ml of water and pop it in the microwave. There are also the Milton solo travel steriliser that doesn’t require a microwave. Just add water and one quarter of a Milton sterilising tablet to complete the process.
  • For a long time I’ve been looking for a small, lightweight stroller to travel with. I came across the Mothercare XSS Stroller and then discovered that it was no longer available to purchase due to Mothercare closing down. The original price was £129, which I was fully prepared to pay but after scouring the Internet for weeks in search of it I eventually found one on eBay. I was so pleased to have got it for £50. This stroller is brilliant, it only weighs 3.9kg, comes with a carry bag and folds up so small that it can be put into an overhead locker on an aircraft!
  • Many airlines will allow passengers with infants to check-in a car seat, buggy, travel cot or push chair at no extra charge, this takes the strain off wondering how you will pack all these extras. We are flying with easyJet to Italy, they allow two baby items for free, anything extra can be purchased as hold luggage. Children over the age of two are allowed the same baggage allowance as adults. With an infant under two a small changing bag is allowed. We have chosen to take a car seat and out stroller, as I mentioned the stroller has its own bag but I’ve purchased a bag to protect the car seat in the hold.
  • Families are often given the opportunity to board the aircraft first, great for getting sorted out and settled in your seats. AND relax!  We have also paid for upfront seats with easyJet, which allows you to board first and also take on a handbag or rucksack as well as a wheelie case.  Perfect when travelling with children, who knew such a small person could need so many things!! Not to mention her wardrobe, I’m sure Emily has more clothes than me!
  • Instead of taking our bulky changing bag I bought a compact changing mat and organizer that’s small enough to carry in my own bag, a great little invention if you are limited on space.
  • I’ve packed toys, bottles and dummies in my hand baggage to keep Emily entertained in the air, having something to suck is a good idea for babies during descent to help them equalize the pressure in their ears.
Useful websites:
  • Travel Mamas – This is a fantastic website with so much on family travel.
  • Taylor Hearts Travel and The Travel Hack both have fantastic blogs on travelling with a baby in tow, I’ve found them so helpful when planning this trip, check them out!
The last trip Matt and I took was a ‘babymoon’ in Iceland when I was 6 months pregnant, it was an exciting adventure, northern lights spotting, glacier walking and hunting out incredible waterfalls, it was a great last trip before I got too pregnant to fly and a really different trip, plus our final trip away as a two. This trip is going to be completely different and I’m looking forward to making new memories with our mini adventurer in tow!

Emily…

I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog lately, that’s because three weeks ago I had my baby girl…Emily Louise was born on 19th April at 6.13pm weighing 6lb 1oz. The last three weeks have been a lovely whirlwind, Matt and I are now getting to grips with looking after a little person and the lack of sleep that comes with it! We are completely head over heels in love with her, all the sleepless nights are totally worth it, she is such a cutie and just melts my heart! From a travel point of view, I definitely won’t be stopping; I am looking forward to travelling with Emily and showing her new countries. I’m sure travelling with a baby will be a completely different experience, but I’m looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get her passport. We found out I was pregnant while on a road trip in California last August, so she’s well travelled already without even knowing it! The last trip we took was a ‘babymoon’ to Iceland when I was 6 months pregnant, it was an exciting adventure, northern lights spotting, glacier walking and incredible scenery that I couldn’t stop taking photos of! It was a great last trip before I got too pregnant to fly and a really different experience. Travel plans so far for this year include a trip to Cornwall in the summer, two weeks exploring the Puglian region of Italy in August and hopefully a trip to California in early 2017. We are looking forward to making lots more plans once we get this parenting lark nailed. I’m really looking forward to making new memories with our mini adventurer in tow….