Tuesday, 27 June 2017

26 Fabulous Hacks/ Tips to make Flying Easier

Having recently travelled abroad with the kids and the peak summer season almost being upon us I thought it was high time to share some tips and hacks that I’ve learnt over the years and I also asked a few blogger friends to share their wisdom too.

Ahead of Time

1. Booking your flights

Use a site like Skyscanner to find the best flight deals and then head over to your chosen airlines website and book direct, that way you'll secure the best deal possible. I’d always say to void third parties if you can.

2.  Experts seem to agree that Tuesday is the best day to buy flights and that about 6 weeks before you travel is the optimum time to get a great deal. You have to have nerves of steel though, not sure I could leave my flights until that close to the travel date! Tuesday (or even Wednesday) is often the cheapest days to fly as well as it is away from the peak weekends.

3.  Have copies ready
Take photographs of all your important documents, keep a copy on you and email a copy to your at-home contact in case anything gets lost or you have a problem.

4.  Keep track of what you are spending
Download a free app like XE currency, so that whilst you are abroad you can easily work out how much things would cost in your local currency.

5.  Check out the airport lounges
Check out the deals available for day access to the VIP lounges. Why? Because many of them offer free food and drink and if there are a number of you requiring dinner it can work out really cost effective and you have a comfy area to wait too.

6.  Book your parking in advance
Shop around for your airport parking in advance. There are some great deals if you check the voucher sites or go via a cash back site like Quidco. Signing up for newsletters can also secure you a good discount for your first booking. I recently booked via Looking4Parking and got a great Meet & Greet deal through them.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for Adults - A Great Day Out

At the beginning of May my family headed over to Portsmouth to visit the Historic Dockyard and we had a wonderful day. It felt as if our visit was too short and with so many attractions in one place there wasn't enough time in one day to fit them all in. It wasn't a problem though as when you pay for entry to the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard you get a whole years access for that one price.

I think this is an absolute bargain and if you are in the position to return multiple times it makes entry extremely cheap. When you book online an adult ticket is £28 and I think this is reasonable for a whole days fun, let alone a years worth. The prices are even better as a family and when we visited, our family of 5 was £60, that breaks down to £12 each, seriously good, right?

Funnily enough it was lucky I wanted to visit again as the community that I live in had planned a community day out to Portsmouth last week. So last Monday I set off in the coach with around 70 other adults for a day in Portsmouth and at the Dockyard. I was really thrilled to find that the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard is as much fun (if not more) with a group of adults as it is with your kids. Whereas when I went with the kids the fun was focused on mast climbing in Boat House 4 and adrenaline thrills in Action Stations, it was quite different with my adult friends. Much more chilled and a great way to spend time together.

We were only at the Historic Dockyard for around five hours and again it wasn't enough for me. I'm already coveting my next visit and don't be fooled into thinking I am a naval freak or a history buff. I'm really not but the place is just so vast and diverse and it has captured my heart.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Hastings Country Park - Fabulous, Fun, Fresh Air! #CountryKids

We've lived in East Sussex for four years now and we are only about ten miles from Hastings and we are there at least once a week so it was a real surprise to me to find that Hastings has a country park situated up on the cliffs.

What a great find it is and there is enough to keep every keen walker or explorer busy. The country park forms part of the Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve along with Hastings Cliffs Special Area of Conservation, Hastings Cliffs to Pett Beach Site of Special Scientific Interest and is 345 hectares (853 acres) of coastal gill woodlands, open pasture and cliff top grassland, together with five kilometres of dramatic soft rock cliffs and coastline.

Some of the most stunning views of the south east coast can be experienced from the cliff tops but sadly not on the day we visited as there was to much sunny haze! On a clear day there is spectacular views overlooking the coastline from Beachy Head to Dungeness and as far afield as Folkestone and the coast of France.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Scottish Friendly's Money Saving Diary Challenge

It was with good timing that Scottish friendly got in touch with me and asked me to join in with their Money Saving Diary Challenge. Whilst I am so much better at being thrifty nowadays I know that there is still some money being wasted and I could do a better job.

So with this in mind, I kept a record of my spending habits for a week, so see where I could cut back or where I was already saving some money.  Here is how I got on -

We have just returned from our holiday and Hubby is still on a days leave so we decide to have lunch out amongst the washing and catching up on work.  The plan is to eat at the local college restaurant where you can get a really lovely 3 course meal for £9.99 and then use your Taste card too to get 2 for 1! It normally means we end up spending around £16 for us both for 3 courses and a soft drink.

However when I called the College restaurant they were closed and we headed off to a local fabulous burger joint and ended up spending £25.48 for our meal and thus I totally failed on this first opportunity to save money. I have a Taste card and local TownCity Card so I really should have used one of those and for a 2 for 1 meal - oh well, next time! Overspent by £9.48

On the way home we do go into Lidl though as I want to get the kids some yogurts and again I am reminded just how good their pricing is. I spend £19.79 and this is comparison to buying the same goods at Sainsburys is a saving of around £7, so I really must shop there more often. Saved £7

Sunday, 18 June 2017

The Facilities and Services at Playa Montroig Camping Resort

This is the second part of a review of our recent holiday to Spain to stay at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort with Eurocamp. You can find post one here and that is all about our stay with Eurocamp and their fabulous accommodation and attentive service. This post is about the facilities at the Playa Montroig Camping Resort.

We arrived at the parc at about 1pm and received a friendly greeting from the Playa Montroig staff. They informed us about logging onto the wifi, gave us some information sheets about opening times and events taking place whilst we stayed and then sent us off to the Eurocamp reception. I was pleased to see there was a security guard at the gate and entry and exit barriers to monitor who was on the parc. If we had had a car with us we had a sticky permit to display for the duration of our holiday and we also had an identity card to prove we were staying there.

Friday, 16 June 2017

National Trust - Knole, Kent - Conservation in Action

Enjoying the Deer
Last month we took a minibus full of friends over to Kent to visit Knole. We headed over there as it is only £4 to park in the grounds and this gives you access to the 1000 acre medieval deer park. We knew that our children and all the young international friends we had taken would love the deer, so we packed up a picnic and took a drive.

Of course the deer didn't disappoint, there seem to be hundreds of them across the grounds and they are so friendly. There really isn't any struggle locating them because as soon as you park they are waiting right next door, probably hoping to snaffle a little of your picnic! But please remember not to feed them as the deer keepers ensure they have a good diet and also use your common sense when around them as they are wild animals, even though they appear tame. Autumn is the time to be really careful as it is rutting season and the males can be very hyped up.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Reasons to be Cheerful - Parents Evening, Tina and All Paid Up!

Evening all, It's getting late and I totally meant to write this post last night but you know what it is like, sometimes time just runs away.

I was tempted not to bother with this post but Becky had emailed me earlier to say she has a bit of an emergency and won't be hosting R2BC this week and seeing as I am sat here n a fug, feeling very grumpy, of course what I need to do is focus on the positives.

So here are my positives -

1.  We just had an amazing family holiday in Spain and I had a wonderful time and not only that but as soon as school is out in about 5 weeks I'll be off to Bournemouth with my parents and the kids for another holiday. I'm a lucky girl.

2.  I went to JJ's parents evening tonight following his report we received last week and there were no surprises there. He is a super bright boy, with a great future ahead. He just needs to stop rushing, put a bit more effort into homework and work on his empathy/ kindness. I need to set him some challenges over the summer months to help with this, do shout if you have any ideas!

3.  I'm off to the food bank tomorrow to volunteer and I always enjoy helping there. I am thankful that I am not in the position to need the help and grateful that I can do a small bit to make someones day just a bit brighter.

Monday, 12 June 2017

Staying at Playa Montroig Camping Resort with Eurocamp

You might have seen me excitedly sharing that we were off to the Playa Montroig Camping Resort on the Costa Dorada, Spain with Eurocamp and now we are back it is my pleasure to share with you how our holiday went. 

This is the first part of two posts about our holiday away, I've split it into a post about the Eurocamp accommodation and one about the Playa Montroig Camping Resort facilities and services.

Rather than leave you in suspense as to whether we liked staying with Eurocamp, I'll give you the headline quotes from my kids first and then get into the full review -
Miss M "where are we going next year with Eurocamp Mum? I love it! Can we try a new camp with even more pools?" 

Miss E "I've had so much fun Mummy, I don't want to go home but I'm so tired as I've had so many late nights!" 

JJ "I've really enjoyed chilling on the deck of our mobile home in the shade with my iPad. Oh and the pool is pretty cool too but does it have to be so hot in Spain?"

A bit about us
We are a family of 5, two forty something adults, a 13 year old (tech-mad) boy and near 10 year old twin girls. This is the first time we have ever taken a European campsite holiday. For the first 11 years of life with children we always holidayed in the U.K. and stayed at places like Butlins and Haven or hired a house in a seaside town. Then last year we took our first abroad holiday staying in a hotel and the kids loved the outdoor pools in the sunshine so much we wanted to do it again but we had found being in a hotel on a half board basis a bit restrictive and we wanted the freedom of self catering, hence trying out Eurocamp.