Saturday, 20 August 2016

Our First Family Holiday Abroad


Our family is away in Spain at the moment. It's the kids first holiday abroad and I've not been on a package holiday since I was pregnant with JJ in May 2013. We hadn't intended to be a family who just holidays in the UK but that was sort of the way things have panned out. We got JJ his first passport in 2006 when he was three and said we would go abroad the next year, of course I then fell pregnant with the twins in November 2006 so that put paid to that plan as neither my husband or I could bear the idea of taking two babies and a toddler on a plane and into the blazing sunshine.

Once the girls were both out of pushchairs and nappies we considered going abroad again but by that time we were having great family holidays in the UK and the kids are really active so I couldn't imagine them enjoying a holiday where they just sat by the pool. I know I've asked JJ many times over the years if he fancies an abroad holiday and he always looks horrified and says no, he enjoys the hustle, bustle and organised activities of holiday camps and places like Butlins in the UK.

I suppose we've also been super lucky in recent years in that we've had one or two short holidays a year to review for my blog and of course since we moved to East Sussex in 2013 we've been a one income family and going abroad isn't cheap. So what changed this year then, you might be wondering? Well it has been a tough first half of the year for a couple of reasons that I won't go into but I felt my husband really deserved a proper holiday. Something different, a break from the norm, so we dipped into some savings.

Last year we holidayed in Telford, staying at a friends house and taking day trips and it was superb, we had an amazing time as a family but it was still real life, if that makes sense. Going to a theme park, shopping mall or National Trust site are things we can do any time. Being here in Spain with (near) guaranteed sunshine, crystal clear warm sea and no TV are completely different and boy are we all loving it.

I've already asked the kids if they have a preference for a UK or abroad holiday and this is winning hands down. So what have we done to win them over so quickly? Nothing much is the answer. We've eaten (foods they aren't keen on), we've slept (on beds they deem too hard), we've played cards as a family, we've been reading, colouring and loom-banding but most of all we have swam and sat. My husband and I mostly do the sitting and the kids the constant swimming, jumping in or diving.

They are having the time of their lives and funnily enough, so are we. Complete downtime as a family is really valuable. Yes, there are still those tense moments (bickering over nonsense, pushing each other in the pool and the cries of I'm bored when we have to have some shade time) but generally all is good in our world right now. I was a bit worried on the first day that I'd forgotten how to relax but it's ok, day two and I have surely remembered. Nothing beats that feeling of early morning sun on your face as you lie there thinking of nothing much.

I admit it, JJ and I were wrong, the kids love just being by the pool or more precisely being in the pool. The twins are working together to improve their stamina when out of their depth, JJ is actually swimming rather than just lolling around and Miss M has made friends with a Russian girl who is teaching her to dive. I've got some serious blog work to do if we want to go on holiday abroad again next year as it sure isn't cheap. Long gone are the days of my husband and I going out for the evening and having a good meal and a number of drinks for just 20 euros. But I've got a feeling that we will be going home truly revitalised and ready for whatever comes next.

One thing left to say really - Viva la España!

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Mr Men Little Miss Mini Museum at the South Bank


I love the South Bank in London, I written a few times about the fabulous family times we've had there over the years and I'm gutted to find that we are out the country at the end of August as there is to be a fantastic new pop-up interactive exhibition to celebrate the 45th anniversary of the Mr Men Little Miss.

As a child growing up in the 1980's I couldn't fail to fall in love with the Mr Men. I had a massive collection of the books and it was always an exciting time to know that Nanny C was coming to babysit as her regular gift for me would be a new Mr Men book that we would devour together. It was pure and simple joy, a fun character and a good moral to the story too. Who doesn't love the simplicity of the Mr Men stories? Never did a parent have to worry about inappropriate content with these fabulous books.

Saturday, 13 August 2016

8 Top Ideas for Sensational Summer Holidays Activities

The summer holidays are fabulous but they can also be a little challenging when thinking about how to entertain the kids for six (or more) long weeks.

It is great to go on holiday and have some days out but realistically you don't want to be spending tons of money every day, so some thrifty ways to enjoy time at home or locally are important.

Thanks to my husband for this fab photo

1.  Go open air swimming -
We are super lucky to have a lake where we live but even in our old house there was a great stream where everyone met in the Summer months and as a kid I swam in the local Ford. If you google your local area you are bound to come up with some great places to go swimming or paddling with the kids but remember to play it safe.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Festival Fun with our Superfit GORE-TEX Shoes

We are a very lucky family as we get to live in 220 acres of amazing East Sussex countryside. Once or twice a year the estate becomes the home to a Christian festival and just a couple of weeks ago we had around 1200 people camping and staying on site. It is quite strange for your home to become a festival but great all the same as we get to enjoy all the amazing activities but also have a real bed to sleep in and a hot shower too!

Just as the festival was about to start we received our package of Superfit GORE-TEX® shoes and as the weather was predictably British we thought this would be the perfect time to try them out. Sadly my 12 year old sons feet seem to be growing at an astounding rate so his shoes were too small but luckily the Superfit trainers we had been sent fitted me and of course navy is a universal colour, so I am enjoying wearing them.

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Can You Transform a Child's Future? #GiveABackPack


I don't expect you realised that being the kind of person who reads this blog that you have the power to change a child's future.

Not just change it but transform it and make it better. In fact help it alter beyond recognition. And I'm not talking about a child that is your own. As parents we tend to realise that we can help shape the course of our children's futures. I'm talking about giving hope, dignity and the knowledge that someone believes in them to a child living in difficult conditions in Eastern Europe.

We tend to take education for granted here, it is standard for all kids in the UK to attend school five days a week and the implications are pretty high if we let our kids skip school. But life is very different elsewhere and it is universally acknowledged that education (especially for girls) can be the difference between a family staying in a cycle of poverty and no prospects and a young adult being able to break free from their chains and gain a valuable job with a bright future.

Friday, 5 August 2016

DisneyLife App - An Instant Hit with my 9 Year Old's


DisneyLife is a fabulous family friendly service where you can access Disney's massive collection of movies, ebooks, audiobooks, music and TV programmes. All my kids are massive Disney fans but probably most so my 9 year old twin girls. Programmes like Austin & Aly, Jessie and Shake It Up are massive hits with Miss M and I'm so pleased that Miss E us still interested in the Disney Junior programmes like Art Attack and Dc McStuffins.

Signing Up -
Creating my account was super easy on my PC and then I downloaded the free app from the app store and logged in. There wasn't anything complex about it and it took me just moments. The service costs £9.99 per month but you can get a month free trial first to make sure it suits your needs. There is no contract and your subscription can be cancelled at any point.

Use it on Multiple Devices - 
Your one membership to DisneyLife allows you to access the app on up to ten compatible devices and you can stream on up to four of them at any one time, which is great for when you have multiple children like I do. Sadly the list of compatible devices or software is more limited than I would have liked. My girls have a Samsung Tab2 tablet each but we couldn't access DisneyLife on this as the Android software required is of a higher level than has been released for this tablet. Luckily we have an old iPad that we could use along with mine and JJ's iPads.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

The August Break - A Month of Slowing Down


Back in July I gave myself permission to have a blogging break, to dump the commitments, the guilt and the constant need to write.  My blogging mojo had been missing for a while so I figured I needed some time to just be and see if it would return.

I've enjoyed the last couple of weeks and now August has arrived I feel free for a month as there is lots of fun ahead of us. I came across the August Break yesterday on Susannah Conway's blog and I thought why not join in.

It is a slow month of August where you can take a photo a day to record your down-time over summer. I'm going to be sharing my photos over on Instagram and I'm trying very hard not to be intimidated by all the perfect images over there that are using the #AugustBreak2016. I want to do this for me though, so I'll press on and share my life in my normal real, messy, from the heart way.


Above is the list of prompts that you can use if you so wish but basically this is a no rules kind of project, so the idea is to snap a photo every day and share (or don't share) in your own way.

I wasn't going to use the prompts but actually both of my pictures so far have fit the theme (but not in an aesthetically pleasing Instagram kind of way!). Day 1 was morning light and whilst it was a picture taken in the evening the theme of the festival this week is 'New Day Dawning' and that seemed just perfect.

Then day 2's theme is leaf and there was plenty of those in my joyful jumping photo!


This project is open to all and a great way to find new blogs and Instagram accounts, so why don't you join in too? You don't even have to complete the whole month and you are welcome to start anytime.

Have a blessed week, Mich x
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Saturday, 30 July 2016

Cliff Walking this Summer - National Trust - East Sussex

One of the advantages of living on a small island country is the amount of amazing coastline we have to explore and it's not all the same, the diversity of our coast is amazing and makes for some wonderful trips across the UK.

Whilst it's nice to visit the beach, we often enjoy the contrast of walking along the cliffs and being up high. Luckily for us we are only about 30/40 minutes away from the National Trust maintained coastline that is the Seven Sisters/ Birling Gap and Beachy Head. There is no entry charge to explore the area and parking is just £2 for a half day o£4 for the full day so great value.

We have been here more times than I can count and we often take the mini-bus so we have a ton of people with us to enjoy the glorious views and fresh air. At the beginning of July we took a party of 16 people and had a great time skimming stones on the beach, jumping the waves and then walking the cliffs of the Seven Sisters.

One thing I can't fail to say is that you MUST stay away from the edge. Please keep at least 10 metres back from the edge as chalk cliffs are prone to falling away and there has been so much erosion over the last few years. You really can't be too careful!

Let me share a few photos from our fun day -

You can see the National Trust cafe, shop and Visitor Centre in the bottom right corner and the metal steps that extend out from the cliffs and allow you to walk down to the pebbly beach. When the sea is out this is a wonderful place for rock-pooling.

You can get a great cream tea here with amazing views, it is worth the drive up for that alone!

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