Friday, 23 May 2014

Family holidays-Tips & Reviews

I have 2 children ages 3 & 7 and LOVE holidays.  I'm slightly addicted to First Choice & Trip Advisor.  I'm already planning my holiday for summer 2015 :)

Over the last 7 years we've been on quite a few trips in England & abroad so I thought I'd share some experiences and tips.

I have used the Sun newspaper holiday tokens for several years (we receive the priority form as I have done it so many times).  If you are on a budget or simply want a cheap getaway they are brilliant.  This year I had trouble getting a holiday for the dates we required as they are proving more & more popular each year. However I discovered another company that offers similar deals They were doing an offer combined with the Daily Mail and this Easter we got a family break for a brilliant £90.  This was for 2 adults, 2 children for Monday to Friday in the Easter half term holiday.  Break Free Holidays do promotions year round and have a brilliant website so take a look.

My mum lives in Devon so we have visited often.  Here is a list of some top places to visit & things to do
  • Paignton Zoo
  • Cockington Country Park - Excellent cream teas & large grounds to let kids run free.
  • Brixham Harbour
  • Bigbury-on-sea Beach
  • Goodrington Sands - One of our favourites not as busy as other beaches. Has a pub, small arcade, shop, cafĂ©, playground, rock pools, beach huts, beautiful beach & you can watch the steam train go past or hop on & travel to Dartmouth.  Train is a bit pricey but lovely.
  • Paignton Pier & Geopark - The Geopark is new and is a fab outdoor play area that caters for most ages.
  • Canonteign Falls
  • Pennywell Farm
  • National Marine Aquarium -My daughter loved it here. See if you can spot Snorkel the turtle.
  • Stoke Gabriel - Excellent crab fishing in a beautiful location only found it this year.  A lovely tucked away spot.

There are many more places to visit but these are some of our favourites.  If you are looking for a camp site/caravan park I can recommend Beverley Park.  It is a good base.  Bit small but clean, well maintained, nice caravans & playground and beautiful views & very close to Goodrington Sands.

Since having children we have visited several Haven Holidays sites.  My children LOVE the characters show & disco.  The parks are usually to a good standard with playgrounds, swimming pool, arcade and restaurant/bar.  We have visited Devon Cliffs, Seaview Weymouth, Church Farm & Coombe Haven both in Sussex, The Orchards Essex & Golden Sands Mablethorpe. If you would like to see what other parks are available the website is

Our Favourite was Church Farm and we are returning in July for a week & our least favourite was The Orchards & Golden Sands. I know Golden Sands has had its indoor & outdoor pools refurbished & new crazy golf so has now improved.

3 of the sites we visited were on the Sun holiday deals for short breaks and the others were for week long stays.

Below is my review for Church Farm which we stayed at July 2012-
We stayed in a deluxe 3 bed caravan and were only allocated a 2 bed upon arrival and the child's bed guard we had hired was missing but this was sorted out quite quickly and we were given £30 mash & barrel vouchers as compensation. Our caravan was clean and no problems and was in a nice area of the park.

We found all the food in the mash & barrel good quality and thought the prices were similar to most other pubs. The children's menu was good and the lunchtime sandwich option was excellent a £1.95 and with fresh cucumber, carrot and tomato. The queues were sometimes quite large so more staff would be helpful but service always good. The swimming pool was nice and as the weather was so good we spent most of it in the outside pool. The park was good and safe for children and was very popular. The crazy golf was a bit of a let down, my daughter was very disappointed there were no windmills!!!  We never used the bowls, archery etc but the area looked clean and well maintained.

The direct beach access is quite a long walk depending on where you are on the site and not suitable for buggies or very small children as quite overgrown and mostly shingle. Older kids would probably love exploring the area though.  Indoor soft play area very small and should be made bigger as in bad weather it would not cope with more than 4 or 5 children.

Overall we loved the site and was a good base for visiting other places. We went to Hotham park in Bognor which is good for small children as has a nice play area and mini train and plenty of space to run around or play football. Littlehampton was lovely with a small funfair (I had expected it to be larger) beach, harvester restaurant, play area and lots of boats and people crab fishing. We also went to Peppa Pig World which was about an hour away and was a big hit with my daughter.

For holidays abroad we love Majorca.  The weather is amazing, short flight and lots of resorts to choose from.  We have stayed in Cala Millor & Puerto Pollensa as a family. In my younger days I also visited the infamous Magaluf. If you are travelling abroad with children my number one tip is to book early. Both times we visited Majorca I booked early and got a discount and one child free. Majorca has loads of amazing places to stay & beautiful resorts.
For activities I can recommend - Pirates Aventure Show, Marineland Majorca & Western Waterpark. .  The activities can be expensive. If you can only afford one I would recommend PiratesWhen we stayed in Cala Millor we rented a buggy which was brilliant(we hired a six seater). The kids happily sat in the in the front & we peddled along the coastline stopping for a drink & paddle in the sea & also played mini golf in nearby Sa Coma.  They were  both cheap and fun activities  The resort of Puerto Pollensa is beautiful and I would thoroughly recommend.

Wherever you go on your holidays have an amazing time. Hope you have found this post interesting.

Emma xxx

Monday, 19 May 2014

Oldies but Goodies I found whilst trying to reduce my book collection.

I've recently been trying to reduce my paperback collection and must admit I struggled. I have managed to part with about 25 but the rest got re boxed.

Whilst sorting them out I did find some brilliant books I'd forgotten about and some when time allows I want to re-read.

I have loads of Emily Barr, Marian  Keyes, Jodi Picolt and Lisa Jewell (more than I realised) which I'm sure loads of you have read and enjoyed.

I also found 2 books I LOVE and are nothing like those mentioned above.

Is Harry on the boat? by Colin Butts and E. by Matt Beaumont, I've had both for many years and have read them both twice or maybe even three times over the years.

Is Harry on the boat? Is rude, crude and bloody funny. It follows a 18-30 style holiday company during a season in Ibiza.  There's drugs, drink, sex and embezzlement.  I loved the characters they have very likable qualities except for Alison & Mario.  It transports you to sunshine & makes you completely forget the day job & makes me glad I'm too old to go on an 18-30 trip.  I seriously couldn't handle it anymore ha ha!!  A brilliant summer read.

E. Is set in an advertising agency and is entirely made up of e-mail conversations.  This book is also really funny. Some of the e-mail conversations made me laugh out loud especially the humour of Nigel Godley and Pertti Vanhelden.  There are rivalries, bitching, sackings, and IT issues.  Be prepared for lots of swearing and humour. It is quite blokey but I loved it.

What books have you got in your collection you'd forgot about or are too good to part with?

Emma x