Tag Archives: holidays

Dreaming Of Dubai………….

Dubai is somewhere that I have always wanted to go to. A few of my friends live there and I always see their amazing photos on my Facebook and Instagram feed and as I sit here writing this post and its pouring with rain outside in May I am extremely jealous! Blazing hot, super glamorous and loads to explore and do, what more could you want?

The internet is full of amazing things to do when holidaying in Dubai and when I saw on Twitter that Tots 100 had an amazing competition for bloggers to win a holiday to Dubai with Dubai Tourism I had to enter! Dubai is the perfect location for a family holiday with amazing hotels and beaches and loads to see and do. I have looked at lots of the fantastic things you can do in Dubai for here are my top 5 if we were lucky enough to ever go!

  1. I would soak up some rays on the gorgeous beaches and swim in the crystal clear sea. Oscar loves playing on the beach and building sand castles and I have always preferred swimming in the sea to a swimming pool. Photos on Instagram of the beaches in Dubai look amazing and hot hot hot!

2. Something I have always wanted to do is swim with Dolphins, wherever we have been on holiday in Europe before we have been to watch Dolphin shows but have never been able to swim with them. Oscar always asks to see if he can swim with them so I know it would be an amazing surprise for him if he could swim with them.  Dolphin Bay In-Water Experiences & Aquaventure Waterpark is based at the back of the Atlantis on the Palm which is a hotel I would love to visit in itself. For £159 each you can visit the waterpark and then have a  personal and truly unforgettable shallow-water dolphin interaction. You get your own little show as the Dolphin’s swim and show off some of their favourite skills, then come truly close to them and touch, hug, kiss or even play ball with your new dolphin friend. You get to have an up-close experience which is appropriate for all ages which is great as Archie is only 17 months old but can still join in too instead of either Greg or myself missing out we get to do it as a family. This would be an unforgettable experience and would tick swimming with Dolphin’s off my bucket list.

four people in large pool with dolphin in Dubai

3. Obviously outside the hustle and bustle of the city you are in the middle of the desert. You can go on a excursion and one that really caught my eye is where you go for the day and not only get to ride a camel but also get to drive a quad bike and try sandboarding which all sound great fun! For around £75 each I think that’s a bargain for the amount of activities you get to try out. It sounds like a great day out, having tons of fun and we would get to try lots of new things and after all that’s what holidays are all about, making memories and trying something new!

two camels on sand dune in Dubai

4. So the Dubai Mall is the World’s largest shopping mall and is probably somewhere Greg will try and keep me away from with its array of gorgeous shops and boutiques! Obviously I would love to have a day of shopping here as I have been told that most things are quite a bit cheaper in the shops in Dubai. I will most probably need an extra suitcase to bring my new purchases home! 🙂 The Mall even has its own aquarium which is just mind blowing!

Dubai Mall (6)Dubai Mall (2)

5. Last but no means least, I would love to take Greg and the boys to Ferrari World. It is £ 49 per adult to get in and £40 for a child. Greg loves cars and Oscar has his own electric ferrari at home that Archie now uses. We recently went to something similar for Mercedes in the UK which is much smaller and we had a great time. It is the World’s largest indoor park (and only Ferrari-branded theme park) offering more than 20 Ferrari-inspired rides and attractions for visitors of all ages. Being indoors is good and in the midday sun would be a cool break for a few hours inside. For kids they can play in the waterless car wash, pilot remote-control cars, peddle their own Ferraris, and play with a Formula 1 car made entirely from kid-friendly foam and for adults you can go behind the scenes at the Grand Prix. Get up close and personal with the ultimate display of Ferrari cars, take a tour the historic Ferrari factory as you experience what was previously a privilege for only Ferrari owners plus so much more! This would be an amazing day out and one my boys would really enjoy!

So there you have it, my top 5 things I would love to do in Dubai. Obviously there are a few more I could add as there is so much to do there! If you are taking a trip to Dubai check out the Dubai Tourism website for more great ideas on how to make your holiday extra special!

This post is an entry in to the Tots100/Dubai Dreams blogger challenge, and be sure to share your own Dubai Dreams for a chance to win a holiday to Dubai yourself!

My Perfect Holiday With My Family #MarkWarnerMum

My perfect holiday has changed only slightly over the last ten years. Before we had children when Greg and I booked a holiday I would always pick somewhere that was hot where I could return with a glowing sun tan. It also had to be somewhere where we could relax and grab a few spa treatments but also somewhere we could explore too as Greg gets bored laying around a pool for two weeks where as I love it, laying on a sun lounger reading a book.

Paris 2008

Before we had children we would take short breaks to explore amazing cities like Paris, have beach holidays but one of my most memorable was when Greg took me to San Francisco. It was my first trip to America and exploring such an amazing city was unforgettable.

  

San Francisco 2007 , Excuse the awful yellow cargos

When we had children I thought that my idea of the perfect holiday would be somewhat different but it hasn’t changed at all. The boys have travelled abroad since they were babies and are used to it now and we have been blessed with dream little travellers. Last year when we flew to Toronto other people around us commented on how well behaved Oscar and Archie were, which made me feel every proud.

  

My perfect holiday now is still somewhere warm that Oscar and Archie can have fun in the pool, somewhere that has attractions to visit and sights to see as I love Oscar to see and learn about different cultures. My favourite thing about being on holiday is being together and watching the boys in their element as they have Daddy with them 24/7 and making memories as a family is just amazing. It is somewhere that has amazing local food and a gorgeous veranda that looks over the sea and we can sit and eat dinner together and watch the sun go down. It is somewhere where we feel at home and that the staff are friendly and welcoming.

I love watching Oscar make friends around the pool and us then making friends with their parents and having lunches together. Seeing his excitement when we leave the pool after a long day of splashing to shower and get ready for the children’s entertainment before dinner is always so special, then watching him growing in confidence and playing with his friends is unforgettable as this is something we don’t get to see when he makes his friends in school.

  

Taking walks down the beach, walking along the shore, searching for pretty stones and shells. Feeling the sand between your toes and writing the year and where we are in the sand for our yearly photo.

  

Looking back through our holiday photos, we as a family have made so many amazing memories so far and I cannot wait to keep making even more. Roll on Summer!

Disclosure: This is my entry into the Mark Warner Holidays’ Family Ambassador search for 2016 in the Fab Photographer category. Find out more here. #MarkWarnerMum

 

Travelling With Kids

We have travelled a lot with Oscar and Archie over the last few year and it has always been a relatively stress free experience thanks to forward planning and being super organised. With the Christmas holidays only a couple of weeks away here our some top tips to make travelling with kids a breeze.

Planning a big trip takes a lot of time and energy. In addition to making sure everyone’s schedules are free, there’s picking the right time of year, packing all the suitcases, and settling on a destination. For families like us with kids, this process becomes even more complicated, so I have assembled a few top tips for travelling with your children, including what to bring and what to do to minimize stress and maximize fun!

What to Bring

Keeping them entertained

Make the time spent travelling more bearable by bringing things that will keep your kids occupied. For babies, this could simply mean planning their sleep schedule in advance so they sleep through most of the actual travel. For toddlers or older kids, this means ensuring they have things to do during downtime. Bring enough snacks, portable games, music and books to keep everyone happy and guarantee a smoother trip.

Medicine

This one is easy to forget while we as parents scramble to pack the essential clothes, changing equipment, etc. However, it’s also one that will be quickly regretted if forgotten. Make sure to bring motion sickness medicine along – whether flying, driving, sailing or travelling by train if your kids haven’t done it before. There’s always a possibility they react poorly to it. Also remember any prescription medications the kids take and consider bringing cold medicine if your family holidays take you to a chilly location, while in hot locales, sunscreen is a must.

Travel Documents

If you are travelling within your local area, travel documents probably aren’t necessary, but for international travel, your kids will require identification that they may not have. This is a tip to be used at least a month before the trip to ensure you don’t run into issues crossing borders or flying to new countries.

What to Do

Education

Educational trips while travelling are brilliant for kids. Pick a few fun experiences at your destination before leaving and ask kids to choose the ones they like most. Interactive art, museums and historic locations are just a few ideas for places to take your kids and keep them learning throughout the holiday!


  

Nature
Nature is another great way to keep your kids engaged on a trip. Whether you’re in a hot climate or cold, the natural beauty of your destination can be a huge draw. This not only gets them outside, but by comparing and contrasting differences between home and the new location it helps them get more out of the trip. Walking, bike-riding, and hiking (depending on the age of your kids), are typically good budget options, as well.

Active

This tip depends on your location, but a lot of destinations will have built-in active options for kids and adults alike. For instance, a trip to the beach involves a lot of walking and swimming, while a trip to the mountains can include skiing or snowboarding for older children and adults. While getting kids to exercise at home can sometimes be a struggle, capitalize on the exotic location to get them bursting to explore.

Remember, if you’re well prepared travelling with your kids can be one of the most rewarding experiences for them and for you. So what are you waiting for?

Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Parenting.com

Our Trip To Toronto, thing’s to do & places to go

Last week we got back from 11 days in Toronto. We had an absolutely amazing time in a fantastic city. We flew with Air Canada from Heathrow and the flight was 7 hours 40 minutes but the in flight food and entertainment was great, Oscar watched a few Disney films and enjoyed the food too. The boys both behaved so well for the whole flight and Archie slept comfortably in his SkyBaby mattress which made a long flight much more comfortable for both of us. When we arrived we got a cab to our hotel which did work oujt quite expensive as there were traffic jams into the city. We checked in to our hotel which was The Trump which I got an amazing deal on booking.com a few months ago and they also kindly upgraded us when we arrived. Our friends moved over to Toronto in January so we had come to see them but I really wasn’t expecting the city to be as amazing as it was. I thought I would write a round up of the places we went so if you ever travel there with or without children you might find this helpful.

Sleep

When Greg surprised me on my birthday in March that we were go to see our friends in Toronto I looked online to see what hotels there were in the city. On booking.com I got an amazing deal to stay at The Trump Hotel Toronto for the 10 nights and we then paid on arrival. The price was room only and we were upgraded when we arrived. When we were taken up to our suite I was blown away. It was the nicest  hotel room I have ever stayed in. Oscar had his double bed in the lounge area which had a huge TV, desk and fireplace in it and there is also a kitchen area which was perfect for me when making and sterilizing Archie’s bottles. Off the lounge there was also a separate toilet that is was great if Oscar needed the toilet during the night. In our main bedroom there was a huge bed and cot for Archie and the bathroom was enormous.  For the boys there was Johnsons wash, shampoo and talc and a rubber duck for the bath, a Trump kids robe and slippers for Oscar and we were welcomed with a lovely hand made chocolate board. Oscar was in his element! Every night our rooms were turned down and a chocolate and bottle of water was left next to our beds, Oscar has brought loads home, they are delicious. Our bed was so comfy, I would love a bed that size at home. All four of us fitted in it with room to spare. Every morning when we went out and then returned the doormen and receptionists were so friendly and always said hello to Oscar and played with him. The staff were all so helpful and when Archie’s night time glowing seahorse ran out of batteries and I asked for a screwdriver to open up the battery compartment they said to leave it with them. We came back that evening to it fixed with brand new batteries and in Archie’s cot ready for him to go to sleep, as I said before the staff were absolutely amazing and so helpful! On the 31st floor was a gym, salon and pool as well as the restaurant. Oscar loved the pool and looking out of the windows over the city. On the last day as our flight was not until 8pm we were also allowed to use the showers to get the boys ready and changed before the long flight home. When we go back to see our friends again we wouldn’t stay anywhere other than here! Two nights we got room service, once as we had returned late from Niagara Falls and Oscar was hungry and the other when Daddy, Steve and Michael went on a boys trip to Detroit and we decided to eat in. The food was lovely and Oscar loved eating in the room.

Travel

If you are trying to get around the city walking or the subway is your best bet. You can get a tram which is $3 per person but with the traffic can take a while. We went on it once just for the experience and I couldn’t have done it on my own with the boys as there is 3 big steps up into the tram and with Oscar and Archie in the stroller it would of been a bit of a nightmare. We did get a few cabs but they work out expensive as you sit in so much traffic, unless you really need to get one I would walk as its such a lovely and easy city to get around and after a couple of days we knew our way around. We hired a car for two days to go to Niagara Falls and the African Lion Safari Park. We hired a SUV for 5 people through Budget (The Trump arranged it all for us) worked out £40 for the day plus £7.50 for a sat nav and £7.50 for Archie’s car seat. We took the Trunki Boostapak for Oscar to sit on which was his hand luggage bag. If you hire a car also check if there is a charge to park the car over night at your hotel, usually it is around $50 a night.

Eat

We ate at lots of different restaurants and most didn’t have children’s menus but were more than willing for us to choose anything and have a smaller portion made up for Oscar. We ate a couple of times at Joeys which is on Dundas St West and is right by the Eaton centre which is full of great shops. The menu has lot’s for children to eat too and I had the best burger there! Another thing that all the restaurants do is split the bill which makes it easier when eating out in a big group to make the bill fair. We also had breakfasts at the american diner at the Thompson Hotel where I had the most ginormous pancakes I have ever seen, they were delicious though! Other great places to go for for breakfast are Drakes One Fifty, The Fairmount Hotel, OverEasy (my favourite) and the sunset grill. Where we stayed was pretty central and we could walk to the restaurants easily as getting a cab around the city can take longer than walking! About a five minute walk away was the Hard Rock Cafe which Oscar loved and enjoyed his chicken and mash and ice cream sundae. A great Italian is Little Anthony’s where we had a mixed beef and veal Bolognese and it was delicious. We also took Oscar to Hooters 🙂 we he had a photo with two of the girls, he will love that for me when he is 18! Our hotel had a restaurant on the 31st floor called the America where we had desserts and Greg said it was the best apple crumble he had ever eaten! Eating out in the city is cheaper than eating here and worked out roughly $80-90 for the three of us, with desserts and drinks which works out about £40-50. There are also lots of supermarkets around the city if you want to grab rolls and ham like we did one of the days to make a little picnic. There are places to eat everywhere around the city so you won’t be short on places to go.


Places To Visit

We managed to fit in quite a lot over the 11 days we visited Niagara Falls which is beautiful, the town itself is full of arcades and is a bit like Blackpool and was fun to walk around. When then drove to Niagara On The Lake which is the most beautiful town I have ever seen, with lovely shops and restaurants and an amazing view of the lake. It was like going back in time.

We also went to the African Lion Safari Park which was near Cambridge and blows the Safari parks here in the UK out of the water. We saw loads of different animals and then watched the elephants swimming in the lake and them walking back to their enclosure following one another holding tails. It was like out of Jungle Book.


In the city itself Oscar and the men went to the Rogers Centre to watch some American football, we went to the Aquarium which is right next to it and then up to the top of the CN Tower which is also located there. There is also a light railway outside the Aquarium which we went on. The view from the CN Tower is amazing and we all lay across the glass floor. To go up the CN tower is $35 for adults and $25 for children aged 4-12 and adults over 65. The Ripleys Aquarium was really good and absolutely huge it took about 2 hours to go around. We got there early and there wasn’t any queues. I would recommend this as by the time we came out the queue was out of the doors. Tickets for the aquarium are $29.98 for adults and $9.98 for children aged 3-5 and $19.98 for children aged 6-13. Compared to the London Aquarium prices I thought it was really reasonable.

We got a water taxi over to Toronto Island which was $10 each and on the island is a fun fair with great rides and mini rollercoasters and a log flume, a farm, huge park areas and restaurants. The island is defiantly a must to do as it is a great day out and we were literally on the island all day long. You can get a ferry across which is cheaper but the water taxis are quicker and more convenient.

Around the city there are lot’s of quirky shops and boutiques and everything works out cheaper there against the pound at the moment. I brought the boys lots of clothes in H and M and myself some Nike trainers as they worked out nearly half price. We also took a trip to Toys R Us where Oscar got his Paw Patrol toys which a few weren’t available in the shops in the UK. Watch out though all the prices on the tags don’t include their 13% tax so always add that on before you get a shock at the till!

When walking around the city you will find all sorts of great places like graffiti alley where we took some great photos, the Distillery District which is a beautiful place to visit, Little Italy as great coffee shops, near city hall is a light up ‘Toronto’ which looks great at night and is great to take photos by. We visited the CNE (Canada National Exhibition) where there was a huge fun fair and exhibition inside where I brought some bark Christmas decorations and Greg and Oscar looked around some World War I planes. When we were there BuskFest was on too which was fun watching people perform.


Conclusion
We had an amazing holiday, stayed in a beautiful hotel and saw some amazing sites and ate LOTS of food. Would I go back again? In a heartbeat!

Our Holiday At The Sensatori Resort In Tenerife

A couple of weeks ago we got back from two weeks in Tenerife. We stayed at the Sensatori Resort which is part of Thomson, they are a group of 5* luxury hotels and they have them all over the World. We stayed in the one in Crete two years ago so knew they were great and booked with them again as the service and hotel last time was great! 

When we arrived the hotel looked amazing, it is much bigger than the Crete one. We checked in and went to our room, where our bags were already waiting for us. Our room was lovely and big with a balcony with a view of Mount Teidi. We had a single bed for Oscar and a proper wooden cot for Archie. We unpacked and then went straight down stairs for a swim. There are five pools within the hotel, a huge infinity pool, a family pool, adults only pool, children’s pirate pool and a indoor pool in the spa. The infinity is a salt water pool but we spent most of our time around the family pool. The pirate pool has slides, inflatables and a big pirate ship, the children loved it but there wasn’t many sun beds around the pool. For the first week it was really quiet around the pool as as Oscar is at private school he finishes two weeks before state schools so it was really quiet and he had the pool pretty much to himself, on the second week it got a bit busier.

There is a children’s club and nursery but I didn’t use them as I like having the children with us when we are on holiday as the whole point is to spend family time together. Both of the boy’s were so good, Oscar spent literally all day in the pool and Archie laid in the shade and enjoyed swimming in the pool. Even on the flight Archie hardly made a noise, he is such a chilled out baby.

The main restaurant is a buffet with a huge range of food, all amazing and the staff are so helpful and friendly. There are then three other restaurants you can eat it, The market grill, club ocean restaurant and the beach grill. You have to book for these on the machines around the hotel which is easy to do and we always got the bookings we wanted. There are two other restaurants which you can pay to eat in too. Our favourite was the Club Ocean which is an Italian restaurant.

Every night but Friday at 7.45pm PlayHouse Live was on in the Atlas Theatre for the children with a fun live show that Oscar absolutely loved which we went to before dinner. Also from 7pm there is a bouncy castle in one of the meeting rooms and a film playing at 9.15pm for the children too. After dinner we would sit in the main square and have a coffee outside the piano bar and watch the fountain show to music at 10pm which was lovely.


We booked three excursions with Sensatori to go to Siam Park which is a water park which was great, although Oscar was to short to go on a lot of the slides but the children’s lost city is amazing with slides and water jets. Greg enjoyed the slides and we had a great day out there. We went on a catamaran trip to view the whales and dolphins. We saw some whales but to be honest I didn’t enjoy it as I felt sea sick the whole time and couldn’t wait to get off the boat. The third trip was the best, we went to Loro Parque which was over an hours transfer but well worth it as we got to see all sorts of animals and a dolphin, sea lion and a killer whale show. The killer whales were brought over from Sea World and they are such clever animals. This park is not to be missed if you ever go to Tenerife.


We had an amazing holiday and I would recommend the Sensatori Tenerife for families and couples on their own. We had an amazing holiday, in an amazing hotel and would definitely go back again!

Do Italy not sell baby stuff? Haha

Back in August 2010 we took Oscar away on his first holiday abroad to Sardinia for our friends wedding. Being a first time Mum and that I had just started feeding Oscar solids I literally packed everything. I took nappies, wipes, formula, a travel steriliser, enough clothes for about a month, jars of baby food, finger food, swim nappies, toys… you name it, I packed it. When we got to Gatwick and checked in they charged us £200 in excess baggage and that was after I had tried to spread a bit about within our group of friends. You should have seen Greg’s face! Our friend Steve found it most amusing asking me “Do Italy not sell baby stuff?” whilst laughing his head off.


Looking back it was absolutely ridiculous but at the time all I was worried about is that Oscar had everything he needed. Generally for myself I always over pack but never again if we had another baby would I take nearly the contents of our house, haha! I took so many t-shirt and short combos for Oscar but during the day he lived in a swim nappy and when we went out in the evening he was asleep in his sleep suits with a blanket over him. He only wore a few outfits and that was it. Even when we go away now I always take in to consideration that all day long Oscar will be in swim shorts and then take enough clothes just for the evenings. Although I always pack way to much for myself!


Oscar has been really lucky and has had quite a few holidays in his 4 years of life; Sardinia, Crete, Spain and this year we are off to Turkey. We have also had a few breaks within the UK. As a child I always went to Brancaster in Norfolk, there is nothing quite like a North Norfolk beach and Oscar loves it there too. Miles of sandy beaches and plenty of ice cream.


I can’t wait to go away this Summer and only have about 8 weeks until we go. Role on the Sun!!!