Ideas for a family holiday in 2014

I know we haven’t even had Christmas yet but I do know people who literally book their next years holiday very soon after returning from their last. I also have a friend who is so last minute dot com and still manages to get a great holiday arranged!

I have teens now and so camping is our affordable way to go and they love the enjoyment of the camping itself and all that it entails. But for many years when they were young we actually owned a static caravan which we shared with our best friends. My friend and I would pack up every weekend and ALL school holidays and bundle the kids all in together and have a great time. They totally loved the fact they were with their friends and near the seaside!

Even now they look back so fondly at those holidays remembering all the things we used to get up to while we stayed there, beach days, swimming etc. A close friend even now books a caravan holiday every year!

I also know friends who love to go away for New Years! This is actually the first year my in-laws have gone away on a short break over the Christmas/ New Year period ever! Yet some of my friends have a tradition of seeing in the New Year somewhere new. I can see the benefit of taking a trip away over this time though either with or without the kids.

When I do go away I love to have lots of things around to do, activities for the boys, entertainment, maybe a spa facility if I’m lucky (yeah right)……………I can dream. I like to have a plan and fill the days with as much as possible so I don’t feel as though I have wasted a minute of my holiday or short break.

If your similar to us then UK holiday parks could be an option for you. It is always nice when you have kids to know that when you go you have lots of activities and entertainment to suit all tastes- lets face it and I talk from experience, happy kids mean a great holiday for everyone.

So what has been your favourite family holiday so far?

 

 

 

Haven Holidays

When the boys were small, toddlers actually, my best friend and I had a mad idea of getting a static caravan as a joint adventure where we could spend the days taking our kids to the nearby beach and just have a bit of fun. Both our OH’s worked very long shifts so it made sense that we all spent the time together and let the kids be good buddies.

Now when we went looking we really didn’t know what we wanted or how much it was going to cost. What we did know was that we don’t want to travel any more than about an hour or so away- making it more accessible for impromptu weekends and last minute get togethers. We also knew that because money was an issue as neither of us were working, we didn’t want a caravan on a site with loads of entertainment facilities as we wanted to bring all the kids up showing them that they could have lots of fun without spending a fortune.

That meant we really only had the payout for the caravan itself and the yearly site fees to pay along with some insurance.

We had the caravan over on Sheppey which was only a 50minute drive away for us both. We went for an 8 berth ex Haven caravan with lots of communal room at the front and kitchen area.

Although we no longer have the caravan we used it for around 6-7 years and my boys who are now 15 and 12 remember it with a lot of fondness and great/fun times with friends.

However, now the boys are older I think my priorities would be different. A site with a clubhouse and some entertainment and maybe a swimming pool would suit the age group of our boys better. These sites inevitably cost more.

So if your contemplating something like this for next year ( and lets face it after this years summer you would be mad to go abroad) take a look at some advice below of what to look out for.

 

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW WHEN CHOOSING A PARK FOR YOUR STATIC CARAVAN
You’re not wrong if you think choosing a holiday park for your static caravan is a big decision. Not only will you want to pick a park that your whole family will love – you’ll also need a location that you’ll want to visit again and again. Not to mention the financial things you’ll need to take into account – this choosing a holiday park business is more complicated than it sounds, but don’t worry, here are a few tips to help you choose the right park for you with as little hassle as possible.
The closer the park, the more often you’ll visit
It’s common sense really – the closer the holiday park is to where you live, the more often you’ll go there. But how close you want your static caravan to be to home depends on a number of things.
For one thing, are you going to be using your static caravan for long or short getaways? If you live in London and you’re buying a holiday home for regular weekend trips away, somewhere like Sussex or Kent would be perfect for you. It’s under two hours from London so it’s close enough to pack up the car on a Friday night and go.
But if you’ll be spending your main two-week holiday in your static caravan, you’re probably willing to spend more time getting there. That opens up your options to regions like Devon, Cornwall and even those as far afield as the Lake District. If you’re only going to be visiting your park for longer holidays, the whole country is your oyster!
It’s not just about on-park activities
It’s true, holiday parks offer a whole range of on-park activities and facilities that you’d be mad to miss out on. From live evening entertainment to kids clubs and heated outdoor swimming pools, you could easily spend an entire week on the park with everything you need right there.
But since holiday parks tend to be located in Britain’s best holiday destinations, static caravans can be the perfect base for exploring a whole region. Buy a caravan at Devon Cliffs and you have the whole of the West Country at your fingertips. Not to mention some of the UK’s best beaches and best weather.
Other costs to consider
Remember that when you’re buying a holiday home, it’s not just the static caravan you’ll need to pay for. Static caravans for sale on holiday parks also include annual sites fees; this covers park maintenance, landscaping, security and the use of the park’s facilities. Site fees can cost anything from about £2,000 to £5,000 so you should make sure you can afford this before you put anything in writing. However, the site fees vary depending on park and pitch location so research the cheapest ones in advance to save yourself a good chunk of money.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Haven Holidays

Holidaying on the Isle of Wight

This is what we had decided to do this year. I know it doesn’t exactly push the excitement levels over the top, however, needs must and all that, I haven’t won the Lottery as yet so the Isle of Wight it was!

Now when I say holidaying I actually mean camping. That’s what we do and we love it.

However, it started like this:

This was not the start we wanted I can tell you!

I have to admit this is bloody typical when we go anyway.

But what’s not to like with a set up like this? The minute we got off the ferry onto the island the rain stopped.

That swingball brings out the competition in us and believe it when I say my OH and I take no prisoners when we play- you have been warned.

And we had a resident cheeky goose (no not my OH) patrolling the grounds and standing guard at our pitch! Although he was  bloody useless when it came to sorting out the wasp problem- but at least we had the camp fires for that and my OH becoming an expert swatter with a tea towel.

The boys had both had yr6 school trips to the Isle of Wight and both loved it there, so we really wanted to visit as a family before they lost interest. Therefore we had agreed beforehand that the holiday choices would be made by them. The list was drawn up from the tourist guides and there were loads to choose from.

So here’s the quick guide:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We were blessed with a glorious week of sunny weather and none of us were ready to leave when it was over! There were also lots of places we didn’t get time to go and visit, so for us a return trip is a must.

Now considering we didn’t go abroad- THAT IS A SIGN OF A GOOD UK HOLIDAY!

PS- No comments on the bikini pic or I may just hunt you down!!

Summer Bucket List Update

Yes we are one full week into our summer break. As we were finishing for the summer I decided to get a list of things together to accomplish over the holidays, some for the family and others selfishly for me! To check out my list here

So, one week in and already we have managed to:

*set the pool up with much nagging to the OH….

Complete with very brave or stupid cat!!

We have also completed our full day’s fishing with lots of fab catches:

Youngest’s biggest catch to date!
Not my biggest to date but biggest I caught that day!
OH had to get biggest of the day at 9lb15!!! He was gutted as wanted a double figure- over 10lb LOL

After a full days fishing I also managed to fit in my pj’s day!!! Not through choice but because the fishing day had taken it’s toll so I spent most of the day in bed and stayed in my jim jams for the rest of the day LOL…………….still that counts surely!

Also earlier in the week we found ourselves child free for an evening- Yes you heard me right- CHILD FREE!! So we treated ourselves to the cinema, Gallery seats at Bluewater no less- lots of leg room, super comfy seats and complimentary snacks and drinks………..don’t mind if we do.

Well here’s to next week to see what I can knock of the list- wish me luck.

How’s your Summer Bucket List going?

 

Schools out- Summer Bucket List!

I have read a few posts lately about the impending school holidays. Love them or hate them they just won’t organise themselves!

I have found it much easier and more fun to organise when the boys were a lot younger. I envy  all of you with the 5-10 age group as there are LOTS of things you can do that cost NOTHING but a bit of time and planning- park picnics with friends, days at the beach, walks in the woods/ forests, kite flying…….and the list goes on.

However as they get older I find it becomes far more costly and a trip to the park is literally like you want to end their lives as they know it- SOOOOOOOOO uncool!!! Being able to get away with a ‘special’ trip to the cinema over the hols is now one of the main things they want to do……………….and money just does not grow on trees, whatever anyone tells you.

So I now find myself with a 15 and 12yr old, both boys ( and both mine- I didn’t just kidnap them off a random street), and the thought of trying to organise and keep a budget of any kind over the summer is virtually non existent.

However I will not be outdone, I will sort summer the summer hols, it will not break me *cough*. So here are a few things that I definitely want to include over the holidays, both for the kids, as a family, and some ‘just for me’ selfish ones thrown in too.

* Cinema trips- 1st to see Worlds End with the eldest ( as he is 15!) and 2nd to see The Internship with the 12 yr old (not my choice)

* Fishing day- this is already arranged with friends so I can say with confidence that this will happen- next wednesday to be exact!! ( I’m a fishing addict and proud LOL)

* See the Brainiac Live show that is showing at Bluewater and also up London hoping at least one of them will accompany me.

* Organise a huge swim day at a fun pool for both boys and whatever friends they want to bring. I have a 7 seater car so the more the merrier LOl

* Try the ‘Up at The 02’ experience, requested by my youngest- at £25 a ticket I have emailed them from my blog to see if they want a reviewer!! Cheeky I know but if you don’t ask you don’t get LOL- If not I will bite the bullet and let OH and youngest go.

* Take a trip on the new Greenwich cable car- with kids would be good but if they turn their noses up at it then just me and the OH!!

* A mammoth game of Monopoly as a family- this tends to go for hours and I can keep the arguing to a minimum by providing fizzy drink and sweets and snacks.

* Camping- we have actually booked this and are going for a week in Aug to the Isle of Wight!! I cannot wait

* Have some girlie friends round on a sunny evening to drink copious amounts of pink wine, talk crap and eat rubbish! ( even better get a take away)

* I would love a PJ’s day! Just for the sake of it, a lazy, not going out past the door, watching dvd’s all day just because I can!!

* A trip to my Mum’s in Plymouth- on my own LOL like that will ever happen!!! But you never know stranger things have happened as they say! My eldest is getting to go next week for a week on his own- to say I’m jealous would be the understatement of the day.

* Have friends round for a chilled out BBQ, everyone chipping in, kids off playing football out in the park and jugs of Pimms to enjoy for the adults.

* Get the pool up for the boys- I am nagging the OH as I type- he hates putting it up as It is huge- but may encourage youngest to invite his cronies round for the day!

* Sit in a lovely beer garden on a sunny afternoon enjoying a mega cold beer or G+T- this one with no kids and don’t really mind if it’s with girly friends or OH!

* Would love a day down at Dymchurch beach- a bit of a trek for us but worth it if you get the weather and time the tides right LOL

* A poker night! Ok maybe it’s not great to teach your kids to gamble but we love a game of Texas Hold’em in this house. We invested in a poker table with drink and chip holders!!

* A HUGE water fight while the weather is still hot, with friends as much more fun the more people you have- and we are lucky to have a huge park outside our back gate!! I feel a panic buy of water bombs coming on!

* Get to watch through the series 2 of The Killing in peace! I know I am behind on this but lets face it with it being subtitled I cannot exactly sit on Twitter and FB  iron or knit while watching it LOL

 * Become an expert in beating the teenagers butts at Swingball! One of the less energetic sports I can do LOL Just bought a new retro metal ‘old style’ proper one- BRING IT ON KIDS!

At the moment that is about it but I’m sure I will add some or change some along the way. Still hoping to get the teens dragged along involved in someway in at least some of my list, but only time will tell.

So wish me luck and let me know what’s on your list.

 

Teenagers and the Summer Holidays

           TEENAGER ALERT!

Recently I have been reading and envying all the latest posts about keeping the kids entertained over the summer break. I used to do the same, list all the things we wanted to do and all the places we wanted to visit, arrange meeting up with friends for picnics in the park, swim afternoons, beach visits………………….and the list goes on.

My boys are now 15 and 12 (almost13) years old., and with ALL the will in the world I cannot get them enthused about anything ( obviously Xbox is not included here). I’m aware that the age they are now they like to lay in occasionally, have lazy telly mornings and later nights. But really what the hell am I going to do over the holidays? I cannot let them fester in their rooms all day!! I know they prefer to manage themselves even if it means just watching tell or playing on their phones or whatever they do whilst they lounge about in their black holes. The mere mention of going to a park or a walk somewhere sends them into meltdown mode! Things like cinema/ bowling/ Go Ape etc all cost lots so would only do occasionally.

So, I’m frantically looking for options.

We have booked a week away camping in the Isle of Wight in August. Actually they are both looking forward to this as they went there with their primary school on their Yr6 trip. So although we have booked the campsite etc, we are leaving the holiday up to them- we have the guide books and they know pretty much the places they want to visit over there (inc the hotel that they stayed in LOL). So this week away should be great for all of us ( even with their continuous bickering). To top it all off we are NOT- I repeat- NOT on a budget this time after a little radio win in May I have purposely kept plenty of spending money!!

My OH with be working as normal on shifts so there will be days when he is here with us and others were he wont. The days he is not here are perfect lazy days or cinema days that will fit in with my M.E. However, when he is here I would like us to actually DO something rather than waste the 5-6 weeks!

So apart from the normal having friends over for xbox and a sleepover I’m manically trying to sort ideas that wont cost the earth but that they actually want to do—no point forcing them to do stuff they don’t want to as no one ends up enjoying the day.

My list so far:

* Groupon have a great offer on for tickets to Horrible Histories Live in London ( still a pay out but def worth doing for a major treat)

* Thinking of possibly one of those Cineworld monthly tickets? Anyone tried these and are they worth it?

* Eldest has already arranged to go stay in Plymouth at my mums as my brother lives there and they spend days walking the moors!

* Fishing (my new obsession!) with the youngest while the eldest is away……youngest loves it and eldest detests it.

*If the weather holds out we will definitely get a day at the beach, complete with burgers cooked on the beach for tea- that we still like doing but cannot swamp them with doing it lots! Might offer them each to bring a friend which will separate them and contain the arguments.

*They still enjoy movie nights- so invest in a few new DVD’s or a pay per view off demand with popcorn and fizzy drinks to keep them happy- again could get them to invite a mate or two as a change???

* Games nights- monopoly being a favourite, as is Texas Hold’em ( *cough* nothing like teaching your kids to gamble!!) We invested in a proper poker table last year with cup holder etc

Other than that I’m pretty stumped, neither are bothered about cooking/ baking really and definitely making things/ craft is soooo out of the question 🙁

All you with teen boys, what else would you suggest?

Holiday Driving Songs

On normal days when I’m driving I tend to listen to the radio, having no control over what plays next and deciding whether I like it or not. My OH is VERY different as he will always take CD’s in the car and listen to albums.

We have two teen boys who have very different musical tastes and will tend to have their headphones on!! However, they do actually like some of the music that we play, Queen, 80’s stuff, Pink Floyd etc. They will NOT under any circumstances tolerate my love for the Les Mis musical so I tend to use this A) when I want to get rid of them and B) to torture them LOL. (after years of toddler tantrums surely we can get our own back)

In saying that though when we venture of on our holidays, which is normally camping, we do tend to have more upbeat holiday sorts of songs. We tend to try and agree to something we all like………………………this is much easier said than done!

 Cumbrian-Cottages.co.uk have put together a holiday playlist ahead of the summer holiday ( fingers crossed for some sunshine) which you can take a look at here of summer style songs that would be perfect to get you in the holiday spirit as you drive to your destination.

                                                  Is your on the list?

Having taken a sneaky peek myself there are a few on there that bring back some fab summer and holiday memories for me.

*Holiday from Madonna played on my 1st abroad holiday without my parents!! A total anthem for me

*Walking on Sunshine by Katrina and the Waves is just a great feel good sunny day song as you drive to the beach!

And not forgetting the all time favourite played and sung for years on our short or long drives when the kids were little:

*The Wheels on the Bus!!  come on own up……………whether you like it or not you WILL know the words LOL

 So tell me what is your favourite holiday driving song is?

 

NB: This post comes to you in  collaboration with Cumbrian Cottages

Time for the Summer Wardrobe

With all the recent lovely ‘summer’ like weather it was that time of year again- Time for the Summer Wardrobe.

I don’t live in a mansion with a walk in room/wardrobe were everything stays in order *dreams*, no, I live in a squished 3 bedroom terraced house where my bedroom is in a loft conversion. This has one BIG problem………….my wardrobe will only hold so much at any one time! Therefore, I pack my summer stuff away at the end of the warm weather an get all the winter woolies out. This week I have just done the opposite, cleared through the winter stuff and sorted through all my ‘summer’ style clothes.

THIS YEAR THERE WAS A PROBLEM!!!!

A big problem as far as I am concerned…………………….a weight problem.

OK I’m not huge, but I am vertically challenged and so any extra weight is VERY noticeable ( any vertically challenged comrades will know what I am talking about). So I decided that I wouldn’t keep anything that was properly tight with obvious ‘muffin tops’ showing………………………………………………This left me with very little * huffs a little but see’s the chance to buy some new bits*.

I have gone from an 8-10 which I have now been for many years to a 10-12 (more of a 12 on the bottom!). Like  I said it’s not sumo wrestler size but enough to make me very uncomfortable.

So this is the lot that has to go *weeps*

 

But YAY for good ol’ Primark who came up trumps with bargain linen trousers, a gorgeous pair of chino slim fit on sale, and some great shoes ( no my feet haven’t grown but come on…….they have to match don’t they?)

So now I don’t feel so bad…………………surprising how a few new items can make you feel, right?

 

How’s your summer shaping up?

 

 

 

What category of parent are you?

There are only two choices available here:

A) a parent that DOES or

B) a parent that doesn’t!

Now I only have to spend 15 minutes on Twitter to know that anyone from there that reads this will be an A, you just have to take a look at the links to blogs and pictures of what your kids (and you ) are up to.

However, I bet if you were completely honest you could name a few parents that you know that are a B, right?

My friend and I have had experience of this over many years, and after taking the kids down to the local park sledging on Sunday we started talking about it on the way home. Yes we had an extra with us then ( i would never begrudge the child ever) which is what started the chat.

That said parent had contacted my friend to say she would call when she needed him back!!!!! ER excuse me……..we will not be gone for the rest of the day, maybe an hour or two!!

So then we started thinking about all the stuff we do even though our eldest’s (who will be 15 this year)are probably getting way too old:

*Halloween, we still have a get together and do the Trick or Treat thing and want to progress on to an ‘older ‘style party to include the adults dressing up too.

*Easter, although family and friends drop the Easter eggs into the boys we keep them aside and still hide them around the house so they have to ‘hunt’ for them in the morning.

*Christmas, my two are old enough to know that ‘Santa’ is not real *cough* however, they do play the game even though they roll their eyes when I go onto the NORAD site LOL

*Pancake day, we still love to have home made pancakes for breakfast before they go to school and after our tea on the same day.

*Summer beach days, in the hols we still love a day at the beach and we still make our sand angels before the tide comes in to cover them.

*Snow, as this is often a very rare sight we make the most of it, they still make a snowman and love to go sledging AND even though they are both old enough to go on their own we like to go with them!! How else do you get those pictures???

*New Year, we had friends around and celebrated with fireworks and we all set off lanterns with our hopes for 2013 written on them ( we wont mention the fact that we almost set our neighbors fence alight! *cough*)

We came to the conclusion that if we don’t as adults make the effort to enjoy these events with the kids they will grow up and never pass on that enthusiasm to their children. I cannot believe there are parents who just cannot be bothered or for whatever reason just don’t do these things. Or is it that they are happy for the kids to go off with others to do it so they don’t have to?

What do you think?

So tell me, what do you do with your kids that you hope they will pass on?

A bit of this, that and the other.

It’s all gone past in a bit of a blur………………………the last month or two!

I hope I am not the only one who feels like this. Thankfully I have photographic evidence to prove that it all took place.

Where do I start?

There’s been a bit of this:

My 42nd *cough* birthday!
1 week scout camp for my youngest
A trip to Duxford…. Love it there!
10th Anniversary of my Dad passing away :((

 

Good ‘ol Hamleys

 

Hubby’s birthday

A bit of that:

YAY………….the Paralympics!
Goalball
GB wheelchair tennis………..AMAZING!
Wheelchair basketball…………MANIC GAME!
A new secondary school for my youngest!
My youngest turned 12………….now that makes me feel old!

Oh and a LOT of the other:

A biggy at last 🙂
Ok admittedly they are not always big!!!!

Looked like a huge goldfish????

So there you have it, my life in pictures- and if you flick through them really quick it’s like one of those picture books!!

What have you all been up to?