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Dear Daisy, It is your first day at school...

FLYNYON - The Ultimate Helicopter Experience in NYC

When we recently visited NYC we pre-booked a helicopter trip with FLYNYON for our last day before we headed home.

We contemplated for a while on whether we do it, if we do it with doors on or off, is it worth the money? And so on. It took us a few weeks to decide but finally we came across a discount code for 50% off and just jumped into booking a doors off experience. I have come to realise that these discount codes are forever flying about and if you sign up to their emails that you are bound to get one every few weeks, just hang on in there if you're wanting to book too as the discount will come in good time.

Now, I know not everyone has this kind of money "spare" and that maybe it could be seen as a bit extravagant but hands down it was worth every single penny for us. We would do it again in a flash without a moment of hesitation.

helicopter trip with FLYNYON

I will put some photos up and also a video I created which shares some of the footage I got on the flight and I think that will speak for itself. For a while before we went on our trip I had followed FLYNYON’s Instagram feed and they always share the most beautiful shots, I think it is pretty difficult to get a bad picture of Manhattan from that angle!

I do think the company itself could work on a few things such as organisation but to be honest the flight itself erased all of the negative little thoughts that I may have about them. When you get to their hanger (it is over in NJ so a bit of a drive away from central NYC) it is a little bit unorganized, no one knows where they are going, you're rushed into various briefings and then someone tried to sell us an upgrade, I am pretty sure it is normal procedure for them. I can't blame them for trying!

helicopter ride in NYC

We actually snapped their hand off with the upgrade and got a much longer flight for an additional cost and again it was really worth it.

We had been very unlucky with the weather for a day or so and it had meant we hadn't done everything that we really wanted to do such as the Empire state of the Top of the Rock as the fog was just too bad. So when we had glorious day with no clouds in the sky we couldn't really say no!

So what was it like hanging your legs out of a helicopter? Exactly as you would imagine it to be. Incredible and unreal all in one go. The speed it goes is unbelievable and for the whole time we were up there it just didn't feel real somehow! Obviously while flying a helicopter over New York without doors it does mean you need to be strapped into a harness for safety, you really do feel very secure. Your camera gear is also attached to yourself so it doesn’t fall or get tangled anywhere. We managed to fly past some of New York’s most amazing landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge, Battery Park, One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and Central Park.

Would I recommend it? Absolutely.  If you have the money or you can justify the expense, do it.

This post is in no way sponsored (sadly!!), the flights were paid for with our own money! 

5 Free things to do in New York

Most of you who follow me over on social media will know that I recently went to New York on a girls trip for a few nights. We had the most amazing time and I wanted to share some of it with you, in the hope that if you ever chose to visit then you'll have some tips and tricks to help you on your way.

This post is the first in a series that I will be sharing over here so keep your eyes peeled and stay following if you want to read more. First up; 5 Free things to do in New York

(1) This is not only free but it was actually my top thing on our itinerary, I absolutely loved it. Walk the Brooklyn Bridge. You should expect the walk to take about an hour (two hours round-trip) as you will be stopping along the way first to get the gorgeous views of Brooklyn but then central Manhattan behind you. Don't forget to take your camera along to capture some nice views of the Manhattan skyline that you obviously wouldn't get from within the city.

One thing I would note is that if you decide to start on the Brooklyn side and walk toward Manhattan, be sure you know how to actually get on the bridge, it can take some time. Failing that ask someone :)

Once we were there we headed for a rooftop bar to soak up the sunshine and watch over Manhattan. Definitely a highlight for us!

5 Free things to do in New York

Best rooftop bars new york

Is the brooklyn bridge free

(2) Ride the Staten Island Ferry. This actually something we had planned to do after being given the tip numerous times. However the day we were due to do it it was so foggy that we wouldn't have seen good old Lady Lib anyway so gave it a miss. We were very lucky to have a helicopter ride planned over the weekend so didn't feel too hard done by but it was definitely something we would have done had we had the time and weather for it.

The trip between Staten Island and Manhattan takes about 25 minutes, and doesn't cost a penny. You'll get views of Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty and the skyline of lower Manhattan.

(3) Another of our favourite things to do was to head to Grand Central Station. This was pretty much on our doorstep and we visited numerous times. Our favourite time was first thing in the morning (usually pre-7am thanks to jet lag!) and we would head downstairs under the cavernous pillars for coffee and a croissant. It has such a lovely feel about it and feels somewhat nostalgic, no doubt from the endless films that feature it. Grand Central Terminal is one of the world's most famous train stations, and also among the busiest apparently at rush hour time, we didn't experience this as we loved the quietness.

Staten Island Ferry

(4) Walk Central Park. I mentioned in an earlier post about the weather and sadly as well as the fog we had rain. A whole day of downpours. Our plan was to cycle the park and take it all in but the weather just put us off completely. Instead we got a big brolly (thanks to the lovely concierge at The Plaza as we walked past!) and had a wonder through the park until we ended up at the Boathouse for a hot chocolate to warm us up. On a nice day you could easily spend a few hours in the park people watching, looking at the big fat squirrels running about and enjoying the free street entertainment in there. Even on a miserable day we sat and listened to some musicians.

Boat house Central park

(5) The area around Ground Zero. This is a different side to New York, one that will make you stop and reflect for a while. Where the Twin Towers once stood,a beautiful pool structure has been built in their footprints, with engraved names of all the victims of that awful day. It is a beautiful yet heart wrenching site but one I would urge all tourists to head to if they get chance.

How to Save Money When Buying Furniture for Your First Home*

Have you just bought your first home? In that case, your bank balance is probably a little bit depleted. Of course, you still need furniture for your home. More than likely you are wondering how to save money when buying furniture.

First of all, make a list of what furniture you need. Keep the list with you at all times and tick each item off when you have found the right piece of furniture.

How to Save Money When Buying Furniture for Your First Home
Image not my own

Great Places to Pick Up Furniture

IKEA is not the only place you can pick up cheap furniture. Still, it is a good idea to look out for special offers in your IKEA store. You can normally find furniture offers advertised on the IKEA website. Offers change from week to week, so check out the website on a regular basis. Don't forget to sign up for the IKEA Family Card which will give you further discounts.

Carboot sales are great places for picking up cheap furniture. You may not be able to find major pieces such as beds and kitchen tables. However, many car boot dealers try to get rid of smaller pieces like bedside tables and smaller bookcases.

Charity shops are an endless resource for many new homeowners. Many of them do sell furniture and most of the time, the furniture is of good quality. On top of that, you can find little knick-knacks to compliment your furniture buys.

How to Save Money When Buying Furniture Online

Saving money when buying furniture online is not difficult. Leading discounts sites like Groupon and Wowcher often have offers on furniture. You may even be able to save money when you buy furniture on eBay. Stick to your local area to avoid delivery charges.

Shpock is a cool app which can be used to find stuff for sale locally. You can find everything from sofas to kitchen chairs. Best of all, you deal with the seller directly and transactions are easy to complete.

Finally, don't forget to set yourself a budget. It is easy to spend too much money on one particular item, and you want to make sure you get value for money as well as great furniture.

*This post is a collaboration

Puerto Mogan in the winter

A few weeks back we headed to Gran Canaria for what we hoped was a week of sun. A week to get our arms and legs out and gain a bit of natural Vitamin D. Thankfully we got just that.

We went to a small town, Puerto Mogan just half an hours drive from Las Palmas airport. Obviously if you are travelling with kids and just endured a 4 hour + flight this transfer is pretty appealing. Puerto de Mogán is a quaint little resort and fishing village where there are things to do aside from the beach, which was also lovely.

We tend to hire cars when we go within Europe as you can find some really cheap deals for a week and more often than not it is comparable with what you would pay for a transfer or very little more. We picked up the car from the airport and went to our hotel in Puerto Mogan. We stayed in the Apartmentos Cordial Mogan which was just up a pedestrianized road/ walk way from the main town and beach.

Puerto Mogan itself is definitely geared up for all year round tourism. The sea front is lined with cafes, restaurants, bars and some beautiful stores to shop in. To be honest the stores appeared to be rather high end, we don't tend to shop much when away but they looked really tempting full of fragrance and designed clothing.

The cafes and restaurants were all really welcoming in a non annoying way. There was so much to choose from, far too much for a weeks break. i think even if we had stayed for a fortnight there would still be places that we would like to have eaten in that we hadn't managed to squeeze in. If you are travelling with your children then be content in knowing that they welcome them too and make them feel very much welcome.

The harbour itself is beautiful. Absolutely full of all kinds of boats that you can watch from the beach coming and going all day. It was lovely to walk around there during the day when the kids needed a break from the beach, to grab some lunch or for a change of scenery. In the evening it was lovely too and this is where you will find some higher end restaurants which we didn't dare grace with our over tired children!

which canary island

It is important to remember that most of the beaches in Gran Canaria are volcanic and so a grey colour. This beach is actually man-made and fairly small but that doesn’t stop the hundreds of tourists enjoying it and on a weekend you can see the locals flooding there too.

We pretty much camped out at the beach all week long and didn't go much further than that. We had intentions of using the car to explore a little but it’s far too easy to walk into Puerto Mogán and stay by the sea all day long. I think one day we will back and perhaps go a little further than down to the beach, see what else Gran Canaria has to offer.

how to hula hoop

Puerto Mogan in the winter

Hayley x

5 things everyone should do before travelling when pregnant*

A lot of people have started to go on babymoons. Babymoons are a bit like a honeymoon that’s taken before your baby arrives. Change is a wonderful thing, but it's always nice to have a bit of alone time with your partner before your little one makes an appearance. Nowadays, it's safer than ever before to travel while pregnant, but there are a few things you should do before you travel.

Travelling when pregnant

1. Get travel insurance

Or, if you already have it, double check it covers you for anything pregnancy-related. Some travel insurance companies have specific requests that you need to do before travelling. Most travel insurance companies, and airline companies, require a doctor's letter to certify you fit to fly. This is more rigidly insisted upon when you are more than 27 weeks pregnant, but it's also just best to get your doctor's okay before you travel. Your GP will know whether or not you're safe to fly, and what precautions you should take, if any.

2. Choose your destination wisely

It's best to choose a destination that is safe, comfortable and has access to good healthcare.

Destinations in Europe are your best option: flights are relatively short, there are no specific vaccinations you need before travelling, and you should have relatively good access to hospitals. Also, what's nicer than just lounging in the sun in Spain or Italy? Not to mention the delicious cuisine!

3. Travelling in the different trimesters

Most women will travel between their 4th and 6th month of pregnancy, as this is often the safest time to travel. Your first trimester (1 to 12 weeks) is when side effects such as morning sickness are most common, and your risk of miscarrying is higher. Between weeks 13 and 27, any sickness will have subsided and you're not likely to go into early labour.

From week 28 onwards (your third trimester), you will have to get a letter from your doctor to say you're fit to fly. By week 36, it's advised you don't fly at all.

4. Find out about any health considerations

While it's always exciting to eat new and interesting foods when you're on holiday, there are certain foods you should not eat while you're pregnant. Some foods are more prone to lead to food poisoning, no matter who eats them, but again, not worth risking while you're expecting.

Patê is to be avoided at all costs, because there is a high chance it might contain listeria, which can affect pregnant women more than anyone else. Cold cured meats are also advised against because they are not cooked, and can contain parasites.

5. Check out the accommodation

There’s a chance you'll find travelling while pregnant more tiring than before you were expecting, so it's important to make sure you know what type of accommodation you'll have. Avoid hotels that have no lift, and definitely don't book into a hostel. Read the reviews for the accommodation online before you book, and look for 'family-friendly' hotels or villas. These are more likely to be quiet and homely, instead of a hotel full of hen and stag parties!

Why don't you see if your hotel comes with a spa? You could indulge in a manicure, pedicure or pregnancy massage while on holiday to pamper yourself.

Travelling while pregnant used to be a no-no, but with careful planning, you can have a great holiday with your bump!

Image Source: http://www.pregnancyview.com/planning-an-international-babymoon/

*This post is a collaboration. 

Family Travel Inspiration

Do you remember when you could just stick a pin in a map, chuck some belongings in a case and head to anywhere your heart desired. Once you have children your choice of holiday destination will depend on various factors such as how far you can travel without having a meltdown (you or the kids!), how warm it will be, entertainment options, food choices etc. The list goes on. 

You are in no way stopped going anywhere you wish to but you do have to think about it a little more and I guess you need to think that it may not quite be the same as it may have been pre-children.

Travel with babies

menorca hotel reviews

The below points may help lead you to decide on what type of holiday may be best for you; self-catering, all inclusive, villa etc. For me it would completely depend on where you were going and the amenities available. They all have their pros and cons; will you want to do any cooking? Will you need the extra space that usually comes with self-catering?

The Weather
Before you make your destination choose look up the weather for that time of year. Will it be too hot for young children? Too cold? You want to be able to enjoy your holiday without panicking 24/7 if your baby is going to overheat. If you have your heart on a country then look up the best time of year to go that will suit your family’s needs.

The Travel
Children are actually pretty resilient when it comes to flying, they don’t tend to have the annoyance and fear that some of us grown-ups can be instilled with. More often than not they will cope with the journey and surprise you with their patience. However you have to think if you struggle on say a 4 hour flight then think about how a child may feel being contained in a small space with a short attention span. If you feel you can entertain them then be brave and go for it.

We have flown a few times with our young children from as young as 3 months old and never had any issues, we just go armed with lots of snacks and new things to look at – books, toys etc.

Food Choices
Sadly all the exciting stuff that drew us to a country like exotic foods, challenging the local lingo etc. has to be considered. Will you be able to offer your toddler foods that they will be happy with? Babies are obviously fairly easy if they are either being breastfed or bottle fed as long as there is equipment such as kettles available. You can get some simple sterilising bags now of any gear you need to take, so easy and cheap.

Personally we have stuck to Europe with our little ones just because we know what to expect when it comes to all of the above. We always travel either early or late summer mainly due to cost but also the temperatures are low enough to make the most out of the days and not worry about the children too much when it comes to sun protection.

There will be a time in the future when we can become more adventurous and spontaneous with our destinations but we have just accepted that for now we need to plan a little more!

Venice with Children

Venice is pretty spectacular. That's not the kind of word I tend to use very often but it just seems to fit in this instance. 

Venice with kids is perhaps not the same kind of romantic trip as it might be as a couple, but it can still be enjoyed with little ones and it's still just as amazing.  

If we are honest it is fairly unlikely Daisy will ever remember her trip to Venice, she was just under 2 years old after all. But she had a great time while we were there and we captured some memories for her to look back on. 

We found ourselves just walking about taking it all in but did end up on the main square a few times. We aren't made of money and so the idea of a coffee in Piazza San Marco wasn't too appealing, as much as I would have loved to have sat and watched everyone scurrying past while having an Aperol. It just wouldn't have been worth it with a toddler to have to chase about. But we did spend quite a lot of time say in the square and wandering about. Daisy had a little boogy to the orchestra outside one of the cafes, chased the pigeons around the square and sat on the step to enjoy a gelato in the square. She may not remember those moments but as parents we will. 

We didn't visit the museums and do much of the "adult" type visits because Daisy just wouldn't have been interested. But if I'm honest I was happy to just roam about and explore the city. We hopped on water taxis from one side to the other and just enjoyed the time rambling about stopping for a coffee, gelato or pizza en route! 

We had Daisy in her carrier most of the time as I really would not recommend a pushchair in Venice. The grounds uneven, it's busy and there are lots of obstacles to tackle and I can't imagine it would be pleasant trying to do that with a buggy! I did a review here all about how we used it on our travels. 

Venice is a bit of a maze, albeit a very pretty one that makes you feel like you're in a story rather than real life. It’s fairly small, and even if you do get lost, you will soon find signs on the walls pointing to the Rialto Bridge, Piazza San Marco, or Ferrovia (train station) which helps you to guide yourself.  

We did just two days in Venice before heading to the lakes and we stayed outside of the main city in a hotel, mainly because hotels within the canals are crazy money and secondly we wanted to be by the train station for our transport links.

One day I would love to return for the weekend and just take it much slower, eat more food, drink more coffee and Aperol (I was pregnant with Alex when we were there last!)  and ideally stay in the city to see how different it is when you experience it that way.

Hayley X

The Perfect Day Out in Birmingham

Last weekend we headed to Birmingham for a "adults" day out, minus the children obviously!

We were meeting friends that we haven't seen in a while and Birmingham is our central spot and we always have a good day out when we head there.

I wanted to share with you where we headed and what we got up to so you too can have some inspiration if you manage to visit soon.

First up we headed to Zizzi at the Mailbox for some rustica pizzas and cocktails. The Mailbox isn't far from the train station at New Street so it was a good place to start where we were guaranteed some nice food and where we could have a look around the shops afterwards. This is where Harvey Nichols is so if you fancy shopping a little on the higher end this is where to head. We had a quick look around the cosmetics stands and headed for a pick me up in the form of an espresso martini at the bar before wondering back towards the centre of the city.

Our next stop was Dirty Martini on Bennett's Hill where we all chose various cocktails on the menu. We were lucky to get there for happy hour (which is actually between 12-8pm on a Saturday!) so enjoyed half price Martinis. I couldn't actually believe how busy it was in the cocktail bars around town, considering we were there at around 4pm. It did quieten down towards later afternoon into the evening before it got busier again at around 8pm.

Dirty Martini Birmingham

We actually stayed here for a good few hours making the most of happy hour, people watching and catching up.

We then headed to a few other bars before finishing off at Lost and Found. The decor in here is so insta worthy, it is whimsical and floral and just really grand. It was absolutely beautiful! The flowers on the ceiling were gorgeous and made me want to do it in our home!

Lost and Found Birmingham

We had a fantastic day. There is so much choice in the city of all kinds of bars, restaurants and cafes. Not to mention the shopping. One day soon we will be back to have a girls day shopping and to try out a few more of the cocktail bars I think!

Hayley x

Hotels.com have kindly gifted me some spending money but all opinions are my own.

The Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter Low Down

If you follow my YouTube channel then you will have seen I have recently been raving about this product. The Body Shop Camomile cleansing butter is absolutely beautiful. Which I always find an odd phrase to say about a cleanser but that is honestly how it feels when you use it on your face.

The Cleansing Butter is a make-up remover for the whole face. It gently and efficiently melts away make-up and impurities, leaving skin feeling clean and pampered whilst smelling absolutely divine.

vegan skincare options

body shop cleansing butter

It is a thick, oily texture that you scoop a little out of and gently rub all over your face and then wipe off with a warm, soft cloth. It amazes me how it just melts away your eye make up. Sure, you look absolutely horrifying whilst rubbing it on to your eyes and resembling a very frightening Panda but then it just vanishes. Like pure magic!

My skin is left feeling beautifully soft and clean. I quite often then just wipe over my face with a Liz Earle toner (Just what I am currently using) to remove any last bits of cleanser left on my face or tiny bits of make up and to leave me leaving really fresh.

This isn't a brand new to market product as I think it has been out a little while now but it really is worth picking up. It’s marketed for sensitive skin and being a smooth, oily butter means it would be suitable for both oily and dryer skins so it a great all round product! The ingredients include Olive fruit oil, Shea butter, Sunflower oil and Chamomile.

This product retails at around the £10 mark and is worth every penny. If you try one product from The Body Shop this year make it this!