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My Top 5 Tips for Saving Money* AD


Most of you that have read my blog or watched my videos will know that we recently have done a lot of renovations to our home this past 12 months and that has meant we have needed to save where we can both before we started and while it goes on. I would love to say it is finished but nope, not yet.

Family Saving Tips


Anyway on to my top tips:

1. Check all of your utilities and go on to comparison sites to see about switching. You will have seen Martin Lewis chirp on about it on the tele but honestly we switch our suppliers regularly and really do save that way. Switching isn't all that big of a faff, the suppliers will do it all for you once you have decided who you are going with. Remember it's the same electricity, same gas etc it is only the service and price that changes.



2.  BUDGET. This is a big one for us. We like to know what we spend on things so we can asses it and see if it really is necessary or if we are over spending. We do this by paying for everything on a credit card that we have simply for our day to day outgoings such as groceries and then use software that analyses those bills and categories for us. So for example we would know what % of our income is spent in supermarkets. You can then set yourselves targets so for example £100 a week on groceries.

3. SELL WHAT YOU NO LONGER NEED! I am as bad as any other person for hoarding. I struggle to say bye to any of the children's old clothes, toys, books, I feel that it is all too sentimental. But we have to be realistic. What am I really going to do with those things? They will sit in the attic, unloved, unused and deteriorate, when someone else could be making the most of them and I could potentially be getting something for them to put towards new clothes etc. Ebay is a great tool for this but also hit your local Facebook selling sites, I find these better than anywhere for selling bundles of clothes, toys etc.

4. BE THRIFTY! So you need a sofa? Or a swing for the garden? Does it have to be new? A little like point number 3 head to ebay and your local selling groups, or pay a visit to the charity shop. You will surprised what you can pick up for your money.

5. Be REALLY careful when looking to borrow money. If you are after a short term loan then really do look around and make sure you know what you can afford and how much you can get and expect to have to pay back, you really need to do your research before even considering it. Using something like a Consumer credit index will really allow you to start to see what you should be expecting for your level of income etc.




*PR Collaboration, all opinions are my own

Daisy, You Will Soon be Four Years Old...


Dear Daisy,

It has been quite a while since I last wrote you a little note, perhaps even 6 months or so. that is pretty bad isn't it, considering this little online space was created purely for that reason. Things have been busy and time has just flown by, once again.


Starting school tips


It suddenly dawned on me this morning, 1am to be precise, that you really are growing up. I had an email at that time to let me know that you had got into our first choice school, and it just hit me. You were not a baby anymore, not even a toddler. You are in fact a pre-schooler. Soon to be a school goer in a matter of months. It makes me feel guilty for some reason, guilty that I didn't soak you up as much as I should have this past few years. Guilty that we haven't had enough one on one time together before I lose you to the Monday to Friday weekly regime.

But then that is slightly ridiculous don't you think? I spend all the time I can with you, and perhaps we could spend a little more time just sitting and chatting and soaking you up, but on the whole I think we have done okay. We swim every week, go to ballet, play in the garden, read a book EVERY SINGLE night, the list could go on. I think we have done alright.

That isn't to say I won't miss you come September. To have you in school every day, Monday to Friday is more than I have ever had you away. You go to Nursery 3 days now and that is plenty, but I guess you need more now. You need to learn the ways of the world, build your own little network and just have fun without your old mum hanging about!

I have had my concerns about you going to school. Will the other children be naturally inquisitive into why you have a little hand, will they pester you for answers that you just don't have or that you are grown up enough to understand? Will you feel different?


I really hope that isn't the case, I don't want you to feel that way, although I am realistic enough to know that there will of course be times we have to deal with this. But this is just part of it all I think, the way we all learn to deal with the situations, the questions and well it will be how we adapt into it I guess.

I know you are going to be just fine. You have a such a strong, fiery attitude that will get you through life just fine. You are open to new relationships and love nothing more than making new friends. I have a feeling this is going to be the best adventure you will ever have!

Mummy xx

THB Tropical Island Review | Playa Blanca Lanzarote


I don't often do reviews on the places that we stay on our travels but am often asked where we stayed, the pros and cons and if we would recommend it, so i thought perhaps I should start doing mini reviews so you all know the low down of where we have been.

We went to Playa Blanca a few weeks ago (March) for 8 nights with the two children (Daisy, 3 and Alex, almost 2). We had got our flights booked last year but had left accommodation to fairly last minute, something we shouldn't really do. We had hoped to stay in a villa or an apartment but had left it too late and when we came to book on somewhere like Owners Direct they were 90% booked for our dates and we couldn't really afford what was left.

But sometimes things are just meant to be, we booked in to the Tropical Island Aparthotel (Has all the facilities of a big hotel but is made up of apartments) through Hotels.com and we are really pleased it worked out that way.

Tropical Island Playa Blanca Review


The hotel was bigger than we would usually go for, with lots of facilities we knew we just wouldn't use. However, being out of season meant that it was quiet around and there wasn't the hustle and bustle I come to expect at these larger resorts. Which for us was just what we were after. We like enough to keep the children entertained, so the big pools dotted around the grounds, the splash park and the mini playgrounds were just what we needed. There was enough to keep them busy at the times were around our accommodation.

The pools and grounds were clean and tidy and as far as I could see safe. The only worry I had was the children running by the pools but you'll have that where ever you go.

Hotel Review Tropical Island Lanzarote
Photo Credit: Loveholidays
onthebeach lanzarote
Photo Credit: Onthebeach


Our apartment was one bedroom with a sofa bed in the lounge area. We could have had a cot for Alex but decided to just put the extra mattress from the double sofa bed (Daisy only needed one mattress) on the floor in our bedroom and it worked out fine. We would just pop it away in the morning and it was out of everyone's way. Daisy was on the sofa bed and it was like a pop up metal framed bed, it was pretty high. We ended up putting it down to the floor and just not extending the legs, she probably would have been fine but the thought of her falling out of bed onto tiles just gave me the frights!


Our room was cleaned 6 out of the 8 days we were there and the towels and linen were tidied and changed as and when needed which was a relief, with kids that were filthy from having 8 hours at the beach every day our towels didn't stay clean all that long, no matter how long they were in the bath or how well they were scrubbed that sand sticks like glue!

We only used the restaurant on site once as we ended up eating out the majority of time, there were lots of beautiful restaurants down on the seafront so we chose to do that rather than use the buffet restaurant that was on site. We did use it on our first evening though when we first arrived and for the price it was really reasonable and there was plenty of choice, all seemingly freshly prepared too. There were a few other restaurants on the site but we never ventured into them, to be honest we only saw them open a few times but this may be because it was out of season and the demand just wasn't there.

They had a kids club within the grounds that I think we may actually have given a go one afternoon or morning, however the minimum age was 4 years old. You could put the children in under that age but you would have had to stay with them, which kind of defeats the object of them going in my mind. But I guess if the weather was dull then it would be something for you all to do.



The hotel was a 5 minute drive from Playa Blanca's centre, we had read that a car was easiest but there was a fairly safe walk if you wanted to try it. We did it once or twice and although it only took 20 minutes or so, I wouldn't have fancied dragging the 2 toddlers up and down the road at a night time after dinner.


Hayley

Tea With The Easter Bunny | Wyevale Garden Centres


We recently invited along to have tea with the Easter bunny at our local garden centre, Percy Throwers. Percy's is a Wyevale Garden centre and often runs activities such as this but if I am honest I have never really thought about going. I can't put my finger on why, but now I have been I will certainly be going back to other events there.

Easter Bunny Shropshire


We turned up at 3pm and had a meal that we had pre-booked. The children had cooked lunches so Daisy had Chicken nuggets (which actually looked and smelt amazing by the way, nicely fresh cooked not beige looking rocks!) and Alex, Sausages. Which again smelt so good! Their dinners were gone pretty quickly! Ben and I had afternoon tea, which again was really good. At first glance we wish we had gone for a cooked option so perhaps fish and chips but the afternoon tea was really filling and it was nice to have some sweet treats too. Which of course we had to share with the children. But if we were to do it again I would definitely choose the cooked option, we should have known how good it would look as we have eaten there a few times!

Whilst they were eating the Easter Bunny came out and meted and greeted all of the families, making a real effort to have cuddles and do high fives, along with photo opportunities. It went down really well on our table, even if Alex did look slightly terrified at first! I should have mentioned (in case you don't follow this blog) that Daisy is almost 4 years old and Alex 2.

We then went on an eastern hunt around the garden centre, which appealed to the older half of the group. Daisy was in her element, where as Alex just wanted to fill his little bag with chocolate! But it was well thought out and moved at a good pace.

Then it was back to decorate Easter cookies, which both children really enjoyed. Especially the eating of them after!

Tea With The Easter Bunny | Wyevale Garden Centres


They have various events on throughout the year and will definitely be going back at some point. It was nice to just get out as a family and have devoted time together with no other distractions. And really it costs not much more than your standard meal out and they were kept very well entertained! I would highly recommend it.

To book Easter breakfast/ tea you simply need to go to this link on their events page.

Hayley x

*We were gifted this event but all opinions are our own and we really are thankful for the opportunity!

My Favourite Holiday Moments*


If you follow this blog then you'll know as a family we love to travel. We just got back from Lanzarote yesterday and so it felt like a great time to start talking about my favourite holiday moments so far.

My first favourite memory has to start with my wedding day in Lindos, Rhodes. It was just how I imagined it would be, greek, relaxed and sunny! If you haven't been to Lindos then it really is a bit like a make believe location, the beautiful acropolis set above the old, quaint chapel that we took our vows outside and the most perfect reception venue that allowed us to watch dolphins playing in the bay below. It was like we had ordered them to be there!

Marriage in Lindos

Wedding in Lindos


My next favourite was probably Cyprus a few years ago, one of Daisy's first holidays. She took her first full steps on this holiday and it will stay with me forever! We had two weeks in a villa in one of our favourite spots, Pissouri and I absolutely loved it. Cyprus is just beautiful and the locals always make it so memorable.

Villa in Cyrpus

Villa Pissouri

Other memorable moments include getting engaged in Paris, seeing Havana and experiencing the Cuban lifestyle at Club Tropicana, Alex's first trip abroad to Menorca. So many memories!

I am always on the look out for more trips so do let me know if you spot any more, especially very cheap holidays for 2018!


*PR Collaboration

5 Things To Do In Berlin With Children


We went to Berlin back in January, the week after new year for a long weekend with the children. I thought it may be a good idea to share what we got up to, in case you too are thinking of going there with your family. It is worth bearing in mind that we went when it was super cold, really bitter weather so we did have to make our plans around not letting our babies freeze!

Berlin sights with kids


Alex is almost 2 and Daisy will be 4 in April just to give you an idea of their abilities and interests.

Berlin is only about an hour and a half flight for us from the UK so it was a perfect destination in terms of flight times. The transport system there (mainly the trains) is fantastic and as a whole the city was clean and felt safe with children.

So what did we get up to?

(1) Berlin Zoo

I had heard about the zoo long before we went and that in fact it is one of the top zoos in the world currently. This is not something I would usually consider on a city break but with children you have to do all that you can to keep them entertained and busy! We all really enjoyed it, there was loads to see and do including a petting zoo area, the biggest bird sanctuary I have ever seen, some huge penguins, a polar bear, Gorillas and the best play areas I think we have ever taken the children to. Daisy would have spent all day playing in there had it have been warm enough. She had a great time!

We just made sure we spent time in the indoors areas and thawed out a little with plenty of hot chocolates! The zoo was much bigger than I was expecting and we probably spent about 4-5 hours there, we could easily have spent much longer there had we not had been absolutely freezing by that point!

Berlin zoo review

(2) Sealife Berlin

The Aquarium is super easy to find, located right in the heart of the city, nearby the Alexanderplatz and the Berlin Cathedral. This gave us everything you would expect to find at a sealife centre, lots of fish and amazing underwater creatures to grab the attention of toddlers who need entertaining! It was pretty much what it says on the tin, but worthwhile, especially when it is so cold during the winter!

sealife berlin


(3) The Aquadom

This should perhaps be included in the above point but the Aquadom is worth its own category I think. Basically it is a 25 m tall cylindrical acrylic glass aquarium with a built-in transparent elevator which takes you up through it seeing all that lives in there. It is located at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Berlin-Mitte, it is directly opposite the sealife centre. Again well worth a visit, I think perhaps our children were a little young to understand how exciting it really was but I enjoyed the experience too.

(4) Cafes

Daisy absolutely loves visiting cafes having hot chocolates, sandwiches and cake! Much the same as her Mum!!!! Their cafes are pretty geared up families so don't worry about taking children in them, they're all fairly friendly!

berlin with kids


(5) Bus tour

This made sightseeing much easier than it would have been on foot or other forms of transport. With the cold weather it meant we could stay on when we wanted to, having a rest and seeing the sights whilst staying warm but also being able to hop off when it was something we wanted to see, for example Checkpoint Charlie (Which actually really wasn't worth jumping off for!!!). Daisy loved having the headphones and skipping through the various languages, it kept her entertained and it was nice to be able to actually see Berlin a little. Alex tended to have a snooze while on the bus, which suited us perfectly!

bus tour in berlin with kids

Getting Creative in the Play Room*

As you will all know by now we are currently having some major renovation works done at our house and a big part of that was in Alex's bedroom. We extended out the dormer that was already there to transform an existing box room (that was a pretty odd shape) into a nice sized bedroom with ample room for playing as well as all the furniture a toddler boy needs.

Now that it is almost finished it is time to try and make the space work and fill it with some nice, interesting pieces to make it really feel complete.

bungalow extension work
Very much work in progress!



bungalow roof light


We decided to paint our whole upstairs in the same grey tone, mainly for ease but also for a consistent look. We then have added splashes of colour and design into each room to make them look a little more interesting and exciting.

In Alex's room I really want to go with a bright, geometric theme with splashes of aqua to make it feel young, colourful and perhaps a little scandi. Wall murals are a great way of doing this easily without having to start drawing random lines an shapes on you wall in the hope it may look okay-ish at the end of it! I really am not overly artistic, so the ease of these murals and the fact that they're pretty inexpensive too really does suit me! 

Wallsauce.com have some great designs to choose from such as the below patterns that I have chosen out for potentially Alex's room, which is your favourite? I love all of the designs they have on their of animals and maps but I really just had a vision in my head of what I wanted this specific wall in his bedroom to look like and these would match perfectly.



Wallsauce.com is one of those websites that once you start looking you’ll be browsing for hours without noticing, I somehow lost 40 minutes this afternoon! Procrastination at its best!  Also, this is super cool, you can use your OWN image! So if you’ve taken a nice family picture or maybe a favourite photo from your holidays then why not get it on your wall at home! It is something a little different to your standard photo frame isn't it?!

Hayley x

*PR Collaboration but all opinions are my own

It Is Okay To Be a Working Mum & It Is Is Okay To Be a Stay At Home Mum Too

When will the criticism stop?

The bashing of us women who work, the bashing of those who don’t? And the majority of the time by those women who don’t actually have children.


It Is Okay To Be a Working Mum & It Is Is Okay To Be a Stay At Home Mum Too



I’m not even going to give the woman in question on this particular occasion airtime, but we all know which “fake it until you make it” celeb I’m talking about this week. I’ve never been a writer to get personal about other people, this space is about me and my experiences. My thoughts and beliefs. But that doesn’t mean it really didn’t hit a nerve. I just cannot get my little blonde head (okay, with really bad roots!) around the fact that there is a woman publicly stating how awful it is for a mother to put her child into some kind of childcare so she can go to work.

Unfortunately my love most of us have to work. Childcare isn’t merely an off the cuff decision we made one evening, it’s not something we think lightly of and it certainly quite often isn’t a choice as such. It’s a choice in that yes, we don’t have to work, we could scrape our pennies together and try to survive on very little and spend every second with our babies but is that realistic? In a lot of instances, absolutely not. We have bills to pay, roofs to keep over our heads and we want to give our families everything we can.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. What about those of us who work for our own sanity, it’s okay to admit that we need challenging from time to time, that baby talk and toddler negotiation isn’t enough every day for some people. I’ll put my hands up and openly admit that I couldn’t be home with my babies every single day, I need space to be the other side of Mum, something else to engage in and the empowerment and satisfaction I get from being a working mum. I also want to be a role model for my children, show them what they too can do one day. That’s not to say I wouldn’t drop another day if I could as I know the time before my children start school is precious and I love the time I get with them during the week on my day off, but I couldn’t give up work altogether. It’s not the same for everyone, this is just me personally.

lauren goodger bashes mums


Our children need to know it’s okay to work as a parent, it’s okay to pursue a career if you choose to.

And bashing those mums who do stay at home? Just as ridiculous as the bashing of those who do go to work. It’s their choice. If they can afford to why wouldn’t they? What if they have no other choice? No one else to help with the nursery runs, the nursery fees etc. Not to mention many other reasons why someone may CHOOSE not to work such as their health or their personal situation.


We are all doing our best, doing what we feel is best to provide our children with all that we can. It’s all about balance, and as if that balance isn’t tricky enough to get right without women like you trying to tip it up at any opportunity. 

Why We Would Love To Be A Simpson Travel Ambassador #Simpsontravelfamily


I was busy reading one of my favourite blogs whilst having my morning coffee break (in my day job, not just having a quick siesta away from the kids!) and came across a post where she was applying to be one of Simpsons Travel Ambassadors, and I thought why wouldn't I apply too? It would be the perfect match for us!

As a family we LOVE travel. We travel  several times a year, usually heading to Europe somewhere for a couple of weeks, a city break here or there and then throwing in as many camping trips as the British weather will allow.

I have a whole section on this blog devoted to our travels but you can also see all the hundreds of photos I share om my Instagram too. Both myself & Ben absolutely love photography, and a little videography thrown in too. I will share some images below but there are so many more over on my blog for you to see.

We have two children, Daisy who is almost 4 and Alex who will be 2 in May. Both who love to travel as much as we do! I am not saying it is ever easy with two children under school age, but they have both travelled since they were a few months old and for us the holiday experiences and memories always outweigh and stressful times sat on that plane or trying to catch your transfer! My blog is all about sharing our experiences as a family and encouraging other families that just because they now have children it doesn't mean they can't travel. Your'e simply travelling slightly differently (usually this meaning more luggage!), having a different mindset and most importantly seeing the world through a new set of eyes.

Simpsons Travel would be perfect for us, offering various different option for accommodation and locations mean that we can adventure and try out a new place. We have stayed in various different accommodations such as villas (meaning we can be home away from home), hotels, complexes and slightly off the beaten track too. Although we often book all of our flights separately to our hotel etc it doesn't mean that I Don't LOVE  that one booking sorts out all the travel arrangements, so much less hassle. There isn’t the boring trawling about for the best or cheapest flights and hotels. Now a days we often have to try and find prices that work around tight budgets, so to be able to have some luxury thrown in too would be a dream!

I don't even know where to start as to why I would want to be a Simpsons ambassador..  I could write about your incredible looking accommodation options, the beautiful villas and apartments. I could also start to write about how your locations make my heart sing, all of the beautiful spots we have learnt to love.  I could also talk about how you make yourselves an incredible one stop shop to suit everyone needs and requirements.

On to childcare...

I have never used childcare abroad, it has always worried me a little, I am not sure what it is but it has never left me wanting to try it. However,reading through your information I can see that your childcare crèches are provided in family-sized villas environments rather than hotels or apartments. This sounds just too goo to be true, if that is possible?  Your childcare is available from 6 months to 10 years old children so you cover a wide age group there, . This is perfect for Ethan & Evelyn, (who are 6 & 3 years old), to have fun at your wonderful kids’ clubs. It is such a peace of mind when I also learn that the clubs are provided by First-class, Perfect for busy families who just need a few hours break here and there. Maybe this would mean it was a holiday to think of ourselves for a few hours too as well as just pleasing the children, ensuring they're supplied with enough ice cream, sun cream and chasing them around for some shade! This could be a family of firsts...


Why We Would Love To Be A Simpson Travel Ambassador #Simpsontravelfamily
Cyrpus


Lake Garda 

Wales

Cornwall

Rhodes, Greece

Venice

Italy

Cornwall



Menorca


France


Cyrpus



Prague

Home <3

And if those photos don't let you get to know us a little better then please do check out some of our latest travel videos to get a real feel for what we are all about :)

Best of 2017

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iy4Y_-nIGz4

Cyrpus Villa Fun

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gKytSijixqg


Berlin With Babies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1PwLBjStC0&t=11s

Prague in 3 Minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DjT1nZRMWpw&t=118s

Please consider us!!

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