Can you believe that the school summer holidays are nearly here? I love this time of year because it means… holiday shopping! I know, any excuse for shopping, but this one’s an important one: there are shorts and sandals and swimwear to be bought and you know what it’s like: blink and they’re all sold out! With this in mind (and because many stores have just started their sales), I’ve decided to put together a few tips to help you to simplify both the shopping and packing processes.
The Far East boasts some of the most unique and diverse cuisines in the world. From Japan and Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka, the use of spices and aromatics bring flavoursome taste experiences like no other, with everything from fabulous, colourful street food to fine dining on offer. If you’re planning a culinary trip to the Far East, I’d recommend that you arm yourself with the local currency (especially important with the street food), so do your research on travel money providers (there are several companies reviewed here), and make sure that as you switch countries, you exchange your local currency before leaving. With smaller currencies like THB or INR, it can be tricky to get them exchanged after departing the country.
With all four of us now driving, a pretty big part of our family finances at the moment are given over to motoring expenses. We’re very clear with the boys about what we expect regarding how they drive (one of them has one of those black box telematics things which records how they drive). Recently, quite a few new rules have come into force, many of which are to do with speeding and mobile phone. Chatting about it with friends and family, though, it seems like many people aren’t aware of the changes. Did you know about the new speeding fines? Read more
As you can imagine, I travel quite frequently, and it occurs to me regularly that my fellow travellers tend to slot in to a few distinct types. Mr E is definitely the impatient traveller – he strides ahead, leaving me bumbling behind, and can’t bear to queue. I’m a bit more laid back, but I do like a pair of shoes or three, so maybe I’m the fashionista (monochrome of course, dahling). I wonder if you see yourself in any of these descriptions:
Have you noticed that a lot of people are moving away from cow’s milk at the moment? When I was doing the smoothie challenge nearly every recipe contained coconut milk, almond milk, nearly anything but cow. I know a lot of that is because people are either trying to eat a more plant based diet or trying to lower their saturated fat or whatever, but when St Helen’s Farm offered us the opportunity to take their ‘vary your dairy’ challenge and give goats’ milk products a go, I was keen to dive in and give them a try.
Recently I was lucky enough to be invited up to London to attend a launch event for the new Samsung Galaxy A series. The new Galaxy A3 and its big brother, the Galaxy A5 are mid-market phones, sitting nicely between the very high end Galaxy S7 Edge and Samsung’s entry level offerings. Samsung know that even those with less budget, say: teenagers, for example, still demand features like great quality pictures, water resistance and good battery life. The new Samsung Galaxy A series sits happily in this mid-range spot, offering some really fabulous innovations:
As a nation, I don’t think Holland crops up that much as a destination when we’re planning our next family holiday, but this little stretch of land across the channel offers a lot more than the cultural riches of Amsterdam. It’s easy to reach by train, plane or ferry and boasts long stretches of coastline, rugged woodland, excellent cycle routes and some of the best theme parks in the world. The holiday parks are numerous and really high quality, so if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration for the summer holidays, here are my top five holiday parks in Holland.
Every year, as you know, I write a round-up post looking back at all my travel experiences from the last year. I’m so lucky to have a job where I get to travel, and the photographs from my travels really are some of my most treasured possessions: mementos of experiences, people and places that I’ll keep forever (and happy memories are something we all need today, ‘Blue Monday’, traditionally the most depressing day of the year!). One of the things that always strikes me is how my blog photography has changed (hopefully for the better). I recently spotted the CEWE Photoworld ‘Top Ten Most Instagrammed Places’ campaign and it made me even more determined to keep travelling the world, and try to tick a few more off them off my list. It also inspired me to compile a list of a few of the things that I’ve learned over the years: little tips and tricks that I keep in mind when I’m travelling. Now, I’m no photographer (I’m mostly #iphoneonly), and I’m still on a bit of a learning curve when it comes to photos, but I genuinely think that these few things have helped me improve. So here are my top ten blog photography tips. See what you think:
What. A. Year. I’ve got plenty more to say about the joy and sadness that was 2016 in my first piece of 2017 (for us, as well as everyone else, it seems, it was a year of huge highs and massive lows), and my plans for 2017. But for now, I want to stay with the joy and take a look back at the highlights of a year of travel and adventure. Here’s my 2016 roundup.
We all absolutely adore Christmas, but the funniest thing is that while we were all sitting around the fire, Christmas Radio Times on hand to pick the best Christmas movies, sipping on a Baileys, talk actually turned to planning for the summer holidays. I was telling them that the fab villa holiday company, Villa Plus had asked me to talk about our holiday plans for next year, and, as a family with older children, it’s sometimes difficult to pick a holiday that suits everyone. As we were chatting, it was interesting to hear what the boys want from a family holiday. Whereas Jim and I really both want somewhere comfy to lounge and read a book and some sunshine, the boys have different ideas:
This weekend is one of my favourites of the whole year. The first weekend in December (or possibly the second, depending on timing) is tree decorating day. The men of the house go out and forage (okay, not exactly forage) for a Christmas tree, and we spend a lovely day with Christmas songs blasting, digging through all the decorations from the loft (they always bring back memories, don’t they?) and decorating the house. This year, as it’s the first year we’ve got our lovely new open kitchen/diner, I really wanted a kitchen Christmas tree and the boys did a fabulous job finding me the perfect one. To celebrate all this hygge activity (remember hygge? The Danish concept of warmth and family and cosiness), we decided to invite some lovely friends and – with a little help from Simply Beef and Lamb – found the perfect festive recipe: slow roasted lamb in sloe gin.
Do you wonder what the future holds for you? Are you one of those people who firmly lives in the present and doesn’t really even think about it, or are you a planner, with your whole life’s course already plotted? Maybe you’re like me: a bit inbetweeny – vaguely aware that the choices you make now will affect you in later life, but happy to leave it to some hazy future time to actually sort anything out. Recently, Aviva challenged me to have a bit more of a proper think about my future, especially how we’ll manage financially. They have an online tool called ‘Shape my Future’ (more of this later) which can give you a rough estimate of how much you’ll have to live on when you’re older. It’s been an eye opener, I can tell you.
I’m home!! Oh we had such a lovely time on our cruise (if you’ve been following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you’ll have seen all the fun), and I’m literally back for one day before Erica and I head out to Walt Disney World Resort, Florida to check out everything new in the world of Disney dining (and to whizz around on a few rides, of course). I was delighted to come back to a fabulous delivery in the shape of new Ryvita Lunch Packs, so as Erica’s staying before we head off to Gatwick, we though we’d have a little play and concoct some quick and healthy snackage to set us up for our long flight.
Talking to your children about stuff like child abuse is really, really tough. I can remember feeling really worried about broaching the subject, but also really wanting to let them know that they can always talk to us, especially if another adult ever made them feel uncomfortable or wanted them to keep a secret. Enter the NSPCC’s very clever Pantosauras campaign. I know this is a bit off topic for me, but I just thought the campaign was SO brilliant, it really deserves to be shared.
So, you’re about to set off on your first proper adventure at sea? Exciting! Cruising can seem like a strange and foreign world, and many first-time cruisers will be wondering all sorts of things: how they’ll spend all that time on board/whether they’ll get bored/lost//fat/feel sick/spend loads of money/whatever. Rest assured that cruise ships today are better equipped than ever before, with exciting activities, delicious food and top notch tipples right at your fingertips. In order to give you more of an insight into what you can expect from your time at sea, here’s my slightly tongue in cheek rundown of what to expect on your first cruise, particularly your first 48 hours at sea.
As usual, I’d like to start by saying that I’m not ‘reviewing’ these restaurants. I don’t see myself as any kind of food critic, we just love to eat out and share the experiences that we’ve had. We live quite near Berkhamsted: one of the prettiest towns in the Chilterns (if you’re in London, it’s literally half an hour from Euston and full of lovely places to eat – you should come!) and often visit the market (fruit and veg on Saturday is amazing) and for dinner at one of the fabulous restaurants.
If you’re thinking of visiting Berkhamsted and the surrounding Chilterns, or just generally heading to the south of England, do check this really useful interactive south of England travel map, complete with loads of ideas for attractions to see, activities to do, and more suggestions for places to eat too.
Here are our top five foodie experiences in Berkhamsted:
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