How’s your relationship with alcohol? I’d say that mine’s… complicated. When we were younger, I was always the one who would volunteer to drive. I’m naturally quite chatty and happy, and it didn’t occur to me that I needed to drink alcohol to have a good time, therefore I was generally the designated driver, and happy enough with it. Now, we don’t tend to go out much, so our drinking is done at home, and this has increased steadily over time. Add to this the fact that we really love our wine, to the point that I write about it and we even invest in it, and you’ll see why our alcohol consumption has steadily grown. Next week, 13th to 19th November is Alcohol Awareness Week, and I’ve been thinking a little bit about how (and why) I drink. It’s been an interesting time…
One year, when the kids were small and we were still living in Ireland, our whole family came over to spend Christmas with us. I remember it as the most magical time: loads of fun and laughter, walks to the pub snuggled up in hats and scarves, the kids opening their presents together on Christmas morning… Years later, we still talk about our lovely family Christmas together, and one of the things we’ve considered is renting a cosy cottage somewhere and decamping as a family for the festive period. I’m thinking The Holiday but with considerably more people. So why am I hankering after getting away from it all? Well, here are five great reasons why we should all be having a cosy cottage Christmas:
Yesterday, I was lucky enough to be invited to Disney’s fabulous Halloween party in London. As you can imagine, there aren’t many parties better than a Disney one and sure enough, there were spooky drinks (served by even spookier characters), pumpkins and witches amidst lots of swirling dry ice and, of course, Mickey and Minnie in all their Halloween finery! I know you all love to hear a bit of Disney news too, so I thought I’d update you on a few new pieces of news for 2018 and beyond: from brand new Disney Cruise Line cruises in 2019 to the exciting Marvel announcement for Disneyland Paris made yesterday at Comic Con in London. Read more
You know that I’m a complete Halloween addict. I love all the little bits and bobs that come out around this time of year, and yesterday I was nosing around John Lewis, intending to buy a few baking bits to make my spiced chocolate skeleton gingerbread men (more of these in a second). They have some absolutely gorgeous gifts, decorations and treats for Halloween this year and I ended up buying rather a lot of that stuff too (I mean, mini pumpkin fairy lights, come on!).
If you’ve read my top ten tips for visiting Halloween Horror Nights, you’ll know that we had a fabulous trip, and this time – thanks to Dixons Travel – I get to truly share it with you as we made our first GoPro video! Yes, there was some jerky camera work (and rather a lot of screaming) but I’m actually really proud of our Halloween Horror Nights GoPro movie. GoPro have an excellent editing app called Quik that’s simple to use and allows you to edit your movie, blend clips together and add music too.
Now Charlie has gone off to university, I’ve been doing a bit of research on student discounts for 2017 and beyond. Loads of companies are really generous with their student discounts and, as some will be on a limited basis, this is the best time to think about using your discounts. First things first, though, you need to prove that you’re a student and most companies want to see your official NUS Student Card.
‘Oh, I’ve been to Walt Disney World, I don’t need to go again’, said no-one ever. One of the things I love most about the happiest place on earth is that it’s ever-evolving. One of the best places to hear all the news and future plans for the Disney Parks and Resorts is D23 Expo, Disney’s official fan club’s brilliant biannual gathering, billed as the ultimate Disney fan event, which took place in Anaheim over the weekend. There have been some pretty jaw-dropping announcements, so if you’re a Disney fan, grab a cuppa, and I’ll take you through what’s coming up at Walt Disney World, Florida (and a few bits from the other parks too). Excuse all the artist’s impressions but obviously that’s all there is at the moment, apart from the pic I took of the hoarding hiding the new Toy Story Land!
As the kids get older, the idea of lazing on a beach with an iced drink and a good thriller novel to hand (my idea of heaven) becomes a bit less realistic. I know some teenagers are happy to loll around on holiday, but we like to break it up and have at least a couple of days expanding our comfort zone. I thought it would be a good idea to suggest a few activities to get the heart-rate up and excitement pounding, so here are a few of my top activities for adrenaline junkies. These are also great if you’re not actually heading away anywhere, but want a few tips for great days out to break up the holidays.
We all know that feeling, right? After a gorgeous holiday, the last day is such a massive come-down: you’ve got to be out of your room by midday but your flight doesn’t leave until the evening, you don’t want to get sandy and have nowhere to shower, so your last day is spent miserably killing time, sweating in your travel clothes, before heading home. While I was in beautiful Barbados, though, Virgin announced a brand new concept that’s going to change all that, and I think you’re going to love it. Step forward The Departure Beach from Virgin.
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.
- Weekend wishlist: the perfect holiday capsule wardrobe with M&S May 19, 2018
- Breaded baked barbecue cauliflower May 17, 2018
- Why I’m pondering becoming a pescatarian May 15, 2018
- Weekend wishlist: 10 ways to live a more sustainable life May 12, 2018
- Step by step: easy chocolate cake recipe May 10, 2018