Forget about your worries and your strife – holiday essentials for the family

We’ve all been there at the airport: screaming, crying and throwing all our toys out of the pram…not to mention what the kids are up to. Yet it doesn’t have to be this way. You can plan for a much smoother operation whether it’s chilling out on the beach or pottering around the countryside together, all with your kids on side. Here’s a round-up of tips and essentials for family fun away from home.

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Arriving home to Heathrow

APH airport parking

One of the huge perks of my job is all the travel.  I get to visit some wonderful places and cruise on amazing ships.  I’m always pinching myself at how lucky I am.  One of the bits that I enjoy the least, though, is getting to the airport.  We actually only live about half an hour from Heathrow, but depending on how things are on the M25, that half hour can magically change into an hour or even longer.

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Fig leaf and cassis diffuser

Scented summer evenings

We’ve been enjoying the very last of the summer evenings here at English Towers, knowing that it’s the final summer we’ll spend in this house before moving on to our new house (which requires total refurbishment – eek!).  One of the things I’m really looking forward to in our new house, though, is using the lovely wood burner which is there.  I’m picturing a fireplace dotted with scented candles, filling the house with gorgeous scents.

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Charlie in the Bahamas

5 reasons why you should take your teenagers on a Caribbean cruise

Every parent of teenagers knows that feeling when you start to wonder exactly how long your children will keep wanting to come on holiday with you.  As they grow up, they naturally develop their own tastes, likes and dislikes (and even more naturally, these will tend to be the exact opposite to yours), so agreeing on a holiday destination (and indeed, persuading them to dump their mates and come on holiday with you) is never easy.

Enter, the Caribbean cruise.  Here’s why:

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The Honda Civic Tourer

On test: the Honda Civic Tourer 1.8i-VTEC SR

We’ve tested a few cars in the past, most notably the Honda CR-V that we drove around France, and really love doing it (basically, a lovely man appears on your doorstep with a brand new car and gives you the keys, leaving the car with you for a week – what’s not to love?).  This time, Honda asked if we’d like to try their new Civic Tourer 1.8 i-VTEC SR manual and, being a big car loving family, we jumped at the chance…

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Christmas lights

10 tips for sticking to a budget this Christmas

I know what you’re thinking: Christmas?  Really?  But now is the time of year where all the retailers are showcasing their Christmas stock to the trade (in fact, loads of retailers are already showing their Christmas ideas to the public too – have a look at the ‘New for Christmas 2014‘ range at John Lewis).

This year, I’m determined not to be panicking at the last minute.  I have a Christmas book (just a hard-backed notebook) and every year I make a few notes (and write down what people send to us so that I can write thank you notes) – it’s become a bit of a habit. This time I’ll be going more in depth. Here’s a few ideas I’ve got so far:

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Wowcherching cashback – we’re missing out on free money!

I’ve recently bought a new laptop and before I did, I had a good look around online for voucher codes or discount codes, but one thing I hadn’t really considered was cashback. Too late, sadly, I received an email from Wowcher’s new cashback website, Wowcherching last week so thought I’d have a look to see exactly how it works and how much I could earn.  If you’re not familiar with how cashback works, you visit their site and search for the retailer you are about to buy from, click through to the retailer via the link and once you’ve made your purchase the retailer then pays a referral commission back to Wowcherching, that they give to you as cashback. Read more

summer fun

5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays

So the kids are breaking up (or have broken up) from school and now the loooong summer stretches ahead.  My two seem to have been off for weeks already (both have done exams and have been on study leave since May – happily they both have part time jobs which at least keep them occupied some of the time).  So whether you’re embracing this time with your children, or dreading it, you’ll still have between a month and six weeks of time to fill and there’s nothing worse than bored kids. So how can you keep the kids entertained?  Here are my top 5 tips for surviving the school summer holidays:

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Samsung Galaxy Fame

Three’s ‘Feel at Home’ and the Samsung Galaxy Fame

So recently I talked about my quest for cheaper mobile data when travelling, and my discovery that Three’s ‘Feel at Home’ service allows you to use your Pay As You Go credit while travelling abroad (basically you just convert your credit into an add-on, then you can use your allowance of minutes, texts and data up to a limit of something like 25Gb.

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ClearLift at Disappear Ltd

A facelift in a lunchtime with ClearLift

At the end of May, I undertook a little facial maintenance with my lovely laser therapist, Melissa at Disappear Ltd in Milton Keynes.  Melissa is removing my hideous tattoo, and I’ve become a bit obsessed with all the other little bits and bobs she does there for skin rejuvenation.  I started with a session of Meso Vytal micro needling. One month on, and with two very sunny weeks in Florida and the Caribbean in between, I’m still pretty pleased with the results.  I found the Meso Vytal very good for evening out my skin tone (I have quite a lot of Melasma – skin pigmentation, especially across my forehead), and with daily application of a good quality sunblock, I was feeling good about my skin.  Good enough, I told her, to go without foundation ALL THE TIME – unheard of for me.

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SushiSamba, Miami Beach

One of my favourite places in Miami is Lincoln Road.  It’s a huge, pedestrianised area stuffed with shops, restaurants, cafés, and on certain days there are market stalls and food stalls too.  After working up an appetite on our cycling tour of Miami Beach, we headed to SushiSamba and flumped down in the shade of their gorgeous orange brollies to do a bit of nibbling and people watching.

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Pizza in Rome

Food for thought in Italy

For food lovers, Italy is without a doubt one of the best places in the world for dining out. While the usual classics like pizza, pasta and ‘mamma’s tasty meatballs’ are indeed delicious, the culinary scene is vast and varied throughout the country. Italy boasts some incredible quality and a diverse range of flavours as each region has, over time, cultivated its own unique cuisine. In order to source the very best in Italian fare on a dreamy Tuscan city break or a fabulous Roman holiday, consider a few things to tantalise your taste buds.

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