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.
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:
I’m probably not alone in having Niagara Falls on my bucket list. It’s one of those places that everyone wants to visit, but I’m thinking that maybe it tends to have a reputation for being more of a romantic getaway. I totally get it: stunning views, beautiful restaurants, wine tours… it’s the perfect honeymoon destination. However, recently I’ve been looking at it from a family perspective, and I’m pleasantly surprised at just how many attractions are aimed at families and children in the area. As if you needed convincing, here are a few of my discoveries and recommendations for family fun at the Falls:
…and some old favourites. So last time, I told you a little about Walt Disney World Resort, Florida’s fabulous free dining offer. This time, I thought I’d bring you an update on some fabulous new experiences at Walt Disney World, including stunning new dining options and new attractions. I’ve also added in a few things that aren’t new, but that I experienced for the first time too. So sit back, grab a cuppa, and I’ll begin… Read more
So we all know about the beautiful ski resorts of the French Alps: Val D’Isere and Morzine are on everyone’s skiing radar. But what about in the summer? I’ve noticed that a lot of friends are heading off to these types of resorts in the off season too, and after a bit of research, I’m definitely ready to join them.
On the plane back from Florida this week, I was reading an article about Indonesia. It really is a fantastically interesting place. The Republic of Indonesia (to give it its full title) is actually made up of something like 13,000 islands and is actually the world’s fourth largest country by population (I know!) which makes you wonder why most of us have only heard of Bali!
Every since we spent one single day there after our Disney Cruise back in 2013, I’ve been desperate to go back to Barcelona. Way back then, we were lucky to be with some lovely friends, Dave and Drew, who go to Barcelona a lot and could cherry pick all the best bits to show us in a single day, but even so, it’s impossible to cover in a day. Next time we’re back (which I think is in September), I’ve got so much stuff I want to see.
My very first holiday as an adult, away from my family for the first time ever, was in Mallorja (or Majorca). My friend Clare and I went to Palma Nova. We chose it because it was it was supposed to be a bit quieter than its slightly noisy neighbour, Magaluf, and we had the most wonderful week of sunbathing, cocktails and lazing on the beautiful beach. One thing we didn’t do, though, was explore much, which is one of the reasons why Mallorca continues to rate quite highly on my holiday bucket list and why I was delighted with Booking Mallorca asked me to pick a few faves from their selection of lovely villas and apartments.
Ever since I watched Alex Polizzi’s Secret Italy on Channel 5 last year, I’ve wanted to visit Sicily. The little island just off the toe of Italy keeps popping up in travel magazines I read and I’m just desperate to go and visit. I think what I love about it is that it has everything: gorgeous coastline; fabulous, ancient cities; and wonderful, vibrant food markets.. It’s one of those places (along with Cuba at the moment) that’s very high on my travel bucket list.
So after our 24 magical hours in Walt Disney World and boarding the gorgeous Disney Dream in Port Canaveral, it’s time to tell you about our shore adventures in the final part of our photo diary. From Port Canaveral, we cruised south east to Nassau and then back north towards Disney Cruise Line’s private island, Castaway Cay. Here’s what we got up to:
So the start of this week was ‘blue Monday’ apparently – the most depressing day of the year. If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see my post about how I keep happy, basically by always having something to look forward to. Yes, I know I go away a lot so this is quite easy, but often, and especially when I don’t have a trip planned, it can be something as simple as having a page in my notebook where I jot down ideas for our lovely new en-suite (when we can finally afford it), or planning a family night out, or a drink with a girlfriend pencilled in the diary. As long as there’s something lovely to look forward to, or something that needs planning, I’m a happy girl.
I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Scenic. After enjoying a lovely trip on the brand new Scenic Jasper (you can read my Cruise International article about it here) last year, I was really impressed by their impeccable service, gorgeous accommodation and all round feeling of laid-back luxury. I was delighted and excited, then, to be invited to The Ivy on Friday for a top secret announcement (I’ve had to keep quiet until now – can you imagine how difficult it’s been?!) and you won’t believe what I’ve got to tell you.
I am SO busy at the moment it’s ridiculous. I’ve taken on a huge project with a really short deadline, but I’m absolutely loving it, although everything else has completely gone out the window: the laundry pile is overflowing from the basket, and don’t get me started on the ironing. No Christmas cards have been written, very few pressies have been purchased, and to add insult to injury, Charlie is learning to drive, so I’m living in a permanent state of ‘OMG I’m so busy!’ mixed with ‘oh god, he wants to go driving again – my poor nerves’. My Dad is also in hospital having had a hip replacement. So… yes, I’m feeling lucky and stressy and busy busy busy! One thing I really must do, though, is tell you about Grinchmas and my AMAZING trip to Orlando last week to visit Universal Orlando Resort and experience their magical 2015 Holidays Celebration.
Crop Over really is the highlight of the calendar in Barbados. The festival, which takes place in August, can trace its origins back to the 1700s, when workers in Barbados celebrated the end of the sugar cane harvest. Sadly, as the sugar cane industry slowed in Barbados, the Crop Over festival faded out and in the 1940s it stopped being celebrated altogether. Luckily for us, the festival was reintroduced in the early 70s and now is one of the most colourful and exciting celebrations in Caribbean culture. It’s a wonderful time to visit Barbados as there are loads of things to see and do and there’s a real, crackling energy to the island.
So last time, I told you all about our hotel, the lovely Sea Breeze Beach Hotel in Oistins, and recommended a few fun things to see and do while you’re there.
Another thing we really wanted to do while in Barbados was explore the rest of the island away from Christchurch, where we were based. Barbados covers about 166 square miles and one of the best (and most fun) ways to do see it is to jump on a jeep and experience an island safari. Here’s how we got on!
So I’m finally catching up with all my travel notes and can’t wait to tell you about my TRIP OF A LIFETIME, visiting Barbados to get involved in Crop Over festival. The festival celebrates the end of the sugar cane harvest, and it’s a fabulous time to be in Barbados, with parties, dancing, incredible costumes and lots and lots of rum punch, but more of this later! Here’s the first part of my visit to Barbados – a little about our lovely hotel, and a few recommendations of things to see and do. Ready, steady….
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