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:
October is a super exciting month in the cruise industry. It’s when everyone who loves to cruise comes together to celebrate Plan a Cruise Month: a whole month devoted to everything to do with cruising and the perfect time of year for you to plan your own cruise – especially as there are loads of fantastic offers and incentives available throughout the whole month. This year, the theme of Plan a Cruise Month is ‘destinations’, and I thought I’d tell you about Grand Cayman, one of my very favourite cruise destinations, by having a reminisce of my own lovely trip there, on assignment for Cruise International with Charlie.
You’ll probably already know that I’m a huge fan of Attraction Tickets Direct: they’re one of the world’s largest attraction ticket brokers, and we’ve been everywhere from the West End of London, to Disneyland Paris, and even Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando with them. Last week I headed to the gorgeous Sea Containers in London to celebrate their 15th birthday with them, and to hear some really fabulous news about new Attraction Tickets Direct Disney hotel, ticket and dining packages!
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.
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.
- Weekend wishlist: REN Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic February 17, 2018
- Moroccan spiced hummus with roasted chickpeas February 15, 2018
- The new hush spring 2018 collection February 13, 2018
- Perfect, fluffy pancakes for Pancake Day February 12, 2018
- Healthier oat and cranberry cookies February 10, 2018