Tag Archives: travel
Image

#silentsunday

10 Feb

20130211-022204.jpg

Advertisements

My Epic Adventure

28 Jan

I’ve just discovered the MoneySupermarket competition and thought it would be cool to enter by telling you about my dream grand adventure.

Firstly, it would be a child free adventure, one I’d take with a friend in order to provide myself with some much needed respite.

There are many places on my too go list but I couldn’t presently think of a better place than the Swiss Alps. For my epic adventure, I choose Grindelwald Switzerland, the place of magnificent scenery, famous snow topped mountains, lush pastures and flower filled meadows.

20130128-231025.jpg

I’m not into Skiing but Grindelwald has so much more to offer from scenic hikes, to husky rides, ice skating to sledding.

Yes, Grindelwald in Switzerland’s Alps offers its visitors both relaxation amongst beautiful surrounding and true epic adventure. Here’s how I’d make this trip the most memorable for the least amount of money.

Getting there…

Visitors can fly to either Geneva or Zurich and then use public transport (railway) to reach Grindelwald.

Getting About…

There is no need for car hire when staying at Grindelwald as the area has fantastic transport links. There is a good running train service, cablecars, chairlifts, gondolas, buses, trams and more with most forms of transport being very reasonably priced. You can even hire yourself an E-Bike for just an hour or a whole day if desired.

Where to stay.

Hotels ain’t cheap in this beautiful part of the Swiss Alps, however Hotels are not your only option. How about staying on a farm? Seriously you can sleep on the hay at a friendly Swiss farm amongst the goats and cattail. However if this isn’t your thing there are a number of really cheap stay hostels with prices from as little £21 pp pn. I discovered a great little hostel for £43 pn that is located right at the bottom of the famous mountain Eiger. Another really cheap way to visit the alps is by camping at one of its camper parks

20130128-231742.jpgphoto credit

Dinning…

As opting for a self catering holiday normally works out a lot cheaper therefore providing me with more cash For the fun stuff. I could see myself enjoying lunch at one of the villages many cafes. The local shops also sell reasonably priced local produce,such a cheese meats and … Yes, Chocolate. I’d love to spend at least one night camping, toasting marshmallows on an open fire while tucking into some beautiful locally brought bread and cheese.

20130128-231448.jpg
Photo Credit

Epic things i’d do while Visiting this magical place.

20130128-232108.jpgPhoto Credit MySwitzerland.com

I would have to have a go at Trotti biking. I’d hike through beautiful scenic vistas and visit the nearby lakes and only once I’d reached 2,000 meters above sea level would I race on my Trotti bike back down the mountain on a 40 minute ride of my life through the stunning Swiss countryside. Trotti bikes are two wheel stand on electric scooters. Trotti biking is excellent fun and won’t break the bank with prices from CHF18-30

If visiting in the summer I’d have to try my hand at a hike. And where better than the Grosse Scheidegg mountain pass connecting Grindelwald and Meiringen. Its very much about the scenery and I have heard that on clear summer days there are spectacular views of Grindelwald, the Eiger and the Kleine Scheidegg. It can amount to 3+ hike but its also cost nothing, its free to take in such beauty .

Ice skating in Grindelwald town centre sounds like fun and doesn’t cost much either. The town also has a busy night life with bars and concerts. Like anywhere some bars are more expensive than others. I’d make it my mission to visit those with the best offers and happiest happy hours.

I’d take an amazing sightseeing trip on the Jungfrau cog railway (Ticket to the top of the world). The 50 minute journey takes you through underground tunnels and through beautiful mountain scenery. It includes a stop at Eigarward in the middle of Eigers North face allowing you to get up close through the observation windows. What’s more the trip takes you to the beautiful ice palace 1,000 square meter igloo surrounded by magnificent ice sculpture.The last stop is yet the best, the Aletsch Glacier (the largest in the Alps) a chance for me to snap some truly breathtaking pics for me to instagram. Ok, its not that cheap with tickets costing between CHF130-160 but with all the money I’ve saved on this holiday it wouldn’t be an issue.

To make this trip extra epic I’d just throw myself from the Glacier Gorge (with a bungee attached of course) plummeting 85m downwards towards the beautiful glacial meltwater river… Can you get more epic than that?

Here’s a video I found of a bungee jump from the Glacier on youtube.

Video credit to ClickClickBoom

Just by being sensible with your money it really can go a long way. Its simply about cutting back in some areas in order to get more benefit from others. Decide whats important to you and then budget efficiently allowing yourself to have an epic adventure while on holiday.

This is my entry into the MoneySupermarket Grand Adventure Bloggers competition.

Although I know its to late to nominate I put forward mumofthreeboys and superlucky

Be A Smart Shopper And Save Money

15 Oct

“I need to cut back on stuff for a bit. Just in till I’ve gotten myself back on my feet.”

“I’m just being careful with the pennies over the next few months to ensure I’ve got enough money for our family holiday!”

The two statements above are ones I’ve heard all too often. Would It be wrong to assume that those reading this have stated one of the above or at least something along them lines. If you haven’t then I’m impressed! Your smart!

You, see saving money should never be a short term goal! It should be a way of life, one that isn’t a chore to undertake. A depressive process that makes us feel restricted and starved of some of life’s pleasures. It should be easy, yet rewarding… Something we do without thinking about it. Bottom line is… Saving money should be a normality.

Changes may need making, though not all will need to be grand or life changing. In fact, we find its a collection of the smallest things that amount to the most significant savings.

Budget planning and careful documentation of finances has provided me with the proof that small changes, even if it means a few switch over of services, can actually amount to some long term substantial savings.

So., why listen to me? Admittedly I’m no well known money saving adviser! What I am is a mother to three children who is extra vigilant with her income.

My eldest son is on the autism spectrum and is registered disabled. I’m therefore his full time carer and this means that other than the benefits we we get including Carers Allowance, we have no other means.

I help other parents of children with autism to get the services they require whether it be educational or personal and do so on a voluntary basis. For this reason I’ve also got an extensive collection of tips and info on ways these families can save money and gain access to services. I’ve incorporated some of this information within this post.

Household Utilities

Energy Bills: If like myself you are on a Pre-pay meter for your gas, electric or even both, you maybe feeling a little ticked off with the constant need to top up your key or card. However, Not having unexpected bills or unpaid direct debits is appealing and was my motivation for opting for Pre-pay meter in the first place. Nonetheless, pre-pay may seem the safest option but in actual fact isn’t the most cost efficient.

Weigh up your options between Pre-Pay and Monthly billing to see what works best for you. Call or visit your service providers website for information and policies on switching from Pre-pay to billing!

Don’t be afraid to switch providers if you find a better deal elsewhere. Shopping around is always a must and should always be done before any signing on any dotted line.

If you find a better deal, give your current provider the chance to match this in order to keep your custom.

Important: Don’t act harshly! Wait till the end of November when all providers should have already updated new prices following any decisions to raise this winters energy prices.

In the meantime, keep bills lower by trying some of these quick tips…

Replace normal light bulbs with the long life energy efficient type.

Never live off your emergency credit. Usage is automatically more expensive per day. You will find that as soon as your on the emergency, electricity and gas is consumed at a much faster rate than if you were not.

If your not a home owner check with council, housing association or landlord if your able to apply for loft or wall cavity insulation. A number of energy suppliers are actually offering both its costumers and non costumers free loft and wall cavity insulation (links will be provide in reference section located at the bottom of the post).

Remember that the DWP automatically send cold whether payments to families on certain benefits such as disability living allowance. Payments are applicable when the weather is recorded to be an average of zero degrees Celsius over seven consecutive days.

The elderly, those with a disability (including a family member) or families caring for someone suffering from an illness may be able to receive greater discounts up to £130.00 from their suppliers under the home-care support programme.

The EDF energy trust, an independent charity can provide grants to low income families receiving certain benefits. (You must be a customer of one of their boards to apply.) The charities focus is on improving poverty by providing help in the way of grants to clear debts of gas and electricity as well as other household debts. The charity also provide grants to those in need of essential items such as appliances.

Mobile phone billing:

Those on contracts who don’t use all their data or call/text allowance should consider requesting that they change their call plan and therefore reduce the cost of their bill for the remainder of the contract. After all why pay for a service you are not using?

Those using iPhone or other smart phones should take advantage of certain apps available to them. Many Apps allow you to send text and multi media to fellow app users. This does only work with an Internet connection but if you use your wifi it does practically make it free saving you a fair bit of money.

Sometimes however, its just better to opt for pay as you go. Most mobile providers offer great deals and bundles such as bolt Ons and family and friends (call certain family and friends who’s numbers you have registered on your plan, free of charge). Basically by opting for pay as you go you can only use your phone when its topped up therefore avoiding any huge scary phone bills.

Sometimes you will find that your mobile provider offers services for home phone and broadband and vis-vesa. They will usually be happy to give you a quote. Given that you are an existing costumer to one of their services, discounts are offered and are usually very good. This really worked out well for me and made the accounts so much easier to manage.

Say No to 0870 is a great website that searches for alternatives to high cost numbers such as 0870 & 0845 by listing their equivalent geographical number. Using this site has saved me a fortune.

Shopping:

Food and daily essentials…
If possible shop online! Don’t stay loyal to one retailer/supermarket but instead be sure to go with the one offering you the best deals. Many offer huge discounts for first time shoppers and I’ve had fun trying them all out.

Be sure to search for the best deals via a comparison website. Also check out one of the many voucher code sites or apps where you can find some fantastic voucher and promo codes that could greatly reduce your shopping bill.

Be sure to take advantage of store loyalty cards and those odd money off coupons you took from the mornings newspaper.

Try to buy certain products in bulk, especially if you find an discount or offer being run on a product you use on a regular bases. Bulk buying may cost more at the time but will certainly save you money in the weeks to follow.

Shopping for other items such as clothing, toys, homewear, electrics and more….

Again scan the Internet for all the latest discounts and introductory offers. Big costly items should be fully researched via review sites, blogs and forums. This way you have a better idea about the product and may even change your mind for an alternative. Be sure to have covered every corner of the web before committing to payment of your purchase.There is nothing worse than later discovering that fabulous deal you missed out on.

Be sure to use a reputable comparison site to find the best price available. Always read T&C before committing to a transaction. This will highlight any hidden extras and charges before you hand over your money.

If your also a bit of a giver you can also donate to a chosen charity without actually sending a penny extra. Just use a platform such as the one provided by ‘Give as you live‘ to enter your chosen store.The greater your spend on an item the more taken from the final sale price and donated to your chosen charity. What’s great is its free, your not spending more than you planned yet your still able to feel good about yourself.

I myself am a huge bargain hunter and love a good charity shop. Other places you may find a good quality homeware, clothing and more include… Jumble sales, bootfairs, high street and online sales, eBay, clothes swapping sites and best of all freecycle. Everything added to the site is free to local collectors. I’ve had some amazing items from vintage lighting to my garden fence.

What’s important here is not to rush into any big purchase decisions! Explore all options and buy with confidence. Also remember that sometimes the more expensive products are cheaper in the long run. It may be more expensive but may last longer and therefore provide better value for money.

Travel – Train, Coach etc…

I’m off to bristol this Saturday with my 10 year old daughter her best friend and my mum. Trying to get the best fare didn’t exactly go as smoothly as I’d first hoped and I quickly discovered the horrifying prices attached to rail travel (even that of advance tickets). After lots of ramaging and much online reading I started to get wiser as I began to discover how to play the travel provider at their own game.

Firstly the earlier you book the better (12 weeks is recommended for best priced tickets)

Use a fare finder like the trainline or red spotted hanky. You can get anything up to 80% discounted from your fare.

It’s great if your flexible as you will often be shown cheaper options for one maybe two dates either side of the original date you had opted for.

Split ticketing. Basically find out the stops on your trains route and then try splitting the fare but not the travel. You simple search for return tickets to the station normally around half way to your destination. Then again search for returns from the halfway mark to the final destination. For some its cut the fare down by half. You end up with double the tickets but the journey remains the exact same… Just ensure the train does stop at the halfway mark to make it work. You don’t even need to get off the train.

Remember sometimes its cheaper to get two singles as opposed to a returned ticket. Apps like the red spotted hanky will show you the best option out of the two.

If you travel on the train a lot as a family or with friends I’ve discovered it’s much better to buy a family and friends rail card for around £26.00 per year. This will get adults up to 30% of their travel and 60% off the child price when you travel together. Family and friends rail cards can even be used in conjunction with most reduced price ticketing and promotions therefore saving you a significant amount of money.

Note: If you are caring for a family member with a disability you can get them to apply for a disability pass from their local council which entitles them to free travel in and around london.

For longer journeys its worth looking at a disabled person railcard which cost £20 for the year and entitles the person with the disability plus an adult companion upto 30% each of their travel.

Family Days Out…

If you and the family are planing a day out which requires you to use the train, london southeastern run all year round offers that give you 2 for 1 entrance at many top attractions if travelling by train.

Families consisting of Pre-school children should consider visiting attractions on certain days around term time. These dates are always cheaper and many attractions offer special price packages for families with toddlers.

If planning a family trip to an attraction during term times advance booking online and collection of tickets at the gate often results in reduced prices.

If you visit attractions more than once per year many places offer annual family passes. In most cases you can buy these at a good reduced price if purchasing on a day you’ve already been visiting the attraction. However this means you have to buy them before leaving the park when many families feel they have simply spent enough.

Always check prices for children with disabilities. These will often come under concessions and many places offer a reduced ticket rate for carers.

Most cinemas are part of a programme that entails a carer of a disabled person who is buying a cinema ticket, a complementary ticket free of charge. Those with disabilities must have a CEA card which cost around £5 and can be ordered online.

Now, I could go on and on all night. After all we haven’t even touched on insurance policies, banking and more. But I guess I’ll have to save this for another time.

Below you will find a reference section with links to some of the services I’ve mentioned above. If any families of a disabled child are reading this please look out for a post I will be publishing later on in the week. This will provide a list of some charitable organisations providing assistance to families of children with certain disabilities and special needs.

REFERENCE SECTION

SMART PHONE APPS TO SAVE YOU MONEY… If you have a smart phone be smart and use it to save money.

WhatsApp: Free messenger (iTunes price 69p) Send text, picture, audio & video. Twitter handle @WhatsApp

IUU: Free Messenger free to download.

Text Me!: Free texting of SMS and IM style messages. Free to download.

Energy bills

Cold Weather payments from Direct Gov

Warm-Home Discount Scheme info on Direct Gov

British Gas Free loft and wall cavity insulation

The EDF energy trust (charitable trust)

Travel Savings

National Rail railcards (RailCards)
Disabled persons Railcard
The Trainline (cheap fare search)
Red Spotted Hanky (cheap fare search)

Voucher Code Sites

vouchercodes.co.uk
moneysavingexpert.com
Savoo
vouchercloud.com

Comparison Sites
USwitch
price runner
MoneySupermarket

This post is my entry into Savoo UKs smartest shopper competition. The prize is for £10,000 a new money saving blog.

We’ve Booked Our Holiday

10 Oct

Do, I feel organised? Hell yes.

It’s very rare that I’m able to be so prepared. Although booking holidays in advance when your child is on the autism spectrum is really an absolute must, things almost certainly never work out as planned for me.

Some may remember a few months back when I excitedly announced that we were chosen as one of 40 family’s to become a Butlins Ambassador. Well, I’ve been thinking about booking our break for a while but wanted to ensure I made the right resort, accommodation, and catering choices before doing so.

I’ve been given the opportunity to really plan this holiday around the whole families needs and this has allowed me to really step back and think things through when deciding on the best options for little man in particular.

Although we experienced quite a few hiccups during the Tots 100 Christmas party break at Butlins. I do put the majority of this down to the fact we got tickets so late on in the day. This combined with the fact that we wasn’t able to take the children to the actual bloggers meal and party was a bit stressful for little man and me having to dash away caused him some anxiety.

This break is a true family occasion and I won’t be doing any dashing of any sort whatsoever.

The fact that Butlins have a really scheduled time table that little man can follow is absolutely perfect. We found that just having the iPhone App that displayed the daily listings of what was happening at what times made organising what to do really easy. We actually got the app at least a week before leaving so had plenty of time to create little man his very own schedule.

I’m pleased that this year my mum and good family friend Donna will be joining us. This means that all the children can enjoy all aspects of the holiday and I won’t feel like I need to rip myself in half to please them all.

So, our break is booked for the Easter Holidays (1st-5th April 2013). We will be staying 4 nights and coming back home the day before my birthday. This should give me plenty of time to fully organise the trip and prepare the little man.

We are staying in the new Wave hotel at Bognor which is recommend more towards older children of both Alice’s and little man’s age. I’m hoping this will really suit him (they have ps3 in the games room so that should be a winner). Another great aspect is that they both each get their own TV at the end of their bunk (not that we are planning on watching a lot of tv) but what a way to avoid arguments.

I do feel really excited about our next break and have made it my mission to be as prepared as possible.

Here’s a couple of tips if your planning on taking a child away with autism or Aspergers during any of the pending half terms.

1) Book in advance to enable yourself time to plan efficiently.

2) Make sure the child on the spectrum knows when and where you are going.

3) Make an events board. I have done this simply by making a timeline that shows where we are going and in how many days. I do this with all events and occasions that little man needs to prepare for, not just holidays.

4) Try to use real life visuals for your events board. Take these from pictures or Brochures.

5) Let your child explore the designation online. Little man will be checking out the new Butlins website this evening.

6) if you have any worries or concerns make sure these have been discussed with the booking team or those taking care of your accommodation. This could be anything from the request of a room with a shower ( little man prefers to shower and its less of a battle for me to get him to use it) it may be something as simple as avoiding a certain room number (little for us massive to the child with autism).

7) Make sure you have brought and packed everything you need and well within time.

8) Importantly don’t forget any medications. Little man’s melatonin was something we took up again just before going away last time then we forgot to take it. Not great as it can’t be brought over the counter.

9) Pack essentials for travel. We normally go by car and a good supply of snacks and drink is a must.

10) Don’t just leave everything to the last minute! The child on the spectrum can become very anxious when this happens. Believe me… I know.

Heres a few images from our last trip away.

Little man Butlins

20121010-130021.jpg

Alice and little man

20121010-130201.jpg

Alice and the toddler

20121010-130311.jpg

Mad Bloggers Aboard A Luxurious Yacht

13 Sep

Things have been so busy these past few months that I haven’t had the opportunity to tell you all about a fabulous day out I was treated to back in August.

As some may know I won a Mad Blog award back in 2011 for the Most inspiring blog! This year I’m really excited at the fact I’m once more a finalist and will be heading to central London at the end of this month for a lavish awards ceremony.

Due to the fact I’m a finalist in this years awards, I received a lovely invitation from ‘HomeAway‘ sponsors of this years travel category.This invite was an invitation to attend a fabulous day aboard a luxurious yacht…. Yes yacht!

20120913-052854.jpg

Now, before you ask, I’m not a finalist in the travel category but instead the most inspirational, though I was actually nominated for travel I didn’t quite make the cut.

Of course my reaction to this nomination was one of laughter! I wondered to myself “who ever put me up for that?” You see, travelling is something I don’t do well with three kids in toll, especially when on is on the autism spectrum. Most of our tales of travel, consists of meltdowns and on my part… breakdowns!

So, you maybe wondering why I was invited to board this luxury yacht docked at the beautiful St Katharine’s dock near Tower Bridge? I know I did! Well, turns out that those lovely lot at HomeAway wanted to share the love and given they had acquired an entire yacht for a weekend, they totally wanted to make the most of it! I guess given that there is only 5 finalist per category, it made sense to invite a few more.

20120913-052946.jpg

20120913-053035.jpg

I didn’t need asking twice, I actually juggled some plans in-order to ensure my attendance. I only had to look at the images to know this was a not to be missed opportunity. I’m your average mum of three who just doesn’t get invited aboard a luxurious yacht for a barbecue. Would this opportunity arise ever again? Most likely not, that is unless I win the lottery!

20120913-053130.jpg

I was really pleased that I was allowed to take my youngest Harley. The two older children had plans with their father and I was struggling to find a babysitter.

20120913-053232.jpg

The day arrived and despite having to get there with a toddler in a pushchair on the crappy London Underground, I was actually early! If you know me then you’ll understand why I had to slip that in! Was I blown away but this dreamy yacht? Hell yes, it was simply stunning.

At first I did worry the toddler would walk about touching things he shouldn’t. At one point I had this terrible vision of him lobbing people’s belongings overboard just to gain the satisfaction of hearing it go plonk (when your child has a thing about throwing everything down the toilet you can’t blame one for thinking it)! Luckily there was no such dramas and if anything I was amazed at how well behaved my little guy was. Harley loved our time aboard the yacht especially all the attention he got given.

20120913-053354.jpg

It was lovely to meet the HomeAway team and see some of my fellow bloggers and award finalist. Everyone was in high spirits, what with the beautiful weather, a delicious barbecue, strawberry and champers and a steady serving of pimms.

We all sat out on the top deck chatting as the sun went down. I stayed much longer than I had first planned and really felt relaxed and comfortable in everybody’s company.

It was a spectacular day aboard a spectacular yacht and I for one won’t forget it in a hurry.

Thanks to both the Mad Blog Awards and HomeAway for making it happen.

20120913-053325.jpg

Help Susanna Walk Appeal

14 Jun

Some of you may remember the review myself and the children did a while back on the fabulous restaurant ‘Frankie & Bennys’

We loved it, rated it highly and have been back a number of times since.

Then yesterday I received an email about a very special appeal called “Help Susanna Walk” which Frankie and Bennys are supporting.

The appeal really touched my heart and I just had to make my lovely readers aware of it and see if any of you could possibly help this beautiful little girl who wants nothing more than to be able to walk independently.

A waiter who works at the Frankie & Benny’s restaurant in Widnes has a beautiful five-year-old daughter called Susanna who suffers from Cerebral Palsy.

20120614-030155.jpg

The waiter and his wife are desperately trying to raise money to send Susanna to Missouri in the US for a life changing operation that will enable her to walk unaided. Missouri is the only place she can have surgery urgently – in the UK there is a 2 year waiting list which would mean Susanna would miss her window of opportunity to have it done as she will then be too old to qualify ( I know it sucks).

The operation has a 100% success rate. The family have so far raised £15K but it’s been a struggle and there is a long way to go as they need £60,000 in total.

20120614-030435.jpg

Frankie & Bennys is determined to raise the money by the end of July 2012 and have promised that this beautiful little girl will walk properly like all of her friends. Frankie & Benny’s is embarking on a nationwide fundraising weekend on Saturday 30th June/Sunday 1st July in every single one of their restaurants where they will donate £3.95 from every child’s meal purchased as well as many other specific fundraising activities for each individual venue.

How you can help

Frankie and Benny’s is a fabulous restaurant and you can feel that you’ve contributed just by enjoying a meal with the children on the specified dates as £3.95 from each of kids meal purchased on this date will go directly to Susanna’s appeal.

If you can’t visit you’re nearest restaurant on either of the two dates and you would like to help Susanna walk then you still can. Just visit the “Help Susanna Walk Just Giving Page” which has been set up as a place people can donate. You can give as much or as little as you can.

What the money raised would do

The money raised will pay for Susanna and her family to travel to and from the States for the operation itself. It will also provide accommodation for the family for a month following Susanna’s operation and further intensive physiotherapy. Money raised will pay for further treatment and aftercare on her return to the UK and hopefully enough will be raise to also provide Susanna with some equipment to aid her speedy recovery.

Susanna only has a short amount of time left whereby she qualifies for this operation, hence the need for immediate action. By raising this money now, Susanna will hopefully have the operation in September and be recovering well by Christmas this year. Just think how amazing it will be for us all to think we have played a part in ensuring it happens.

For more information about Susanna and her family, you can visit the links below:

The Help Susanna Walk Website

The St Helens Star Website

The St Helens Star News Page

20120614-032531.jpg

20120614-033542.jpg

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and I haven’t been paid to write this, I have done so to try and help raise awareness for the appeal and to help get little Susanna walking.

Guest Post – How to keep children occupied during a long car journey

12 Apr

How to keep children occupied during a long car journey

Modern in-car multimedia entertainment systems give children access to the same sorts of backseat delights that you’d expect on a long haul flight.  However, while plugging kids into a drip-feed of movies and games might keep them quiet, there can be more to be gained from the experience of going on a long car journey.

Every parent knows that a long car journey can be miserable for all concerned if youngsters are not kept happy. Wailing, arguing and fighting from the back of the car can drive you to distraction. But there are many things you can do to make your journey not only bearable, but fun as well.

Joining in

Kids like to be involved in what is going on around them and that applies to car journeys too. Discovering new things is what childhood is all about, so why not use play as a way to make kids feel like they’re part of an exciting expedition?

Forget ‘I spy’ – car bingo is far more fun. Before you leave home, spend some time with the children designing and making bingo cards. Instead of numbers, draw pictures and write the names of things that you’ll see on the way. The first to spot every item on their card shouts, ‘Bingo!’

Make a stop

The longer the children spend in the car, the more likely they are to get bored and grumpy. So be sure to schedule in stops along the route and let the kids know when you’ll be taking a break.

The UK is full of interesting things to see and do. A little bit of research before setting off could make all the difference to a long car trip. A short detour to visit a castle, for example, will give young ones something to look forward to.

Treats

Be careful when it comes to handing out sweet treats during the journey. Sugary snacks may buy you temporary respite from complaining children but you could pay a heavy price later. Sweets and fizzy drinks are soon guzzled, and the rush of calories can make kids restless and bad-tempered.

Try freezing bottles of fruit juice before you leave. Children will enjoy sipping at the melted juice, which will help to keep them topped up with fluids.

Packing lots of healthy fruit is also a good idea. Treat kids to a taste of the tropics by including unusual items like star fruit to tantalise their taste buds.

Stories

Audio books are widely available either as downloads or on CD, but nothing soothes like the sound of mum or dad reading a story. Why not record yourselves reading some of your children’s favourite tales so you can play them in the car?

Alternatively, encourage children to come up with their own fairy-tales. Just start a story off and let children take turns to add the next part of the fable.

Contented children can help towards a hassle-free trip. Adequate car insurance can also give you peace of mind, so you that if there’s a problem, you’re covered.

Author Bio:

Liam Williams writes for the Sainsbury’s Finance Money Matters blog. In his spare time he enjoys motoring and organic gardening.

 

Sponsored Guest Post

Meet Sid the panda

22 Oct

Sid The Panda

 Meet Sid…  Our latest addition to the family. Sid isn’t a cat nor is he a dog, his actually a Panda! Sid who acquired his name from Little man is the softest Panda you ever will meet, though he isn’t your everyday cuddly toy, Oh no…. Sid is so much more… his a Hug a pet!

 Hug a pets convert from cuddly toys to comfy pillows in one easy, simple step! Just undo the Velcro and like magic there you have it, a cosy soft fluffy pillow for you’re little one to snuggle on.

 Sid was actually intended for my youngest, 22 month old Harley. 

 Harley has a comfort blanket that he takes everywhere (I mean EVERYWHERE) he can’t leave the house without it. My family has taken up, calling him “Icky-Pickle” who as we all know stars in the lovely “In the night garden”. Yes, the blanket has to go and this was my latest attempt!

Panda and Alice

 Sid (as we call him) is made of the same material and looks so much more attractive than his faded blue blanket that he drags around the floor collecting dirt. Now Harley does love Sid but still the blanket remains. The trouble is, Sid isn’t only loved by Harley! He does in-fact have a fan base in the form of Little man and sister Alice Sara! Sid keeps showing up in places he shouldn’t be! Lets take last night for example, Sid was found cuddled up with a sleeping Alice-Sara (traitor! Harley wont be impressed)!  A few nights prior to that I found him here

Little man a sleep on panda

 Harley will throw a right wobbler if his discovered Sid the Panda here, honestly of all places!

Little man thinks Harley’s Hug a pet is the most comfortable pillow in the world. 

 Little man has always been a child who sleeps without a pillow, his tactile defensive and every pillow we have tried his not been keen on. He has feather pillows and likes them under his back but not really his head. Somehow this doesn’t apply to Sid! Much to Harley’s horror! So… looks as if we gonna need another two which we can add to the never ending christmas list.

 Sid the Panda has a number of friends from Ladybirds to bees, puppies and cows! There is a Hug a pet for every one. 

The Hug a pet friends

 5 stars ***** from the kids

 So… What did I think of Sid.. is he a welcomed addition to the family and does he deserve his place in our Santa’s Little helpers list?

 He sure does! How can any mum say otherwise? Look at them sweet big black eyes 🙂

setting up home on the dolls house

‘Hug a pets’ are great for travelling, take them camping, use them on an aeroplane, in your child’s buggy or during a long car journey.

Incredible tactile providing lots of sensory pleasure.

 A great friend for toddlers through to teenagers, you’re never to old for a hug!

 5 stars from mum *****

 ‘Hug a pets’ are priced at £19.95 and just one post and packaging no matter how many you buy.

 Check out Sid’s friends by click here

Check out the Hug a pet blog by clicking, here

Note… Please remember that young babies should not be sleeping with any form of pillow.

We received our ‘Hug a pet’ free of charge for the purpose of this review.

Just because I love him

17 Aug

A few months back I was the lucky winner of a family ticket with camping to the Wilderness festival in Oxfordshire

 Yes, I was having a period of good fortune as I had also managed to get hold of a cybermummy ticket, won a build a bear birthday party and the fantastic prize of a £15o dove spa voucher.

This itself was a fantastic prize that I won on the awesome blog Not Supermum. The festival would commence on the 12th August and finish on the night of the 14th, meaning I would be leaving on the Friday and returning Monday morning. Given Little man’s Aspergers I considered all the options very carefully, which basically were, “Take him” or “Not take him” Of course I don’t want to leave my Little man behind and just because he has Aspergers doesn’t mean he is unable to be involved in the daily activities that you or I might participate in. I’ve always stated this opinion and continue to do so! However, I was thinking of him as opposed to anyone else, let me explain! Back in early July I was invited as a VIP guest to the Pandamonium Festival by Cadbury. The event was in Nottinghamshire and although we enjoyed the Cadbury mini games and the lavish VIP area where we sat next to the Ambassador  of China, things started to turn sour by the afternoon. A festival is a place that you can’t attend on a schedule, It just don’t happen! What with crowds, unannounced changes to a listing, and the fact that most of the time you are unaware of all the activities on site in till you arrive. This is an incredibly anxious prospect for Little Man and many others like him.

Little man is a child who manages reasonably well if his home life isn’t tightly scheduled, though we try with the help of visuals etc… It’s outside of the comfort of the four walls of our home, things become very difficult. Little mans intense need to control his environment causes him to become extremely rigid which is becoming a very tiresome for all involved. I almost had a breakdown once home from that festival, we all did including the little man himself, so, I needed to weigh things up in my mind before being any arrangements. 

If the truth be told despite any post I’ve written to assist a family embanking on a day out with a child on the spectrum I still find the whole task incredible hard for myself to apply. Many theme parks will cater to the family of a child on the spectrum, offering wrist bands to avoid queues and busy areas of the park (sometimes known as a ride access pass)!  Festivals are a very different  thing altogether.

So, after much deliberation I came to the decision that it was probably best if Little Man remained with his father who was already watching my toddler. However, I did something that some may describe as odd! I went against my instincts, choosing my desire for my child to have a weekend of fun just as his sister would. I asked him, he wanted to come! As his mother how could I possibly leave him behind?

We left for the Wilderness festival around 8 p.m Friday evening, (We meaning, myself, my friend Donna, daughter Alice-sara and my Little man) as total camping virgins.  During the drive Little man was a little anxious about speed limits and motorways. I tried my best to estimate our journey time, through I didn’t want to, as I wanted to avoid any rigid time keeping. This failed terribly as he would not rest till I gave the estimate. We hit Oxfordshire 20 minutes above schedule, giving us some extra time to now get to the beautiful Cornbury estate in Charbury the location in which the Wilderness festival would be held! I breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of avoiding any upset from Little man. We left the A road with his beautiful array of cats eyes that provided Little Man with visual delight and entered the extremely dark bendy country lanes. The roads were dark and narrow. I love these little lanes yet, I had little time to sit back and chill in the passengers seat as Little man was becoming a little worried. Suddenly everything went very wrong, what started of as having plenty of time given the fact we had hit Oxfordshire a little quicker than first expected had now flipped the other way, we were now somehow 20 minutes over schedule. As the realisation set in that, “We were Lost” there was no hiding it from  Little man who had already worked this out for himself. Once Panic had set in, it resulted in verbal abuse, mainly at myself, followed by lots of tears. I was becoming stressed along with my poor friend who was the one driving. The other problem was, the gates were due to close for the Campsite which would result in us all spending a night in the car! Can you picture it? Its a terrifying vision and one I would rather not live out!

Thankfully the lovely people at Wilderness took one look at my face and Im guessing that of little mans (That displayed a string of emotions) and my guess is, wanting to avoid the tantrum that was so obviously brewing,  had then decided to let us in! Well, it was this or maybe the fact they felt sorry for my poor daughter who had basically slept all the way from London and was now stood with a blanket around her, eyes still closed and shivering like a ice cube. Whatever the reason, I was most grateful to them when they ushered us in.

However it wasn’t a case of getting in, unpacking and jumping into a nice warm bed! Remember we’re camping here, and we are, “camping virgins!” Myself and my friend were yet to embank on our challenge of attempting to put up the tent. Lets just say that little man had good reason to blow up when we were still trying to work the stupid thing out some two hours later, (seriously not kidding, even I had a mini tantrum by this point, which largely consisted of me kicking tent pegs in sheer anger). Well, at least my daughter didn’t complain, nope she was in here sleeping bag embracing the whole camping experience by snoring under the full moon.

The festival was great, It had that hippy chick, carefree feel about it. Dress crazy, dance like a idiot, or sit and debate politics through the small hours, no one cares! This attitude makes life so doable even if it is just for them few days! I love that happy festival atmosphere. That’s the good thing about this type of festival, No one stares or makes judgements when little man is having a hard time! My parenting skills are not judged, “If they were at least they were discreet about it!” Honestly, I met some really nice laid back people.

The overall location was idilic, what with beautiful swimming lakes where I embraced the whole ‘Wilderness’ theme by freezing my arse off while being nibbled by crayfish, as Little man sat watching alongside my friend, (only myself and my daughter braved the cold waters and its many residents).

Another area of concern was Little mans fussy eating. He will not eat anything cold or packed in a cool box, knowing the festival would be selling food at normal “Festival prices” I was aware that we would need to embank on daily journeys to the nearest local takeout to be sure he ate.

As expected the festival wasn’t the type of event that you would find people following a routine, just like my true personality, people were spontaneous, taking things how and when they came. This may have been perfectly fitting for me if I were alone,though it’s been so long since I have indulged in such spirited self-being, that I probably wouldn’t know how! The point, “I wasn’t alone!” Of course the problems Little man had with the lack of routine were displayed through eruptions of unpredictable behaviours! He hit his sister and swore so loudly that he may of been heard from those back in London! There where moments that he coped and enjoyed those activities that he coped with, though the majority he did not handle well t all! Of course I understand its hard for him, yet I’m human and could not help feeling somewhat restricted from the events taking place around me. I often found myself feeling a tad sorry for myself! Though it would pass within seconds, I needed to think of Little man and ways to improve the situation.

I myself felt some strong emotions come over me during the festival. At times I was so goddamn angry at Little man as he swore and called me horrific names! Others times my heart arched, I longed for my son discover a world of enjoyment as oppose to fear and anticipation that nearly always tipped into huge bouts of anger, accompanied by meltdowns

Despite this I tried my best to give them both a good time and see it through to the end. We did it (Well, we left the night before we had to) This wasn’t due to little man but just the connivence of avoiding morning traffic on the busy M25.

I pray that one day, my son be be able to enjoy events fully like those  such as the Wilderness festival! I hope over time we help little man develop the skills needed to enable him to deal with his anxiety and hopefully reduce it.

Would I take him again?

Yes, if he wanted to, I would?

Why?

Because his my son and I love him, Its as simple as that!

Mono Hoops Shopper

16 Aug


This time it was my turn to do a review, and what better than a review of a bag 😉 One of life’s little pleasures.

The bag I’m reviewing is one by Julie Slater and son

Julie sent me the beautiful Mono Hoops shopper, it came beautifully gift wrapped in lovely blue paper with a pretty blue ribbon to create that perfect finishing touch while providing it with that little extra something. These little things make Julie’s products stand out from the crowd and due to the sheer prettiness of the outer wrapping, I was already very impressed and knew that it could only get better.

The review came about via twitter. I was looking for some travel accessories, mainly a bag  of some sort to take away with me and the children to the Wilderness festival Oxfordshire, where we would camp for three days. I needed something big but not over big, it had to be waterproof and cater for the needs of a mother who has a tendency to just throw everything and anything into her handbag. The bag must also have somewhere to put my phone and keys without having to root around the bottom of my bag amongst all my other randomness that’s in there. All this, plus the need for a style that complements most outfits why remaining on trend are pretty important to me when choosing a bag (I’m no diva, but have been know to be very particular when it comes to bags and shoes).

Julie offered me a review of one of her shoppers. I left the design up to her and must say she chose the perfect one for me.

I tried my up-most hardest to wait for the festival before taking the bag for it’s first test run. However, my girlie notions took over and I just couldn’t wait.

I have used the Mono shopper for a few different occasions since receiving it. These are…
Lollibop festival
My mission… The Lewisham riot clean up (were myself and bag were featured on the BBC London news)
The wilderness festival with camping

This highlights how convenient I was finding the Mono Hoops shopper.

The bag itself is listed on the, Julie Slater and Son website as a medium shopper, Wow I would love to see the large one as this shopper is already a lovely large bag that is able to take the pressure of the randomness that is thrown into it. The Black and White Mono Hoops design is one that will go with almost anything (well, except stripes)! The bag offers the ultimate lift when wearing a plain black outfit and looks pretty classy at the same time. In my opinion the Mono Hoops is great for everyday use yet smart enough for the office. It’s nice and wide but also pretty deep. The shopper is the perfect size to carry a laptop plus a load more besides.

On receipt of the bag I was a tad disappointed at the fact it only had one inside pocket, though now I really understand why, it really is all that the bag really requires. The pocket provides me with a handy secure place for my phone and the odd bit of change. The overall size and deepness of the bag is perfect for carrying heavy items making it ideal for supermarket trips.

Given I’ve used the bag for both the Lollibop and Wilderness festivals shows it to be the perfect festival companion. During my three days at the wilderness, I honestly didn’t feel the need to use any other bag so the Mono hoops was my bag of choice for the whole weekend. I found the bag perfect and able to cater for all my festival needs.

Its fair to say that all my children treat me as a bit of a slave! They are forever requesting that I put this or that into my bag, that or they just throw stuff into the bag hoping I won’t notice (which I don’t normally, well, at least not till I’m home).

This shopper was the perfect addition to many outfits and turned out to be both a great stylish bag and festival must have! Its Mono Hoops design in black and white will remain bang on trend right the way through the autumn and winter. Its  size is a great plus to the busy mum and can be used day and night, dressed up or down.

The Mono Hoops is more than a shopper but more an oversized handbag that I’m loving!

Check out the full Mono Hoops range plus a load more great designs on Julie’s site click HERE

%d bloggers like this: