Category Archives: Holidays

Summer days, drifting away….

And…that’s a wrap! Yep, Summer’s over, school’s back, and my favourite month is under way! Though I’m a little sad to leave our Summer fun behind, to be honest.

A mixture of old favourites and new experiences this year – camping in Dartmouth and our week at Stepaside, near Tenby are regular fixtures; a weekend in Prague for the Husband and I – with no kids! – was an unexpected bonus; another new addition to the summer schedule was the Husband and kids meeting up with friends for a camping trip while both Mums went back to work (sob). Add into that spending three weeks working with 16 young people on a construction course (my job is ace sometimes!) and finally getting planning permission for the House Project and it really has been a completely packed – and very fun, summer! I really need to get to sorting out our photos at some point soon, in the meantime here’s a few of my favourites…

First camping breakfast of the year
On the boat to Dartmouth Castle
A secret spot near Dartmouth
My littlest boy and his Collection of Important Beach Finds
A waterfall we never knew existed, near Aberdare

There’s so many more, but I’m quite sure that you’ve probably reached your tolerance levels for averagely-instagrammed-and-not-too-identifable pictures of my kids in the sunshine so I’ll leave it there – for now!

Linking up with the lovely #countrykids folk at Coombe Mill – pop over and have a read about the outdoor fun and frolics of far more talented bloggers than me!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Learning to like flying

You know how when you have kids, you hope with every fibre of your being that they get all the good bits of you, and none of the mad fool crazy parts? Then you realise what that would actually involve, which is making sure your good bits are on display 24/7 and none of the mad fool crazy bits are allowed a look in, ever. And THEN you try it for a while, and realise that the effort involved in this facade is actually tipping you over the edge of the mad fool craziness in itself, so you just sort of settle for sugaring the bad bits and hoping for the best? With me so far?

Well. Turns out I’ve not sugared one element of mad fool craziness quite enough, and that is the fact that getting on a plane reduces me to a gibbering wreck. I’ve always hated flying, because it’s, well, FLYING and actually when you think about it, it’s kinda crazy NOT to be scared of being in a machine 20,000 feet in the air, with engines that may or may not fail, and if they do, it’s not like you can just pull in to the nearest layby is it? And you’re in the hands of a pilot that you don’t know from Adam, and who might have been drinking till 2am last night for all you know,  and even a model of sobriety might still suffer some weird and incapacitating event meaning that plane flying is NOT a feasible thing. And – again – it’s flying. WE’RE NOT MEANT TO DO THAT!

Given that I want to see people and go places, and somewhat inconsiderately not all those people and places are within the confines of England, Wales and Scotland, I do force myself to get on planes when necessary, using various strategies. Over the years, I’ve read fear-of-flying books, I’ve drunk to excess before and during, and I’ve even gone to the doctor for some lovely little tablets to knock me out, which in the event I didn’t take in case we had a crash landing and I was too out of it to get out of the plane and into a lifeboat.  According to the Husband this was ridiculous behaviour (and in the cold light of wordpress it does seem a little excessive) but I could not be persuaded, whereupon he said ‘Oh well, shame to waste them’, ordered a G and T, downed it along with my pills, and promptly passed out snoring for the rest of the flight, while I held on to my seat with white knuckles – all the way to Sri flipping Lanka. Including the pit stop on one of the Maldives which was basically all runway and no island so it looked like we were coming down in the (admittedly beautiful) ocean. Cheers.

These days, I usually take the route of refusing to think about the flying bit at all until I’m on the plane, by which point I know I couldn’t get off even if I wanted to. I then spend the entire flight doing a meerkat impression every time the bing bong goes off, trying to read the faces of the cabin crew for every possible sign of concern and impending disaster. By the time we land, my neck muscles are strained beyond all recognition and usually, so is my marriage. But hey, I’ve got from A to B, so as a strategy, it sort of works. What also works is having kids and therefore being too skint to get on a plane anyway, so none of this has been an issue before now.

Despite my mad fool craziness on this, I’d assumed that my kids would see flying as an adventure and something to be excited about, so I was pretty gobsmacked when my eldest announced a few weeks ago that there was no way he was getting on a plane, ever, and also confessed the night before the Husband and I went on our trip to Prague that he wasn’t worried about us being away, but he was worried that the plane would crash and he’d never see us again. He watches Newsround, so I know he’ll be aware of the recent events surrounding Malaysia Airlines, but I also know that this is almost certainly my fault, because he’s probably heard me blathering on about how much I hate getting on a plane.

I guess when you take into account all the potentially dire stuff that my kids will probably inherit from me whether I like it or not, a fear of flying is not the end of the world. But it is something that I’d like to nip in the bud sooner rather than later, especially as my eldest is already prone to worrying himself into the ground over nothing much at all (nope, no idea where he gets that from either). I figured the best thing to do is get him on a plane as soon as possible, so I have taken advantage of the fact that I have a lovely friend in Belfast with two kids the same age as my biggest two, and also capitalised on the fact that they have recently developed a fascination with all things Titanic, and booked a short visit to Belfast in November to visit the Titanic Experience. I’m really excited about this (except for the actual flying bit, obviously) and so are they, especially since (whisper it) they will have a day and a half off school for the trip.

Now I just have to perfect my ‘isn’t this FANTASTIC’ face for when we take off, and my ‘my, what an ADVENTURE’ face for when we hit a teeny bit of turbulence,  and my ‘I’m so COOL because this is NORMAL’ face every time the plane does that turning thing….and of course, my cool calm and collectedness will rub off on them and they’ll realise that flying is nothing to worry about.

Well, that, or they’ll be laughing so hysterically at my gurning efforts at happy, relaxed and non-crapping-myself-honest-guv faces that they’ll forget they’re on a plane at all! One or the other, we’ll see!

Five (packable) games for holidays with kids

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while – since the beginning of the Summer Holidays actually, when it might have actually been relevant and useful, oops! However looking on the bright side, my tardiness on this does give you a head start on Christmas present ideas, if like me you are contemplating stepping over into the abyss and getting a head start!

So. Games for holidays…as every parent knows, this can be a minefield. Some games promise so much on the box and yet fall flat within minutes; some games are rip-roaringly fun for the kids but toooorrrrttttuous for the adults, some are so complicated that it’s time to go home before you’ve figured out how to play. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling abroad, there’s your baggage allowance to think of; even if you’re staying closer to home, at somewhere like the Parkdean holiday parks, you won’t want to be squeezing large unwieldy boxes into the car.

So, after much research, and bearing in mind that ours are aged between 4 and 9, here’s a list of the five games for kids that we don’t leave home without…

Too Many Monkeys

1) Too Many Monkeys – this is a very simple card game, suitable for children who can recognise the numbers from one to six. The best thing about it is that it is so easy to play that even quite young children can explain it to each other, which is ace because you can send them off to play with their new friends on the campsite while you have a nice cup of tea in peace prepare the next fun-yet-educational activity to keep their little minds active. This game is marketed for ages 6+ but actually it’s more suitable for ages 3.5 – 6; it’s for two to six players, though best with two to four. Comes in a small box but the cards can be taken out and rubber banded to save space.


2) Uno – sometimes the old ones really are the best. Players try to get rid of their cards by matching colour or number; wild cards can turn the game on its head; noise and fun guaranteed. What more do you need? Suitable for ages 6 and up, and works best with three or more players. Comes in a playing-card sized box.

Story Cubes

3) Story Cubes – a set of nine dice with images on them, that are thrown on the table for players to make a story with. No hard and fast rules – you can get everyone to make one story with all nine images, or each player can take an image to make a sentence in turn, or you have have teams competing for the funniest story using the cubes…the possibilities are endless. A fun and creative antidote to some of the more competitive games; suitable for any age and any number of players. Comes in a box small enough to fit in a coat pocket.

Rat a Tat Cat

4) Rat a Tat Cat – from the makers of Too Many Monkeys, this is a great game which also sneakily improves memory and maths skills. However that’s not why I’m including it here – it makes our top five because it’s fun, fun, fun! Suitable for two to six players of age 6 and up with the standard rules, however it works from age 4 with a little help and the cards played face up. Comes in a small box but the cards can be taken out and rubber banded to save space.

Forbidden Island

5) Forbidden Island – The aim of the game is to salvage treasures from a rapidly sinking island, and get yourself and your fellow explorers safely away in a helicopter before the island is lost to the sea. What I especially love about this game is that all players must work together; either everyone wins, or nobody does – so team work is encouraged, and there’s a bit less gloating and making ‘Loser’ signs from the Husband over-excited kids. Forbidden Island works with two-four players, (though its sister game Forbidden Desert, also co-operative, plays up to five). Recommended for ages 10 and up but because of the co-operative nature of the game, younger children can be included;  and for packing purposes it is larger than the games above, but comes in a sturdy tin so it can’t be squashed or broken!

So – that’s our top five holiday games – what are yours?

**This post has been created in association with Parkdean Holidays**