A caravan by the sea

We recently spent a long weekend away in a caravan. We booked our cheap and cheerful break with Haven and chose to stay at their Mablethorpe site. Our drive to the park took us over the Humber bridge which was nice as the area holds lots of memories for me.

                                     
We had anticipated we would need to make a stop during our journey but luckily both Little Mr and Little Miss slept most of the way – bonus! We were given an upgrade when we arrived and were pleasantly surprised with our caravan. We unpacked and then headed out for something to eat.
Unfortunately Little Miss had come down with chicken pox just before our break but only had a couple of spots until our second day when she was covered from head to toe. This meant we had to plan what we could do a little more carefully. On the Saturday we woke super early thanks to Little Mr, had a breakfast and were all out of the door by 9am. We walked to the beach and spent a lovely morning building sandcastles, flying a kite and combing the beach for shells. We found lots of star fish which Little Mr was extremely wary of for some reason. Little Miss slept most of the time and once out it took her ages to want to touch the sand with her feet. We the went back to the caravan for egg sandwiches at Little Mr’s request. In the afternoon the hubby took Little Mr swimming whilst I stayed with Little Miss. The joys of chicken pox hey, I am just glad it was quiet so we could go for walks and to the beach.
            
                          
                          
                                                      
We had a terrible night with Little Miss on the Saturday, she couldn’t settle and was feeling so sorry for herself. As we had had very little sleep we had a much lazier morning and woke for 7am (yep, that’s a lie in in our house, or caravan in this case). We had breakfast and then headed out for a drive to take in the scenery and also find a pharmacy that was open on a Sunday! I had planned to take some pictures on my ‘proper’ camera of the children and us as a family making the most of the scenery however my efforts were mainly focused on Little Miss.
We ended up finding ourselves in Skeggness. Once there we parked up and walked along the seafront. We stumbled across a deserted crazy golf that Little Mr was desperate to have a go of, who didn’t love crazy golf as a kid??
                     
                     
By lunchtime Little Miss was flagging so we grabbed a quick bite from MacDonalds and headed back to the caravan. Back at the park Mr H took Little Mr to the amusements and the park whilst I stayed with Little Miss and tempted her with bi-carb baths in a washing up bowl.
                                             
On our last morning we packed up ready to head home but not before a quick play in the sand pit park. We had a lovely time even though Little Miss was not 100%. 
                                             

Staying at Alton Towers Hotel

We recently had an amazing stay at the Alton Towers Hotel and Resort. We have been talking about going since we received our Annual Merlin Passes last year, so we’re pleased to have finally got around to it. We booked two nights bed and breakfast at the Alton Towers hotel. We headed down once Mr H had finished work, we had only told the children we were going just before setting off. I arranged a little egg hunt to reveal where we were going so it was all very exciting.

When we arrived we were greeted and thrown straight away into the hustle and bustle of the hotel. We could here and see from above a magic show. Little Mr was thrilled to be able to stand alongside Daddy at reception on the special suitcase steps. We were given a scroll and both children received a compass and had to navigate our way to our room. Little Mr was in his element as he has always loved using a map on our trips out. We located our room and were not let down, it did however take us a few minutes to locate the lights as there were so many switches for lots of things, but hey that is what being an explorer is all about. Little Mr was once again overjoyed with himself. He loved the beds, wasamazed by  the gadgets, the huge teddy and the fact he woul be able to see a television from where he was sleeping.

We had already stopped for dinner during our journey down to the hotel so decided to head out to explore and have a drink to start our  break in style. The main focal point of our hotel was a large pirate ship that had crash landed there. This was a magnet for children and they loved to explore it. It was also where the entertainment was held. Whilst we were there we were entertained by a trio of singers who in the words of Little Mr were “beautiful”. 
The Alton Towers Hotel is joined to is sister hotel Splash Landings by a walkway which can be freely accessed until 11pm. We decide to have a wander along the walkway and once we entered the realms of the Splash Landings Hotel we were immediately hit with the heat from the poolside area. It was lovely and really made it feel like you were abroad. From the walkway you get a great view of the water park and we were very excited to try out the facilities.
The bar area in Splash Landings seemed more child friendly than that of the Alton Towers Hotel. There were some great areas for the children to explore such as a duplo mountain, colouring station and a sea life viewing tank. This made trying to enjoy a drink more achievable. There was also a disco along with a stage which was great for my shy and retiring children (not) to enjoy busting their moves. We didn’t stay too long as the children were tired and we wanted to get a good nights sleep so we were ready to have an action packed day in the morning. We headed back to the room and all ended up in our bed. I have to say though the duvet was one of the snuggliest ever, it was amazing.
We rose early and headed to breakfast in the Secret Garden restaurant for 8am. We filled up on a mix of full English and continental. Little Miss loved her endless supply of watermelon, a current favourite and Little Mr devoured far too many mini sausages along with a chocolate muffin. After breakfast we took the short 5 minute walk to the monorail. It was so strange not having to queue. We got to the park just after 9am so we could make the most of our early entry. Our first stop was of course Cbeebies land.
We decided to head to the new Octonauts roller coaster first as we anticipated there would be queues later. Unfortunately it had to close just as Mr H and Little Mr were about to climb on, however the staff kindly told them they could queue jump when they returned later. So we headed to postman Pat and then onto the In the Night a Garden boat Ride.

                       
I must admit that getting into the park early really seemed to make a difference since when we visited Cbeebies land previously we had to queue quite a while for each ride where as today we could walk more or less straight onto each ride. After In the Night Garden, we headed to the Numtums Number Round. This was Little Misses favourite by far. She really didn’t want to get off and made that fact very known to anyone in earshot when the ride finished.
                                                      

Next stop, we called back at the Octonauts new roller coaster. Mr H took Little Mr straight to the front and they got there pick of the cars. Of course Little Mr chose Gup A, which won’t mean anything to you unless you know you Octonauts. This was Little Mr’s first proper roller coaster and he was very brave although he really didn’t look like he enjoyed it that much he was initially pleased to have gone on but has since said he doesn’t EVER want to do it again. We have probably scarred him for life. Mr H couldn’t resist purchasing the on ride photo to remember the occasion.  We purchased a photo multipack which included 4 ride photos for £25 which saved us money when each photo costs £10 individually.


                                                   
Between rides we headed to the showtime ring. Here we found the Zingzillas had just taken centre stage. We became that horrendous ‘participation’ family joining in with all the moves but still the children seemed to like it. We also got to meet Iggle Piggle. Can you believe that this is the third time!!  How times have changed. We did joke that we will end up all wearing matching ponchos soon, but that is a step too far for us just yet.
                                          
                           
By 11 we had been on all of Cbeebies Lands attractions. In comparison to our wait times on our first visit this made our early entry times invaluable. It really made a difference especially with young children. We are lucky to get early entry with our Merlin passes but all hotel guests are also entitled to it too. It is well worth it.
We explored the rest of the park including Cloud Cuckoo Land, where we enjoyed the carousel and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We also took the sky ride across the park which was a lovely rest for tired legs. Plus we got to take in the the beautiful grounds. On the other side of the park Little Mr was very brave and went on the River Rapids. He loved them and didn’t get too wet either. I can’t wait until Little Miss is old enough too so we can all go on them together. I remember going on them with my family and have some fond memories.
                        
                            
We then headed back to the hotel about 1pm and got ready to explore the Splash Landings Water Park. We purchased passes when we booked our room which gave us a full day in the water park. I am usually a little worried about my youngest getting cold after 30 minutes or so but here the air temperature was lovely and warm. There were two pools we could access one which was perfect for under 5s. There were two slides which Little Mr and Little Miss loved, I wish I could have taken some pictures of them going down them. There was also a huge climbing frame full of tipping buckets, pipes, squirters plus much more that was perfect to explore. The pool area was lovely and clean and the life guards were hot on moving away towel that were saving seats which meant genre was always somewhere to sit when you needed to which was great. We got a couple of ice creams which melted really really quickly all over the children, they loved them. Though they were quite expensive which is to be expected I suppose.
                                       
After swimming we headed back to our room to get ready for the evening entertainment. The kids loved using their own bubble bath too which was a great touch. We had booked our evening meal at Flambos in the Splash Landings hotel which was a buffet style restaurant. We weren’t expecting much to be honest but we were pleasantly surprised with the quality of food. There was enough choice, it was all hot and great for the children.
Just before bed we called into the shop to get Little Mr a special sweet filled pirate sword when I spotted a Zoltar. If any one has seen Big, is there anyone who hasn’t, then you will know what one is. I couldn’t resist and got a fortune card. Mr H seems to think it’s spot on. 

Our family holiday

We were recently lucky enough to jet off to Majorca for a weeks holiday. It ific time. We did have a nightmare start as the seats they had allocated us were all separate on the plane. How can a 3 year old sit by themselves?? Even if the check-in staff were useless the air hostesses were fab and soon got us shuffled so that me and the Little Mr along with Little Miss on my lap were together, Daddy was right in the back corner. Luckily I had followed my Top Tips and had lots to keep them entertained. Taking little Mr to the toilet on board along with Little Miss in my arms was rather interesting and not a situation I had thought about before. It turns out you can’t possibly all fit into the cubicle and you need kind passengers to hold your baby. How any one every joins the mile high club in there I will never know?!

We went to a family resort and it really was A-maz-ing. There was non-stop children’s entertainment. One minute there was a clown making balloon models for the children, the next a set of pirates dancing around the pool looking for treasure. 
Little Mr made lots of little pals and he also had a crush on one of the female entertainers, Julia. It was so cute as he would follow her around and always made sure he got a dance with her too. One of our proudest moments was when the Reps asked if anyone would like to tell a joke, not just any joke a rude joke. We were enjoying of drinks when we heard Little Mr’s voice booming down the microphone. For the rest of the week the reps called him by his name in an extremely deep voice mimicking him. As soon as we heard him we jumped up and ran towards the stage. As I ran it dawned on me what on on earth is his joke, he has just turned three and waltzed on stage, what is he going to say. Well just as Daddy was about to run on with a joke the rep fed little Mr a joke to share. 
“What is the hottest part of the sun?”
Little Mr listens for the answer….
“Er no it’s orange…” He boomed down the microphone.

Turns out the punch line was page 3 but little Mr still had everyone in stitches.

We made so many special happy memories that we are going too keep the rest to ourselves but here are a few pictures. It’s been the first time in years we have returned from a holiday longing to go back. Roll on the next family holiday.

 

 

Top 5 tips for a family holiday

Since having children we haven’t been abroad as much as we did pre-children, but we have still managed at least one holiday abroad each year since Little Mr’s arrival. Our first holiday abroad with Little Mr was to the Dominican Republic at a mere 16 weeks old, then Tenerife followed by Lanzarote. We are currently preparing for our next holiday to Majorca. It will be our first holiday as a family of four so no doubt upon our return our top tips may have changed but here they are based on our previous holiday experiences.

Here are our 5 Top Tips:

1. Do not over pack

For our first holiday I packed enough clothes and nappies for around a month and brought most of it back unused. Unless you are travelling to some where that has little or no civilisation then you will be able to buy nappies etc there too if you happen to run out. As we have always gone to sunny warm places for holidays I have found that the little ones wont wear the vests they would at home as they will be too hot so pack half. This time we are taking just two suitcases and packing the Little’s clothes in with ours. We will be taking an umbrella buggy and the sling. We plan to put Little Mr in the buggy when tired or at the airport and carry Little Miss leaving one person to pull the two cases.

2. Leave your routine at home

Probably our best tip and the one we most look forward too is leaving our routine at home. we find that we quickly get into a ‘holiday routine’ later nights but longer or more naps in the day. we relax the rules completely and have a lot of fun doing so. We also aren’t the type of people who want to sit on the balcony each night from 7 whilst the little ones sleep, so we pop then in the buggy and head out. We haven’t found any adverse routine upon returning home bar the first day or so but even we are still out of sink with routine too.


3. Allow plenty of time

When we travelled to Lanzarote we were a little short on time when we flew home, as we were in a larger group and others wanted to get food. We were around one of the last families on the plane and so in a hurry we threw all of our belongings into the overhead locker. It dawned on us as we were heading up the runway we would have nothing to distract little Mr with or settle him. Cue screaming child until we were allowed to get our belongings down.  So always allow lots of time (or put your bag under your seat).

4. Koo-di Buggy UV Sun Shield

This has made it to our list as it is one of the best holiday purchases that we have made.  If you go on sun holidays with little ones I cant recommend it enough. I is perfect to pop on the buggy during walks out while the little ones sleep and gives complete cover so no repositioning all the time like you would an umbrella. We have used it many times by the pool as Little Mr slept. Although it really came into its own when we went to visited the island from the Bounty adverts when in the Dominican Republic and our boat broke down. There was no protection from the sun so whilst we waited what felt like an eternity to get the boat working again we pulled out the sun shield and popped it over Little Mr. This has already made it into our suitcase for our next holiday.

5. Plan Entertainment

We found by far our easiest plane journey (also our longest) was when Little Mr was only 16 weeks. I fed him on take off and landing, he slept and was easily entertained with a couple of baby toys. This year we are going to pre download most of the cbeebies back catalogue from BBC iplayer onto the ipad. We will also get Little Mr to choose a comic at the airport. He is just getting into games now to I will also pack a travel connect four plus the usual crayons and colouring that I take every where any how.

What are your top tips for family travel?

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