At the end of the Easter holidays we took the children to We The Curious in Bristol, formerly known as At Bristol. It’s somewhere we’ve been planning to go for ages, but waited until Reuben was at an age he could really get involved. He turned three in March so it seemed the perfect time. I’d heard it’s very hands on so I’m glad we decided to wait until both children could get stuck in to all the interactive displays!
If you’ve been to Bristol and walked along the harbour side then it’s likely you’ve passed the science centre. It’s on Millennium Square and the giant mirror ball is a part of it, in fact it’s the Planetarium! We didn’t realise this until we went to the show in the Planetarium and they told us we were in the ball. Amazing!
Tickets are fairly expensive, £45 for a family of four, plus we paid an extra £10 to go the Space Explorers show in the Planetarium. This show is absolutely worth it though! Bella was a little sure of the whole place at first, something seemed to spook her and she didn’t want to go in the Planetarium, but once we got her in there, she was amazed! There was a huge dome screen above our heads where we ventured off into space and explored the stars and some of the planets in our solar system. Both the kids absolutely loved the Space Explorers show and it’s worth the extra cash.
The rest of the science museum is also so much fun. There are all sorts of sections from the human body to growing your own food to construction; a real mixed bag! There’s also plenty for all different ages to enjoy. Upstairs seemed to be more aimed at the younger children with giant bubbles, giant Lego style bricks to build houses and a robot that builds towers that I had to tear Reuben away from! He’d have sat there all day building towers! Upstairs is more playful, whereas downstairs is more learning based in places. We didn't even get to see everything as we were chasing after the children!
There’s definitely a lot more for older children to enjoy and we’ll take the children back in a few years as I think they’ll get so much more out of it, but even as young as they currently are aged five and three, they had a blast!
Paying with gift aid meant we got £5 in vouchers to spend in the café or shop, but we totally forgot we had these vouchers until we got home! There’s a café on site to grab lunch, picnic benches if you bring your own food or you can come and go as you please. We left the premises and found a vegan pizza place not too far away to have lunch and returned again after. There’s plenty to see and do all day long so it’s easy to spend a whole day here. It’s particularly good to be able to leave and come back as it was a beautiful sunny day so a walk along the harbour side half way through the day was appreciated.
It’s great they have a picnic area so you don’t feel pressured to have to buy food there if you don’t want to. We’ll probably save some money next time we go by taking our own packed lunch. The whole place seems very accessible with spaced out exhibits, two lifts and stairs. We went to the toilets a few times and never had to queue as there were plenty.
The kids probably loved it so much as we weren’t constantly shouting ‘no, don’t touch that!’ Instead all visitors are encouraged to touch everything, interact and take photos. I love how their website says ‘Our venue is less SHHH and more playful - DO touch the exhibits, do use your phone, DO laugh out loud, bring your kids, friends, grandparents or come and escape on your own.’
It’s the perfect hangout for a rainy day, which is most days in the UK, and great for kids of all ages. I’m not sure how much of an adult only friendly location it is, but probably great if you want to release your inner child! We’ll definitely return when the kids are a little older and learn some more about the incredibly curious world that surrounds us.
We spent the first week of April (and the first week of the school Easter holidays) in Fuerteventura this year! It was a holiday I had been counting down to for an entire year as we had booked it so long ago! I was hoping to go away at the end of last summer or the October half term, but as we had never gone abroad on a package holiday with the kids we decided to treat ourselves to a 4* all-inclusive hotel and so needed a little longer to pay it off! Booking one year in advance is definitely a long wait and I probably won’t book anything so long in advance again. I checked the prices a couple of times throughout the year and they barely changed for our holiday. In this blog post I’ll share why I think Fuerteventura is a great family friendly holiday destination.
Having only taken the kids to Germany several times to visit family and to Cornwall or weekend trips away in England, we weren’t sure how a beach holiday abroad would go. It’s certainly different holidaying abroad with kids who are five and three, as opposed to all the holidays I have been used to going on by myself as an adult. You know – relaxing, by the pool, by the beach, fall asleep, go out, do whatever I like type holidays. As opposed to a keep an eye on the kids every ten seconds and make sure they’re not drowning or running off type holiday! Not so relaxing and care free!
I think things will certainly be a LOT easier next year for holidaying when Reuben is four years old and more of an actual child, rather than a toddler. He only just turned three in March so we’re just entering that preschool phase and gradually leaving the toddler stage as his language and independence develops. As the kids get older our experience of holidays will definitely change. We’ll be able to travel further, do more activities and not be so restricted to toddler friendly days only.
With all that being said, I think Fuerteventura is a great family holiday destination, for both young children and older children. Based on our experience of taking a five year old and a three year old, here are the reasons why I think Fuerteventura is a family friendly holiday spot:
Reasonable flight time
Fuerteventura is only a four hour flight, so it’s just the right amount of time for kids before they start getting drastically bored, hungry or tired! Reuben was pretty wriggly on the flight out, but he still wasn’t too bad and we managed to entertain him. Bella is now five and you’d not have known she was on the flight. iPad with music, camera and games and that was her satisfied the entire duration. Reuben needed more entertaining and got bored of the iPad every ten minutes so next time we’ll upload a film or cartoons for him to watch. We bought headphones for the iPads at the airport which was a very worthwhile investment.
The children were amazed by the scenery and it’s so good to explore a country which looks totally different to what the children see every day. Reuben is obsessed with dinosaurs so he thought we were in dinosaur land! The peaked volcanic rocky landscape looked like volcanoes were everywhere and as he can’t pronounce his Vs he shouted ‘bumcano!’ every time he saw one! The kids were happy on coach and taxi rides to just look out of the windows at the amazing landscape.
We went in April and it was around 19-21 degrees Celsius each day. We had pretty much guaranteed sunshine for the week and it wasn’t so hot we couldn’t do anything. This temperature is great for young children. I can imagine the summer months would have been too hot for them, as well as my heat hating husband!
Child friendly excursions
We went on two excursions – one to a wildlife park and cactus garden called Oasis Park and another on a pirate ship adventure from Morro Jable. These were brilliant for the kids. The pirate tour was totally aimed at children, though adults have just as much fun. We saw dolphins and enjoyed being out at sea. The pirates played games with the kids and we even had a BBQ on board. Oasis Park is a beautiful zoo filled with all sorts of animals such as sea lions, parrots, giraffes, camels, reptiles and more with live animal shows. They are also home to the largest cactus garden in Europe.
Family friendly hotels
The hotel we stayed in, Princess Jandia, was very family friendly with a small petting farm, kids buffet, splash pool and family pool, beach on the doorstep and a kids club. There are plenty of family friendly hotels all around Fuerteventura that aim to make your stay with kids as fun and relaxing as possible.
I’d definitely recommend Fuerteventura for a holiday with young children and we’d absolutely consider returning.
We sleep for around a quarter to a third of our lives, which is not surprising seeing as the recommended sleep length is 7-9 hours per evening for most adults. Good quality sleep has so many benefits for our health, many of which I’ve covered in this blog before. Though we are used to wearing a lightweight two piece (or nothing) to bed and kipping from around 11pm to 7am here in the UK, this isn’t the norm for other cultures around the world. In this blog post I’m going to share some of the different sleep habits of different cultures and countries around the world:
A siesta is a daytime nap usually taken in hot countries after lunch. It’s a traditional practice in Spain where businesses even close for a few hours in the afternoon. Apparently the Spanish sleep a little less a night time, but they make up for it during the day. I’ve read articles saying it’s a dying tradition, but we were in Fuerteventura last weekend, a Spanish island, and the shops were closed mid-afternoon.
In India the traditional clothing called kurta pajama is not just for night time. It’s a knee length collarless garment that can be made from cotton, linen or even silk with a patterned elegant look. People wear them at major events, to work or even casually as it’s much more comfortable than a pair of jeans and t-shirt. It’s not really a pyjama in the sense we would call something a pyjama as it is standard daywear too. I once remember my uncle telling me it was illegal to wear nightwear outdoors in the UK when I stepped out into the porch one day to answer the door to him. I was only a young child and I believed it for years and years!
In most of the world children and babies sleep in with their parents. In the UK, some of Europe and the USA we move our babies into their own rooms at around 6 months old to a year. We often have sleepless nights during the transition, so perhaps we’re making a rod for our own backs by moving our kids so early? Many other cultures share beds with their children for much longer.
Babies napping outdoors
In countries such as Norway, babies are left to nap in their prams outdoors. I know this used to be more common in the UK years ago too. Babies would be left in the garden in their prams to sleep. I know my children would sleep for longer by the back door in their prams if we returned from a walk and they were already snoozing. It’s thought napping in the fresh air improves health too.
Tea before bed
We all know lots of Brits love a cup of tea , but some Brits will have their tea before bedtime! I know it’s true as I know people who do this. I’m not sure how they manage it as the caffeine would keep me awake, but an old work colleague I once knew could never sleep without her night time cuppa.
Whilst we are used to sleeping on a mattress raised from the ground by a bed frame, and probably wouldn’t think of sleeping any other way, there are some people who either sleep straight on the floor or not on the floor at all. In many south Amerian countries such as Brazil, Columbia and Mexico, some local people sleep in a hammock rather than a bed. They are light and airy and keep the sleeping person away from creepies and crawlies that may be on the ground.
In Guatemalan culture, worry dolls are given to children to sleep with under their pillow to stop them from having nightmares and bad dreams. The dolls will worry about the child’s or person’s problems and allow the person to sleep peacefully. Used traditionally by children, they are also used by adults too.
We recently went on our very first ‘proper’ family beach holiday. By proper, I mean a holiday abroad to sunshine! Ben, my husband, would class a rainy week camping in Wales as a holiday, but a holiday to me is really getting away, far away, to sunshine and a foreign country. We booked a First Choice Premier Family Holiday and stayed at the Club Jandia Princess Hotel in Fuerteventura. The resort is ten minutes from Jandia and the beach we were on was Esquinzo beach. In this blog post I will provide my honest review of the hotel only.
We’re no strangers to flying with the kids. We’ve already been to Germany five times since having the children to visit Ben’s family. Still, those were family visits and not a holiday to me. This time we chose where we were going and picked somewhere warm and sunny of course. We chose a beach location with children’s pools and spoilt ourselves with all inclusive. It had been 6 years since me and Ben went away on holiday together like this, so we booked a year in advance and chose a premium location.
For Ben this was only his second time on a beach package holiday. I’ve been several times with my mum when younger to Greek islands and the Canaries, as well as with ex boyfriends. In total I’ve been on around 10 package beach holidays to European destinations, 4 or 5 camping trips to the south of France, 3 work trips to Italy and Germany, plus I’ve spent 7 weeks across two trips to California. I’m only sharing this information so you can tell I’ve been abroad several times and seen all manner of accommodation from tents and caravans to two, three, four and five star hotels.
Hopefully my experience so far means I can provide a fair review in this blog post and my honest opinion of the good and the not so good.
My review of the Club Jandia Princess resort
My first impressions were it is very beautiful outside. It looked like a well-kept white building with a large clean and attractive entrance.
I know this probably can’t be helped when we all arrive on a transfer coach in one go, but there was a very long wait for check in. Unfortunately we ended up at the back of the queue with two tired restless and hungry kids. This was around 8pm and the children hadn’t eaten a proper meal since 11am at the UK airport so they were starving and bored. We really needed to check in ASAP and get them to the restaurant. The bar staff did serve wine and Fanta to those waiting in the queue. A tray was brought over and drinks were complimentary. This was a nice touch. They must have known we were going to wait for a long time! I don’t drink alcohol or let the children have fizzy drinks, so we didn’t accept any, but a lovely gesture nonetheless.
We finally checked in and found our room easily, but did not find the restaurant easily as not sign posted very well from outside. We did see a sign directing us up some stairs to reception so ignored this, but after some frustrating going around in circles trying to locate the buffet it turned out the restaurant was up the steps we had previously ignored! As soon as we knew where it was we could obviously locate it for the rest of the holiday, but I’m surprised there’s not a sign pointing to the restaurant too for newbies.
We made it just in time for the end of the dinner buffet service, fed the kids and everyone was happy again.
The rooms are in apartment blocks in separate buildings with the family side to the right of the main entrance and the adult only area to the left. There are twisting paths to each block and to get to the pool with white washed walls and lots of palm trees, flowers and cactus to look at. Beautiful lanterns light them up in the dark. It looked very pretty. The hotel and its grounds were very picturesque and perfect with the sea as its backdrop.
The room is lovely and clean with simple modern décor, but very disappointing the kids only get a creaky old uncomfortable sofa bed to share! We did know this before we went so I can’t complain too much, but the children are the same price as the adults, so you’d expect they’d get a bed each or bunk beds. I think if Ben and I had gone by ourselves, without the kids, we would still have had the same size room. Kids should be cheaper if we’re not getting any more space or beds.
Next time we go on holiday I will definitely find somewhere with separate beds for the kids. They wound each other up a treat sharing the same bed! Plus, as the sofa bed was made into a bed the whole time it gave us very little movement space in the room. It was basically a room full of beds. It did have everything you need for a beach holiday and most people would say you’re out all day anyway, but with the little ones we go back to our room quite early to try and get them to bed and it was cramped with four of us in the same space. Others might be fine with this set up, but it will be a requirement for more actual beds or a separate bedroom area or living area for our next holiday, especially if we have to pay adult prices for the children.
The room was cleaned and beds made every day. This is always a lovely touch when on holiday, to get back to a made up room. The towels were changed if we wanted them - just leave the ones on the floor that need changing. The bathroom was spacious and the shower was amazing - a proper power shower that always had pressure and was always hot! I could have stayed in the shower for days…
There were enough towels, plenty of loo rolls, and complimentary soap, shower gel and shampoo if needed.
There was a TV that we couldn’t get to turn on, but we didn’t really need it. We were just trying to put it on to settle the kids during their crazy bedtime hour, but it didn’t work. We didn’t bother saying anything as we didn’t really need to use it for our holiday. I’m sure they’d have fixed it or replaced if we had asked. The reception team were always very friendly and made sure we knew to take any concerns to them.
We had a small balcony that we didn’t really use. It had a table and two chairs. Great for a warm evening if you wanted to sit outside your room. Plenty of storage space and a small safe is in the wardrobe for an additional fee if you need to use one.
We were in the family area so it was pretty quiet at night with regards to other hotel guests. There was something very noisy outside of our room which disturbed me the first night or so, then I must have got used to it. I have no idea what it was, but a smallish building just outside our room with some equipment making a loud extractor fan type noise! The sofa bed was unbelievably uncomfortable – I slept on it with Bella for the first night and did not sleep well at all. Luckily the kids didn’t complain about it for the holiday, but perhaps as they are much smaller than me it wasn’t too bad (they are five and three). The beds were much comfier and I slept a lot better in the actual beds. There are blackout blinds on the sliding balcony doors so the room can be pitch black. You’ll not even know what time it is in the morning as it blocks all daylight! With the blackout shutters, the actual beds and a room away from the noisy thing then getting a good night’s sleep shouldn’t be a problem.
The WiFi was €19 for a week for one login. If you have more than one device then you’ll need to pay per device you want to use WiFi on. The connection was a little temperamental. It seemed to always work, but sometimes was very slow. On these days I linked to a personal hotspot on my phone. Being self-employed and panicking I’d miss out on lots of paid work, I took my laptop and worked one hour most evenings and some mornings. The WiFi even reached the beach! I checked something on my phone one day when we strolled a short distance down the beach and was amazed to see the WiFi connection going strong!
We ate at the buffet restaurant for nearly all three meals each day. I was worried before we went as I eat a vegan diet, Ben is no dairy/meat and the kids are veggie with minimal dairy. Even for me, the fussiest one, there was plenty of different vegetables, salad, fruit and potatoes each day. For meat eaters there is a huge selection. The kids loved pasta and pizza as a treat some days. Of course, there were chips available nearly every day too!
For breakfast there was a good selection of pastries, cooked and cold meats, cheese, fruit, cereal, pancakes, churros and everything to make a good British cooked breakfast! I was able to have mushrooms, grilled aubergine, pepper, tomatoes and courgette most mornings with watermelon and orange juice. There are beans, hash browns, all sorts to keep you full.
The main meals varied each day so there was always something new to try. Orange juice is served at breakfast time only. I’d have liked to have juice at other meal times too. If you drink alcohol you can have it at all three meals! There were some bottles of something at breakfast too!
The staff were always very friendly and efficient in the restaurant. They’d clear our plates away quickly and serve fresh coffee to the tables in the morning and jugs of water (or whatever you ask for) in the evenings.
I never told them my dietary choice so I have no idea if they would cater specifically for a vegan or not. I was pleased to get home and gorge on a vegetable pizza and huge roast dinner, but I’d not let my dietary choice put me off returning there. I ate lots of fresh fruit, veg and salad. For naughty meals I had chips and vegetable spring rolls!
La Choza snack bar
Not far from the pool is La Choza which serves snacks all day as well as breakfast and lunch. It’s a smaller restaurant so there is a smaller choice here, but it makes for a nice change from the buffet restaurant sometimes. They also have an outdoor seating area which looks over the sea, so it’s worth eating here just for this. This is where you come for a beige lunch and snacks! They do have some pre-prepared sandwiches and salads, though most of these have meat in, but at least one was veggie each day. If you’re hungry before 1pm, which is when the buffet restaurant opens, then you can pop here for a starter or a naughtier lunch.
Pizza, burgers, hot dogs, chips, nuggets, veggie spring rolls, mozzarella sticks, fish fingers, sandwiches, pre-packaged salads, a small fruit bar, desserts. This was pretty standard every day. There is not much choice for vegans here, so this was my naughty chips and spring rolls meals. They could do with small salad bar.
A la carte Restaurant El Lagar
I can’t comment on the a la carte restaurant as we didn’t go! There was one meal included in our stay if we wanted to go, but with young kids and having to pre-order and book a time, we decided not to. Plus I thought we’d be pretty tricky to cater for and they might not have anything suitable. We had the family all-inclusive bands (blue), but other band colours allowed more than one visit to this restaurant.
In the family area there were two large family pools which look like one huge pool, but they are separate. These were supposedly heated, but they were freezing! I did go in them on day one and had to keep moving around. Ben said I was probably putting the other guests off getting in as I looked so cold! The kids didn’t seem to notice how cold the pool was! I bet in the summer they will be much warmer and they did warm up slightly as the day went on.
The smaller kids’ pool, which is very shallow, was much better! Like a warm bath! It was so small it heated up quickly and retained the heat. This pool was perfect for my children’s ages, five and three, and we didn’t have to panic about them so much as it’s more of a splash pool. They also had a lifeguard watching pool at nearly all times.
There are a lot of sun loungers and luckily we always managed to find a set as everyone reserves them! The hotel gave us some information when we arrived including a whole page on how not to reserve the loungers and towels may be removed, but no one was enforcing this and everyone just ignored it. So frustrating! We did not reserve ours and just found some each day, but I can imagine this will be harder in the summer months. I sat for three hours at the pool one day before the loungers next to me, which had towels on, became occupied by the towel owners. They’d not been in the pool, oh no, they look like they’d just arrived fully dressed from a day out!
I’m not too sure how the hotel can totally enforce this. We were able to get loungers, but it would have been annoying if we couldn’t!
There are plenty of all day long sunshine spots around the pools, as well as shaded areas covered with canopies. For a fee there are also Balinese Beds which we had a sneak peek at and they looked so comfortable! Like lying on an actual bed looking out to the sea all day long! I’m not sure if these are family friendly as half the hotel is adults only. I believe they have three of their own pools, a gym, spa and more, but we didn’t see this part of the hotel.
I can’t comment on the entertainment as we didn’t use any. There is a full on schedule of daily activities, a kids club and evening entertainment. We were out in the day times or did our own thing and after dinner we went back to our room as tired children and shattered parents! There is also a cute animal petting corner with ducks, rabbits, goat and chickens which we popped into on our last day and the kids loved it! Even Bella, who is usually very wary of animals, went straight in and stroked the rabbits. She’s been mentioning wanting a pet rabbit ever since we returned.
We were really impressed with this hotel. It’s a beautiful looking hotel and I can see why it has a premier status with First Choice who we booked with. There were a few things I would definitely improve to make it a 5* experience, but I think it’s worthy of its 4* status. I wouldn’t return with the same room set up as the children would need their own beds, but otherwise I would return if I were to visit the same place again and we could have proper beds and more space. It would also be great to see it from the other perspective, as adults only, as I expect the adult only rooms, spa and pool are lovely and provide a totally different experience in the same hotel.
Homeowners are the first to notice the increase in house-related costs, from energy bills to everyday shopping, without mentioning the council tax rise that is likely to hit most families in the UK from April 2018. In other words, it is difficult to think of your home sweet home without considering the costs that it incurs. However, there are ways in which you can let your home finance your family time, such as helping you to pay for future holidays. How does this work? With a lot of planning, organisation and savviness! But here are four methods you can employ to make money out of your property.
A lot of families struggle to keep on top of utility bills, especially as most energy suppliers in the UK have increased their invoices on the past months. If switching didn’t help to cut down the costs, then it’s time for mindful energy consumption. You can encourage positive habits within your family by teaching your children that their behaviour can have a positive impact on the bill. Additionally, you can also implement little changes, such as switching to LED bulbs with https://www.simplelighting.co.uk, as they can save up to 70% on your yearly energy consumption. Finally, now that the warm weather is back, you can bleed your radiators to keep them effective next winter.
Cut your grocery shopping costs
It might sound unbelievable, but you can save a fortune by establishing a more sustainable lifestyle when it comes to food. Indeed, you can save up to £1,300 a year by growing your vegetables, according to the National Allotment Society. Additionally, if you choose to build a coop in your garden, you can get your own supply of fresh eggs all year round and more than enough to sell to your neighbours too.
Rent a room to exchange students
Did you know that you could host foreign students and earn a tax-free income in the process? Under the Government’s Rent a Room scheme you can earn up to a threshold of £7,500 per year from letting out a furnished room in your home. You can, of course, earn more than this, but you’ll have to pay taxes on it. You can get directly in touch with school and university for exchange students to be part of their list of approved hosts – your room will need to pass the inspection standards first. As you provide accommodation for someone who is standing only temporarily in the UK, you need to ensure that the bedroom is habitable and properly furnished, including spare bedding, towels and curtains.
Declutter with a profit
Every house has items that nobody needs anymore. If you want to declutter as part of your spring cleaning habit, you can choose to sell the items you don’t want on https://en.shpock.com or eBay. Items that are in good condition can go at a profitable price. What can you sell? Anything including furniture, used clothes with plenty of life left, books, DVDs, appliances you don’t use, etc.
There’s more value in your home than you suspect. From saving your money on energy and grocery bills to generating a new income from letting or boot sales, your home can support your finances in more than one way!