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Category: Travel, Holidays & Days Out

  1. My winter bucket list

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    It’s that time of year when we all start thinking of winter activities.  I’ve already done nearly all my Christmas shopping and it’s wrapped and waiting in our attic!  I love to be prepared and get the winter expenses out of the way as early as possible so we can enjoy a stress-free December without money worries.  We can then relax in December and take part in some activities and festive meals out knowing everything else is already paid for.

    I’ve been looking into Santa trips for the kids and want to try and book a local boat trip with Santa.  Every year I try and take them to see Santa in a different place!  Last year was on a steam train, the year before in Prezzo (he came and sat with us at our table!) and the year before was in a gypsy caravan at a local bird park!  Talk about variety!

    My winter bucket list - skiing

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    I do get very excited about winter and Christmas as I look forward to the children being excited leading up to the big day and on the day itself.  Wrapping up warm and cosy and eating delicious food in front of our log burner is also so fun. Plus Ben gets a few days off work and for me I have around a week with no work or very minimal work, so it’s the only time of the year I truly get to switch off and relax!

    Every year there are some winter activities that I want to do and still haven’t got round to doing!  Here are the winter type sports I really need to do:

    Skiing

    I have never ever been skiing!  We have a dry ski-slope in Gloucester and there are real indoor snow centres just under 2 hours away from us.  I’ve always been a little fearful of trying to ski as I fear I’ll just be rolling down the hill and not be able to get the hang of it!  I also can’t just go and try it out at any of these centres as you need to be able to ski before using the slopes.  So I’ll need an adult lesson, or pack of lessons, to get me started.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to schedule this in this year, but it is definitely on my bucket list!  Who knows, I could be an expert at skiing and I just don’t know!

     Image of three girls ski jackets from Simply Hike online outdoor gear websi

    Girls ski jackets from Simply Hike

    Soon the kids will even be old enough to try skiing, so I may even learn with them!  I’ve just been looking online and it is possible to book family ski lessons so this is definitely a fun activity for the future once Reuben is a year or so older.  Many centres also offer ‘learn to ski in a day’ type courses and they provide food too (this is a great Christmas present idea, hint hint).  All you need to do is turn up in some warm and waterproof clothes such as girls ski jackets, waterproof trousers and a war hat.  Then they’ll provide the equipment and then you’re on your way!

    Tubing

    Something that looks super fun at the ski-slopes, and doesn’t require any ski knowledge at all, is tubing - whizzing down the slope in a massive inflatable ring or ‘doughnut’!  They can be linked together so you can go down together as a couple or a family, or with your friends!  It looks so fun and I’m actually considering this for mine and Ben’s next kid-free date!

    Outdoor ice-skating

    I love ice-skating!  Ben and I went ice-skating this year on one of our dates and it was so much fun, though the place we chose was like a youth club and we were the oldest there!  But, for the past few years both Gloucester and Cheltenham have had outdoor ice rinks and we have totally missed them.  It’s not often we go to town and we usually have our children with us, so with Reuben only being three now he was always too young for us to partake in things like this.  I’ve no idea if the ice rinks will be back this year, but I really hope they are and we can plan a visit.  Bella, now six, might even fancy a go!

    Those are the three activities I really want to try this year or next.  Hoping I can tick off tubing and outdoor ice-skating this year.  I’ve just text Ben to ask if he wants to go tubing when my mum has the kids next which is October. 

    With childcare and some planning these activities should be pretty easy for us to arrange, aside from the ski lessons they are not too expensive.  However, I also have some dreamy winter bucket list ideas which do cost and arm and a leg, but hopefully one day we will make these happen:

    My winter bucket list

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    Visit Santa in Lapland

    Now, I’m not one for the cold at all, in fact I absolutely detest it, but one day I would love to take the kids and visit Santa in Lapland!  There are 3 or 4 night breaks available with the magic of Christmas at the heart of many tour operators.  There are real reindeer rides to go and meet Santa, husky sledding, toboggan fun, igloos to visit and more.

    See the Northern lights

    I would absolutely love to see the Northern Lights and this can be tied into a magical Santa Lapland trip in Finland or it can be arranged separately with one of the best places apparently in northern Norway to see the spectacle.  They look so magical – colourful whimsical beams and wisps of light across the night sky.  Some scientists predict they’ll fade over the next ten years, so we’d better plan this one soon so we don’t miss out.

    Not too big a bucket list for winter and I may be able to tick two off this year!

     

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     My winter bucket list

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  2. My very honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens

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    Today we were very kindly invited to Sudeley Castle and Gardens for the children to try their autumn trail and play in the adventure playground – a huge wooden fort!  The castle is located in Winchcombe so not far from us in Gloucester at all.  It’s within Gloucestershire and set amongst the picturesque Cotswolds.  In this blog post I will share my honest review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

     

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    I’ve been to the castle before, but too long ago to properly remember much about it.  I vaguely remember going as a child and again in my early twenties with a friend.  I rightly remembered this castle is more about the gardens and an exhibition, rather than being the castle itself that can be explored such as looking around dungeons, original rooms and climbing towers.  You are able to go in the castle, but to see the exhibition which is more like a museum of artefacts from the 15th century castle and lots of information about the various people who lived there, including being a royal residence of King Henry VIII and later lived in by his sixth wife Katherine Parr who is buried in its chapel.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    I do find it all very interesting and I would have explored the exhibit more, but I had a three year old and six year old tugging on my arm to get outside to do the nature trail!  It would be great to somehow make the exhibit more entertaining for younger children, but perhaps they will enjoy it more once older.  Bella also found it a bit spooky!  To be fair, we didn’t see the whole exhibition as we exited perhaps half way through or so as the kids were so desperate to go outside, so I can’t comment on it fully.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    We did have a great time exploring the gardens and doing the nature trail.  The autumn nature trail definitely gave the children something fun to do and allowed us adults to explore the gardens with entertained children!  They were so excited every time they located a bird box which contained a wildlife stamp for their autumn trail sheet.  There are ten stamps to find all around the gardens and an information card in each bird box about the wildlife that is on the stamp.  Amazingly the first stamp was of a dragonfly and as we started walking away a dragonfly flew right in front of us!  It couldn’t be more perfectly timed!

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The gardens and the autumn trail definitely made our day. There are so many beautiful trees, plants and flowers to see, but also ponds filled with koi carp.  We all equally enjoyed the pheasantry and even spied a peacock resting on top of one of the aviary’s.  Sudeley works closely with the World Pheasant Association and currently houses 16 rare and endangered species of bird from around the world.  We spied some really beautiful pheasants with really striking colours.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The children’s day was probably made by the awesome adventure playground.  There is a brand new wooden fort which was completed in March this year.  It looks amazing and the kids loved climbing up the staircases to various levels, attempting the climbing wall and whizzing down the slides.  There’s also a zip line which is Bella’s favourite park activity right now, so she was in her element!  There’s a 10 piece obstacle course suitable for big kids and adults, as well as a smaller obstacle course for the little ones.  The kids had a blast running around and trying all the different wooden climbing frames and obstacles. 

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    Next to the adventure playground is ‘Lost in the Willow’ a living willow maze which is more like tunnels created from the leaning willows to run through and explore, finding the huge badger cleverly twisted out of sticks in the middle.  There are certainly a lot of outdoor things for the kids to get involved with at Sudeley to explore nature and learn more about wildlife.  Dotted around the gardens, paths and walks are several animals made from wood such as a deer, snail and elephant.  There are also a few metal sculptures to spot such as twisted leaves and snowy owls.  For the ages of my children, the outdoors was definitely a lot more fun and inclusive.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    The castle also holds many events each year and we just happened to pick a day of the Classic Car Rally to attend.  We had no idea this would be on, so it was a surprise.  The kids loved looking at the cars too, even three year old Reuben who like the ‘nengines’ best!  I’m pretty sure my husband Ben enjoyed looking at all the cars too!

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    One event I haven’t been to, but I’ve heard great things, is their ‘Spectacle of Light’ event which looks quite amazing.  I searched the hashtag #spectacleoflight on Instagram for a peek and the entire castle grounds are lit up with light shows and displays all over the place.  It looks so magical for both adults and children so I’ll definitely pencil in a visit one winter.

    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

    Overall we had a lovely time at Sudeley and were glad we had the opportunity to visit.  The new adventure playground is spot on – the kids could quite happily play there all day!  The autumn trail was fun for the children to complete as we explored the castle grounds and Sudeley should definitely consider leaving a trail in place for the children all year round.  It’s currently only on this September to October.  I’d love to return one day and I think to make the most of a visit with children it’s best to coincide it with an event such as the Spectacle of Light or one of their many Halloween or Christmas craft workshops.

    Book tickets and find out more information here: https://sudeleycastle.co.uk/

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    My Very Honest Review of Sudeley Castle and Gardens – Family days out in th

  3. Obscure travel destinations bucket list

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    Travel is something I really regret not doing when younger.  For some reason it never appealed to me in my late teens, but since becoming older and now having the responsibilities of children and a mortgage I feel the urge to travel more than ever.  But because of these responsibilities I can’t.  I definitely should have travelled when I was in my late teens or early twenties and explored the world before settling down.

    There’s no point in living with regrets though and I now plan to travel when I am older or retire!  I’m keen to stay in good health by living super healthily with the aim of lots of travelling once the kids are adults and have moved out.  If Ben and I can manage to retire early then I’d love to travel for weeks on end, or even satisfy my travelling the world bug then!  Perhaps we’ll even sell the house, buy an RV and hit the road as two very cool OAPs!

    For now we will enjoy family holidays as and when we can afford them, but that doesn’t mean we can’t dream about the future and all the incredible countries we wish to visit.

    I have plenty of travel destinations I wish to visit, some lesser-known than others.  Here are a snippet of the places I’d love to see one day:

    Obscure travel destinations bucket list

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    Maldives

    The Maldives in the Indian Ocean look absolutely stunning.  Like paradise on Earth!  Crystal clear turquoise waters and pure white sands with palm trees sprinkled all around.  There are holiday villas on stilts in the ocean just oozing luxury.  I can imagine it’s a place that I’d never want to return from.   Just look at the gorgeous holidays available here and you’ll see exactly why it’s a must-see bucket list destination: https://www.destination2.co.uk/destinations/indian-ocean/maldives

    Great Barrier Island

    Not far from New Zealand is Great Barrier Island.  I saw this on Ben Fogle’s TV programme Lives in the Wild and I’ve been obsessed ever since!  It looks like the perfect place to even relocate to as it’s remote and off-grid, but there is a friendly community there and even a shop and pub, along with a couple of schools.  It looks like a really stunning place to visit that wouldn’t be overrun with tourists.

    Obscure travel destinations bucket list - kenya

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    Treetops Lodge, Kenya, Africa

    I have always wanted to experience a safari and this hotel looks like the perfect place to stay whilst doing so.  The hotel itself is perched up high on tree trunks with animals such as elephants roaming below.  Isn’t that incredible?  It was originally built in 1932 and even the Queen of England has stayed there!

    Namibia

    Almost four hours away from Kenya by flight is Namibia, home to Etosha National Park, an incredible wildlife sanctuary.  Apparently it has a salt pan so large, it can be seen from space!  They are home to a diverse range of animals who are able to roam freely in Namibia with little influence from humans.  The landscape of savannahs, open grassland, salt pans and desert looks stunning.

     

    There are so many incredible places around the world and I always have this feeling that we are only here once and I’m running out of time to see them all!

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  4. Tips to make sure your family cars tyres are safe this autumn

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    I’m going to be honest.  I never really looked after my cars much until I had children.  I only had cheap cars and got them through their MOT and that was about it.  However, since having children my priorities have totally changed and their safety is paramount.  I remember being absolutely terrified the first time I drove by myself with Bella in the car as a baby.  She was so precious and I was petrified someone would crash into us and injure my new baby.  We live in Gloucestershire and the roads aren't too bad around here.  I can't imagine how scary it must be driving around London on the busy roads when you've just had a baby!

    Luckily the nerves subsided after a few drives and now with two children I am confident and happy driving in the car with them.  One thing that has changed though is that I now take much better care of my car.  I want to ensure the vehicle I am driving is as safe as possible so I can ensure my children are as safe as possible.  They put their trust in me as a parent to keep them safe.  Whether you are driving on the busiest roads of London, twisty country lanes in the Cotswolds or deserted tracks in the middle of nowhere, it's imperative that you keep your car safe for your children, and of course you.

    We have two cars in the family at the moment and we try to maintain them as best as we can to ensure they are safe on the road.  Keeping up with MOTs and services means we can spot any problems to prevent a breakdown and ensure the cars run smoothly.  There are also some checks that we can do ourselves at home and I am guilty of depending on Ben to do these as he’s more interested in cars than me, but I could also do them myself.

    One thing we do keep an eye on are the tyres on our cars.  If tyres are neglected then there’s an increased risk of accidents due to sudden blow outs, or the tread not being a safe depth and the tyres not performing properly.  It’s even possible for worn tyres to make the car consume more fuel, so you’ll save money by maintaining them properly too. 

    Here are some pointers on how you can check your tyres and keep them in tiptop condition:

    Tips to make sure your family cars tyres are safe this autumn

    Off we go!

    Check for objects

    As we all know London roads and city roads are super busy and there is a high probability of the roads having sharp objects. Whether it is New Kings Road,  Shirley Road or Henleys Roundabout, you never know where the pointy objects exist which could harm your tyres. A good look at your tyres once in a while will show if you have any objects stuck in them.  If you do then these can cause a puncture and you’ll need to have the tyre replaced. You’ll obviously want to replace it before the puncture as this could cause an accident.  If you feel you have worn out tyres not suited to drive, you can buy cheap tyres in London, by visiting DAT Tyres websiteWe once noticed Ben’s car had a nail stuck in the side of the tyre and we were able to have the tyre changed before it caused any further damage.You should do the same by taking the help of a professional!

    Check the pressure

    We check our tyre pressure using a simple at home device which plugs into the car and reads each pressure.  Look up your car online to find out the ideal pressure for both the front and back tyres.  My front and back tyres need to be a different pressure, so keep this in mind and don’t just guess.  If you can’t buy a machine then use the air available at fuel stations. Driving with deflated tyres increases the risk of a burst tyre and increases the risk causing of an accident.  If you over inflate them you will have less traction on the road. 

    Check the tread

    As mentioned above, it’s important the tyre treads are the right depth.  Not only will this make your car safer to drive, but it’s required by the law.  1.6mm is the minimum legal depth, but it can still be too low in bad weather conditions, so you may want to change your tyres once the tread gets below 3mm.  You can measure the depth using a 20 pence piece – simply Google this or YouTube it and you’ll find exact instructions. 

    Check for wear and tear

    If you’re tires look beat, then they are.  It’s never worth risking driving round with old knackered tyres, so pop to a local tyre centre to ask for a professional opinion.

    If you are ever unsure of anything when it comes to your family car and tyres then always check with a professional.

     

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    Tips to make sure your family cars tyres are safe this autumn (2) 

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  5. 7 driver safety reminders

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    Unfortunately road safety is something that a lot of people take for granted.  I drive most days and every single time I see people driving inconsiderately or dangerously.  Just last week I had someone driving two inches behind my car which wound me up a treat!  I do try to stay calm when other drivers are being erratic or trying to speed as I don’t want their anger to make me angry.  It’s best to stay calm and ignore.  But this time it was particularly bothering me as I had both children in the back of the car. 

    Not only was it off-putting to me driving as I could see a car so close to me in my rear-view mirror, but I was worried if I needed to suddenly brake or stop then I’d have a car in my boot which could injure my children.  Grrr!  All I can assume is that the driver was impatient and wanted to speed.  I was driving at the speed limit and that wasn’t good enough for him so he was trying to force me to drive faster.  I’m not sure if it’s just my area, but this happens to me all the time and always on the same roads where people regularly drive 10-20mph over the speed limit.  If someone wants to drive obeying the law then give them room to breathe and don’t try to force your law breaking habits onto them!

    In this blog post I am going to explore seven driver safety reminders that we should all be obeying, but many are guilty of not following:

    7 driver safety reminders

    Photo by Andraz Lazic

    1.     No phones

    Yep, number one, no phones!  I still see people all the time chatting away on their phones whilst driving!  I saw a man not paying any attention whilst REVERSING near my home the other day onto a pavement when there were children everywhere in the summer holidays.  Pay attention!  It’s so dangerous to not have the use of both of your hands whilst driving.  How can you steer and change gear if you have a phone in your hand by your ear?  Be sensible and put it down whilst driving.

    2.     Slow down for speedbumps

    Speedbumps are there for a reason.  Slow down.  Don’t fly over them at normal speed or whilst speeding.  They are often in areas with parks and schools where children could be present, so there is a reason for slowing you down.  Not slowing down can cause damage to your car, particularly to the exhaust.  It’s also possible to hit the exhaust of this is very low on your car or needs repairing, so it’s a good idea to get your exhaust fixed if it scrapes speedbumps.  Don’t wait for it to fall off!  If you’re in London then you can get your exhaust fitted locally at Iverson’s London Branch, or if too far then search for a reputable car garage nearer to home.

    3.     Don’t speed

    Speed limits are there for a reason and you should never speed.  It’s breaking the law.  It makes it more difficult and dangerous for cars to pull out of junctions on to the road you are speeding on, especially on country roads with blind corners.  Speeding also increases your braking distance which puts lives at danger.

    4.     Strap up

    It’s the law for a good reason.  Wear your seatbelt.  I’ve known four people to lose their lives due to not wearing their seatbelts in three different car crashes.  My school friend died in a car crash when she was 19 and everyone else in the car had whiplash as well as minor injuries, but she was thrown out of the back windscreen as she wasn’t strapped in.  She suffered fatal head injuries.  It’s no joke – strap up.  You’re also putting other passengers at risk if you are flung across the car in a crash.

    5.     Check your tyres

    There are lots of ways to easily check the safety of your tyres at home such as:

    • Tread: the minimum legal tread is 1.6mm, though this low may not be safe enough in wet conditions so you may want to replace the tyres once they are below 3mm. 
    • Pressure: A quick check online will tell you the correct tyre pressure for your car.  We have a portable pump which we can keep at home or in the car boot, but you can also get air for free or for a small fee at most petrol stations.
    • Wear and tear: If your tyres look old and worn, they probably are!  Pop into your local true shop to ask for their advice and get a new tyre if need be. 
    • Punctures: Make sure nothing is stuck in your tyres.  We once had to change one of Ben’s tyres as a nail had punctured it and it was slowly going down.

    6.     Service your car 1-2 times per year

    I am absolutely guilty of this one, for the excuse that I don’t use my car very much.  However we have started to use my car more and Ben is even using it a few days for work each week so I’ll be servicing it much more regularly now.  A car services will ensure the car is well maintained and can prevent a breakdown.  It can also highlight other issues that might not otherwise be spotted until your next MOT.  A full service should be booked once per year and a mini service six months after this if you drive your car on a regular basis or for long distances.

    7.     Indicate

    This is a new one I have noticed recently.  I even asked my husband if there was a new rule that meant we no longer had to indicate!  I was trying to explain to my six year old how to cross the road safely and showing how cars indicate when they are turning corners, yet the next three cars we looked at failed to indicate!  I’m not quite sure why so many cars thing they shouldn’t indicate, but it’s a massive safety risk to pedestrians as well as other vehicles if you fail to indicate.
    It often happens at roundabouts too and just recently a car was not indicating to go around the roundabout so I assumed they were coming off and I entered the roundabout only for them to swing round.  It’s quite simple – use your indicators when you are meant to so pedestrians, bikes and cars know where you are planning to go!

     

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