Whilst it might have a reputation as something of a ‘party island’ (and it certainly can live up to that reputation if you know where to look), Lanzarote is also an island that features a little bit of everything and could actually be the perfect family holiday. This is particularly true if you decide to rent a Villa Plus villa, which offers you a comfortable home base from which to explore the island. Warm, but far from uncomfortable average temperatures of 22C, a short plane journey from most UK airports and some of the best beaches and attractions in Europe add up to a location that shouldn’t be skipped over if you’re in the market for a family holiday on the Canary Islands. To underline the family-friendly nature of the island, we’ve compiled a list of the top five activities that can be enjoyed by the whole family – whether you’re 8, 18 or 80!
A definite step up from a donkey ride on Blackpool beach, Lanzarote is famous for its camels and a ride amongst the volcanic dunes of the “Mountains of Fire” is a ride you certainly won’t soon forget. Even if you are tentative about putting your life in the hands (or humps) of a camel, however, we’d recommend taking your kids to the Timanfaya exhibition, particularly if they’re studying geography!
Lanzarote contains some 300 volcanoes and lava fields and this is something that’s truly taken advantage of by the El Diablo restaurant, which actually uses thermal heat to cook its food. The venue itself is also a sight to behold.
Not only does Lanzarote boast a spectacular water park (perfectly placed as a foil to the island’s desert climate), but it also plays host to the Rancho Texas zoo and water park. The Aquapark Costa Teguise is a typical Spanish water park, complete with hair-raising attractions and more subtle delights (for the young ones). Rancho Texas, meanwhile, boasts dolphins, lions and plenty more besides in a beautifully maintained park that really needs to be seen to be believed.
If the water park and zoo seem a little ‘wild’ for your pack, why not opt for something a little less active and a little more tranquil. The Lanzarote aquarium is world-class, with giant tanks containing everything from stingrays to sharks. An affordable and decidedly relaxed way to spend an afternoon that will almost certainly keep the kids entertained for at least an hour.
Twice a day, the Starlight Open Air Cinema offers families the chance to catch a classic feature and a brand new release at the Biosfera Plaza shopping complex. The complex itself contains five floors of both local and international stores, but it’s the cinema on the roof that really sells it.
What a beautiful few weeks it’s been since my last ‘Siblings‘ post! I’ve taken quite a lot of pictures of these two, especially over our long weekend in Norfolk for Easter – which is where this photo in the rapeseed field was taken. I know some people HATE lens flares but I think they’re awesome, and I purposefully have the hood on my lens on backwards so I don’t block them out! So that lovely orange blob of sunshine coupled with my two little people having a hug where it actually looks like they’re enjoying it is pretty special to me!
Partly because for the rest of the month although they’ve got on well Athena seems to be hell bent on getting ‘huggles and kisses’ from Arlo who is as equally hellbent to escape from her clutches! Even at preschool drop off they used to have a nice little hug but Arlo seems to have decided hugs and kisses with his sister are beneath him but will happily ‘huggle’ me or Sam in front of her just to wind her up the ratbag!
Arlo is halfway through his last term at preschool, and the countdown is on to find out what class he will be in at the infant school when he starts and I have started stocking up on uniform for him too. He’s not really fussed or worried about it as far as we can tell though we’ve not done the ‘meet the teacher’ stuff yet!
Athena is her usual self – not all that interested in learning but loves colouring and making. She also trimmed herself a new fringe last week which was a bit horrifying but it doesn’t actually look too bad thank goodness! She already has fringe regret and we are having to pin in back every day! Serves her right…
Both kids are still happily hurtling around all over the place, hence their matching leg bruises on this otherwise sweet photo!
With summer swiftly approaching it’s time to start thinking about something we haven’t really thought of in a while: sunlight. It’s a natural design tool you can use to really make a difference in your home. We can’t all have skylights or ceiling to floor windows, but this doesn’t matter. By following a few nifty tricks you can make your home feel brighter and lighter. We think summer is the ideal time to start making the most of the natural light in your home.
If your walls are painted in dark colours, of course your room is going to feel dark as a result. By opting for lighter shades instead the room feels brighter, and – you might be surprised to learn – it will also look bigger. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go for pure white walls, that’s just asking for trouble, particularly if there are little ones involved. You can go for pastel or pale colours, too. You could keep with your current colour scheme, just lighten it up several shades.
It’s not just the colour of the paint you’ve got to think about, but the finish of it as well. According to a design website, if you’ve got glossy walls this is going to create a glare in your living space. So you should opt for matte surfaces instead as they reflect light in every direction. A new paint colour is one of the easiest ways of completely changing the look and feel of room..
If your home doesn’t have that much natural light to start off with, mirrors are the way forward. They can double the amount of light in a room, as it will reflect off them. You could go for one large mirror or several small ones across the walls. It’s your home and how you want it to look is entirely is up to you. Mirrors make a tasteful, and practical, addition to any design.
It may also be time to rethink some of your soft furnishings if you want to make the most of natural light. If you’ve got dark, heavy, curtains it’s going to be very hard for your home to feel bright. Even if pushed to the side, they’ll still have quite impact the space. Instead you could get shades, they’re lighter in tone and easy to manoeuvre to get as much light as possible flowing into your room.
This week I had the privilege and joy of extending my Bank Holiday weekend by an extra day, because on Tuesday I was invited to the Solent Hotel for a spa day. There is nothing I enjoy more than a day being pampered, lounging around in a fluffy gown and chatting with friends. If you include a Caudalie facial and a healthy but delicious lunch with a bunch of bloggers then you’re really onto a winner. I came away with my skin feeling soft, my body refreshed and my mind relaxed!
The Solent Hotel and Spa is a fairly large complex, with a welcoming lobby and a spacious and bright restaurant. The spa is a decent size but still retains that cosy and intimate feel even when it got a bit busier in the afternoon. There is a very well equipped gym and a group exercise room as membership is available and use for the hotel guests, but the changing area was never busy and had separate changing cubicles for those that would prefer to use them. Big mirrors, hair driers and body lotion were available too, and the lockers were operated with clever wrist bands, so no keys to remember to remove then potentially lose in the sauna!
The treatment area was through a door that opened up into a cosy area with flavoured water, tea and coffee available throughout the day, plus a selection of sweet treats. There is a relaxation room where you can spend some quiet time whenever you feel you need it and before and after your treatments. From a selection of Caudalie treatments on offer I chose a facial. After a short chat about my skin and what I wanted to achieve my therapist Jody lowered the lights and left the room so I could climb on the bed and relax under a warm towel. When she came back in after checking I was comfortable she got to work! All of the Caudalie product she used were lightly scented which I prefer to other brands that can be quite overbearing when you’re having a few products applied in a short space of time! Between each stage of the facial I was spritzed with Grape Water which was really refreshing. My favourite stage was the Instant Detox Mask, especially as whilst that was working some magic I was given a scalp massage – blissful!
After my treatment I spent some time in the pool area, which has a decent sized pool, a hot tub, sauna and steam room as well as loungers, tables and chairs and a secluded outside area. There is also a couples treatment room with a private hot tub available – how nice would that be on a weekend away from the kids!? It was so lovely to chill out, read a few chapters of my book and catch up with some blogging friends along with making some new ones!
Soon it was time for lunch, which was served in the lounge area of the spa on a table nicely laid out for us, but I think if there are less of you there is an option to eat in the restaurant too. We’d chosen our meal options when we arrived so lunch was served with no hanging around! I chose a chicken and bacon sandwich for my main course, and had the most divine rhubarb parfait topped with a raspberry and shortbread biscuit. We had a good chat about our treatments and how nice it was to get away from things and do not very much for the day!
Once we’d all finished eating we were shown to the conservatory area and had a surprisingly fascinating talk with Caudalie – learning more about the brand, how it started and some of their ‘Hero’ products and some new sun-protection products that we were lucky enough to be sent home with in our goody bags! All the products are based around grapes, and they utilise all the different parts of not only the grape but the vine too – as the brand started at the Château Smith Haut Lafitte (you can read the history of the Caudalie, it’s actually a lovely story!) We were given a hands on skincare demonstration and got to taste the toxin-eliminating herbal tea too!
It was back into the spa for a few more laps of the pool, and visit to the steam room and sauna and then sadly it was time to head home! The Solent Hotel is just outside Fareham and more or less equidistant to both Portsmouth and Southampton. It took me just over an hour to reach from Worthing in morning traffic but less to get home in the evening. It’s easily accessible from the M27, A3 and M3 and would be perfect for a pre or post cruise stay if you’re lucky enough to be heading out on one from either port!
For more info on treatments available as well as spa packages take a look at the Solent Hotel & Spa website. Their Sunday night Serenity package looks perfect for a spa break with two friends who are pressed for time that I’m planning for the Autumn but there are lots to choose from!
So a huge thank you to Solent Hotel and Spa for inviting me, I had the best day!
A child’s first passport and any renewal after that will cost £49 if you apply online, or £58.50 to apply with a form from the Post Office. I seem to remember needing to practically be able to trace my family tree back seventeen generations when we applied for our kids’ passports in advance of their first holiday abroad! I may be exaggerating but only slightly- we needed to send all sorts of things – birth certificates for the kids, our details as their parents and then also the full name, town, country of birth and date of marriage of your mother’s or parents (the kids’ grandmothers) parents and your father’s (their grandfathers) details. Seriously long-winded but necessary.
What worried me was sending all the original documents off – and to minimise the risk of them not coming back I made sure that we paid the extra £5 for a secure delivery. Later in the year we got their passports the process went online as an option, and I definitely would have done this if it were an option as it’s also cheaper. Children’s passports are valid for 5 years.
Despite the paperwork and research into your parents marriages etc (double hard as both ours are divorced) the hardest thing was making sure the passport photos would be accepted. We toyed with the idea of trying it ourselves in a photo boot – but as Arlo was only about 5 months old at the time we found a local photographer who has a private studio and knows exactly what is required for a photo to be accepted and she got them in one take – phew!
A few of the stringent rules for adult photos have been relaxed for kids – they are allowed to smile for example unlike adults! But they must not be wearing glasses, have a dummy or have an adult in the picture with them, even a supporting arm! Then once printed you need to double check the size of the face within the photo! From the top of the head to the chin must measure between 29mm and 34mm high – get your ruler out!
Once you’re happy with your paperwork and your photo you need to get ONE copy of the photo validated by someone in ‘authority’ who has known the child or the parent of the child for at least two years, and more importantly can recognise them from their photo! It’s important too for the passport office to be able to reach the person who countersigned the photos for clarification – so don’t ask anyone who’s about to jet off on holiday themselves! I signed quite a few of these for employees when I was a ‘license of a public house’ and did get a couple of calls back to make sure I had actually signed the photo and knew the person! If you’re unsure of who to ask to be your counter-signatory then call the Passport Office Customer Services for guidance – better to get it right the first time!
Once you’ve applied, paid the fee and crossed your fingers you can expect to be waiting up to 3 weeks for your new passports to arrive – though it is often less in quieter periods!
This week has flown by right? I know it was a shorter week but at this rate it’ll be Summer before we know it! I feel like I’ve barely seen the kids during the week, as I got away with not doing a school run till Friday this week! I was working in Brighton and London on Wednesday and Thursday and on Tuesday I had a lovely day at a spa, but I’ve got a post coming up on that soon!
We did have a day out yesterday though as we’d been invited to see Once Upon a Princess at the Royal Hippodrome in Eastbourne, which was really good fun! I was unsure what Arlo would think but he loved it as much as Athena did – bopping about in his seat and shouting out in the audience participation bits! You can expect to see all your favourite princess, from Rapunzel to a rapping Anna from Frozen – which was pretty cool! She was definitely my favourite.
The show is based on Fairy Godmother Muddle needing to put all the fairytales back together after an accident in the library, and though acting and songs the audience (of mostly young girls in princess dresses waving sparkly wands!) need to help work out which story the charming prince is from and therefore who he needs to marry! There were confetti canons, sing along songs old and new and most importantly for Athena lots of pretty princesses twirling around on stage! You can find out more about Once Upon A Princess and find future dates on their website. It looks like they’re taking a break for the summer but are back on tour in October.
Then this afternoon we watched crazy people do daredevil stunts at Circus Extreme which is in Brighton until the 19th May at Preston Park, which two shows a day most day. Now I love a good circus, there’s something about the music, the tent and the being on the edge of your seat through most of the show that just makes me happy! This is the first time Circus Extreme had toured the UK and we weren’t disappointed as both halves of the show were packed full of tense moments and jaw dropping acts – the atmosphere is just amazing!
My favourite act was the final one, when motorbikes whizzed through the tent from one side and out the other, whilst more were whizzing about in a Globe of Death… You really do have to see it to believe it!
Another awesome act was the tightrope stunts so high up in the air, riding bikes and balancing on each others shoulders! Seriously jaw dropping!
There’s not a lot else to report from this week, I have a new laptop that’s more portable for when I am working out of the house but it’s taking me some time to get used to as the keys are slightly smaller than my main laptop so that I am often pressing the wrong thing. Oh, and we had a thief pinch a parcel from either our doorstep or the recycling bin. We didn’t get a slip through the door so had no idea the parcel had been delivered until our next-door neighbour appeared once we got home from Eastbourne. She showed me a photo she’d taken of a man loitering around, who then left and soon came back and dropped the parcel on our doorstep! Obviously he didn’t want a bunch of kids clothes that I had ordered from H&M! What a cheeky bugger!
Anyway, this coming week is a bit quieter for me but I want to crack on and try and get as much done as possible because we’re on holiday for a few days just before half term and I ideally don’t want to do any work when we’re away!
We were invited to both these shows to write a review on the blog.
With Summer fast approaching there’s a few things that will need to be sorted out in order that the garden is up to scratch for more Summer fun with friends and family. So I’ve put together this handy checklist to help you get a kick start in the garden this summer.
Clean up the barbecue
Hands up who cleaned up the barbecue last year? I didn’t, in fact it looked so rough I was thinking about buying a new gas barbecue because I had enough of looking at my current rust bucket and charcoal barbecues are quite time consuming. Fortunately though, I found a really handy tip on how to clean it up with minimal fuss which was doubly good because when I thought about it, I would lose that lovely smokey flavour you just can’t get from a gas barbecue.
The cleaning process was pretty simple; just get a load of kindling wood and really get the fire roaring over the grill and around the hood. This turned all the charred black soot white like ash and then removing it was really simple, I just got myself a decent wire brush and gave it a good once over.
Get the grass cut or go artificial?
We all know it, cutting the grass after the winter months is the worst job out there. It can be a good eight to ten inches thick after we did our last cut in the November garden preparations, my poor little Flymo just couldn’t handle it. Let’s not blame my trusty Flymo though, it was because I didn’t keep the blades sharp. My number of tip for your flymo every Winter when there isn’t much to do would be sharpen the blades on your Flymo.
There is another option that I would love to pursue; just get artificial grass instead! It comes with all the benefits such as being child friendly and great for pets without the need for all the maintenance above. I don’t want to go anti-green on you here, I love a bit of garden planting but with all the other chores it’s one thing I think that would really my my families life a little bit easier.
Clean up the garden furniture
After four months left alone, the garden table and chairs are looking like they need a real deep clean. One super trick I found was baby wet wipes. They really clean up garden furniture quickly and efficiently. Be warned though, I went through nearly two packs, a J-Cloth and soapy water takes a bit longer but will save a few pounds.
I’m not sure why the garden furniture ends up quite so dirty but it’s like a magnet for much over the Winter months. I think this year I’ll invest in decent furniture covers instead of struggling again!
Either way though, these few handy tricks will get the garden up to scratch for the family this summer. Hopefully you’ll find them as useful as I will when I revisit this post next year around Spring.
Somehow I have been incredibly lucky and so far and neither of my kids have had head lice yet, despite getting letters home from school that there have been outbreaks in the class! I know it’s only a matter of time though and it’s best to be prepared! So here is the lowdown on lice, or ‘nits’ as they were called when I was younger – but actually the nits are the eggs and the lice are the actual creatures.
What are Head Lice?
Lice are tiny insects that are found on the scalp and hair, who feed on blood by biting the scalp. They’re so small that you can’t feel the biting, but the lice create a substance to stop the bit-mark from clotting and this causes itching and even allergic reactions. Away from the scalp and a host to feed them blood these head lice will die in around 2 days.
How Do I Know My Child has Lice?
Apart from spotting a living louse there are a few other symptoms of lice:
Itchy scalp or neck or behind the ears
small white eggs visible
Tiny bumps on the scalp
Swollen lymph nodes due to infected bites
Why traditional treatments don’t work that well
There are all sorts of old wives tales about what treats head lice, some a bit more bizarre than others. Mayonnaise is one I hadn’t heard of, but vinegar and conditioner being combed through are things that people did when I was younger. There are also many types of over the counter options too. But these types of treatments might kill the lice, it won’t kill the eggs which will remain for between 6 and 9 days before hatching. Also lice can last up to 6 hours without air- meaning you’d have to sit with whatever you’re using on your head for over that time to be really effective!
Also lice have become immune to anticholinesterase which is the main ingredient in most lice-treatments. Some treatments use a silicone substance to coat the hair, which means the lice are easier to comb out but doesn’t kill them. ‘Super Lice‘ are really starting to become immune to all the popular methods of attempting to get rid of them! Plus who wants to be putting harmful chemicals directly onto their child’s head? Not me.
What’s the best way to treat lice?
Combing them out and removing the eggs as well as the lice works well, especially a metal toothed comb as the teeth won’t bend or break to create gaps. The RobiComb is a lice-comb that has a small electric current – enough to kill head lice but not harm your child, plus there is a rubber guard to protect their scalp. It can also be used on every member of the family, over and over again, with no need for chemical treatments that are pricey and ineffective!
I’m sorry if reading this has made you itch, but lice are pretty much part and parcel of childhood so if you’ve got kids and not experienced them yet it’s only a matter of time! Hopefully now you’ve got a bit more information about how them and more importantly how to get rid of them!
Athena might the sort of girl who loves scurrying about in the woods, waving sticks about, looking under logs for insects and making dens but given the choice she’d much rather do all that in a dress! So where better to head in a very pretty dress that she picked from the selection at David Charles Children’s Wear [sent for review] than our local woods!
It took Athena more than a little while to choose a dress from the Spring/Summer collection on the website as there are just so many stunning styles to choose from! Eventually she’d narrowed it down to two and did ‘eeny meeny miny mo’ to choose and picked an Ivory and Pink Teadress and we both love it!
It’s a gorgeous lace material with pink floral accents dotted all over. The lace is quite chunky, almost doily-like and the skirt is circular with a scalloped hem which flows beautifully when twirling and swirling! The dress is fully lined and has a concealed zip in the centre of the bodice at the back. Cute little capped sleeves finish it off perfectly!
The quality is brilliant, with all the hems finished properly and securely, and the lace and pattern on the bodice is perfectly aligned to show it at its best. Athena has already decided to wear it to wherever we go for her birthday and to some upcoming friends parties too!
Athena is just going into age 7-8 sized clothes (even though she’s not 6 yet!) so I picked age 8 for her after checking the height chart, and it fits really well with room to grow without looking baggy or too long. I probably won’t be letting her rush around in the woods again in it but miraculously she didn’t fall over it get it grubby and I love the bluebell photos we got too!
David Charles Children’s Wear have such a varied range, from age two to sixteen, long to short, and all manner of styles, colours, materials and occasions! So many dresses would be utterly perfect for flower girl and bridesmaid roles, and there is a range of accessories to choose from too. I also have a very exciting giveaway for one of you to win a dress from the Spring/Summer collection, you just need to enter below for your chance to win a stunning dress worth up to £299- perfect for the little princess in your life!
My kids adore anything with photos on, even though the photos on our walls have been the same for a while now they will often stop and ask questions about them or remember the days out we were on when they were taken. Athena has photos next to her bed and they play for ages with the photo magnets on the fridge. Another thing they love to do is to snuggle, either on the sofa or in bed. A cushion and a blanket makes them cosy and happy, then if you add a photo that they chose and love to that cushion they they’re even happier!
These personalised cushions make great gifts, especially for kids! Athena chose a photo that combines her loves for My Little Pony and for her family, and as it was taken at a festival last summer that she has great memories from it’s basically a photo of all her ‘happy things’. She is also the kind of kid that loves to make ‘nests’ in bed, piling up all her cushions and duvet and making a soft and nest-like place to sleep overnight – so a photo cushion to add to her collection is like a dream come true!
The design process is easy, you just choose the cushion size, upload your photo, re-position it where you want it to appear and then choose the colour of the underside. The cushions arrived with the covers separate, it takes a few seconds to pop the covers on and zip up. They’re washable too- always a bonus!
Arlo is less fussy about what he has on his bed than his sister but since he got his personalised cushion with a photo that he had chosen printed on he’s made sure it’s at the head of his bed every night! He also brings it through from his bedroom to the living room in the mornings which is pretty cute. My-Picture.co.uk actually stock a whole range of personalised homeware, including photo rugs, towels and blankets as well as a more traditional selection of mugs, puzzles and phone cases. You can also choose from a vast array of canvas options for enlarging your favourite photos to display around the home.
If you fancy adding some of your favourite photos to your home in one of the many products available from My-Picture.co.uk then you’ll want to enter my giveaway! One lucky winner will get a £50 voucher to spend online along with free UK postage! For your chance to win enter using the widget below:
One winner will be picked from all correct entries at random, and has 28 days to respond to the winning notification, after this another winner will be drawn. The winner will receive a voucher code for £50 plus FREE shipping to be used at my-picture.co.uk. UK addresses only. Winners must be based in the UK, be 18+ and not affiliated with Scrapbook Blog or My-Picture.co.uk. Giveaway ends Sunday 19/5/19 at midnight.