Category: Travel

Sorting out the bedroom

4886297425_f34867ba41_zOkay, so you can probably tell I’m more than a little excited about our upcoming trip to Florida. I know I’ve travelled quite a bit around Europe, but since I’ve never been across the Atlantic, it’s something I just can’t wait for. And it’s always been my dream to take my family to Disney before they get too old to enjoy it. So anyway, in my excitement, I decided to get a little bit of a start on my packing. Yes, I know it’s still a month to go, but I wanted to make sure that I had enough summer clothes after my little wardrobe clear out to be able to make it through the trip before it got too late so I’ve got the chance to go shopping to get more.

Well, as it turns out, I didn’t have enough! As I said, I got rid of all the clothes that were just too short to wear anymore, and those that just didn’t fit my post-children body properly any more, and now I’ve only got a few summery dresses, a couple of pairs of shorts and various tops, not many of which will be good for the hot sun of Florida.

Unfortunately though, I may not be doing as much clothes buying as I thought since I noticed something when I got right to the back of my old wardrobe: woodworm. It’s a wardrobe we’ve had since we got married that we picked up in an antiques shop, so I should have known really that this would happen sometime, and I can’t believe I hadn’t noticed before! So that wardrobe has been completely emptied (onto the spare room bed…) and has gone to the tip, and I’m now looking at getting a new one installed, something along the lines of these sliding wardrobes will work well in our bedroom since we have a little alcove that they would slot into perfectly. I like how modern looking they are too, very different to the old one (which is very similar to the picture above)!

And of course, since I’m getting a new wardrobe that’s a completely different style, I’m having to look at other things around the room too to get them to match better. Everything will have to be moved around since the layout will be slightly different, and I think that means we’ll need to get some new bedside tables. We’ve only got one on my side of the bed since the room wasn’t big enough with the bulky old wardrobe in there, but I think there should be space for two now, and it would look a little odd if they didn’t match, so there’s a bit more money down the drain.

So, it looks like I’ll be budgeting for these new summer clothes! One of my friends who has been to America before (New York, but I think Florida is similar) told me that clothes are a lot cheaper there than they are here, so I think I might try to buy a few bits and pieces over there. I guess they’ll also be more suited to the hot weather than our shops will be too. The only thing I definitely need to get my hands on though is a probably fitted bikini since I threw out the old string ones. So a shopping trip is definitely in order for that!

Image courtesy of Silk Road Collection.

Flights to Florida booked on the Thomsom Dreamliner

8972592333_661b21f885_kI’m obsessed with thinking about this holiday to Florida now! We’ve got it booked in for right at the end of August crossing into September for 2 whole weeks. Since we don’t need to pay accommodation as we’re staying at my sister’s holiday home (all she wants us to do is to buy her a couple of things for around the house and some food as payment – lucky us!), we’ve got a bit of extra money to spend elsewhere. Of course, as I said before, it’s easy to save money on theme park tickets by buying several days worth and getting them altogether, so we’ll be doing that, so our splurge is on something a bit different this time: hubby allowed me, for the first time, to upgrade our seats on the plane to Premium Economy! I was initially planning on budgeting a bit on the flights, for example, using the same app my sister did, SendMyBag, to get our luggage over instead of paying extra for all the kids’ stuff including pushchairs, but apparently with our seats, we get additional luggage allowance too, so there’s no need this time.

I’m really excited as I’ve never flown anything other than economy before, and even better, our flight is on the new Thomson Dreamliner. We get extra legroom, wider seats, our own personal TV screens (I know the boys are going to love this – a brilliant way to keep them occupied during the 8 hours!) and slightly better food and drinks than economy. There are also features that are exclusive to the Dreamliner plane including windows that can turn opaque at the touch of a button instead of having a screen to pull down over them, lighting which imitates sunset/sunrise, more oxygen pumped around the cabin and a higher ceiling. Apparently the whole experience makes it easier to cope with jet lag, so that’ll definitely be interesting to test out.

The configuration of the seats is 2-3-2 across the plane, so we’ve booked two sets of the two seats with the windows, so we’ll get to test out the ingenious new features – very exciting! I can’t wait to see what it looks like. Even the economy seats are apparently wider than a normal plane, so I’m not sure we need the extra we’ll be getting, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while since we’re saving money in other areas. I’ll be sure to report back on it!

Image courtesy of Mark Murdock.

 

Booking our first Florida holiday

Disney CastleI never thought I’d be able to say this, but I’m currently booking up our first holiday to Florida! I’d always dreamed I’d be able to take the kids to Disneyworld one day, but didn’t think we’d be able to afford to make it a reality any time soon. Well, since my sister went and bought a holiday home there, all we really need to pay for are the flights! However annoying it might have been packing up all her stuff to send over there, it’ll all be worth it to be able to have the holidays of our dreams in the sun.

So I’ve got some dates planned for the flights – since neither of the boys are at school yet, we want to make sure we make use of taking trips during the school terms, so we’ll be going at the beginning of September. We’ll cross over with my sister whose daughters will need to be back for school, but we’ll get to spend a bit of time with them and she can show us around before we get to relax by ourselves for a while.

I read this article the other day about hilarious and weird complaints people have made about their holiday homes, including there being too much food and that their pre-holiday diet had been wasted! I’ve had a look at my sister’s pictures of the place and it looks amazing so I’m really looking forward to it – there shouldn’t be any surprises in store for us when we get there. Although maybe with the amazing food I’m hearing stories of in America, I may be complaining about weight gain after the trip!

I’ve started looking at tickets for the Disney parks too – there are 4 theme parks and 2 waterparks, so I’m not sure whether to do them all and get some good discounts on tickets, or whether to just do a couple and save them for another time, since we’ll inevitably be back with the house out there. There are also two other parks that have been recommended to me: Universal and Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but apparently they have more big rides and not as much for the kids, so I think we’ll stay away from those until they’re a bit older, although I would love to visit the Harry Potter land!

If you have any recommendations for places to go and things to see that aren’t Disney parks but are good for young families around the Orlando area, let me know and I’ll check them out.

Image courtesy of Express Monorail (but soon I’ll have my own!).

Starting the big move

BoxesSo when I said that my sister had bought a villa in Florida as a holiday home and she would be going out in a couple of months to take a look and get things set up over there, I didn’t realise it would come round so soon! The first flights she’d booked were actually only a month away (unbeknownst to me!), so I’ve had all the hard work of helping her pack things up to take over with her for their first trip over with the kids during their school’s half term next week.

So as I mentioned before, she decided that it would be a good idea to send a few boxes of things ahead of her to save her carrying them all over on the plane and having to pay more. Why she didn’t just buy things for the house over there is a mystery to me, but that’s my sister for you! So over the last week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over at her house, helping her choose which things to pack and organising them into boxes.

We started off with a couple of cardboard boxes and marker pens, thinking that would be alright, but we were so wrong! Of course, she has way more stuff than that, plus it’s also way too heavy for regular cardboard boxes! So we ended up buying some sturdier plastic ones in IKEA and we had to get some labels sorted out to stick on them too – we found those for a pretty good price on a website called Data-Label. Honestly, without me she would have had everything in raggedy old boxes in no sort of order whatsoever!

I’m also very jealous, seeing her pack bikinis and shorts into a suitcase while it’s been pouring down the last couple of days here. Not to fear though as I’m now looking into booking my flights to go and stay over there soon – hopefully sometime in the next couple of months, but I’m trying to find the cheapest ones at the moment. I’ve never been out of Europe before, so that’ll be really exciting, but I’m not so sure about the long flights. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’d really love to go to Florida yearly now I get free accommodation!

Image courtesy of quadrapop.

Easter news

Easter weekend ended up being a lot easier than I thought – my sister’s simnel cake was amazing and went down so well with the kids (surprisingly!) and I didn’t have any issues with the lamb I made. In fact, it was pretty good if I might say so myself, especially the gravy. It’s definitely a recipe I’ll be doing again soon, it doesn’t need to be Easter to have lamb. The chocolate egg making didn’t go too badly, although it was just as much of a mess as I expected so I think we’ll wait for the boys to be a bit older before letting them at melted chocolate again!

My sister actually managed to surprise me with some exciting news, it’s something she’s been thinking about for a little while: she’s bought a holiday home in Florida! Not only is that exciting for her, but also for me because I get to go out and visit her with free accommodation in the sun.

Disney OrlandoIt’s not too far from Orlando where Disneyworld is, and I know her girls are so exciting about meeting the Disney princesses. I think the boys would definitely enjoy it, especially as they start to get older. They haven’t seen the property in person yet, which I think is a bit risky, but they’ve booked flights over in a couple of months to get everything set up and ready. They’re thinking about renting it out to other holidaymakers while they’re not there because they won’t be spending that much time there, so it should be a good little money earner. But being my sister, of course she’s managed to go out and spend plenty on bits and pieces to fill the house without thinking about the fact that she’ll need to get them over there! Luckily she’s come across a company called Send My Bag that does exactly what she needs, collects her bags and delivers them for her so she doesn’t have to pay extra at the airport or carry all the heavy boxes over. To be honest, I’m not sure why she didn’t buy everything over there, I mean it’s just stuff like towels, ornaments, rugs and little things from IKEA, but it’s all bound to be cheaper over there, but never mind, at least she’s found a solution for it.

Florida

I think we’ll maybe go over with them later in the year, maybe September or October since we were planning a holiday then anyway but hadn’t decided on anything. They’ve got an amazing 5 bedrooms in the house so there’s loads of room for all of us, especially since the kids are still sharing at the moment. There’s an outdoor community pool that’s free for the complex to use just round the corner from the house – it’s only shared by about 15 or 20 houses, so shouldn’t be too busy. I cant wait to see it!

Images courtesy of Peter E Lee and Stuck in Customs

Spa Treat on Friday

I was treated to a spa day, with one of my girlfriends by the Hubby. A gift he got at Christmas, to be fair it was a voucher for a discounted treatment which was great value for money. He took the day off to look after the bots, even taking us to the spa and dropping us off, so we could enjoy some bubbly.

Feversham7

The voucher was for the Feversham Arms, Helmsley their Verbena Spa. We were treated to good weather although not that warm and the whole day was nice and relaxing. We had pre booked the voucher special which was the Elemis Skin Specific Facial, also included was lunch and a complimentary glass of Prosecco. I was glad we book, the spa was pretty busy, many people taking advantage of these vouchers, however whilst we were using the spa facilities it didn’t seem busy.

We arrived 30 minutes before our appointment, which gave us time to get changes, tour the facilities and have a fruit tea. My facial was a wonderful experience, I have used Elemis products in the past, before going organic and have not had any problems with them. The facial was 60 minutes and very relaxing, I actually dozed off at one point! Afterwards my face felt super smooth and baby soft and it’s been a while since it felt that well.

Feversham-Arms 1

Afterwards my friend and I made the most of the spa facilities as it’s not something we get to enjoy very often. We started in the Aromatherapy Room, which is a warm and relaxing environment. It’s not too hot so you can spend a while in hear whilst all your troubles melt away. It’s a good room to for the respiratory system and to relieve congestion. Afterwards, we stepped into the Salt Vapour Room, here the humid room, filled with a salt mist is perfect for your skin. And again nice and relaxing, although we couldn’t spend as long in this room as we would the Aromatherapy Room.

Feversham_Arms19

From then we enjoyed a Monsoon shower, only with the warm water not cold, but we did make use of the ice cave. Here we rubbed ice into our legs, which helps the skin close your pores and cool down. We managed to fit in the foot spa, as there were only two, my tired feet (after running around after two small boys) needed this. Mice and relaxing before moving into the Saunarium which had been pretty busy. The heat soothed my body and completely relaxed me. Afterwards we headed outside to the hot tub, although nice and warm, the wind which had picked up wasn’t favourable, so we didn’t spend long in here.

ProseccoWe had a nice glass of Prosecco whilst warming up, before enjoying a delicious and healthy lunch. However the two puddings we shared probably weren’t so healthy but they were sure yummy. My friend picked up a couple of Elemis products, before we changed and headed out to do some shopping in Helmsley. Although the sun was out, it was chilly, so whilst we waited for my hubby and boys to come, we enjoyed some more Prosecco back at the Feversham Arms in front of a nice warm fire. A great end to a wonderful day. I would definitely recommend the Verbena Spa as it’s a really lovely and calming place with great staff.

Grey Days

The weather this winter has gotten many people down, only now are we seeing a bit of a break. For the last two days we have seen the sun! However there is meant to be snow on the way, however it is preferable to rain. The kids much prefer playing outside in the snow than rain, but the cold really gets me. When I was young, free and single I would often pop away for a winter sun holiday. The Caribbean being one of my favourite destinations.

I do often wonder especially in winter what it would be like to like in another country, one which is warmer than ours. Some of our friends have recently immigrated to Australia it’s been a hard slog for them to go through the whole process, but now they are there they wouldn’t change it. The finance aspect for them was the hardest part, they are strict at making sure people have enough money to establish themselves in Australia and employment. According to a newspaper piece, Clever transfers and careful planning could help you fund your new luxury lifestyle.

I would love to be able to just fly off and start a new life somewhere else, however having a family makes it much harder. There is a lot you have to consider when you have children. Although our children are young, so it would mean moving to a new place would be easier as they’re at a good age to learn a new language and should find, it fine. In reality however as we are employed well here in the UK, we would be giving a lot up if we were to move to another country.

I think what I really need rather than moving somewhere else, is just to have a holiday! We haven’t been anywhere since last year when we took the boys to Madrid. It was a wonderful city break, with fantastic weather and I think that is what I am missing the most. Good weather! Whilst we can’t go on holiday at the moment, it would be worthwhile just looking for holiday inspiration, I am sure it would put me in a much better mood!

Our Recent Travels to Madrid

Not too long ago we went for a long weekend to Madrid. I have been to Barcelona before as well as Ibiza however I had always fancied Madrid, so as the weather was getting chilly here we thought we might head of and catch some last minute sun as well as take in some wonderful tourist destinations.

Calle De La Cava BajaAs it was September it was surprisingly warm, by the late afternoon it was getting to 30°C which is pretty hot! But it was still fine all we had to do was fine a nice café, sit under a parasol and enjoy a cool drink, juice for the kids and sangria or beer for me and my husband. With city breaks I always find you do a huge amount of walking, we were staying in the Salamanca district so not right in the centre, it was a quieter area with a few restaurants around. We had a metro station nearby which meant getting around was pretty easy even with two kids in tow!

Royal Palace Madrid Panoramic

One of the places we visited was the Royal Palace, The Palacio Real de Madrid which is the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family, however they only use it for state ceremonies now. It’s a huge palace, however you don’t get to see all of it, but there are some wonderful rooms and interesting artefacts.

Hannah Royal Madrid Palace 2As you can see the building itself is very grand and domineering with wonderful gardens around the building and brilliant views across Madrid.

HannahOn the Sunday, we spent the day at the Parque de Retiro, which is a wonderful park with plenty of street performers, artists and a boating lake to enjoy. It’s a great place to take the kids, especially on a sunny day.

We went for a boat ride on the Estanque which in the sun was quite relaxing!

Estanque - Parque del RetiroWe also walked to the Palacio de Cristal or the Crystal Palace as it’s also know. Which is a wonderful glass and iron structure used to exhibit exotic plants.

Palacio de Cristal - Parque del RetiroIf you’re looking for a breakfast or brunch spot then I would suggest the Plaza Mayo, every town and city in Spain has one, it’s a central square, cordoned off to traffic, its home to buskers and street entertainers, with cafes around the edge. Just be aware of your belongings when eating though.

Plaza Mayor MadridWe really enjoyed Madrid and would defiantly return one day, I can’t decide whether I prefer Madrid to Barcelona though. I really enjoyed the food and drink in Madrid, which might be the tipping point!