Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Top Tips When Planning your Family Holiday to Spain on a Budget

Planning your Family Holiday to Spain on a Budget

Now that we are almost a month into the New Year with Christmas firmly packed away into the attic, and any residue glitter has almost been vanquished, many of us are starting to think about the summer months ahead, and of course family holiday's in the glorious heat.

Spain is the number one destination choice for families in Europe, and it's not hard to work out why. We are really lucky living in Britain because we don't have to travel too far on a plane to reach Mediterranean climates and experience Spanish culture, and their incredible cuisine (I adore Tapas).  

I have been lucky enough to visit Spain on a number of occasions throughout my Teens. The first time we went was when I was 16, it was the year I left school. My family booked a beautiful villa in Javea, and we spent two weeks in the sunshine with our own private pool. In more recent years I have visited the Balearic Islands, Mallorca and Menorca, Menorca being my absolute favourite of the two. 

Planning your Family Holiday to Spain on a Budget

 Latest figures from the Spanish National Institute of Statistics (ine.es) show that British tourists to Spain spend an average of €130 per day on their holidays in 2016 (between January and November) with approximately one third of that being spent on travel (flights) and accommodation and another third being spent on food and activities. 

Holiday's cost a lot of money so it is always good to start thinking ahead, defining a budget and shopping around to make sure that you can get the best prices available. 


Top Tips When Planning your Family Holiday to Spain on a Budget

- Get the best offers
Use price comparison sites when looking for your flight, search engines are a powerful tool that allow us to compare prices of the different operators, meaning that we can find the very best available price. Once you have found the price that beats them all you can book it confidently knowing that you are saving money, which you can then add to your spending fund while on holiday. 

- Be flexible on the airport you choose to fly from
You will always look to see the cost of flying from your local airport, but sometimes this can cost you. It is always best to look at a number of different airports and see what the price variations are. Often you will find that it is cheaper to fly from London instead of Birmingham, and sometimes this can still be the case once you factor in travel and parking, so it is always a good idea to look a little further a field. 

- Book ahead
When you travel by air it is always important to remember that flight ticket prices are constant changing. Prices depend on factors such as travel time, occupancy on the aircraft and current oil prices. I always recommend booking early, as once you have booked your price is fixed and cannot be changed.

Planning your Family Holiday to Spain on a Budget

- Last minute means last minute
Some times it can be commended to wait for last minute as you can pick up some pretty amazing deals. I myself have never done this as I like to know where I am going and have time to plan ahead, but I have seen friends book some incredibly priced last minute fights and accommodation.

- Book the basic essentials
If working to a budget then it is important to avoid adding additional cost to your holiday, airlines always try to up sell on extra services, booking seats together, extra luggage, extra leg room etc. These are all extra services that you can live without, and by not booking will definitely save you a pretty penny.

- Think holiday villas & apartments
You might be surprised to know that you can book a luxury villa or apartment for less money than it would cost you to stay in a hotel. It works out to be much more affordable and the best value for money.

Spain-Holiday.com is one of the few holiday rental websites that you can refine your search according to distance from the beach, it has 1000s of family-friendly villas and apartments to choose from and you can contact the owners directly with any special requirements you have to make your stay in Spain a relaxing, memorable family holiday.

We loved having our own villa in Spain,it was spacious and a beautiful place to spend 2 weeks. The biggest luxury for us was not having to share the pool with anyone. 

- Travel out of season

If you can, it is always advisable to book out of season as that is when the best deals are floating around. Obviously this is harder when children are factored in due to school commitments, but if you are in a position to travel without little ones in tow, it is always advisable to look for off-season discounts.

- Hire transport
The best way to get around and really see a destination is by renting a car. The best offers can always be found online and I always recommend booking ahead of time so that it is all ready to go as soon as you land at the destination airport. 

Win a 12 Month National Trust Family Membership with Sunnybank Forestry!

Coughton Court

I live just on the outskirts of the Cotswolds and we are lucky enough to have a number of National Trust properties relatively close by and have some fantastic places to visit. It's great just being able to pop along when a day presents it'self and we find ourselves at a loose end. One of our favourite haunts is Coughton Court, a beautiful old Tudor House that lies within some stunning gardens. 

It's a great day out, you can go along and walk around the gardens which is a lovely day no matter the time of year. You can even visit the two churches that are within the grounds of the house which is something I highly recommend doing. 

Coughton Court

I do love living near the Cotswolds as there is always something going on, always somewhere to go so it is hard to ever get bored. Leo loves his visits around the countryside, he always talks about his many adventures and I love that we can take him to so many amazing places and show him the culture that we are so lucky to live around. People travel from all over the world to see the beauty that nests in the heart of the Cotswolds, and I have to say that there was a time I wondered why people flocked to the countryside and admired the scenery. Then I traveled to New York where I marveled at the city landscape and the high rise skyscrapers, it was only when I got home that it all made sense and suddenly I had a new found appreciation for our Cotswold Stone and vast areas of green splendor. 

Coughton Court

Sunnybank Forestry are currently running a rather amazing giveaway, they are offering one lucky person the chance to win a 12 month National Trust Family Membership (2 adults, 2 children). 

To enter all you need to do is go on over to their competition entry page here and follow the Rafflecopter instructions, you can even tweet each day about the competition and gain extra entries!

The competition closes on Monday 20th March 2017.

The National Trust has so much to offer all over the country, and everything is included within the 12 months membership. It truly is an incredible prize that will help you create some fantastic family memories following your adventures.

Good luck to all who enter, and I hope the winner has a fantastic time visiting all of the beautiful National Trust sites.

Good luck everyone!











Design Challenge: Where to Place a Radiator in Your Home

Design Challenge

If your home comes with an old radiator and no longer functions efficiently, it may be time to replace it with a new radiator. This can also be a blessing in disguise as there are more updated options available in the market that will not only improve heating but are also more aesthetically pleasing. 

Some modern radiators offer less bulky designs like angled, curved, flat and compact radiators. Designs can vary in sizes to perfectly fit the area where it is needed. 

Where to put radiators in your home:

·         Bathrooms
·         Living room
·         Bedrooms 
·         Under Windows

Design Challenges Are Faced With Angles and Curves

If there are spaces in your home that require angled or curved radiators, this is now a possibility. The curve of a wall or curve of a window is not a problem with the right radiator.

A good example of the unique curved design is under a bay window. Placing the radiator near a large window is essential. If you need a curved radiator for your bay windows, it can be found here at http://radiatorcurving.com. They are one of the trustworthy providers of quality radiators. Check out their website to see what they have on offer.

There are also flat radiators which are best for any areas of the house. They can be large and displayed vertically along the wall of a room. This design looks very sleek and neat. It also matches well with any style of decor.

Small Spaces Still Need Heat


Of course, it is a design challenge when adding a radiator into a small space. Instead of taking up more area than needed, compact radiators are a good solution. They can be placed wherever needed, such as a small bathroom. Another area to place this type of radiator is in the bedroom, and smaller rooms like guest rooms or offices. But, there are also companies that can customise a curved radiator to match with your home’s design and your preferences. Contact a reputable company such as Radiator Curving so you can discuss your requirements with them.

Proper Maintenance

 By simply giving your radiator a good cleaning, it brings a sense of new life to it. Cleaning your radiator well and removing the dust and dirt helps it to function better. The quality of air is also better when you regularly keep your radiator clean. If you don’t know how to do it, it is always best to research the proper way of cleaning a radiator before you start. Brushing it with a standard toothbrush or a small brush carefully is your best option. Simply brush away the dust with a dry toothbrush, and then follow up with moist brushing.

If you’re planning to change its colour or repaint it, make sure the area is well ventilated and that you have a high heat spray paint of your chosen colour. Cover any areas to avoid painting mistakes and protect the surrounding area. Simply spray, allow drying, and spray a final coat.
  

With radiators installed in the right places, you and your family can stay warm and enjoy your home. 

Back to Fitness (3 weeks in)

Kayla Itsines BBG Transformation

This month I have finally got around to kick starting my fitness regime again, it's been a long time coming and three weeks in I am starting to feel so much better for it. It's amazing what a little TLC and consistency can do for your body, that combined with a range of healthy foods, water and no sugar for 16 days really can spur your body into action!

Last year I treated myself to a Polar A360 and for the first month I was really pleased with it, and then it started to fall apart...Literally. The Bluetooth stopped working altogether which ultimately made it useless as it would no longer sync with my phone. I contacted Polar and they addressed the fact the band had deteriorated but ignored the issue with syncing. They never did actually send a replacement band for it, and after discussing the issue with fellow A360 owners, I realised that this was an issue that many of them faced themselves. 

I soon gave up on the idea of Polar and found myself without a fitness tracker. I hadn't realised how much I had come to depend on the statistics that it provided me with, and I felt like I was working out blind. I was at a loss, because I had spent so much on the Polar that was now broken, and I couldn't justify forking out more money, and even if I did I didn't know what I would want as a replacement.

I began to fall out of love with my exercise regime, I work out at home so the stats provided by my heart rate tracker are the only way I get an idea of what I achieved during any one work our. Without that information I began to loose interest, and before long I just stopped. 

Flash forward to January, and I am now 3 weeks into Kayla Itsines BBG program, and although I was yet to invest in a new fitness tracker, I pushed on. I decided that as a treat to myself, and to keep me moving in the right direction, I would buy a new Apple iWatch 2 for myself. Yes it was a lot more money, but I figure that you get what you pay for, and I know that it is something that I will make use of. 

Kayla Itsines BBG Transformation
Before I purchase anything, especially of high value I always have a look online to find out what the average price is, where is the cheapest I can find it and whether there are any voucher codes available to get some money off, I always have a look at this website to see what deals are going on.

I did all of my research and decided to bite the bullet last night. I ordered a shiny White iWatch 2, and as I type this I am waiting for it to arrive. It was a rather extravagant gift to myself, but do you know what? Why not!? I figure if it gives me that additional motivation and helps me achieve my goals, then it's money well spent. 

I have a long way to go to get where I was....

Kayla Itsines BBG Transformation

Now I am back on the right track though, I know that with hard work, determination and willpower that I can get back to where I was. My New Year's Resolution wasn't about finding a new me, it was about slipping back into a well worn pair of shoes and buffing them back up.

Which is exactly what I am going to do...

Watch this space!





Friday, 13 January 2017

Childcare and Amazing Support Networks

Family Support Network

When Leo and I were living at my parents house I was lucky in the sense that if I needed to pop to the shops or had a special occasion to attend, I almost always had an Aunt, Uncle or Grandparent around to look after that little man of mine for me. It's something that I have always appreciated as I know just how lucky I was and am to have that level of support and help when we need a babysitter.

It's funny because while we were living there it was the sheer amount of people who made the push to move out so strong, Leo and I needed our own place to put our roots down, but it's all of those people who make up the support network what it is. It will always be home, for both Leo and myself, but it is so nice to be in our own space after all of this time.

Leo occasionally goes back for sleepovers if Luke and I have made plans, and it means I can rest easy knowing that our little boy is in safe hands. Last week we decided to go to the cinema as we haven't had a proper date night in a rather long time. We try and get at least one a month in so we can have a completely grown up chat and enjoy one another's company. Granny said it would be no problem if Leo wanted to stay over, so we packed him an over night bag, dropped him off and Leo was perfectly happy. He absolutely adores going to his Grandparents and that is because it has been home for such a long time. 

I have always been a little envious about Leo's relationship with his Grandparents, because realistically they are more like second parents to him, he see's them all the time and always asks for us to go and visit, and that special bond has defiantly been nurtured by us all living in such close proximity for so long. I didn't get to see my Grandparents as much, and as much as I love them, the dynamics of our relationship is completely different. When we saw my Grandparent's it was strict best behaviour at all times, but with Leo it is just like coming home and they get to appreciate all of those cheeky quirks of his.

We have an absolutely incredible support system on either side of the family, there is always a family member who will help out should we need it, and I will always be so thankful for that. I can only imagine how hard it must be for young families who don't have that support in place. 

We don't get out as much as we probably should as a couple, but we do make the effort to do so, we do some amazing things as a family of 3 though and I love being able to include Leo in the adventures we get up to. Before the schools went back after Christmas, we packed up the car, harnessed up the pup and off we went to Western Supermare, it was a lovely walk and it helped the entire family burn off the abundance of food that had been consumed over the festive season. 

We even go on some lovely adventures with the entire family, and this year we have booked a big family holiday (other half's and children included) to a rather beautiful hotel in Crete. The excitement for some Summer sun is starting to bubble and I cannot wait to create some life long memories with the mad bunch.







Thursday, 12 January 2017

On Demand Television for Busy Lives


Watching television is not something I do as often these days, I lead a rather busy life making sure that Leo is ready for School after having read,washed, dressed and got a good nights sleep under his belt, and then in between I work, exercise and get that rather beautiful puppy of ours walked and suitably tired out. By the time this is all done and dinner is washed away there isn't always a lot of evening left to play around with.

It was for this reason that when we moved house, I decided not to get too adventurous with a television package, we decided to just keep Netflix and utilise the content that is on there as it has absolutely everything we wanted and needed (You can check what is currently on Netflix by searching the list of Netflix movies here). I don't ever get chance to watch terrestrial television and in honesty I don't even have an Arial installed to do so, and when I do grab the time to sit down at the end of the day, everything I enjoy watching can be done so on demand using my Netflix subscription.

It has to be said that streaming has really provided viewers with an entirely new viewing experience. There is no more 'I must get back home to watch *insert show name here* at 7pm', you can now just tune in and watch it at your leisure. How cool is that?

Netflix has allowed Leo to get into some children's show's that he would probably not have seen on your typical television packages. He fell in love with the Mario and Luigi cartoon and also all the vintage Power Ranger shows (some even from my childhood!), and I think this is rather nice as 
having seen some of the Disney shows my younger sister has watched on their Sky channel over the years, I have to admit that I was left wondering what on earth happened to show gems such as Home Improvement and Boy Meets World.

I myself really love the Netflix Original Series such as Orange is the New Black and Designated Survivor. I have always loved Kiefer Sutherland since I first saw him as Jack Bauer back in Season One all of those years ago, and I was hooked on his latest series from the start of the Pilot. If you have not given this show a try yet, I highly recommend it and would be very surprised if it didn't tickle your fancy!

I was lucky to work on the Netflix Stream Team for a few years (sadly this finished last year), but during my time with them I was lucky enough to attend some fabulous events, one of which was the Season 2 Orange is the New Black Cast Q&A - you can see the clip below.


For me, I would much rather get into a good boxset over a film these days. There is something slightly addictive to falling in love with a series, from the characters, the ongoing seasons and the story lines presented to us, it can be enough to keep us on the very edge of our seats, we won't talk about how many times Grey's Anatomy has reduced to me tears, and Derek's death.. Well that is just a whole other level!

I think it is great that we can watch our favourite content around our busy lives so easily, and if it wasn't for this genius invention I would definitely never get to watch any television!







Wednesday, 11 January 2017

5 Reasons to Get Fit in 2017

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

Hey January...

So this is the first time I have sat down at the keyboard since mid December, how shocking! I have had very good reason to shy away though, and that is because I have been busy with the family over the festive season and haven't quite got around to dragging myself back to work again...

I have however dusted off my dumbbells, and I have taken those tentative first steps to getting back into my fitness regime which definitely slacked during the later part of last year. I have started by cleaning up my eating habits which had definitely gone to pot over the Christmas holiday, and a week in I am already feeling the benefits of not over indulging, and I am hoping that very soon I will start to see a physical change.

I am back working out, and I know from experience that this combination of clean eating and exercise is going to help me push forward and reach the goals I have set myself. One of my resolutions this year was getting my iPhone protected so I don't smash it during a work out again... So I was excited to find a stunning range of leather iPhone cases here. Another of my resolutions was to dust of those dumbbells (11 days in and I am off to a good start!) and finally to get more walks in with the puppy! In fact the dog decided to get over involved in my work out the other evening... I will leave the video below...


January really is the perfect time to start getting your fitness in check, because lets face it... Summer bodies are made in the Winter, and with the warmer weather only months away... Now is the time to plough forward with those New Year Resolutions!

So why get fit in 2017?

1. Because you can do it all from home these days, you don't even need to go to the gym and you especially don't need to over complicate the process (I workout in my living room!). Weight loss and results do indeed come from hard work, but you only need to flick on over to The Body Coach's Instagram Feed to find a whole load of tasty nutritious lean in 15 meal ideas! You only need to try one of his online HIIT routines on your living room floor to start making all round improvements, and I promise you, you will feel a whole lot better for it!

Plank

2. Because it feels incredible - If only that feeling of being fit could be bottled up, it would undoubtedly get the world up on their feet! You would be amazed how quickly change happens when you eat well and train consistently. Take photos each and every week, keep taking photos, because YOU WILL see changes happening.

3. You don't need to eat rabbit food - Diets are a thing of the past in my eyes, diets themselves are not sustainable, you will crave other foods if you are not enjoying the food you are eating. That is why I enjoy The Bodycoach's recipes so much, because I look forward to my next meal, and I love what I am eating. It doesn't feel restricting, and it's a sustainable lifestyle for me.

4. Wear what you want - This was one of the reasons that got me working out almost 3 years ago. I wanted to wear clothes that would have looked slightly ridiculous on my heavier frame. It gave me a real push in the right direction and the reward of reaching my goals meant that I had to replace my entire wardrobe after I dropped 2 dress sizes!

Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide Transformation

5. Body confidence - Perhaps the most important reason of them all. When you feel confident in the skin that you are in there is nothing that you cannot achieve. When I started working out I surprised myself, I achieved things I didn't think I was capable of, but I also saw huge emotional changes starting to shine out. I started grasping at new opportunities that I would never have reached for and I subconsciously demanded people treat me with respect. I used to be quite shy and reserved, but 2016 definitely saw a more feisty side coming out to play!

So there we have it, my 5 top reasons to start working out in 2017 (and a cute puppy video!). Today is abs and arm day, and I am working extra specially hard as we have just booked a big family holiday to Greece at the end of May, so that is my first goal... I will be posting further fitness updates in the coming weeks/months ahead.

Good luck everyone, you can do this!