We all know that the sun is bad for us but when it comes to the delicate skin of our kids, it’s even more important to be careful and sensible in the sun. I recently stocked up on all my SPF lotions and potions before heading off to the heat of Dubai – and am now armed and ready for any (here’s hoping) heat waves heading our way in the UK. Here are a few sun care tips I use to ensure my girls are always safe in the sun.

First of all, any sun tan lotions and sprays you have left over from last year need to go to the bin. I know it seems wasteful but believe me, these products don’t last!

When it comes to the children, I never go under factor 50. Their skin is so young and fragile and I want to teach them the importance of sun protection from a young age. I grew up thinking that getting a tan was desirable but these days we know that being sensible and healthy is far more important.

On holidays children will of course play in the water and sand, which will rub off any trace of sun tan lotion in a few hours. To be safe, I always reapply any SPF after two to three hours. We often use lotions from the Soltan Kids (£6) range, they’re brilliant for active kids who enjoy running in and out of the water. Also, they’re slightly more robust than other lotions, making them perfect for days at the beach or by the pool.

Did you know that there are two different types of sun tan lotions? There are “chemical” ones and “mineral” ones. The key difference is that a chemical SPF is absorbed into the skin, while a mineral SPF will sit on the skin’s surface, forming a barrier to deflect the sun’s rays. I’d say the mineral formulas are better for kids, especially those with eczema or sensitive skin – as the active ingredients are not absorbed into the skin itself. My favourite mineral formulas are  Clarins Sun Care Milk for Children 100% Mineral Screen 50+ (£21), which is a brilliant spray lotion and worth every penny! And La Roche Posay Anthelios Dermo-Kids SPF50+(£11), which is what I’ve been using on little Iris this year.

I know from experience that it can be difficult to top up the kids’ sunscreen throughout the day, especially when they’d rather be running around having fun and playing games. For these occasions I keep a bottle of Garnier Ambre Solaire Kids Anti-Sand Spray SPF50+ to hand so that I can quickly reapply a new layer of sun protection on their skin in a matter of moments. I wouldn’t use this as my first layer of protection because I don’t feel like it gives a good base layer of protection but it does a great job later in the day when you need a quick top-up. It’s a mist spray that’s incredibly light and easy to rub in. Sun creams have come along way from the thick lotion I remember from my childhood and this one is incredible!

I hope you’ve found this useful and please let me know if you have any of your own helpful sun care tips.

 

 

I don’t know about you but I am now more than ready to wave goodbye to winter. It feels like it’s been cold for a really long time  and I’m constantly daydreaming about a Thai beach holiday. Picture the scene, lying next to the pool with a fluffy towel, a drink on the table next to you and the sun shining down from a bright blue sky. Actually, take away the beautiful sunshine and a spa break can give you all this without having to wait for summer or suffer a twelve hour flight. Last week, I was lying next to a pool in my swimsuit and white robe, feeling warm and relaxed at Careys Manor Hotel’s, SenSpa – only an hour from London in the New Forest.

Dom and I arrived early on Monday afternoon and headed straight to the Spa’s Zen Garden Thai restaurant. The menu was full of my favourite Thai dishes, including; Green Curry, Pad-Thai, Chicken Satay and Spring Rolls to name a few.  I went for the delicious Chicken & Cashew Nuts with rice and Dom went for the equally tasty Green Curry. It was the perfect way to start our Thai Spa experience.

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

After lunch we checked out our huge room and got changed into our swimsuits and SenSpa waffle robes. There’s something about spa robes that instantly relaxes me… or maybe it’s the knowledge that I’m about to be truly pampered from head to toe?

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

The spa itself is big, it has a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, three different saunas, two different stream rooms, a large hydro pool, two experience showers, an ice room, two relaxation rooms and nineteen treatment rooms. It also has a SenSpa shop and of course the Zen Garden restaurant.

We started our spa experience with a one hour SenSpa Acu-Firm Facial. My amazing Thai therapist had magic hands that were not too light and not hard, just right. The powerful active ingredients of the SenSpa products, combined with face lifting massage and acupressure techniques left my skin feeling amazingly smooth and beautifully nourished.

Next we spent some time in the relaxation room before it was time for our 25 minute AlphaSphere Deluxe session. The AlphaSphere Deluxe is a unique sensory experience that induces deep relaxation, using sound, coloured light, aromatherapy and vibration. And as promised we both left feeling calm and utterly relaxed.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent in the hydro pool, where there were massage water jets for your shoulders, arms, back, legs and even feet. Literally every aching muscle in my body (and believe me there are a few, from chasing after my kids and carrying a heavy baby) was sorted by the time I stepped out of the pool.

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

That evening we dined at Careys Manor Hotel’s Cambium restaurant, which specialises in traditional dishes with a twist. The food is said to capture the essence of the local area, while embracing the seasons. I went for the creamy Haddock risotto and a Moroccan Lamb main, while Dom went for a Duck salad, followed by Pork Belly. The food was all beautifully presented and full of flavour. For pudding (as always) I went for the chocolate option, while Dom stuck to the wine.

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

After getting back to our room (did I already mention it was huge?), we found the room service breakfast menu on the back of our door and decided to indulge ourselves with breakfast in bed the next morning. And I’m so glad we did, because it was such a lovely treat. I felt like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (you know the scene) going through the abundance food in my white robe, before taking my chosen bowls and plates back to bed to eat in comfort. I literally can’t think of a better way to start the day!

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

Before checking out, Dom and I went back to the spa for a few more hours of relaxation in the sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and swimming pool. We wanted to make as much use of the facilities as possible, before we had to leave and head home to our crazy house.

Relaxing at Careys Manor Hotel's, Sen Spa - only an hour from London in the New Forest.

If you’re looking for a special treat this mother’s day, (without question) I’d recommend a spa break – and if you can get to the award winning SenSpa at Careys Manor Hotel, I absolutely would!!

 Disclaimer: I did not pay for this spa break but this review is my honest account.

Over the Christmas holiday we went to west Wales, as we do every year. I grew up there and my parents and brother still live in the same little town, just ten miles from the beautiful west coast of Cardigan Bay.

We tend to visit twice a year, for a few weeks in the summer and a week at Christmas – and to be honest there is nowhere else on earth I’d rather be! I moved away when I went to university almost twenty years ago and never went back to live but it will always be my home, where I’m from and where my roots are firmly planted.

This year we travelled back to Wales on Thursday 22nd December and had a couple of days at my parents’ house to relax before the big day. It was lovely being back but to be honest we didn’t do much on these first few days, we mainly saw family and watched movies. The girls were tired after a long term at school and I think we all needed some downtime, being cared for by my mum.

Christmas Eve is always my favourite day, I love the anticipation and excitement that buzzes through the house. Every year we get together with mum’s family and share gifts. Also, I make a Christmas Eve hamper of treats and gifts for the girls to open in the evening, which of course includes matching Christmas pyjamas.

After Christmas day we were definitely ready to head out. Cabin fever had set in, so we had a few days of travelling down to the coast. The girls love running around the beach at any time of year, so it’s always a good choice for us. On the day after Boxing day we drove down to Cwmtydu beach, which is a small cove with rocks and caves and a beautiful pebbly beach, just twelve miles away.

The day after we headed over to Aberaeron for a walk along the seafront, where the girls climbed the rocks. The weather was clear and cool but with the sun shining so bright it didn’t feel too cold, we even managed to have fish and chips outside, sittingon the harbour wall. This is normally something we do in the summer, never usually during our Christmas holiday!

And on our last day we drove up to the bigger seaside town of Aberystwyth, where we again walked along the long seafront and played on the 2p machines in the arcade. I think this might have been one of Lili’s holiday highlights, she does love winning those tokens.

Of course the sunset came early, so we were able to stand on the pier and watch the sun go down over the horizon – and wow it was an amazing sunset! Even these pictures don’t do it justice.

It’s times like these that you realise that (as long as the weather is good) there’s nowhere like home!

Thanks for following me and my blog and I’d like to wish you all a very happy, healthy and wealthy new year.

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

First of all I must apologise for all the holiday spam. I realise that I’ve already posted two #MyCapturedMoment posts on our holiday in Greece but I haven’t really written much about our week with Mark Warner at their Levante Beach Resort – and why we decided on this type of holiday this year.

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

As a family we don’t normally do ‘package holidays’, we usually opt for a rented villa with a private pool and organise our own flights and a car to get around. For the last two summers we’ve used AirBnB to rent beautiful houses in the South of France. This has suited us perfectly, choosing houses with a swimming pool and plenty of space for the kids to run around. I also like the fact that we have plenty of space in the house, with all the comforts of home. But this year we have a little baby. We even considered not going abroad at all. Would it be too hot for her? Would the flight upset her too much?

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

After many discussions, we decided that we did want a holiday but that our usual choice might not work with our new family dynamics. The older girls now need more entertaining, while Iris takes up a lot of my time. For all these reasons, we started looking into package holidays that offer childcare and entertainment, and after some online searching and comparing we decided on Mark Warner.

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

Our top 5 of reasons for choosing Mark Warner

  1. They have excellent sporting facilities included in the price; from mountain and road biking to tennis, sailing, snorkelling and windsurfing. You can also take part in a number of exercise classes including water aerobics and yoga.
  2. They are renowned for their award winning childcare facilities and only employing British staff to look after the children.
  3. Mark Warner also provide kids clubs during the evening, giving kids the opportunity to watch a movie and play with their new friends while the adults can relax and have a quiet meal.
  4. They only schedule flight with British Airways. No budget airlines here!
  5. The half board option meant we wouldn’t need to worry about breakfast or supper – and I’d read that the food was of the highest quality and plentiful. I’d also heard lots of good thing about the morning ‘omelet lady’ and ‘pancake man’. Who doesn’t like fresh pancakes for breakfast?

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

What we thought of our week with Mark Warner

The week really did work well for us! Dom loved going sailing at whim or grabbing a bike for a few hours in the afternoon – while the big girls were enjoying themselves at the kids club. This gave me time to relax next to the pool with a napping Iris. Everyone was happy because we all got to do what we liked.

Lili and Poppy got to make news friends, try new activities including; tennis and sailing, they got to play games, paint and have fun making crafts. Dom loves being active and there was more than enough activities to keep him happy and I got to do nothing! Ooh other than go for a massage in the Spa. Bliss.

I must mention the movie nights because they were a massive hit with the big girls. Every night there’s an early supper for the kids, followed by a movie that’s shown in the childcare area. This gave Dom and I the opportunity to have little date nights together (with a sleeping Iris of course), which was a real treat. Lili and Poppy were beyond excited to go every night, we’d drop them off at 7pm and collect them again at 9.30pm. Poppy was usually asleep in a her designated camp bed by this point, so we’d carry her back to our room while Lili excitedly told us about her evening.

At the end of the week both girls also took part in a little show that they’d been rehearsing in group all week. This was so sweet to watch and gave the parents the opportunity to see what they’d been up to through the week. It was such a lovely way to end the holiday.

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

This little video will always be special to us as it captures our first holiday as a family of five and of course little Iris’ first ever holiday…

Here are a few more of my favourite snaps…

Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes. Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes. Our Week at the Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort, Rhodes.

Disclaimer: We did pay for this holiday however we were given a discount in return for an honest post.

eating out with kids

Let’s face it – there are few better things than being wined and dined in a lovely restaurant whilst you spend time with your family. However, it can often be tricky finding somewhere everyone agrees on! Now, Norwich might not be the first place you think of to take your kids out for dinner, but why not? The East Anglian city has an abundance of eateries and taste bud teasers to delight even the youngest of diners.  If you’re looking for a beautiful summer holiday spot, why not try Norwich? Here are some fantastic family-friendly places to eat out with kids in Norwich.

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Grosvenor Fish Bar

If you’re in the mood for traditional British seaside cuisine, then look no further than the Grosvenor Fish Bar. Renowned for being one of the city’s best loved restaurants, the Grosvenor Fish Bar is situated in the heart of Norwich’s Lanes district, nestled between narrow cobbled streets and beautiful architecture. Serving all of your fishy favourites, they also serve a wide variety of wraps, rolls and plenty of other tasty delights that the whole family can enjoy. This isn’t just your average chippy; it’s a real local gem that’s not to be missed!

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Jamie’s Italian

You and your family can enjoy delicious and affordable modern Italian cuisine at Jamie’s Italian. It’s inside the city’s elegant and historic Royal Arcade, making it the ideal location for a quick bit of lunch or refined three-course dinner. Jamie’s Italian has an award-winning children’s menu with a wide variety of healthy and fresh meals for the younger set.

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Côte Brasserie
With a host of incredible French cuisine, you can take your kids for dinner at Côte Brasserie for a modern French bistro experience. Côte offers an authentic and modern twist on classic French dishes in an elegant yet informal environment. Children can choose from a range of tasty and healthy treats such as cod goujons, risotto and roast chicken. Plus – a wonderfully varied selection for gluten-free diners! Superb and well-priced food for all.

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Wild Thyme

Looking for somewhere to satisfy vegetarian and vegan requirements? Or just looking to try something delightfully different? Then look no further than Wild Thyme. All of their dishes are available as either a starter or as a larger main course – perfect for young children after smaller portions! Their enchanting rustic interior is enough to set the imagination running wild. In addition to their gorgeous array of veggie and vegan choices, Wild Thyme also offers and wide range of gluten-free dishes.

Donnelli’s Pizzeria

Pizza lovers rejoice! You’ll find it hard to beat the authenticity and charm (and great price) of Donnelli’s Pizzeria. This family-run pizzeria serve traditional Neapolitan-style wood-fired pizzas in Norwich’s historic and picturesque Timber Hill district – perfect to explore beforehand. Make sure you save plenty of room for their delicious Parravani Neapolitan gelato ice cream, which is made locally in Norfolk.

Bill’s

Fancy a wide range of delectable modern European cuisine? Then Bill’s is your answer! Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, Bill’s is a truly expansive dining experience (with a great kids’ menu too) that will have something for everyone to enjoy. Bill’s has a fun and relaxed atmosphere with a delightfully modern interior that’s sure to give you plenty of style inspo. Plus it’s just a stone’s throw from Castle Mall, the city’s shopping hub!

So there you have it: six delicious and delightful places to grab something to eat whilst out and about in Norwich. I want to back there now!