When I’m away on holidays I always take way too many pictures and never really share them on here, which is a shame. Especially when I think back and remember that one of the main reasons I started this blog was to capture our special moments and document them in one place for the future.

In an attempt to resolve this issue I’ve decided to start a new section called ‘My Holiday Photo Album’. It should be quite self-explanatory, I just want to have an area where I keep all my precious moments and favourite pictures from our many adventures and jaunts across the world.

I’m going to start with our most recent trip to Vegas. We were in Las Vegas for four days in June 2017,  during a heatwave that saw temperatures soar to 45 degrees. I’ve never known heat like it!

Anyway, here are my favourite snaps from Las Vegas…

The Vegas Eiffel Tower.

The Las Vegas strip.

Outside the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace.

The Mirage Hotel.

Hotel New York New York.

At the Flamingo Hotel sign.

We didn’t make it out to the ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign but I did find this Hershey’s version, which I loved.

The neon signs and lights of Vegas old town.

Vegas old town by day.

Palm trees and the High Roller observation wheel.

Posing with my man at the Hoover Dam.

The Grand Canyon.

Luckily I’m okay with heights.

Wondering around the Mojave desert.

Looking at Joshua Trees in the desert – yes that’s what they look like.

Posing inside the Bellagio Hotel’s floral model version of Positano in Italy.

Wondering around the beautiful Wynn Hotel.

Watching the water fountains dance outside the Wynn Hotel.

Posing outside the stunning Venetian Hotel

Who develops pictures these days? Definitely not me, although this is another thing I want to do more often, even if it’s just one or two of my favourite snaps her holiday.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.Las Vegas was never really on my list of places visit but I’m so glad that I recently got the opportunity to go, because I absolutely loved it. It really wasn’t what I expected, it was beautiful and clean, yes it was tacky but in a cool, fun way. I don’t really gamble or drink (that much) but I still had the best time!! And I can’t wait to go again.

Dom and I went without the kids, who stayed at home with my parents – and to be perfectly honest it was the best decision because Vegas is not very child-friendly. Yes, there’s lots for them to see but on the whole ‘sin city’ is designed around adult entertainment and there’s way too much walking for little legs. So my first tip would be – don’t take the children.

As I’ve already mentioned I’m not much of a gambler, or drinker so I wasn’t sure how I’d enjoy this notorious party city but I needn’t have worried, Vegas has so many other things to offer. There are countless things to see and do. Here’s my list of top attractions along with some useful tips…

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

1) The Eiffel Tower at Paris –  this famous miniature version is well worth a visit. Try and go between Tuesday and Saturday, and you might meet Vern who is a brilliant character and works at the top of the tower. He can tell you everything you need to know about each and every hotel on the strip and beyond.  Also, try and stay up to watch at least one of the Bellagio fountain shows, which is located across the road.

2) The Bellagio Fountains –  made famous by the 2001 Oceans Eleven movie, this free water and music show happens everyday from midday to midnight. We managed to catch a few of them as our hotel was opposite the fountains. Each show (we saw) was different but they were all amazing. The shows are every 30mins from midday to 7pm and every 15mins from 7pm to midnight.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

3) The Mob Museum – I’m a big history geek so the Mob museum was right up my street. Be prepared to read lots and learn how the maffia built Vegas. There was also a few short movies to watch and some interactive sections, where you can shoot a fake gun and take part in a police line-up.

4) The flamingos at The Flamingo Hotel – This is another free attraction that’s available to anyone. The pink flamingos have a gorgeous, peaceful garden area that’s tucked away at the  back of the hotel.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

5) Shopping – All the big hotels have a shopping area but biggest malls are attached to Planet Hollywood and Caesar’s Palace. There’s also the Fashion Show Mall which is the biggest of them all and includes the large department stores. We also visited the Las Vegas South outlet village, which was a few stops on the bus from Fremont Street. This is where I managed to get a beautiful Kate Spade bag at 70% off.

6) High Roller at The Linq – this is said to be the tallest observation wheel in the world and is another great way to see the strip. Each pod also has a bar so you can enjoy a drink or two as you look out over the city. The wheel is open from 11.30am to 2am everyday and costs $27.

7) The dolphins at The Mirage – For $23 per person you can interact with the famous dolphins at Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

8) The CSI Experience at MGM Grand – This is where you can test your inner crime solver CSI skills. The exhibit costs $31 and includes forensic equipment and interactive displays. If you’re a CSI fan this is a lot of fun.

9) The Shows! – you can’t go to Vegas without seeing a show. We saw Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil, which was amazing! Although from what I’ve read and heard, they’re all very good. We tried to see O, another cirque show but failed to get tickets. My tip would be to book your shows as soon as you can, maybe as soon as you’ve booked your trip, to ensure you get the tickets you want.

10) Fremont Street (The old Vegas) – this is the old or original Las Vegas and has all the bright lights of the bygone era. The street has recently been given a modern makeover with a light up roof and a zip line ride but you can still see and feel vintage Vegas in the signs and the buildings. Fremont Street attracts an eclectic mix of people and is definitely not suitable for children- especially after dark! But it’s well worth a visit. It needs to be seen to be believed. They have free nightly concerts on three different stages as well as street performers and an hourly light show on the hour from sunset to midnight.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

That’s just ten of my personal favourite things!

The biggest tip I have is to take comfortable shoes! I’ve never walked so much in one holiday. One day my husband’s Fitbit recorded 17 miles. There’s just so much to see and each hotel is so big, you’ll walk for miles without even realising it. Just walking around the shops at the Plant Hollywood Mall is one mile.

Every hotel in Vegas has a unique theme and something different to offer, from; dolphins to flamingos, aquariums to gondolas, rollercoasters to water shows and much more. Each one also has an amazing breakfast buffet, which should not be missed! Without question my absolute favourite hotel was The Wynn, we wondered up there on our last morning for breakfast and I absolutely fell in love with the place. Everything was so beautiful, I felt like Alice walking around Wonderland.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

The $25 breakfast buffet was simply incredible! Just to give you an idea, I had; fresh pancakes with crispy becon and maple syrup, then some mini muffins and pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt and granola, a mini carrot cake, a mini cup cake and some mango sorbet (because, why not?!) and Dom had some of the same things as well as eggs Bénédicte, some sushi and smoked salmon. We then spent the day walking off the breakfast calories!

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

Las Vegas is a pretty expensive city to eat and drink but here are a few of my favourite inexpensive places that offer great food…

1) The Cheesecake Factory – the portions here are massive so you may want to share a meal and a slice of one of their iconic cheesecakes.

2) Denny’s – we went here for breakfast one morning and loved the food (especially the pancakes) and the cheap prices. Think typical American diner!

3) In and Out Burger –  offer the best burgers and milkshakes in the city.

Other famous attractions that we didn’t get round to seeing but you might want to check out include; the skyjump and other rides at The Stratosphere, The rollercoaster at New York, New York, gondola rides at The Venetian and Shark Reef aquarium at Mandalay Bay. Of course there’s also the Grand Canyon nearby and the Hoover Dam, which we did go and see and I’ll cover in another post. For now, all I’ll say is that this day-tour was the absolute highlight of my Vegas visit.

Las Vegas top attractions and travel tips.

Vegas has so many things to offer, there are countless things to see and do. Here's my list of top attractions along with some useful travel tips...

We live 12 miles outside of London, which is close enough for us to be able to pop in at a moments notice – but far enough out to feel like we don’t live in the city.

A couple of weeks ago I organised for us to enjoy a family day in London, pretending to be ‘tourists’ in the city that’s literally on our doorstep. We did two things we’d never done before, and these two things (I’m guessing) would be high up on a normal tourist’s hit list. First of all we went on the London Duck Tours. The Duck Tours are a fun and informative way to learn about the city of London. Once on board the “bus that turns into a boat” (as the girls called it), we got to see some of London’s most famous sights, learn some interesting facts about the city from the commentator and finished off with a thrilling splashdown onto the river!

This is actually something I’ve been wanting to do for years. I’ve seen the yellow ‘ducks’ driving around the city and thought “we should do that one day”. Do you do that? Put things off, for no reason? Well, I can now tick this off my bucket list. And do you know what? It was fantastic! I learnt so much about our capital city, silly but interesting little facts that I didn’t know before. The commentator was great and kept things fun and light hearted for the kids, while making sure we didn’t miss a thing as we went round the tour.

Of course the best part for the kids was the end, when the bus did actually turn into a boat and took us up and down a stretch of the river Thames.  Apparently these duck themed buses were originally used in the Second World War, but have now been completely rebuilt and modified to meet the safety regulations of today.

After having lunch on the Southbank we headed to the Sea Life Aquarium for our second activity of the day. The Sea Life London Aquarium is situated on the South Bank, near the London Eye and is spread over three floors of aquatic wonder.

The aquarium has over 500 species of global aquatic sea animals, there’s literally something to grab your attention around every corner. A major new feature at the Sea Life London is the Shark Reef, which allows you to view the sharks from a glass tunnel walkway. Lili and Poppy were both so excited by this thrilling feature, it literally felt like you were fully immersed in the huge shark filled tank.

They also loved the new Gentoo Penguin Colony at the aquarium’s Ice Adventure, which is a frozen antarctic landscape where you can view penguins as they play together. If I’m honest, the aquarium is visually stunning and full of interesting information about the amazing underwater world but a word of warning – it does get very busy at weekends. We went on a Sunday afternoon and the place was packed, which made it difficult to get a good view of some of the tanks. It also meant we missed out on the full experience, which is a shame.

If you’re planning a visit to London sometime soon, I’d definitely put these two attractions on to your list. Although, I’d advise you to visit the Sea Life Aquarium during the week or first thing in the morning at weekends.

Disclaimer: We were invited to try these attractions but all opinions are my own and true.

 

If you follow my Instagram account you will have noticed that we went to Dubai over the Easter holidays, I can only apologise for the holiday spam! Dubai is a truly great family holiday destination. If you’re after guaranteed heat and don’t want a 12 hour flight to the Far East or the Caribbean, Dubai is the perfect option.  Everything is super-sized, man-made and generally pretty impressive. Tourism and entertainment is the main focus in this crazy, fun filled city, which makes it a great place to bring kids. One of the main attractions in Dubai (and high up on our to do list) is the iconic Atlantis, The Palm Hotel. It’s actually much more than a hotel, so although we weren’t staying in this world famous hotel, we did spend the day there enjoying some of it’s marine based attractions.

The Atlantis really is as big and impressive as you’d imagine. As we walked into the main building Lili took one look around and said “this place is swwwish”. And she was right, it certainly was! The Atlantis is an amazing entertainment resort located at the top of The Palm (a man made island) in Dubai. It’s a totally unique ocean-themed resort featuring a variety of  attractions including; Aquaventure Waterpark, The Lost Chambers Aquarium and Dolphin Bay.  It’s also known as a major culinary destination in Dubai, with a collection of world-renowned restaurants including; Nobu, Gordon Ramsey’s Bread Street Kitchen and Ronda Locatelli to name a few.

The Waterpark : Aquaventure

Once we arrived we headed straight to Aquaventure, which is an impressive waterpark consisting of several extraordinary water slides and river rides with cascades, tidal waves and rapids. Lili was the only one of the children tall enough to attempt the five main water slides but we were all able to relax and enjoy the river rides and the ‘water fun house’ you can see in the images below. The lush tropical landscape of Aquaventure is beautiful, which really adds to the luxurious feel of the place.

Buffet Lunch : Kaleidoscope Restaurant

After a morning on the slides at Aquaventure we got (dried and) dressed and went for a late lunch at Kaleidoscope, an international buffet restaurant within the hotel. Now if I’m honest, I’m not normally a massive fan of buffets but this was not your average buffet restaurant! This was a buffet like no other, this was a buffet that will stay in my mind for a long, long time! You name it, they had it on offer. There was a Mexican station, freshly made pizzas and pastas, sushi, an Indian station, a Chinese station, salad bars, a sandwich bar, every fresh fruit you could imagine and then there was the puddings! We could have stayed there all day and still not tried everything on offer. If you’re a buffet fan you’d be in heaven!

Food at the Atlantis, the Palm, Dubai. A chocolate fountain of dreams.

The Lost Chambers Aquarium

After a very long lunch we headed over to The Lost Chambers Aquarium, which is an amazing mazes of underground tunnels and passageways that brings you close to the magical and colourful underwater world. Along the way, you can touch tanks filled with starfish, pencil urchins and horse shoe crabs. Special exhibits are dedicated to different sea creatures, such as the delicate Moon Jellyfish, busy lobsters and glittery anchovies. This was such a calm and wonderful experience after our adrenaline filled morning. Every single tank was captivating in different ways, some were scary with sharks, some were beautiful tiny neon coloured fish but they were all wonderful and so interesting to watch. 

As you can see we had an amazing day at The Atlantis. From thrilling water rides, to an unforgettable lunch, and an entrancing underwater adventure, this is a magical day that will stay in our memories for a long time. If you’re headed to Dubai a visit to the Atlantis Hotel is an absolute must!

Disclaimer: We were invited to spend the day at The Atlantis and did not pay for this visit in return for an honest review. All the above pictures and opinions are my own.

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.