There is nothing like being surrounded by snow and on a countdown to an epic holiday in the sun, that get’s your mind whirling with ideas of all of the other places you might want to go to next! In just over 2 weeks we will be heading out to LA to kick start our 2 week America holiday, and being in true holiday mentality, I have found myself wondering where we might go to next. I have been dreaming of, and researching several other places I want to discover with our little family in this beautiful world …

Caribbean Dreams

Maybe it’s having “Havana” on repeat whilst I clean the house every day (and dancing to such cool beats), or perhaps it’s the amazing memories of our honeymoon in Cancun, but just recently I have been thinking a lot about how much I would love to go on another Caribbean holiday, and see such beautiful beaches and seas!

In 2009 Nathan and I Honeymooned in Cancun, and the white sands with turquoise warm seas were out of this world! The food was incredible, as was entertainment and stuff to do – from snorkeling around coral reefs and body boarding, mixed in with jungle tours, ChiChen Itza, and general chilling in paradise, all just felt like an absolute dream! I knew as we headed home to start our life together that one day I would love to return to that area of the world to discover more beautiful places with our family, and right now, Cuba looks like a splendid option for us all in the near future.

My 5 Reasons to want to go to Cuba …

Cuba is the biggest of the Islands in the Caribbean and is also a cheaper option to see that part of the world! Destinaton2 has some great deals that make it a great holiday choice for both a luxury Couples retreat, or general fun and adventurous family holiday. Here are my reasons (inspired a lot from my in-laws recent visit) as to why I would love to take our family to Cuba too!

Paradise Beaches/Sea/Sunshine – Being an Island in the Caribbean it is guaranteed hot weather, white sands and warm turquoise seas. This is obviously the main reason to visit, that and because I would love for the kids to experience such beauty, as well as enjoying it again for ourselves! I imagine even with kids in tow it would be a relaxing and chilled spot to holiday together!

Culture – Cuba is a very culturally diverse place, with wonderful people! I really love to go to places that immerse me in a new experience and really feel the vibe of it! With Spanish, African, American and Asian influences I feel it would be amazing to soak up all of it’s music, food and festivals, for a most memorable experience!

I love the pictures that show colourful 1950’s cars and buildings and I feel like wandering around from beach to city would be so exciting, as well as spontaneous music and dancing with the locals!

History – Cuba is full of History and this is often a huge element to what we look for in a Holiday too. I always think there is only so much beach time you can have on a trip (even in the Caribbean), and so it’s important for us to have things to learn about and look into further!
Being Communist, this in itself is super interesting, as well as it’s roots as far back as Christopher Columbus’ discovery and Colonial architecture. It is most definitely a super, historically interesting place I am keen to explore.

Organically Grown stuff! – Cuba grows Sugar cane, Tobacco and Aloe vera, all of which make it famous around the world, and to see these things being grown in their natural environment would be so fascinating! I think especially for the kids to see and learn more about these things close up would be another highlight and day long adventure!

Swim with Dolphins – Whilst the thought makes me slightly anxious, I think for us all to be in the sea, swimming with such beautiful creatures, would be an out of this world experience and a lot of fun! I know the kids (Megs especially) would be living the dream doing this on a family holiday!

Cuba would be an incredible holiday for us all, and a place I want to go to soon so as to really capture the culture before it becomes too Touristy! I hope it is a destination we get to experience very soon for a family adventure in the Caribbean!

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Yesterday morning was a lush day when we took a lovely family walk along the cliff tops at Bempton on the East Yorkshire coast. I haven’t been up there for years, and whilst there was a rather nippy wind blowing, the skies were blue, the sun was shining, and the kids were in great spirits. It was a great moment to share together following a hectic week, just being chilled and having lovely chats!

Owned by the RSPB it is a lovely spot to see over the surrounds bays of Filey and Flamborough for miles, and catch a look at sea birds in their natural habitat. They are over 300 m high and on a clear day like yesterday it just feels like such an impressive spot to be looking way down to the waves below, out to sea, and generally around the coastline! I used to often go as a teen with my own family, and it was great to introduce this beauty spot to the kids!

Alice is our main bird lover in the family (though we all seem to love being in nature). “Bird” was one of the first baby signs she mastered, and uses it daily even now. She often will get mega excited when she spots them flying in the sky or walking in the streets, and then points before making the sign. If she is near them then she chases them whilst pausing for a fit of laughter at how funny they are to her!

I love seeing their interests and personalities develop, and whilst we all love the outdoors, I love that this is a moment especially for Alice – our little bird lover!

Because the kids love creatures, and we are all great lovers of the outdoors, this year it just made sense for us to join the RSPB and have some lovely walks and up close experiences with nature. I liked the idea of helping preserve these lovely habitats, and that the kids could get a monthly magazine to read about seasonal animals and bugs, and that together we could go on the hunt for more wildlife in our local area. I thought it would be especially lovely in the Summer for our days out, and a great thing for Alice and I to venture out to on school days too. Its a great way for them to grow in awareness of life cycles and things, as well as a respect for nature and wildlife.

I like to imagine these up coming ordinary moments, and perhaps her growing excitement to go see the birds and wander the cliff tops of Bempton together with a little picnic!

It feels a little strange to be doing with the kids all of the things I enjoyed in my younger days, but then I love it too because it means that in these ordinary moments of family cliff top walks, I can share memories and tales of the ordinary moments of my childhood!

There is a lot of joy and peace in watching the birds and staring out to sea on a sunny day, and doing that with our little faves made for such a beautiful and relaxed morning together. The kids loved running and exploring, looking at the beautiful views and spotting birds! We cant wait for Summer when we can spend more hours exploring the coast and beauties of RSPB spots around us locally and further afield. The kids are so excited to go spot some puffins and invest in some binoculars, and I look forward to more moments where we wander along chatting and enjoying the outdoors together on sunny Saturday’s (or even midweek!)!!

 

The Ordinary Moments
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With the summer holidays here, and lots of adventures and travel plans coming our way, I felt like it was time for a small lightweight buggy for day trips and flying. I went for the Joie Nitro from kiddies Kingdom, and so far are rather impressed.

Kiddies Kingdom are one of the UK’s leading online baby and toddler retailers and always offer a price match guarantee. So whilst this buggy usually retails at £80 it is on their site for just over 50, which I thought was really affordable for a stylish and sturdy number as this!

I am used to my bugaboo Cam 2 that is easy to steer, incredibly comfortable for Alice and has great storage underneath. I love it for walking around towns, cities, for school runs, off road and everything in between. I am quite aware that this is far from that and for a price tag under £60 I wouldn’t expect it to be in the same league, but I was hoping for a sense of ease, something practical for travel and day trips, and comfortable for little Alice.

I am pleased to say that it ticks all the boxes for everything I had hoped for and I am really enjoying using it!

Service from Kiddies Kingdom was easy and straightforward, and once arrived, it only took about 10 mins to put together…

I wanted something light and easy to carry for when we go away, yet I wanted it to feel robust too. This is both, and looks good in the process. I love the charcoal, light grey and pink combo – it really feels “me” and matches well with my new Aldi flamingo backpack (meant to be?).  It is easy to put down, store, carry (with convenient sturdy handle) and best of all when pushing it, it feels well built and comfortable.

Steering is a lot easier than I anticipated, and it has a great height so I don’t feel hunched over (I am 5ft 8). I have used it on roads, grass and even ended up dragging it through local fields with the kids on a country walk – I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was all rather easy and straightforward and felt wonderfully robust!

The basket is ample for a picnic bag (or any bag of tat we may need to chuck on) and my back pack hangs nicely on it too (convenient). It is comfortable with the handles and swivel wheels, and has a simple break that works well too. Alice seems content and comfortable in and seems to enjoy the change of being forward facing and looking around. It has an adjustable leg rest, and the harness fits well and is quick to release/adjustable as she grows. It has a really easy to use recline which has proven good for naps. Every little detail seems to have a lot of thought in it which all adds to the convenience of using it as a quick and easy travel solution!

I think this is going to be so good for when we go to Italy next month so that Alice can still nap whilst out and about and just to dump bags on for the beach and site seeing. I also look forward to using it over summer holidays as already it has been a great asset to life for quick days out and trips to the park. I love that it has a lovely sun shield and rain covers, so whatever the weather we can get out and about without having to lug my big pram around the museums, trains, cliff tops and airports – It folds down in about 2 seconds and is very simple and quick to both put up and fold away which I find really efficient and simple.

I am so pleased with the Joie Nitro as a secondary travel and adventure buggy, and the price it was available at was a steal!

Kiddies Kingdom are filled with amazing deals and lovely products from over 150 brands such as Icandy, Silver Cross, Joolz and Joie. They are very excited to be launching their first concept store in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire this Sunday (the 30th July) where they will not only have these brands on display, but fantastic offers too to treat customers to!

The 9,000 sq ft. showroom will be the largest in Yorkshire (and in the North!) and will be including some incredible features such as a full-sized car where parents can practice their car seat fitting skills, a ‘Baby Wish List’ that can be created in order to contribute towards a gift for a new arrival, as well as an embroidery service so that customers can make their purchases extra special and add a personalised touch, as well as many other great activities!

If you are near by be sure to check it out … you too may bag yourself a shiny new buggy/stroller, car seat or even some fun outdoor toys for the kids this Summer!

*Thanks to Kiddies Kingdom for gifting us the Joie Nitro in return for an honest review. All thoughts and pictures are my own. 

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The City of York is by far my most favourite here in the UK (though I have not yet discovered them all). Every time I visit it just makes me so happy to be there and as a teen I often dreamed of living there too. I find great joy in strolling along the wall, the small cobbled streets and standing in the majesty of the minster. I love to soak up the history and appreciate all that has happened there, see the little shops and tea rooms and sit in the little parks. Being in York, especially as a family just feels lovely to me and therefore seemed the perfect place for this years family date for valentines.

For the last couple of years we have worked on our new tradition of making valentines a family thing. To me it is a great opportunity to teach our children about loving others and saying it to them. An opportunity to teach them about dates and how fun they are, and to take the focus off them feeling a need to have “A Valentine” and just making it fun. Loving people solves so many problems in life and helps us be forgiving, and I feel that by showing my kids ways to show love for others in and out of our family will be a valuable gift.

The exchanging of cards and little inexpensive gifts goes on in the background for us as a couple and then a little date when they’re in bed of food and a cheesy Rom com. But ultimately valentines is focused on the growing love in our family and “dating” the kids. We hold hands more with them, check our phones less and talk about one another.  It’s really lovely and we all look forward to it.

This year’s date saw us not just in the beautiful city of York, but at “York’s Chocolate Story“, which was quite possibly the perfect date destination.

York’s Chocolate Story – The perfect date destination

York’s Chocolate story is an entertaining and informative guided tour through the history of York’s most famous chocolate-making families and their finest creations. It is a fab morning or afternoon out with the family, but even better than that I would go so far as to say it would easily be the prefect place to take a date, go on a date together, or like us – something special and different for a family date. And here’s why:

1. It lets you walk and talk at the same time, and provides ample things to talk about

Being a museum it is rich in interesting facts and things to discover, things we found ourselves “ooooing” and “ahhhing” over as they were delivered to us. There were a lot of smiling and eyebrow raising going on in the group as it was just so fascinating to us all. I have been to chocolate museums before, but as this one is unique to the history of York, I learnt tonnes of interesting things about a city I thought I knew!

You move between rooms so every few minutes there are chances to chat to each other briefly about what you have both seen and heard, and again as you walk down to the chocolate making rooms and the cafe at the end of the tour.

The kids loved it all and gained a lot from it, some of which was the focus of conversation through the rest of our day.

2. There is an element of humour so you can laugh together

The perfect date of course must provide opportunities to laugh together, and there are many of these at York’s chocolate story. The staff are fabulous at what they do and remember, and the delivery of information is brilliant. We found ourselves laughing from the start and with surprises round every corner, accompanied with stories of the past, you and your date(s) won’t be short of a chuckle or 2!

3. It is interactive and fun

With out giving too much away there are parts that are very cleverly created to give the history in a captivating and fun way for kids and adults alike. Of course the sampling that is intertwined with these makes the whole thing come to life even more, and then towards the end you have an opportunity to make your own chocolate creation to take away. Each of these stations, especially the “make it yourself” exhibition, made it hands on and entertaining. Ethan and Megan had sprinkles flying everywhere, and it created an activity that was both different and very enjoyable.

4. It is tasty

Possibly the most obvious one here, but whats a good date without something tasty? Not only is there a gorgeous cafe and tasty shop at the end of the tour, but the whole activity throughout of “Chocolate tasting” is something that is a little bit different. It has an element of romance there and is just plain joyful!

There are opportunities throughout the tour to not only hear how chocolate was invented and created over the years, but also to sample it in its various forms (Our favourite being at the end with the confectioners). We learnt how to see if it is a well made chocolate and how to really get the most from the flavours when trying it (as oppose to just scoffing it down). The kids found this obviously to be one of the better parts, but because they new there were several promises of chocolate tasting it really kept their attention in the more educational points.

5. It is an experience that will be memorable

Each one of us thoroughly enjoyed our visit. The combination of cleverly created displays, along with interesting facts, fun activities and tasty samples is something we will remember together for a long time as a special date.

I love York and always have done, and now its plain to see why. The Tuke, Rowntree, Terry and Craven families made the city of York world-famous for its chocolate and sweets and their legacy runs through it. My favourite city, whether I realised it or not, is built on chocolate – no wonder its the best!


I would most definitely recommend you book on a tour next time you are heading to York, whoever you go with you will be sure to have a tasty time! For more details on prices and booking information click here.

Yorkshire Tots

*Thank you to York’s Chocolate Story for inviting us for a complimentary visit. All thoughts and pictures our own.

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