The main goal of our recent holiday in Tuscany was to relax, get some sunshine and visit the beach. We had lush sunshine and it was over 30 degrees everyday, but aside from a couple of beach trips, the trip was far from the easy relaxing trip we anticipated. It was jam packed with adventures, whining kids, late nights, pasta, and despite the madness, we still had a brilliant adventure in a wonderful part of the world.

Flying to Pisa and our Air B&B

We flew to Pisa airport in the evening of the Wednesday from Leeds/Bradford, and arrived around 11pm, so it was a late one but the kids coped well fuelled by excitement and the bag of Haribo they talked me into at the petrol station on the way! We stayed overnight in a guest house just down the road from the airport, and then picked up our rental car the next morning. We had booked an Air bnb in a village called Buti, which is just a little drive outside of Pisa, nestled in beautiful mountains and olive groves. It far exceeded our expectations and was simply stunning!

The house was part of a large farm house, nestled up the side of a mountain and surrounded by groves of olive trees dirt tracks and animals! We had our own balcony, modern interior and the neighbours were cute old Italian locals!

As it was a farm, the kids had freedom to see the animals, and especially enjoyed the new pups which the visited daily (once letting out the mum – don’t ask!!!). Up the track, was a tiny 13th century church, and at every turn was beauty and amazing views across the valley.  We has pomegranate trees, citrus, figs, bamboo, and at nighttime only heard the crickets and farm animals – it was most idyllic and one of the bonuses of going through Air bnb when you travel.

The Beach and Genoa

On our 3rd day we were finally settled in and ready for some sand and sea. By recommendation we drove a little ways up from Pisa to a gorgeous part of Italy known as “Chinque Terre”. We went to both Lavento and Vernazza and found it to be a beautiful coastline with quaint little streets and colour everywhere, and the smell of muscles, baked breads and garlic! 

We did a lot of driving up steep windy mountain roads and the whole experience was surreal and breathtakingly beautiful!

As we were only an hour way from Genoa, and it being a place Nathan really wanted to go to, we deiced to drive a little further north in the afternoon and spend a couple of hours there. Of course my kids were the rowdy ones, wading through the fountains when we got there, but I am glad we went because it was a really lovely city. The fountains were spectacular (and very inviting), and it was great to see history at every turn and amazing architecture … Christopher Columbus house was small but cool to stand on the forecourt of, and just to be in a place he lived, pondering upon his life and legacy! 

This day ended with the kids swimming in the sea at 10pm – perfection!

Florence and Lake Bilancino

The next day we drove to Florence, which I had high expectations for. I dont know why but its one of those cities people talk a lot about. It was a great city and had beautiful architecture yes, but wasn’t my fave. There was lots to see if you were willing to pay (which we didn’t see the point of with our rowdy crew), but being only 45 minutes from our house, it was certainly worth an afternoon to just wander and see the city as a whole. The kids found a carousel and we just took it easy admiring the buildings and cathedral. 

On the way home we took a different route and called by Lake Bilancino. It was beautiful, clear, turquoise and warm, and a lovely evening spent paddling and chilling together. I think next time it would be fun to spend a day there and do some water sports or just have a picnic, but we found to be a lovely spot enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. 

Pisa

Finally we saw Pisa and it was brilliant … we saw it Sunday afternoon following church and was totally worth the wait. Everything about it was charming and exciting and I had a lot of fun there. We did all of the cliche tower pics and it was a place that really impressed the kids too. Site seeing can sometimes be a challenge with kids, especially when its more old stuff in the blazing sunshine, but Pisa really grasped their attention and they loved it. We went into the cathedral, which was free and then walked around the little streets… it was a great 4 or 5 hours!

Pisa also has some great beaches and a park too that are very family friendly and we spent some time at these too later in our stay. The park in Pisa in on an archaeological site and has pretty little gardens as well as a play area that is well equipped. We spent a few hours here before flying home, and it was a nice relaxing morning and fun for the kids too.

The beach we went to near Pisa was on our last day and was quite busy but a great spot all the same. We found a little patch of sand amongst the other visitors to nestle down in for a couple of hours to chill, dig and swim. It had man made walls to make it into a large outdoor pool which at the deepest point was only up to Ethan’s neck! Pisa has a lot of currents so this ensured it was safe and the depth made it easier and more fun for families. It was a lovely beach and lovely afternoon soaking up far too much sun!

Tuscany is the perfect destination for a family trip, but also a place I would love to go just Nath and I. It has a great balance of beach, history and nature and is in great proximity to visit a whole host of famous and breathtaking sites. We paid just over £600 for our flights and accommodation, and I would definitely recommend hiring a car to make the most of your visit and turn it into the ultimate adventure.

I loved our week in Tuscany – the food, our little farm house, the adventures, the sun. But mostly the company and the memories made there. It was the ultimate adventure and a great Summer holiday! 

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I don’t know about where you are, but here in Yorkshire (Yorkshire folk will confirm), we have had some pretty miserable rainy weather recently! When I planned our Summer break, I never took into account the good old British weather and how it might influence those plans. I just saw the word “Summer” and imagined long sunny days in sandals and shorts, paddling pools and water fights, and lots of ice pops! Reality however has been somewhat different, and whilst we have eaten our fair share of ice pops, I’ve quickly realised Summer is very unpredictable – you cant exactly have a beach trip in a monsoon, and you can’t take the kids on a nature walk when its blowing a gale, and as you are probably more than aware, it has been on that level of rainage/storms!


Yesterday was a complete wash out of course, and potentially a day of cancelled plans, falling out and exhaustion. I was slightly disappointed to say the least, but at the same time we took it in our stride and made the most with what we had. With said rain (and a long weekend of travelling) it meant that we ended up staying in all day which would usually equate to me going slightly mad and us all getting a good dose of cabin fever, but it actually turned out to be a really hearty and successful day in! We had invited some friends over for a play date and whilst the kids built dens, played dress up, trains, knights and watched Moana (for the 50th time), we chatted about anything and everything! We then made homemade pizzas for lunch and had sneaky ice creams out of the freezer for afters. The day flew by and the kids had so much fun with new faces and friends. 

I went to bed feeling like it was certainly a “Mum win” kind of a day!

On the flip side of our lovely rainy day in yesterday, just last week we embraced the rainy forecast and hit the water fountains in Hull city centre. We decided that the kids were going to get wet anyway so what’s a bit of rain? It turns out it wasn’t “just a little bit rain” but clearly Yorkshire is now home to a Monsoon season, and we were soaked to the skin in seconds with nowhere to shelter! The kids LOVED it, and it was the biggest laugh and fun we’ve had in ages…

It is from these 2 days of laughing and having fun despite us apparently being in Monsoon season, that I have decided that rain is actually a lot of fun if you are prepared. Whether you are out and about splashing in it and getting soaked, or snuggled with friends indoors eating yummy food (and they were delish pizza’s), and playing your favourite games together, it can be a great day “whatever the weather”!

I think as parents we often spend so much time feeling like we aren’t enough for our kids, or we are so quick at pointing out or down falls, and what we haven’t been able to do with them, that we miss the small moments that matter. The moments that bring sunshine despite the rain…the moments like making the most of a rainy day with friends, and getting soaked from fountains and rain together. The moments of giving your kids a fun day inside despite the weather and creating memories as well as their own pizza! On days like these we need to pat our selves on the back and celebrate, because we didn’t just survive it, we laughed, we loved and we had a heck of a lot of fun!

Rain, I have discovered, doesn’t have to make for cancelled plans and going insane. It is fun, sounds great on a conservatory roof, and encourages you at times to take a break and become inventive!

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The focus of our summer bucket list this year was mainly to explore our new county (Hello East Yorkshire), and to spend a lot of time enjoying our new easier access/closer proximity to the coast. Whilst planning what we might like to do, we have spoken a lot about picnic teas on the beach and in the garden, paddling on the beach, discovering new farms, places by train, and local nature in the countryside.

We plan on me doing the fun days out and crafty things, and then hopefully bonus beach trips or country walks on an evening with daddy when he gets home from work!

The kids wanted to do some of the same things as last year, whilst also making the most of our new home and spend some time in the garden too. They want to see their cousins and hang with Grandma’s too…Together we came up with this.

Summer Bucket list 2017

Visit a Castle
Go inside a Lighthouse
Go to the Model Village
Go to a Farm
Go to the Rock Pools and hunt for crabs
Sealife in Scarborough
Have Breakfast on the Beach
Go Glamping
Hull Fountains
Go on a boat ride
Make Ice lollies
Go on Holiday
Go to Eden Camp
Eat a big Ice cream
Bake a cake
Make Potions
Watch them make the Rock
Have a sleepover with cousins
Visit a new museum
Have a fire/Smores
Discover the “Forgotten Village”

Making it happen…

From there I did the same as last year and drew up a calendar to make sure we remembered to do everything. School holidays are themed each day and rotated each week, and so we work it into that. I then find that within an hour or so not only is everything in there to do, but I also have a plan for everyday of the summer.

Doing this means for us that I can make the most of the time I have with my kids and also know where I am with things like dinner on an evening (do I need to put something on whilst we’re out all day?). It makes life far easier with 3 kids, because it means I can look at the schedule in advance and plan for picnics, transport, invites to friends, or generally just use it as a bargaining chip in my discipline efforts (yes I do believe in bribes!). Of course there will be mornings watching Tv or playing with toys (It is there Summer break after all) but a schedule means we know our focus for the day and we know what to wear and pack in the bag the night before.

So here is a simplified version of what we are doing each day in the summer holidays. Some of them will be on consecutive days, like Sealife and then Filey Brigg the day after, this way we can sleep in Filey at my sisters and tick off “cousins sleepover” and “Breakfast on the beach”…For obvious reasons I have left out my specific dates of when we are doing everything, but you get the idea and hopefully will find it helpful to get through and enjoy summer with the kids!

 

I am so excited for Summer adventures and days spent on the coast, enjoying village life, family time, settling into our new life and discovering new places!

What do you have planned for Summer?

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Trains are officially my mode of transport now it would seem, and as a result I think most people assume I can’t drive here. For someone who has driven since 17 and hot on cars, it’s been so weird to be asked on several occasions this week if I have a licence or thought about getting one, because “It would save a lot on train fairs”! It’s quite funny really but does make me miss having the car on a regular basis. I am looking forward to having daily life in the village and only needing the train for a day out, which won’t be long now. We are on the final count down with the last leg of the move, and this time next week we will have exchanged and completed and preparing to move into our village pad!

This week has been bursting at the seams with deals and bargains; not only have we have had a date out (bonus), but we have booked our summer holiday, and Alice and I have found some freebie things for the Summer Hols in a couple of weeks.

Sand Pit at Princes Quay

Its been ages since I went to Hull and walked around the City, and doing so yesterday brought back many memories of my teen years shopping there with friends! Alice and I caught the train a little further after the school run and met up with one of my very good friends here (who is also Nath’s cousin) and her kids, and spent the day playing in Hull.

We went to Princes Quay which now has an outlet floor (bargains) and seems very much geared towards entertainment. It was a lot quieter in the city than I remember, but it meant it added to a feeling of being more relaxing.

We sat for a good while chatting next to this cute sand pit they have there on the 2nd floor whist both her eldest and Alice had a fab time digging and playing in the sand. After lunch we headed outside, where across the road they have some lovely new fountains where the kids flock to and play in for ages too. It was gorgeous and all very chilled.

I’ve never thought much of Hull but being there reminded me of some great things the kids would love which are all Free, and I know that come the Summer Holidays Ethan & Megan will be super excited to go check out the fountains!

Summer Holiday

If you missed my most recent post, it was all about our Bargainous Summer Holiday in August! In a nut shell its 7 nights, mid August, family of 5 to Pisa/Tuscany for £630 (total NOT each).  You can read how I did it here.

Pizza Express Voucher

Last Saturday and all rather last minute, Nathan and I decided to go out for dinner whilst the kids were asleep. My sister in law was kind enough to listen out for them, and we found ourselves enjoying a gorgeous meal at Pizza Express. I don’t know about you, but I feel like Pizza Express has gotten rather pricey these days? (They have also stopped making my fave pasta dish and the Bosco salad – gutted!).

I, in true thrifty style, found a voucher for us to have a 3 course meal for £12.95 each! It was delicious and a lot easier on the ol purse strings!

Check out Voucher Codes to see if they have anything you can use this weekend, that’s where I found this one!

Little Bargs in the Charity Shop

I haven’t particularly been looking for much in the charity shops this week as I have been pretty busy. Here and there though I have called in to the odd one just for a quick nosy.

On Saturday I bought an amazing African looking dress for a fiver, a cushion for the new house for £2, and the ultimate bargain on Monday in Brid – some brand new sandals for Ethan for £1.49!

Pack up for Swimming

Finally last Friday we went swimming after school. I learnt from last time that they come out of swimming absolutely ravenous and so to save stress, tears and money, I made them a pack up and they sat in the boot of the car after swimming and enjoyed it. Ham sandwiches, crisps and fruit – it went down a treat!

We have discovered a negative to living in the country during summer time, in the form of  “Harvest bugs”! In our hair, all over our clothes, on our arms and in our stuff. They are everywhere! As soon as we step off the train into the village we are greeted with mini beetle type black bugs and thin minute wiggly sorts and they’re blumming annoying!

Today is our school’s Summer fair, which we are a little too excited for I think, and then we shall be on the countdown to moving day… Those bugs better do one by then! The long standing residents of the village assure me we will get used to them (in about 4 years!), but they are most certainly a negative to the dream of country living…

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