Category Archives: Holidays

Holidays: Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

As a family we were confirmed holiday cottage enthusiasts. The thought of being subject to strict meal times and the rules of a hotel didn’t really appeal. We’ve always enjoyed our own space and the freedom a holiday cottage in the UK has allowed us. We never, ever thought we’d find ourselves on a plane heading to Majorca to stay in a hotel. But one week abroad has completely changed our pre-conceptions, and our holiday horizons have been well and truly broadened. 

Over the October half term we flew via Jet2 from Manchester to Majorca, for a week in the sun at the 4 star Sol Katmandu Hotel in Magaluf. On paper it was the polar opposite of every holiday we’ve ever had. But we discovered that sometimes doing something completely different is exactly the right thing to do.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The Sol Katmandu Hotel

We arrived at the Sol Katmandu after an early morning flight from Manchester. The hotel reception was busy but we checked in after a fashion and we found our way to our room.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The room was clean, well decorated, it had a little fridge, free WIFI, a TV with a couple of English kids TV channels and a rather lovely bathroom. What it didn’t have was a balcony you could sit out on, something we really wanted. Probably about two thirds of the rooms had balconies, so this would be something I’d make sure I had in future.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The Sol Katmandu is set in an aquatic theme park and the amenities include a buffet restaurant, 2 bars, 3 outdoor pools and a sunbathing terrace. The hotel offers complimentary passes to the Katmandu Park’s amusement park, a kids’ club and nightly live entertainment. 

Food & Drink

We were staying on a half board basis, which meant we had breakfast and dinner in the hotel. Lunch and drinks were extra, but we found that half board suited us. We weren’t completely tied to the hotel and it mean’t we explored the local cafes and bars in the area.

For me breakfast was the highlight of my foodie day. There was a very extensive breakfast buffet including a wall of fruit, continental options, English breakfast, Spanish breakfast, yoghurt, unlimited tea, coffee and juice as well as a pancake and fried egg bar where you watched your pancakes being made.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

We all fell into our own pattern, the small boy would have scrambled eggs and sausages followed by a pancake with chocolate sauce. My husband would start with fruit and then go for a selection of English breakfast items and I would have a couple of slices of the most delicious tortilla I’ve ever had, usually with some grilled tomatoes, then I’d follow that with pancakes, because the pancakes were excellent.

Lunch was usually a casual affair, we’d pop to the nearby Aldi for bread and cheese, or go to a local cafe and have a sandwich or share a pizza. We never really felt like eating much after our big breakfast.

Dinner in the hotel was another buffet style feast. I’m a vegetarian and I did find my options were a bit limited, but there were always a few veggie dishes to choose from. They also had child friendly options such as fish fingers and chips, though the boy liked to choose his own and often went more exotic dishes. 

Hubs was in his element at dinner, there was a grill where chefs cooked to order fish and meat such as lamb chops and steak, and there was more often than not a paella available. 

The salad bar was excellent, I liked to fill up on salad and have a little plate of other bits and pieces before launching myself at the desserts. The dessert selection was excellent, there were individual tubs of ice cream and beautiful jewel coloured cakes and treats, as well as cheese and biscuits. 

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Being half board we had to pay extra for our drinks, but we were content to have a drink or two in the bar after dinner, so the drinks bill did not add up.

Tip: If you like sangria, the sangria in the pool bar is made from scratch and is delicious, whereas the sangria in the hotel bar inside is ready mixed and not quite as good.

Entertainment

The Sol Katmandu has a holiday club for little ones each day and they all seem to have a really good time. Lots of dressing up and doing fun activities. The boy went for a superhero morning and made his own cape. He had a great time. The kids club is included in the price of the hotel and it’s well worth looking at if you fancy a couple of peaceful hours to yourself.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

In the evenings there was entertainment, but we didn’t really go to this, we preferred to go back to our room, wind down and have an early night.

The Swimming pools 

The Sol Katmandu has three swimming pools. One small splash pool, one deeper round pool and one longer pool. None of them are heated, so it is a bit bracing if you dive in and you’re not expecting it. But after an afternoon in the sun, the cool water of the pool is exactly what you need to come back to a normal temperature.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

For us the pools were a big draw. Each day we’d ask the boy what he wanted to do, and all he wanted to do was play in the pool, so that’s more or less what we did. The local shops sell inflatables and water guns, and all the little boys seemed to have them, so their days were filled with water fights and lots of laughter. 

Like most hotels there was a big of a culture of claiming a sun lounger with a towel, which meant that most of the well positioned loungers were reserved for invisible people for large portions of the day. Despite this, we managed to spend most of our days lounging by the pool, relaxing and reading, going for a quick dip and just chilling out. It was bliss.

The sol katmandu park

One of the biggest selling points of this hotel is the amusement park attached to it. As a resident of the hotel you get a free play pass which gets you into the park and entry to the attractions (though terms and conditions apply etc). 

The Katmandu Park has two excellent crazy golf courses – probably the best I’ve seen, and most days we played a round of golf after breakfast before heading out for the day or settling down round the pool.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

There is the “Upside Down House” where everything is a crazy optical illusion. I would have liked to have spent longer exploring the house but the boy was a bit freaked out by it. So we rushed through it, which was a shame.

There’s also the Katlantis Splash Park which looked great, but was closed as October is the end of season for the resort. There is also a 4D cinema and various interactive games, rides and a soft play centre, most of which are indoors. There’s also a bar where you can grab a snack and a drink.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

During the week we were there, the park wasn’t too busy and we only had to queue a few minutes for things. I liked the park and would like to have explored it more and taken more time over things, but the small boy was a bit freaked out by the house (in fairness he was a bit poorly that day and out of sorts) so we just stuck to the crazy golf.

I think the Katmandu Park is great, and if you’ve got lively kids its a great way for them to burn off some excess energy. Quite a lot of the attractions are indoors, so if you’re wanting to shelter from the sun for an hour, then the park is a good option for that too.

#kathalloween

We were staying at the hotel during the October half term, the week before Halloween. The Sol Katmandu goes all out for Halloween and even has it’s own hashtag. The hotel and park were gloriously decorated, even the beds had a Halloween bedspread on them!

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

At dinner on the last night all the staff were dressed up with Halloween headgear and most of the desserts had wriggly jelly worms on them, or creepy spiders – the amount of effort they put in was well worth it. I loved it. The hotel has a Steampunk vibe anyway and lends itself to being decorated up for an occasion.

What we liked about the Sol katmandu

This was our first family holiday abroad and it smashed a lot of our preconceptions about that kind of holiday.

     ♥   We really liked being able to properly relax and have someone else cook and clean for us while we were away. 

     ♥   The pools were great. They were clean and a life guard was around at all times.

     ♥   The Katmandu Park is a great addition and we spent about an hour a day in the park. The play pass is free and there are some really fun things to do in the park.

     ♥   Going half board gave us the best of both worlds – we could eat breakfast and dinner in the hotel, but we could also go out, explore and have lunch.

     ♥  October was a great time to go abroad for us, it was still hot and sunny during the day, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. Magaluf was fairly quiet and felt like more of a family resort than a party destination at that time of the year.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Our week at the Sol Katmandu was a real game changer for us. We now understand just how fantastically relaxing these kinds of holidays are. Whilst there’s still room in our lives for our self catering holiday cottage breaks, I think having a gloriously relaxing holiday where someone else cooks and cleans for you, where you can sit and relax for hours by the pool and everyone’s batteries recharge. 

We really liked the hotel. It was clean and comfortable, the facilities were great, the food was good and the pools were a huge hit. We came home with big smiles on our faces, we just need to decide where to go next.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

We were invited guests of The Sol Katmandu and Jet2 Holidays. All images and opinions are our own and this is a true reflection of our experience.

What we did on our holiday by Mr HodgePodgeDays

My husband is famously a man of few words, but he kindly volunteered to put pen to paper and write about what we did on our holiday this October Half Term. We stayed at the Sol Katmandu in Majorca, courtesy of Jet2 Holidays. It’s always interesting for me to see things from his point of view, but it looks like he had a good time…

Being self-employed has its ups and downs. I am my own boss and I answer to no-one, but on the flip side I am totally responsible for everything at work. If I ever think about taking a sickie, the boss knows about it straight away.

Because I work for myself, I’ve had to work some long hours recently to get things ship shape before our first family holiday abroad. Over the October Half Term we packed our bags and went on a family holiday to Majorca courtesy of Jet2. It was eagerly anticipated, especially by the little fella as it was going to be his first time on a plane.

On departure day we woke early at 4am as the flight was due to depart at 6.30am. We jumped in a taxi and headed off to the airport. The check in at the airport and passing through security was a doddle and soon we were relaxing in the departure lounge with a coffee and sausage butty.

We didn’t have long to wait before our flight was called and we made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. I did wonder at this point if the little fella would be a bit scared by it all, but he was happy as Larry and took it all in his stride. He loved the flight, especially the take off, and soon we were landing in Majorca which again put a big smile on his face.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

 

The transfer to the hotel was a breeze. We were staying at the 4* the Sol Kathmandu in Magaluf. The hotel was excellent, our only quibble was the lack of a balcony which we could sit out on, but I think everyone will always find something not to their satisfaction. 

After we’d unpacked in our room, the lad wanted to go exploring as he’d seen the three outdoor swimming pools on our way into the hotel and couldn’t wait to get in the water, and his dad couldn’t wait to get on a sun lounger.

What we did on our holiday

If you want to know what we did on our holiday, most of our days were spent relaxing by the pools; sometimes all of us splashing about in the water, sometimes Ben in the water with the new friends he’d made, while his parents topped up their tans, read their books and had a glass of sangria or two.

Twenty-four hours into the holiday, both my better half and I said that we definitely more relaxed in a hotel abroad than on our usual holidays in Devon. We usually go self-catering and in Devon we are the small boy’s only source of entertainment.

It was so nice to be away and to only have to think about when next to apply sun cream and not about the stresses of work, if only for a week. It was nice to spend time with my family, especially the missus, instead of rushing around badgering the boy to get dressed, or going back to work in the evenings to catch up with stuff.

What we did on our holiday

Here’s to our next holiday abroad, which hopefully won’t be too far away. Thank you to the Sol Katmandu for putting up with us and Jet2 for getting us there and back safely and efficiently.

-What we did on our holiday by Matthew, aged 41 and a half

Holiday Snaps – from Devon 2016

I’ve got this fancy newish camera which I’ve been trying to use and get used to. I had planned on taking it on holiday to Devon for a week to try and spend some time getting to know it a bit better, but I ended up with a fairly epic chest infection a couple of days before we went and I wasn’t really in the mood.

I decided instead to take my “old” camera, a Nikon Coolpix L820. It’s a bridge camera and whilst it really struggles indoors, outdoors it comes into its own.

Before we headed down the M6 towards the South West one of my friends challenged me to take 5 decent photos of Devon. I don’t think I’ve managed that, but I have chosen some pictures which will make me smile.

It wasn’t a particularly great holiday, we’d booked an especially skanky cottage and ended up having to leave after three days and go and stay elsewhere. It was a shame, after everything we’ve been through these past few months I just really needed a rest, a break from the norm and some time to reflect and recover. But maybe that’s something for another blog post. Back to the photos….

Day one of our holiday we got in the car and went for a drive to get our bearings. I’ve no idea where this place is, it’s somewhere in Exmoor, somewhere where we stopped for some air. There was purple heather everywhere, gorse in flower and the air was as clear as a bell. I love the colour and texture in this picture.

Devon

The first cottage we stayed in didn’t have much to recommend it, but it did have a huge buddleia outside the front door. It was teeming with butterflies and bees, so I snapped this little fella. Isn’t he lovely?

Devon

Day two, in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we headed to the familiar territory of Westward Ho! It was worth the drive of nearly an hour for the fresh air and the lift in our spirits. 

Devon

Although he will kill me for sharing this, I adore this photo of my boy running towards his Dad who had just been for a swim in the sea. Again this is Westward Ho!

Devon

It’s not an especially lovely photo, but this is the view from the cottage we stay at in Welcombe in North Devon. Waking up to see the church, the sky and a tiny handkerchief of the sea always makes me happy, rain or shine.

Devon

On our last night we drove to Bude and had dinner at Life’s a Beach, which by day is a beach cafe and by night a popular bistro. We had a delicious meal and then walked some of it off on the beach afterwards. Here’s the small boy at his cheeky best.

Devon

The last night again, this time the beach at Bude, a harbour of sorts. It’s not a great photo, but it is a photo of one of my happy places.

Devon

And lastly, on our way home we stopped at Westward Ho! (are you sensing a theme here?) and had fish and chips on the beach for tea. Whilst we waited for dad to come back I took this panorama and the boy played with his new sword and shield. The result is this rather moody shot of a knight which will probably always make me smile. 

Devon

A mixed holiday for us, some lovely moments, some disappointment, but lots of lovely cuddles with the boys. Looking back I didn’t take any or many decent photos, it’s probably reflective of our mood at the time. We did have fun, we did stick brave smiley faces on for the boy and we did our best to make the best of our holiday. I think he had a good time and that’s all that matters right now.

Holidays: Budgeting in Alicante

Warm, welcoming and packed with things to see and do, Alicante is an excellent destination for families. However, like many summer holiday destinations, the expenses can soon rack up. If you’ve already bought your Alicante flights, are willing to have a shorter stay and plan to avoid using taxis, you can stay there for a lot less than you think once you’ve flown out.

Images by Suso Sinmiedo, used under CC license

Taking public transport

As mentioned just now, one of the best ways to save money in the city is to use the public transport, which is superb and can take you outside of the more touristy areas. When you arrive at Alicante’s massive El Altet airport, take the SuBus connection (service C6) to the city centre. It should take around 30 minutes and cost around 2 Euros. If you take a taxi, it will cost about 15 Euros.

After you’ve settled in your hotel, stick with the public transport. The buses are very regular, and for the local tram service, while a little slower, you can buy special tickets that allow for up to 30 trips for a set fee. If you really don’t have a lot of money, walking is a very inexpensive alternative!

Where to eat

Some of the cheapest places to eat are the local bars, and some of the ones run by English expats offer deals like an English breakfast for less than 3 Euros. Head there in the morning for a full breakfast that will set you up until lunchtime.

Traditional Spanish bars serve inexpensive tapas, but if you want cheap food in a hurry, the local markets always have cheap cafes, or sell basics like bread, cheese and olives, so you can make up a quick picnic. The Old Town, which is where many of the locals like to eat, serves a three-course menu del día, which can cost less than 10 Euros and often includes a glass of wine!

What to do

The Castillo de Santa Bárbara is a fortification that dates back to the Moorish times, and is home to caverns and courtyards which are occupied by the city museum, MUSA, and cost nothing to visit.

Alternatively, you can visit the Santa Cruz quarter, an ancient district that dates back to the medieval times and is full of lovely little cottages, gardens. The quarter leads to the much newer Parque de la Ereta, a beautiful park that features fountains and sculptures.

Check out what local events are on, as Alicante has some inexpensive music festivals that take place during the year, such as the aptly-named Low Cost Festival, a music festival, which offers tickets from 40 Euros.

Stas 2012

Image by Nesimo, used under CC license

Alicante is a beautiful place, but that doesn’t mean it should cost you the earth. So, whether you’re staying for three days or three weeks, make sure that after you’ve booked your Alicante flights, you know how to save yourself some money!

Things to do on your family holiday in Portugal

If you’re looking for somewhere to spend your next family holiday, look no further than the Algarve on Portugal’s southern coast. Here, the stunning golden beaches and friendly towns offer endless activities and entertainment for you and your kids no matter what their age.

The key to keeping the kids entertained, of course, is variation. A day at the beach is essential, but spend too long and you’ll be battling boredom and sunburn. Portugal holidays promise plenty of fun if you know where to go, so here’s some inspiration for what to do on your trip to the Algarve:

Zoomarine

There’s a reason why Zoomarine is the Algarve’s biggest attraction. As if dolphins, seals, and an impressive aquarium weren’t enough already, the park offers a daily schedule of presentations and shows. At the same time as enjoying a fun day out, the kids might even learn a thing or two here – and so will you!

dolphinleap4

Image by Jonathan Pagel, used under the Creative Commons Licence.

Slide & Splash

This is the Algarve’s largest water park, and kids who like to swim will love it here. The slides, rides and pools will keep you entertained for hours, and there is even a designated area for younger kids. If you need a break from the water, the park is also home to some impressive birds of prey, and shows are held throughout the day.

Mini golf

Whether you like real golf or not, there’s nothing like a round of mini golf to stir up some friendly family competition. At the Family Golf Park in Vilamoura, near Faro, you can play your way around two 18-hole courses. The picturesque park is themed on ancient Rome, and afterwards, you can visit some real Roman remains in Vilamoura.

Karting

If your kids want do to something a little more fast-paced, spend an afternoon at Hot Wheels Raceway, an indoor karting course in Albufiera marina. There are ordinary and junior karts on offer to suit all ages, and you can choose from 10, 20, or 30 minute time slots.

Lagos Zoo

No matter how many times you bring your kids to the zoo, it never really gets old. The small but well-maintained zoo in Lagos is home to over 100 different animal species, so there is plenty to see. Time your trip carefully, and you will even get to watch the primate and meerkat feedings.

Grivet Monkey Family Grooming

Image by Eric Kilby, used under the Creative Commons Licence.

This taster of what the Algarve has to offer is enough to see that southern Portugal’s famous holiday destination is just about as family-friendly as it gets, so why not give it a go?

What are your favourite things to do with the kids on holiday? Share your suggestions in the comments below!

Holiday essentials – what to pack

In the days before children, packing to go on holiday was a fairly simple task. Some clothes, a camera, passport and some money. Not forgetting the sun cream. Since the arrival of my little ray of sunshine, taking a sunshine break has become an altogether more complex affair.

We’re pretty good at packing and travelling as light as we can, but trying to part the small boy from every toy, game, book, puzzle and cuddly toy he owns, even on a temporary basis is something of a nightmare.

I always try and remember, but often forget, that wherever we go there will be shops to buy anything we forget that we can’t live without. I can buy toothpaste and clean pants almost anywhere in the world. Most places have a washing machine or launderette within easy reach, so it’s hardly any bother to pack less and do a few loads of laundry while we’re away.

To make life a bit easier we have a standard packing list on our computer, the things you always need to take, passport, money, clothes, hairbrush etc. We print it off and check things off the list as we’re packing. It really does make life easier and helps to ensure you don’t forget any holiday essentials. 

Storebox have very helpfully put together this Travelling Checklist of holiday essentials. I love the idea of taking some cable ties with you, it seems such a sensible but lightweight thing to take on holiday or if you’re travelling. Portable chargers are also a must, especially in this day an age.

Whether you’re planning a camping holiday in Cornwall, backpacking in Bolivia or going on a beach holiday in Benidorm, it pays to be prepared and to pack for all eventualities. 

What’s on your holiday essentials list? 

holiday essentials

= In collaboration with Storebox =

My tips for surviving family festivals in the UK

If you’re off on a day out, or you’ve got tickets to a family festival or event, it makes sense to plan ahead and prepare yourself for all eventualities. In the UK “all eventualities” essentially means prepare yourself for the weather, all of the weather.

We live in Manchester, which is not known as the rainy city for nothing (though it doesn’t actually rain as much as you’d think). We try to get out and about as much as we can, which often means standing in a muddy field getting rained on, but still managing to squeeze some fun out of our precious family time together. Here are my tips for surviving and enjoying outdoor events in the UK.

Check the weather forecast. This will give you a vague idea of what the weather is likely to do on the day of the event or festival. Although if it says it’ll be sunny I’d still stick a brolly in the car just in case.

Pack a Picnic. Regardless of whether the event has food on offer or not, I always pack some emergency provisions. At the very least a couple of bottles of water and enough snacks to tide a hungry tum over until a pulled pork burger can be foraged from the nearest street food vendor.

Plan your day. Check out what’s on, what time it’s on and where it is. If there’s something you especially want to see or do, then it helps to know where on the festival site it’s happening and when. It’s often worth printing out a little map of the site and an events listing, or taking a screenshot on your phone to refer to if you need to.

Take something to sit on. Festivals, events and days out can be a loooong day and you can guarantee there won’t be enough seating for everyone. Take something to sit on. A picnic blanket with a waterproof backing is invaluable, but if you don’t want to carry that around, a bin bag for each family member to sit on works just as well and is much lighter and easier to carry. I have a bad back so can’t sit on the floor, so I take a little camping chair to sit on and my son often climbs on my knee for a cuddle. I wouldn’t be without my chair.

Wear suitable clothing. Rain or shine if you get a couple of thousand people in a field you will need to wear wellies or good stout walking boots. If driving rain is predicted and you’re still going to the event, then pack a mac and wear waterproof clothing. Be prepared to get wet and have dry clothes waiting in the car.

surviving family festivals

Take a change of clothes. If you’re going in your car it’s easy to pack a change of clothing and leave that and a cosy blanket in the car. My son always snuggles under a blanket on the way home and we wouldn’t be without it. The thought of being able to change at the car if you need to can get you through an afternoon of dampness.

If you can’t take a change of clothes (including dry socks and shoes) to change into for the drive home, then I’d recommend packing a pair of dry socks sealed in a plastic bag. Dry feet can make the difference between abject misery and a tolerable bus ride home.

Bring a brolly. We keep a big golfing umbrella in the car as well as a small one to slip into my bag. When we arrive at the festival we make the choice which, if any to bring with us. If it’s raining then the golfing umbrella, especially when teamed with my camping chair makes a nice little shelter from the rain, and when it’s very sunny the brolly offers a little shade.

Use sun cream. Even if it’s cloudy in the UK, you can catch the sun by standing in a field all day. Slap on the factor 30 and top up regularly. Wear a sun hat and keep hydrated.

Bring some baby wipes. As a parent I’m never more than 2 metres away from a pack of baby wipes, they are an everyday essential and invaluable at events and festivals. From cleaning sticky fingers before lunch, dealing with the worst of the mud, for toilet times and for making yourself presentable for the journey home. We don’t leave home without them.

Take cash money. Festivals and events can very easily be done on a budget, but once you’re in you’ll have to buy everything you need and it probably comes at a premium. We tend to pack a picnic and then buy some treats like ice cream when we’re there. Just don’t turn up thinking you can pay for everything with your card, cash is king and most events don’t have ATMs on site.

If you’re prepared for the changeable and sometimes really miserable UK weather, you’ve thought about food, transport and you’ve planned your day then hopefully your family day out will go off without a hitch. Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I’ve started to have low expectations of what an event or festival will be like before I get there, that way I’m rarely disappointed and often surprised and enchanted by what happens on the day.

I have a bit of a go with the flow attitude to life and almost everything I do, which does mean that you can sometimes find me dancing in the rain. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you prepare to spend a day in that weather. Come rain or shine you will find us having fun in a field somewhere this summer and I hope you won’t let a little rain stop play either.

Do you have any top tips for surviving family festivals and events?

surviving family festivals

Five things to do in Manchester in May Half Term

It only seems like five minutes since the kids when back to school after Easter and the May half term is just around the corner. It’s often hard to think of things to do to entertain the troops. Playdates and trips to the park always feature heavily, but it’s good to have a few bigger things in the diary too.

I’ve picked a few things to do in (and around) Manchester with the kids this May half term. We’ll definitely be popping along to some of these.

The Lost Carnival

If you’ve ever been to the Just So Festival, A Day at the Lake or event The Lost Carnival last year, you know that Wild Rumpus know how to put on an event. Last year we went to The Lost Carnival which was in Bury, this year you can experience an evening of wonder in Crewe, and trust me, it is an experience to remember for all the best reasons.

This year features a “Battle of the Carnivals” between the rival carnivals, The Ingenues and the Birds. Together they will meet for a thrilling evening of spellbinding theatre and enthralling installations, circus, music, visual trickery and sideshows galore. Last year was so good it gave me goosebumps and this year looks set to be even bigger and better!

The Lost Carnival will take place on May 28/29/30 (4-9.30pm) at Queen’s Park, Crewe, Cheshire CW2 7SE. Early Bird tickets cost £10 per ticket. Under 3s go free. Carnival goers should dress for the weather, and wear sturdy shoes.

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre & SEA LIFE Manchester

Over the May half term, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre and SEA LIFE Manchester at the Trafford Centre will have lots to entertain families come rain or shine. better still, guests only have to buy one ticket and will have the freedom to explore two brilliant attractions!

In the LEGOLAND Discovery Centre visit the brand new play area, City Builder. Visitors can create their own buildings and structures in the City Builder zone. The only limit is your imagination!

For movie enthusiasts, LEGOLAND Discovery Centre has another new 4D movie starring the LEGO Nexo Knights. Experience this fantastic new 4D film with all the elements – wind, water and smoke – bringing the battle to life all around the cinema.

May Half Term

Down at SEA LIFE Manchester, families can dive deep to the fascinating world of new exhibition, Octopus Hideout and spot the star of the show, the Giant Pacific Octopus called Hank and his Cephalopod friends. A visit to SEA LIFE is always a fascinating, fun and educational day out.

For more information and to buy tickets, visit the LEGOLAND website and the SEA LIFE website

Roald Dahl’s Tremendous Adventures at Tatton Park

From Easter until the end of 2016, Tatton Park is is bringing Roald Dahl’s imagination to life, with a host of children’s trails and events for all the family. Join Danny the Champion of the World in the gardens, Fantastic Mr Fox at the farm and Matilda in the mansion and you’ve got to be careful of The Enormous Crocodile out in the parkland!

We’ve already visited and explored the farm at Tatton Park where we found Fantastic Mr Fox, and we’ll be visiting again over half term to explore some of the other fabulous Roald Dahl goings on. You can read the full preview of the Roald Dahl adventures at Tatton Park here.

May half term

For more information visit tattonpark.org.uk/RoaldDahl.

GeronimO Festival at Tatton Park

The Geronimo Festival is on at Tatton Park (May 29th and 30th) and will feature CBeebies star live shows, a full circus, 3 theatre companies, amazing bands, a full county fair arena including jousting, sheep shearing, motorcycle displays, funfair rides, tortoise encounters, spy school den building and 100 other amazing activities.

This year CBeebies megastar Justin Fletcher will be there, as well as Mr Bloom, presenters Andy Day and Alex Winters and Cook and Line from Swashbuckle. As well as Les Enfants Terrible who present their Imaginary Menagerie. We’ve seen this show before and it is fantastic, so we won’t be missing that particular festival highlight! You can read my preview here.

For more information or to buy tickets visit www.geronimofest.com.

What else?

Manchester is a lively, vibrant city full of museums, art galleries, things to see, do and explore. Just a short drive out fo the city you have a wealth of unspoilt countryside and fresh air to fill your lungs with.  

If the weather is decent then you could visit and explore outdoors at Dunham Massey, Lyme Park, Delemere Forest or Quarry Bank Mill. There’s Manchester Museum to explore; the Museum of Science and Industry, The Police Museum, Manchester Airport Viewing Park, Stockport Hat Museum, the air-raid shelters; as well as Wythenshawe Community Farm and the utterly fantastic Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire.

There’s lots to do this May half term, do you have any interesting ideas for things to do during May half term?

Why being disabled on holiday can be a real pain

As a slightly less able person (spinal injury, nerve damage, chronic pain), I need to pace myself and rest more often than I would normally. I have adapted my day to day life so that I’m able to manage myself properly, take my medication when I need to, rest and exercise appropriately and generally maximise my wellness. But holidays throw that tried and tested routine out of the window leaving me in more pain, more tired and out of my medication routine.

We are on holiday in North Devon. It’s one of our favourite places to visit and we come back year after year. But from Manchester it’s a minimum 5 hour journey. This time it took 6 hours, but it has taken 8 hours in bad traffic. Sitting in one position for 6-8 hours is bad for anyone, but with my ruined spine it gets very uncomfortable, then very painful and it takes days to recover from.

Once we get there, put me in an unfamiliar bed and I’m gobbling painkillers like they’re smarties. Combine that with a lack of routine, longer than usual walks which are usually on the beach on sand, shale or pebbles which are hard to walk on its all a bit ouchy. At home I can plan my week, if I’ve got an active day then I’ll make sure I’ve got a rest day after it. On holiday every day is an active day.

So what do my holidays look like? My holidays look like car parks. I often have to just sit in the car and rest while my painkillers kick in and the boys race off to do their thing. It makes me a bit sad that I can’t fully participate in holiday activities, but then I can’t always participate in normal life activities either. Stop moaning kid, these are the cards you’ve been dealt. Live with it.

Reading this back it makes me wonder why I bother going on a UK holiday at all. But it’s beautiful here and although I’m half cut on prescription painkillers most of the time, it’s nice to spend time with the boys, to get some sunshine and sea air and to take the boys out of their routine for a while. It’s hard enough being me and living with my limitations, it must be equally hard for them, so they deserve a holiday and a chance to relax and be free from my routine for a week or two.

Disabled on holiday

North Devon: so beautiful, but you can only access this beach via a cliff path.

Summer Fun -or- How I won a holiday #Jet2Sunchester

On Saturday I was invited to the Jet2Sunchester blogger event run by Jet2Holidays. It was a showcase of some of their hottest summer destinations including Majorca, Malta and Tenerife and an afternoon of food, cocktails, glitter, sunshine and palm trees and catching up with some friends. Oh and I won a holiday, but more of that later.

We were invited to dress for summer but the Manchester weather hadn’t got the memo so was treating us to a day of wind and rain. However the sun shone inside and the Jet2 team had decked the room out with palm trees, deckchairs and a mini golf course. Around the room four holiday resorts had set up stalls and in one (very popular) corner you could get your nails done and have a massage.

But first, in true tour-guide style, let us take a whirlwind tour of the Mediterranean…

The Sol Katmandu Park & Resort in Majorca. It’s a new 4* family hotel set in an aquatic theme park, this vibrant hotel is a 5-minute walk from the beach. The Sol Katmandu Park & Resort is full of fun family things to do, including 3 pools, water slides, a soft play area, a 4D cinema and access to the theme park. It looks and sounds like the most fun family holiday destination in the world.

Jet2Sunchester

BH Mallorca was launched 2015 and has taken the holiday clubbing world by storm. The hotel guarantees a superstar DJs, stunning accommodation and the world’s first over 18s waterpark full of high adrenaline thrills.  It’s the prefect party hotel.

Hotel Botanico and The Oriental Spa Garden in Tenerife looked and sounded like heaven. This 5 star luxury hotel combines luxurious accommodation, fine dining restaurants and leisure facilities, including the award-winning Oriental Spa Garden. It’s a beautiful looking hotel and I can’t think of a more stunning location for a spa. 

Lastly there was Malta & Gozo – Malta has a rich history and lots to recommend it. It has almost year-round sun, 9 UNESCO sites – ancient temples, Roman ruins and medieval cities as well as beautiful coastlines and lively resorts sporting a mixture of old town charm and modern day attractions with a range of accommodation to suit everyone.

Jet2Sunchester

Tour of the Mediterranean over, I decided it was time to hit the cocktail bar, grab myself a still smoking and bubbling cocktail (it’s alive I tell you!) and go and get my nails done. After that there was no stopping me, I had an amazing massage (seriously Jet2, can I have her number?) and then got my face glittered, because it’s nice to shimmer sometimes.

Jane Arschavir

The afternoon was drawing to a close, I was tired and ready to go home and wistfully flick through some holiday brochures. It was time for the prize draw and everyone gathered round waiting to hear who’d won the holiday. I never win anything so I hung back playing it cool (think Del Boy and Trigger at the bar) when my name was called out and I nearly fell off my deckchair in shock.

I had no words, I couldn’t speak and I was beyond delighted and excited and giddy, and, and, and completely lost for words. I’m so excited about being able to take my son on his first foreign holiday and on his first plane journey, there will be so many firsts for him and I can’t wait to share that all with him. Thank you to Jet2 and to The Sol Kathmandu Park & Resort for our prize, we are so looking forward to our visit to Majorca and I’m looking forward to sharing our experience with you on my blog.

You’ve got to be in it to win it or something like that.

Jet2Sunchester