Category Archives: Travel

Travelzoo urge us to be informed and #FighttheParentTrap

Got children in State schools? Well, you’ll be familiar with the injustice of what TravelZoo are calling ‘The Parent Trap’ then – namely the fact that you have to pay a fine for taking your child out of school before the end of term means that holiday companies and airlines have a license to print money as far as holiday and flight costs go.

But the logic of the fine still seems a bit woolly to most parents. Sure, education is important and (as teachers will be quick to say) ‘rules are rules’ but the benefits of traveling abroad, learning to ask for an ice cream in a foreign language or playing ‘tag’ in a faraway playground, seeing a waterfall close up, learning about customs (and how to be patient going through Customs!) – not to mention the extra contact time spent with a slightly less frazzled Mummy and Daddy (maybe even somewhere so remote that they don’t have the internet to check emails) are not to be denied either. Or how about Great Uncle Albert’s 80th birthday? He can hardly change the date it falls on…

So, do you tell a little fib to get your child out of the classroom and only the plane? And do you justify it by telling yourself you’ll teach them more on vacation than their teacher would be doing anyhow?

TravelZoo recently conducted a survey and the results are eye-opening:

  • One in five parents have already lied to their children’s school in order to avoid fines for taking them out of school for a cheaper holiday.
  • Over half of UK parents said they were prepared to lie in the coming months.
  • Two thirds of parents are also willing to ask their children to continue the deceit and pretend to their teacher that the reason for absence was not a family holiday.
  • Over 60 per cent of teachers admitted pupils will mostly be playing games and 50 per cent said they will be watching films and cartoons on the last few days of summer term in both primary and secondary state schools.

So what’s the answer? Not to sit quietly and accept the situation, we think! One solution would be for Headteachers in different counties to slide terms by a few weeks (maybe Devon takes their holidays a fortnight before Yorkshire) and this would make the season longer for tour operators, thus hopefully pushing the price of holidays down.

Taking action to petition for Headteachers to once more have the power to grant discretionary days-off would also make a difference.

Holidays are a luxury, but the rewards and benefits they can bring to a family are un-quantifiable. For lots more information courtesy of TravelZoo go here.

Get informed. Let’s fight the parent trap.

Parent-Trap-Infographic (3)

How to… Do festivals with kids

If you’re thinking three days in a muddy field looks like something that might appeal to your little rascals, here are our quick tips:

Get ConTENTED: don’t make a festival situation the first time the children have been away in a tent. Start with the garden, pop one up to play in a park, take an overnight break at a nearby campsite. Some festivals have child-friendly camping fields; even if they don’t, think about the fact that you might need to leave in a hurry rather than having a pitch closest to the stage! A good tent is a must, we love the colourful range of bell tents from Boutique Camping.

Pack safe and savvy: think about camping kit you’ll need and how child friendly it is. Ensure items such as camping knives, stoves, sterilising tablets etc can be locked away. Try and pack for the whole family in something large and squashable like a Northface Kitbag, rather than letting children bring their own luggage and Trunkis – you’ll be thankful for the simplicity and it will double up as something to sit on.

Think about the loos: and the showers for that matter. And the lack of changing facilities. We’ve raved about BEABA’s folding camping bath before – and worth grabbing some of the Becky Mantin disposable Nappy Grab Bags for easy changing alfresco. Hairwashing won’t be an option but stock up on L’Oreal Kids detangling spray and lots of hair bands (like Rock and Rose’s jewelled bobby pins)  if you have a little Rapunzel, or a visor hat if you have a curly mop to content with.

Get some ear protectors: there are plenty of these around these days and well worth having, not only to defend from harmful noise if your child isn’t a little monster of rawk, but also great to block out noise on planes. We love these Baby Banz ones from Precious Little One.

Stock up on snacks: festival food is often really expensive, might be something outside of the kids’ comfort zone and (sadly) might also lead to an attack of the runs. Pop some non-perishable snacks in your bag – like Natur Boutique’s freeze dried Papaya which comes in space age packaging – and throw in a tube of O.R.S Hydration tablets just in case! (And if your child accidentally finds something at a festival that they shouldn’t swallow, make sure you read the NHS guide to poisoning, but stay calm, it’s rarer than you’d think!)

And finally, go cutesy with some fun festival fashion!

We adore Hunter’s contrast sole wellies for kids and this floral waterproof jacket from JoJoMamanBebe

Holiday Hotlist… Pure Potions Rescue Salve Kit

Pure Potions have created the Rescue Salve Kit. Four little itty bitty tins that tuck so teeny tiny into your changing bag that you might forget you packed them.

Our SM tester says: cue the moment your eldest takes the airport trolley for a joyride, realises too late it has no brakes and skins his knee before the holiday has even begun – and look, you have a dinky pot of calendula and comfrey balm to rub on the graze right there in your hand luggage.

Insect bite? Just whip out the pot of tea tree balm and apply a blob to the boo boo.

We use arnica all the time as the boys play fight and the toddler is a bit wobbly still so does often fall over – it’s a godsend – but the tube of it we bought last year at a French hypermarche has a bit of a yellowy hue and has stained many a shirt. So we’re loving this little salve pot as it’s clear, non sticky and the tin doesn’t leak.

Finally, the lavender one is meant for burns and I thought it would never get used, but sure enough on our first night away I scalded my hand on a hotel kettle! This one does need to be applied regularly if you don’t want a blister but by the following morning there was barely anything to see…

Holiday Hotlist…The folding baby bath from Beaba

We were blown away by the cleverness of this one. It’s a decent sized baby bath which simply folds flat and is easy to carry or pack in a suitcase.

Our Dad tester gave the BEABA folding baby bath a go on a recent French camping weekend:

Dad tester says: I’ve loved camping all my life and I’m keen to get my boys into it from a young age. Aged three and 11 months we do need to think about a few ‘home comforts’ – we can’t just rough it in the wild. This baby bath is really practical (very often on campsites the only choice is a communal shower – which is a bit full on for the kids – or bathing them in the sink where people wash up – not ideal either!). We spend a lot of time on those French Air sites where there might only be a tap, this is definitely a lifesaver! The bath itself is safe enough not to tip when full of water, sturdy enough for quite a chunky baby and a toddler to use and it doubles up as an impromptu paddling pool as well. What’s more (if you like flat packing, like I do) it folds right down and you can tuck it anywhere (behind the driver’s seat, for example). Obviously, my wife unfolded it and then used it as a box to put the shopping in as the hypermarche only had brown bags and my eldest used it as a bed for his teddy, but heck – it’s versatile!

Kid Friendly holidays at Legoland Windsor and Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa

If the thought of a LEGO holiday makes you think of plastic rooms (possibly with bobbly floors) then think again. LEGOLAND Windsor have teamed up with Macdonald Berystede Hotel & Spa to create a plush family break to keep everyone happy.

The package LEGOLAND package costs from £279 per night based on a family of four B&B. It includes entry to the theme park (2 day family pass) and by way of downtime Mum and Dad can relax in the hotel’s spa or the newly refurbished bar.

Find out more here.

Editor’s Tip: if you like your LEGO for Grown Ups, check out Andy Morris’ Little Big Art Commission too – it’s Pop Art made from those little bricks…

Kid Friendly holidays at Gladwins Farm

We can’t help thinking that if there was a marketing agency brainstorm run by kids to design a perfect holiday it might well include the following items on the blue sky wish list: blue skies, cute little houses, a swimming pool, somewhere to ride one’s bike, pigs, a climbing frame… and maybe Mummy, Daddy and the dogs can come too…

Well bundle that all up and give it to the fairy who grants wishes and what you get is Gladwins Farm. An award winning holiday retreat in gorgeous Suffolk countryside which consists of nine delightful self catering cottages to rent (which come with hot tubs, Egyptian cotton linens and some with four poster beds – big tick on the Mum and Dad list!), are dog friendly, eco-concious and cost on average £30 pppn off peak season.  Walk in the woods, get a facial at the spa, feed the farm animals and swim in the heated pool, it’s all created with little ones in mind (if not by the little creatures themselves…)

Editor’s tip: pre-order one of Gladwins Farm’s hampers stocked with cheese, pate and fizz…

 

 

Retreat to France with your newborn? Oui, bien sur!

You’ve spent 36 hours in labour, lost all your feminine mystique as your lady parts are manhandled by an army of midwives and the bits of you that aren’t swaddled in some sort of bodily-fluid-soaking padding are covered in dribble. Possibly yours.

Frankly, at this point swanning around in an 18th century French manor house for ten days sounds pretty damn good – and that’s what the Post Natal Retreat at La Jugie in Limousin offers – with meals prepared, baby paraphernalia provided, a luxe pool, massages and twice daily fitness classes designed to restore a bit of tone to your wobbly bits. And ooh-la-la, the best bit, you can bring your husband (whom, let’s face it, you’d probably completely forgotten existed by now!) and he can bond with the bubba whilst you get your butt blasted at the hands of Caroline Bragg – personal trainer and pilates expert from Frame, Shoreditch.

Find out more at http://www.lajugie.co.uk/

Cosy up for Xmas in a house that’s not your own

Turned on by the thought of spending Xmas in an English country hall? Or a picture-book-cute little cottage?

Check out Sally’s Lake District Cottages for the right mix of olde wolde charm and modern luxury.

We’re loving:

Wood Hall: an ivy clad turn of the century manor with six acres of ornate grounds, this properly sleeps eighteen and offers a range of local cooks to chop, bake and roast for you. Bring your red setter to sprawl in front of the open fire, or pick produce from the herb garden and orchard.

The Old Homestead: make like a banquetting hall and feed twenty five in style in this country pile. With four poster beds, log fires and lots of squashy leather sofas, this one is also a great venue for an intimate Winter wedding…

Cruck Barn: go for a ski chalet vibe in this luxe barn conversion and snuggle up in the double bed, or get the fondue out. There’s no TV at this one, so you’ll need to make your own fun!

 

 

Sports Cars you can fit a stroller into…

If you’ve got the looks and the lifestyle, but still need space for the little ones, try our selection of ‘roomy but speedy’ sportscars for size:

  • Jaguar XK, from 59,900 – quintessentially British, this car is like sailing a yacht up the motorway. Plenty of space in the boot, you could even get a week’s grocery shopping in this one…     
  • Honda S2000, from £28,546 – sportier and sleeker than the brand implies, plenty of space behind the seats and by all accounts quite reliable too…
  • BMW116 Sport – a bit clunky looking but the boy racer interior makes up for this. Massive boot and five doors…
  • Audi TT Coupe – four cylinders of power and a decent boot but the back seats are a little cramped to manoeuvre small ones in and out of car seats…                    

 

Lose Baby Weight the 5* Way at a Matt Roberts Retreat

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Celebrity trainer and gym empire owner Matt Roberts told us about his luxe retreats – and some of them are family friendly!

Slick Mummy: At first glance your Retreats look like the chance to top up my tan or snoop on a celeb wedding… Will I actually get fit?

Matt Roberts: There are between 4 and 5 hours of structured training every day, so getting fitter is a guarantee. In fact, for some this might sound like a lot of exercise to get through each day, however the way each day is planned and orchestrated means that your body is being tested in different ways and different intensities throughout, making sure that you are stretching your ability but staying within the realms of possibility!

Slick Mummy: What made you decide to include the Retreats as part of your brand?

Matt Roberts: The demand and trend for fitness and activity based holidays is one that is growing rapidly. Clients have asked me to do these for years but I only wanted to do them when the time was right and I had the best venues available for the Retreats programme. This isn’t slumming it and eating basic food, this is being pushed physically, staying in a luxury surrounding, having first class service throughout and some incredible food. Only when it was a perfect offering was I keen to get the service out there, and now it is ready so we are pushing ahead at full speed.

Slick Mummy: How did you choose the locations?

Matt Roberts: They are places that I personally like to go to and that I have tried out many times. Whenever I travel I exercise hard, and wherever I am I am always thinking how great the venue might work for a group. So I have picked the places that I know work well, and there are more to come too!

Slick Mummy: Are the fitness programmes tailored to the venues…? How does working out on a Retreat differ to in one of your clubs?

Matt Roberts: The programmes vary venue to venue based upon the setting, facility, environment and climate, however the basic structure of each day remains similar in format, with the same approach to the overall timing and scheduling of the day. The Training itself is comprised of many of the approaches that you would get in my clubs, it simply provides us with an extended time each day with each client in which to get even more work done. This concentration allows us to get some great results in the Retreat and gives the client a massive boost in their programme once they are back home again. Clients all say that the effect on their body when they had returned home was amazing and that the results just keep on coming!

Slick Mummy: You’ve been quite vocal about parents setting a fitness example to reduce child obesity. Are your Retreats family friendly?

Matt Roberts: Our retreat at Forte Village is certainly family friendly, there is a great kids programme of sports and exercise at the resort and the service is set up to allow parents to do the Training programmes and kids to do the sports and then meet up during the day at various points along the way.

Slick Mummy: You’ve trained the likes of Tom Ford and John Galliano, did they teach you anything about fashion in return..?

Matt Roberts: I’m sure some of what they said rubbed off!

Slick Mummy:  We hear you’re a fan of photography/arts. Has anything caught your eye recently?

Matt Roberts: Yes, but unfortunately they weren’t for sale and even if they were I’m afraid the price might be prohibitive. The Picasso Museum in Barcelona has some amazing pieces and I’m particularly keen on the Blue period. Most people describe it as melancholic but I personally just saw a great deal of calm in them (probably something Freudian!)

Slick Mummy: And finally, do you have any vices..?

Matt Roberts: I always get asked this! I guess people would love to hear that I’m a secret choco/alcoholic!

No, sorry, I don’t! my answer used to be that I love a really great glass of Bordeaux or Barolo, however I stopped drinking completely a year ago, so even that’s gone! sorry to disappoint!

Visit www.mattroberts.co.uk/retreats for more information.