Sunday, 31 August 2014

A Trunki PaddlePak Picnic

A little while ago we were approached by Trunki and asked whether we'd be interested in working with them in the lead up to Christmas. Of course we were thrilled with the prospect of working with a brand that we know so well and love so much, and Daisy and Evie were super excited when they were told they could choose a PaddlePak each to take on a PaddlePak Picnic!

We were sent Chuckles the Clown Fish (for Daisy), Ribbit the Frog (for Evie) and a selection of goodies from Ella's Kitchen (they're bringing out a new range of snacks for older kids, you know!) and told to go out and have some fun! We're already fans of Ella's Kitchen - they were my ready made baby food brand of choice with both girls - and they still enjoy their fruit pouches now! 

PaddlePaks are water resistant backpacks, ideal for little ones to carry their bits and pieces in whilst out and about on fun filled day trips! The fact that they're water resistant makes them perfect for swimming classes, or trips to the beach and they are deceptively spacious too, easily holding picnic lunches, drinks and a toy or three.

The roll top closure is brilliant - you fold it over three times then clip the sides together with a breakaway safety buckle - and then the loop can also be used to hang the bag up. There is also a 'Trunki grip' on one of the adjustable shoulder straps which you can hang your sunglasses from to keep them safe!

We've used our PaddlePaks as overnight bags as well as day bags, and they were perfect when we spent time on the beach (and in the rain!) in Wales last week.

They retail at £19.99 each and are available from the Trunki website here, as well as major retailers such as Amazon, Argos and Halfords - and I'm also very excited to have one PaddlePak up for grabs for one of you lovely lot.

As per my usual giveaway terms and conditions, I'm using the Rafflecopter widget below and everyone is entitled to three entries each, with a bonus five entries for following me on Bloglovin. The competition closes at midnight on 7th September 2014 and the winner will be contacted shortly after. The prize will come direct from Trunki and this competition is open to UK residents only.

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More than the Mouse: Things to do with the kids in Orlando

Year round sunshine, easy access to some stunning beaches and, yes, of course, this is the world’s theme park capital. If you’re considering Orlando as a vacation option but don’t want to spend all of your time upside down on a rollercoaster there are plenty of attractions in and around this major American city.

It’s not hard to see why Orlando was the first US city to hit the 50 million visitors per year level - even New York City could only manage to reach 48.7 million. Orlando’s popularity is undisputed, as is the fact that many visitors arrive with their families primarily to indulge in the ubiquitous theme parks. But once you’ve spent two or three days enjoying the jaw-dropping rides it should be time to explore a little further to ensure you get the most out of your Orlando vacation.

Orlando’s city attractions

If you’re one of the millions of people taking flights to Orlando this year you’ll find that this is an extremely family-friendly vacation city. Orlando offers a wealth of modern restaurants, shopping malls, cinemas, museums and parks to explore. The city offers activities such as swan boat rides on picturesque Lake Eola, the chance to swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove and the opportunity to go ice skating or play basketball at the huge RDV Athletic Club. Visit deep into outer space and view the planets at the Orlando Science Center Planetarium or spend a day viewing over 500 animals at the immense Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens.

Beaches on both sides

Travel to either the East or West coast from the city and you will find some astonishingly beautiful beaches. You’re never more than a 90 minute drive from famous East Coast Florida beaches such as Daytona and Cocoa Beach as well as the three kilometre family friendly Melbourne Beach. However, the West Coast beaches are truly stunning, especially the white sand islands at Fort de Soto Park. These five interconnected islands offer unspoilt beaches, an abundance of wildlife and crystal-clear warm waters; Fort de Soto has been named America’s top beach.

The great outdoors lifestyle

Kids love getting back to nature and there are many excellent parks to explore around Orlando. For some great outdoors activity visit the Blue Spring State Park to spot the famous manatees on a river boat cruise. Shingle Creek is an amazing expanse of Everglades’ with headwater and airboat trips which will allow you to spot alligators and bald-eagles on a guided eco-tour. The beautiful Wekiwa Springs State Park is a 20 minute drive north from Orlando and this is another great spot for kayaking and canoeing along the Wekiva River.

Day cruises from Orlando

A boat ride makes for an exciting day out and kids will love themed cruises such as the day trip to Clearwater Beach with a Pirate Cruise included. This is an excellent way for parents to relax on board with lunch while the children take part in face painting, treasure hunts and water games. Families who enjoy fishing can indulge in an intrepid four hour deep sea fishing tour, which includes lunch at a riverside restaurant before the fishing expedition on the Gulf Coast. Cruises will depart from Clearwater Beach but the 90 minute trip from Orlando will be included and you can also explore Clearwater’s amazing white sand beaches.

Orlando can provide many memorable vacation experiences if you take the time to fully explore what’s on offer. Families who love the outdoors lifestyle will find something new to enjoy every day in America’s most popular city.

Author bio: Susan Laing is a busy mom of two, flower arranging business owner and holiday enthusiast. She also likes to shop for shoes and handbags, a lot!

Images by josue armando serrano, Chris Foster and Robert Neff used under creative commons license.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

A few days in Wales: A Photo Post

You might have noticed my radio silence last week; the girls and I were in deepest darkest Wales, without wifi and with very limited 3G coverage!

For someone so addicted to social media I did worry how I'd cope, but I really, genuinely, enjoyed spending time in the real world with my lovely family. They're a crazy bunch but I do love them so! ;)

We had wind and torrential rain, then amazing, scorchio sunshine; we went on long walks through Porthkerry Country Park, played on the arcades on Barry Island, learnt all about Welsh life through the ages at St Fagans and just spent proper quality time with the Welshies in our family, just being together

Here are a few photos from our trip:

Going over the Severn Bridge. For the first time ever it was raining in England and the sun came out the moment we drove on Welsh soil!

Nessa's Slots, Barry Island. Well you've got to, right?

I love this mirror SO MUCH! It was in the entrance hall to the little school at the Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans. Would love to buy a replica!

This little robin followed us around all day!

At St Fagans, there is a row of six terraced houses (built in 1795) that have each been decorated in the style of a different era. This was the front room of the 1925 terrace and I loved everything about it!

Nant Wallter Cottage - possibly the prettiest cottage ever? It also had the most amazing inglenook fireplace.

The view from The Captain's Wife pub in Penarth. Rugged, blustery beaches are my absolute fave.

An inscribed stone at The Captain's Wife, Penarth. Can anyone read the third and second to last words? I think it says "About thirty paces to the westward from this stone stood .... ......... house".

On the beach at Barry Island

Splashing in the waves on Barry Island

The viaduct at Porthkerry Country Park

Splashing in the stream at Porthkerry

Being a daredevil on the climbing frame!

I have to say, aside from seeing my family, visiting the Museum of Welsh Life was absolutely  my favourite part. I'm a total history geek (not sure I've ever mentioned my Masters in Archaeology on here?!!) and this little village is made up of about forty different buildings of historical interest that have come from all around Wales, having been dismantled and rebuilt. If you're ever in South Wales and this is your bag, you really must visit. Best of all it is entirely free! I wish there was something similar in England! xoxo
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