Worldwide Trips

The world's 50 greatest travel experiences

A Thomas Cook long haul flight review

Virgin Atlantic - long haul flight review with kids

5 luxury holiday experiences for families with older kids 

5 activity holidays to try with inquisitive kids 

The best Eurocamp holidays for May Half Term


Les Ecureuils Campsite, Vendee (our first Eurocamp experience)

Visiting Puy du Fou Theme Park with Kids (France)

A guide to Villages Nature Paris (Center Parcs near Disneyland Paris)

The Netherlands
Spending May Half Term in Holland on a Budget

Driving Our Car in The Netherlands

DFDS Seaways Mini Cruise to Amsterdam 

Amsterdam Zoo


The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Spain with Kids

Pirates Village Santa Ponsa Review

Palma Aquarium

The Best Child-Friendly Restaurants in Santa Ponsa

Majorca - A Perfect Holiday Destination for Families

The Coastal Walk from Calella to Llafranc

Camping La Siesta, Costa Brava - A Review

Calella de Palafrugell, Costa Brava

Travelling to Spain by coach with Siesta Holidays

Dining in Catalonia

Tenerife - what to do with older children

What to do in Northern Spain - a guide for active families

Where to stay in Spain if you're looking for an authentic Spanish holiday
5 Places that will make you want to visit Tenerife with kids

Al Fresco holidays - Sanguli, Spain


How to spend a week in Genoa with kids

Hotel Las Vegas, Bibione | Italy

Camping near Venice

The Americas and Caribbean

Top Insider Tips for Visiting Orlando with Kids

How to plan the ultimate family holiday to Florida

How to relax in Florida

Discovery Cove, Orlando

Top family highlights from out trip to Florida

A private tour of Havana

A child-free holiday in Cuba

Our second honeymoon in Mexico

A guide to Cancun, Mexico


A weekend in Marrakech

Places to visit in Mauritius for Kids & Families


UK Holidays and Day Trips


20 Places to Stay near Flamingoland 

Dalby Forest and a weekend in Burnsiton 

Camping at Deershed Festival in Thirsk

Meadowside Cottage : A weekend in Burniston and Scarborough with friends

Haven Holiday Parks near Scarborough - which one is best for your family? 

A 3 hour lunch stop and walk at Fountains Abbey, Ripon

10 Reasons to visit York in December

Stephenson House Cottage Review, Hebden Bridge (sleeps 12) 

Eureka Museum

How to spend a weekend in Calderdale 

A canal cruise along the Calder valley

Angry Bird Land, North Yorkshire

Valley Gardens & Play Ares, Harrogate

Harrogate Serviced Apartments Review

One Frenchgate House, Richmond

Acorn Glade - glamping in York

A £250 holiday at Dacre Lakeside Park

York Railway Museum

Scarborough North Bay Attractions

Ready Camp Glamping in Scarborough

A day trip to Whitby


5 of the Best Family Activity Holidays in Scotland 

Top Tips for Driving to Edinburgh Christmas Markets 

Dundas Castle Glamping, Edinburgh

Dynamic Earth Museum, Edinburgh

Robert Burns Cottage, Ayr

10 Reasons to Visit Edinburgh in December

A Postcard from Fort Augustus, Loch Ness

Paddling in Loch Ness

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

Loch Ness Shores Campsite Review

Edinburgh Zoo

Hilly Cow Wigwams, Edinburgh

A half term holiday at Parkdean Sundrum Castle, Ayr

Halloween at Heads of Ayr Farm Park

Attractions for children to enjoy in Glasgow

Hostel Suites by Eurohostel in Glasgow

North West

Coral Island - A Child-Friendly Night Out in Blackpool

How to Spend 48 Hours in Blackpool with a Merlin Annual Pass or Big Ticket

How to Spend 24 Hours in Liverpool with Tweens

Top Tips for Visiting Chester Zoo 

The Big Blue Hotel & Pleasure Beach Package, Blackpool 

The Principal Hotel Manchester (with kids)

Legoland Discovery Manchester

Tim Peake's Capsule at Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester

A Day Trip to Carlisle with Northern Trains

33 Reasons we loved the Just So Festival

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest on a budget

New Style Woodland Lodges at Center Parcs

Blackpool Zoo

Blackpool Tower and Circus

Madame Tussauds Blackpool

Lake District Photo Diary

The Lakes Distillery Tour



Everywhere else

Darwin Forest and the Peak District with Tweens 

Stratford Upon Avon in Half a Day

National Science and Media Museum, Bradford Review 

10 Family Festivals To Try 

How to Spend 5 hours at West Midland Safari Park with Older Kids

A disappointing trip to Cadbury World

What to do in bad weather at Darwin Forest, Peak District 

Top tips for planning a summer holiday to Padstow

10 family-friendly short breaks to try in February Half Term 

Stay, Play, Explore Break (Leicestershire)

A Traditional Family Holiday on the Gower Penninsula 

Newcastle Upon Tyne to South Wales - a seven day itinerary 

Wallaton Hall, Nottingham

Tattershall Lakes, Lincolnshire 

Butlins Skegness Gold Apartments and Premium Dining

YHA Sherwood Forest

YHA Cholderton (near Stonehenge)

Bolsover Castle (English Heritage)

Visiting Stonehenge with children

Foodie heaven at Gidleigh Park

A family break in Henley on Thames

Paultons Park and Peppa Pig World

Thomas Land in Summer


Is a holiday with kids ever truly a holiday?

As I hit publish on this post I am about to leave Butlins after a non-stop fun filled weekend. I've had a lovely time with my mam and the kids and it has certainly beat sitting at home. I have been thinking about this for some time though - is a holiday with kids ever a true holiday?

I don't know about you but sometimes I leave a holiday more exhausted than when I left! That old saying of "I need a holiday to recover from that holiday" definitely rings true after a trip away with three fiesty children.

So I thought I would look up the definition of a holiday in the dictionary:-

Holiday: an extended period of leisure and recreation, especially one spent away from home

Was our weekend at Butlins an extended period of leisure? Well from my perspective going to the beach, drinking wine, spending time having fun with my mam and children, having my meals cooked for me and a house keeper for the weekend certainly ticks that box! 

I guess what I am trying to say is that although holidays as a parent sometimes don't seem that way (sitting watching the skyline gang or exercising with Pingu certainly aren't ways I would usually choose to spend my free time) they still are a break away, a change of scenery, a chance to try something new, time to spend together instead of working and there are little moments in any short break I take where feel incredibly lucky and I do think - yes I'm on holiday!



Butlins Skegness - 6 years later!

This weekend we are having lots of fun at Butlins in Skegness. We have enjoyed two holidays here in the past in 2008 and 2009. I thought I would share a few thoughts and photographs from our last visit in 2009. We just had Harry and Heidi then who were aged 3 years and 5 months. We stayed in a Silver apartment with premium dining and I think a weekend break cost us around £300. There will be a few Butlins posts in the next few weeks about our break 6 years later in 2015 and it will be interesting to compare the two.

Harry enjoying an all-you-can eat breakfast

Daddy and Harry at the fairground

How cute are Harry and Heidi here!

Barney the dinosaur 

Inside our Silver Apartment

Harry getting his face painted for the first time

Waiting for coffee!

A 3yo Harry meeting his then-idol Fireman Sam

The popular puppet castle show

With Heidi in the tots fairground.

Ah I just love re-visiting places I've loved and looking at the photographs from past visits. Lots of happy memories! Why not follow us on instagram to where I'll be posting up-to-date photographs of our trip to Butlins Skegness this weekend.


Crowne Plaza Hotel Newcastle - Opening Late Summer 2015

This week we were invited to a 'Builder's Lunch' and hard hat tour around The Crowne Plaza in Newcastle before it opens later this year. It is nowhere near finished but I was absolutely blown away with what we were able to see. Expect state of the art conference facilities, free wifi as standard and comfortable executive style bedrooms with a personal touch.

Crowne Plaza Newcastle builders lunch

Dining in Hawthorns

I was very impressed to hear how keen the management team were to keep things local. Hawthorns will open from 10am and serve high-end, locally sourced food (my favourites Turnbulls of Alnwick were mentioned). The Crowne Plaza will break down traditional barriers to hotel dining with clean, clutter free tables (yeah) that are designed to give you space and allow the staff to engage and design your dining experience around you. Whether you want a sandwich and an (ouseburn) coffee for one whilst you catch up with emails or a table for six where you can debrief your team after a day of meetings, Hawthorns has been cleverly designed to be able to adapt around your needs.

Atrium view at Crowne Plaza Newcastle near Central train Stration
This stunning atrium is the centre piece of the hotel

The Gin Bar

With a design-your-own martini menu with over 3000 combinations, local ales and spirits and plans for live music over the weekend, The Gin Bar hopes to serve premium drinks with personal service. We were told that cocktails will be priced around £6.50-£7 which is not at all expensive for a city centre hotel bar.

The Gin Bar, Crowne Plaza Hotel Newcastle

The Gin Bar, Crowne Plaza Hotel Newcastle

Mineral House Spa, Pool and Gymnasium

The spa and pool at Crowne Plaza will really set a benchmark in Newcastle. Located in the basement of the hotel, the pool area is dark and cozy and I think it will be a gorgeous place to relax and unwind in the heart of the city. Facilities include a 10 metre pool, steam room, luxury spa pool, three treatment rooms, a state of the art gym and personal training. 

Mineral House Spa and Pool at Crowne Plaza Newcastle city centre

Mineral House Spa and Pool at Crowne Plaza Newcastle city centre

Crowne Plaza Video

Today was a first for me - I don't think I've ever made a video whilst walking around a building site and half-finished hotel (and I'm not sure I will get the chance to ever do this again). I do think this video gives you a real flavour for the hotel and what to expect - look out for the stunning atrium.

Thanks to Crowne Plaza for our behind the scenes tour. It was a lovely taste of exciting things to come and I can't wait to return soon and see your progress. If you'd like to know more or follow the hotel's progress, you can like Crowne Plaza Newcastle on facebook.


Can you visit Glastonbury when pregnant?

A trip to Glastonbury has always been on my bucket list and in 2010 we were lucky enough to secure tickets to the festival (pressing refresh, refresh, refresh with 3 x computers as we tried to book was horrendously stressful!). When the date of the festival at the end of June arrived, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant. I was about 18 weeks so not huge but as this was baby no3 I had a definite bump. I was a little nervous about attending my first music festival in a pregnant state but I didn't need to worry at all. Glastonbury was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I can't wait to return in a few years when Jack is old enough to appreciate it properly (I'm thinking 7+).


There is quite a trek from the car park to the camping fields and you will need to carry all of your luggage and tent - be prepared! A few people use metal trailers which are probably a good idea. Suitcases are quite difficult to pull as you are walking on farm fields! Pack as light as you can. We chose to take two pop up tents as these were the lightest option and we bought and airbed and a few other bits and bobs from one of the stalls at the festival. Depending what time you arrive you may struggle to find a space to set up your tent as we did. Luckily as we only had two tiny pop up tents we managed to wedge them into a fairly good spot overlooking the pyramid stage and fairly close to the only flushable loo's on site! Be prepared though, the tents are VERY close together and there is no such thing as personal space.


Ah the toilets! This is one of the least pleasant part of Glastonbury. I swear I used to wretch with the smell as I walked past some of the infamous 'long drops'. They certainly ARE NOT a pleasant experience. I suppose the good thing about being pregnant was that I wasn't drinking alcohol so didn't need to go every 3 seconds! Most of the time I dragged poor Steve up to the flushable loo's near the hospital at Big Close Ground. DO NOT be tempted to urinate on the farmland - not only is it harmful but if the 'green police' catch you you'll be publicly shamed. 

Health and Wellbeing

As I've just mentioned, there is a temporary hospital on site which even has x-ray facilities and an emergency dentist. If you are pregnant it might be worth popping up on arrival so you know where to go if needed. In an emergency it is recommended you make your way to a first aid site or ask a steward for help (who can then call the site rapid response) rather than calling 999. If you are in the late stages of pregnancy and do go into labour, you will be transported off site to the nearest hospital.

There are also three welfare centres on site which I have to say were a god-send to us. They provided us with sunscreen when we'd ran out and provided shelter from the Sun and crowds when needed. They were also giving away free earplugs as it was very noisy at night from Shangri-La until the early hours of the morning. 

It is important to stay hydrated at festivals and Glastonbury provides over 400 drinking water taps so make sure you pack your own re-fillable bottle.


Of course being first timers we wanted to catch the headliners on the main and other stage (Kylie, Muse, Florence and the Machine and Faithless were all huge highlights). These stages get VERY crowded however if you stick to the outskirts you won't get crushed but can still enjoy the atmosphere. It is perfectly safe for kids (and pregnant people) at the side or back and there is a lovely chilled atmosphere especially at night. Some older folk even bring their own camping chairs, blankets and flasks of hot drinks.

Sometimes the tents did get a little bit crowded. I really wanted to see Two Door Cinema Club but I got a little scared being amongst the crowds inside. 

There are lots of places to chill out when you need to get away from it all though. Surprisingly there was lots of space to chill in the dance fields and there was lots of room to dance around to example here. Also areas like The Park provide lots of smaller open air stages where you can kick back and relax.

Sunset over the tee-pee fields

The ultimate place to get away from it all though has to be the Green fields. Here you will find a more laid back way of life, intimate performances, organic foods and peace. Even if you think this all sounds a bit too 'hippyish' I urge you to walk around and see what they have to offer.

There is honestly so much to explore at Glastonbury you would be a fool to think you could see it all. I do highly recommend a visit though - it can even be life changing! I forgot to mention that there is also lots of yummy food to try and it isn't too expensive either.

So, can you visit Glastonbury when pregnant? Well I survived to tell the tale and I'm desperate to go back for more. Whilst we were there a lady actually left to give birth on the Saturday evening and returned with her baby on Sunday! Amazing! (but probably not recommended).


Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training

During our recent visit to Alnwick Gardens we noticed that Alnwick Castle (which sits next door to the Gardens) was holding a Harry Potter Day. We scoured the internet to find a 20% off discount code from Primary times (sorry, it's expired now) and decided that although we would only spend a few hours at the Castle the £30ish cost for family entry would be worth it as we could validate our ticket for a year and visit as often as we would like for free in the next 12 months (make sure you validate your ticket at the ticket office - they need to take your photograph and give you a separate pass).

Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training | Castle Exterior

We only spent around 90 minutes at the Castle but tried to pack a lot in, we will be following up with a more in depth review this Summer.

Broomstick Training

Broomstick training takes place daily at Alnwick Castle and is included in your admission. You just need to pop along to Knight's Quest and sign up to a slot (more info here). We joined in with a lunch time session which lasted around 20 minutes. Your 'teachers' are in character the whole time and really get into the spirit of the session. Adults are encouraged to take part too! Everyone is given their own broomstick and you will learn how to fly and levitate your broom from the ground. Magical!

Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training

Harry Potter Broomstick training at Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training | Flying a broomstick
WOW! Harry is flying!!

Flying a broomstick at Alnwick Castle
Preparing for a crash landing

Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training | magic
Looking super cool as I levitate my broom!

Harry Potter Inspired Characters

In case you weren't aware, Alnwick Castle was one of the filming locations for the Harry Potter movies and on certain dates  Potter inspired characters from the movie will be on site walking around and presenting magic shows. Obviously they aren't the real Harry Potter stars but I did have to look twice for a second as they were very realistic! Harry Potter gathered the troops after broomstick training and we settled down to watch some Potter magic with Harry and Professor Dumbledore.

Alnwick Castle | Harry Potter Broomstick Training | Dumbledore and Harry Potter Characters

Of course we got roped in to help - we are cousins of the Weasley's after all!

Harry Potter and Dumbledore at Alnwick Castle

Harry Potter and Dumbledore magic show at Alnwick Castle

The show lasted 20-30 minutes and had everyone laughing plus there was some actual real magic involved too! The audience was certainly captivated.

Knight's Quest

Knight's Quest is a a fantastic area located in the medieval courtyard of Alnwick Castle. There are free medieval crafts, some fantastic chances to dress up, play traditional games and even train as a Knight as Jack enthusiastically demonstrates in this video:-

Photographs speak louder than words I think, take a look at the Knight's Quest area below, it really is fantastic for families.

Knight's Quest - the stocks at Alnwick Castle

Dragon at Alnwick Castle

Knight training and dress up at Alnwick Castle

Medival Dressing up at Alnwick Castle

Dragon Quest

Dragon Quest is a permanent part of Knight's Quest. It is only for the very courageous though as is dark and scary in places - especially as you reach Northumberland's most feared dragon at the end! For those who are brave enough (like our 6 and 8 year old) it is a really fun challenge and exciting too. 

Dragon's Quest at Alnwick Castle

That concludes our whistle stop tour of Alnwick Castle - there was so much we didn't explore (we didn't even venture inside to see the beautiful State rooms) and we can't wait to return in the Summer with our validated ticket for free. We'll definitely take a picnic and make a day of it then.

Check out Alnwick Castle's Website for opening times, admission prices and special events.


Our guide to Cancun, Mexico

One of our favourite holidays of all time is probably the time we spent two weeks in Cancun, Mexico during Spring break. Mexico is a gorgeous holiday destination with something for everyone and I dream of the day I can return! I am re-living our trip today and severely wishing I could jump on the next plane.

Cancun Hotels

The Cancun 'hotel zone' is where most tourists tend to stay. The hotel zone is one long strip lined with luxurious hotels with idyllic sandy beaches on one side and a lagoon on the other (watch out for crocodiles). The easiest way to get around is via bus - they are inexpensive, frequent and travel up and down the hotel zone to downtown Cancun. You can pick up a map from your hotel foyer and use the bus to easily travel to markets, shopping malls, beaches, bars, restaurants and more.

Most of the hotels in Mexico will have a fabulous pool and/or beach access and can be enjoyed year-round with hot and humid weather and warm sea temperatures. However the optimum time to visit Cancun is probably between November and April when there is less rainfall and more hours of sunshine. Websites such Holiday Gems can provide more advice on when is best to visit, where to stay and what to do.

Restaurants and Nightlife

Although All Inclusive hotels in the Hotel Zone usually offer a very high standard of food in Cancun, you would be mad not to venture out into the commercial centre and sample some of the culinary delights on offer. A top restaurant recommendation from us would be La Dolce Vita in down town Cancun. Serving the most delicious home cooked Italian food (try the Salmon tartar) with friendly and attentive service, you will leave feeling like you've made new friends.

Every cuisine imaginable is catered for in Cancun and Steakhouses seem to be particularly popular. You really are spoilt for choice but we have a soft spot for Harry's Prime Steakhouse which serves fabulous Kobe beef alongside spectacular sunset views.

When visiting Cancun, the extraordinary nightlife has to be high on your agenda. From AMAZING beach parties at exclusive beach clubs such as Mandala Beach to fun, vegas-style entertainment at the renowned Coco Bongos club which has to be seen to be believed or the crazy parties at Dady O if you are looking for something a little more on the wild side, Cancun has to be one of the best places in the world to let your hair down.

There are quieter choices too and most hotel bars will have their own cocktail lounge where it would be rude to not sample a tequila sunrise or two!

Day trips

If your hangovers aren't too bad and you can tear yourself away from the glorious beach, you really must make some time to explore the area around Cancun. Day trips can usually be organised directly with your hotel, via your tour operator or with several booking agencies in the hotel zone. One of our favourite trips is a boat ride to the secret island of Isla Mujeres where we swam with dolphins, spent time snorkelling with stingrays and were lucky enough to catch sight of some sea turtles.

If history is more your thing, you might like to book a trip to Tulum which is closer to Cancun than Chichen Itza but still a magnificent example of the Mayan pyramids and architecture (make sure you pack bottled water as there is a bit of a walk from the car park and it's hot, hot, hot). A popular choice is to visit Tulum in the morning and spend the afternoon at nearby Xel-ha which is an ecological park where you can swim with dolphins, snorkel with a huge variety of wildlife, explore caves, follow jungle trails and dive from rocks. There are various packages available but we prefer the all inclusive option that includes snorkel hire, food and drink.

If you would like to stay closer to your hotel, make sure you leave space in your case as there is plenty of shopping to be done with La Isla Shopping Village, The Flamingo Mall , Plaza Las Americas and more all easily accessible by local bus or taxi.

Have you ever been to Cancun? I would love to hear about your experiences, please leave a comment or tweet me @nefamilyfun

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