A lovely week with the boys in Puerto Pollensa, Mallorca

We went to Spain for a week in January. It was a bit of a disaster. We needed to balance it out!

We decided to try Majorca in May… just a 2/2.5 hour flight to contend with, and nice sunny weather without being too hot for our boys. We looked into lots of different hotels but in the end booked the Playa Mar in Puerto Pollensa based on a friend’s recommendation. It looked lovely and it had really good reviews online.

Puerto Pollensa sunset

We booked directly with the hotel, and booked flights with Thomas cook. When booking it turned out cheaper to upgrade to premium economy than pay for our luggage. So what a great start to the holiday… front row seats with extra legroom… meals… free drinks… both boys had a nap so I had a cheeky prosecco at 10am as you do when it’s the international rules of drinking!

Our private transfer went smoothly and when we arrived at the Playa mar we knew we’d picked the right place! Very spacious room, very child-friendly pools etc… perfect!

There were 2 days where we just stayed pool-side which was lovely to watch the boys splashing in the pools having fun.

The rest of the week we strolled into Puerto Pollensa every day, watching fish in the sea, playing on the sand etc.

Puerto Pollensa pine walk

We loved the hotel, and the resort. Puerto Pollensa is very chilled and relatively upmarket – not the place to come if you’re looking for wild nightlife etc!

Everything went pretty smoothly and it was lovely to make a week’s worth of memories 🙂

  • S seeing all the aeroplanes in the airport, so excited!
  • Getting tipsy after a couple of sips of cava (I’d just had a massage in my defence!)
  • S learning how to say ‘coco’ (the hotel mascot) straight away (despite us trying to teach him numbers and colours for months!)
  • S starting a new trend with big brother W of tucking t-shirts under their chins and walking around
  • It became apparent that week that he actually leads his bigger brother astray like dancing at the disco every night
  • In town, ordering ‘some’ tapas as a pre-dinner before having our usual dinner in the hotel later on. 70 euros and 7 massive dishes later, we didn’t have a second dinner that night!
  • S taking part in a Zumba fitness class much to the hilarity of everyone around!
  • Feeding the fish after breakfast every morning.
  • Puerto Pollensa pine walk
  • Visiting the frogs after dinner every night.
  • W making friends (some were thug-like!) at the swimming pool
  • Walking to what looked like a local park on google maps to find a big fenced off area full of trees!?
  • Seeing the mansion where they filmed the Night Manager!
  • Buying toys, crockery and smoothies at the local market.
  • S chucking food and crockery (plastic thankfully) around at pretty much every meal
  • Playamar swimming pool
  • Stealing croissants at breakfast time for mid-morning picnics
  • W and I having free ice cream every day 🙂
  • The sunsets on the pine walk
  • The cava, sangria and rosé wine

Sangria and cava

It was a lovely week, and it went pretty smoothly for a holiday with 2 young boys. Coming back we’d paid £30 for priority which paid for itself when we saw the check-in queues at Palma airport!

Playa mar and Puerto Pollensa… we will definitely be back!

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REVIEW: Playamar aparthotel and spa, Puerto Pollensa, Majorca

A month ago we spent a fantastic week in the Playamar, we loved it so much we want to try and go back in a few months!

Puerto Pollensa pine walk playa mar hotel

Lobby and public spaces

From the minute you arrive, the hotel has a lovely feel about it, a lovely lobby with soft drinks and fizz to welcome you after your journey.

As you navigate to your room after checking in, you’re welcomed with some lovely bits of nature like ponds with Koi and frogs in, then the inside of the hotel blocks having lovely light atriums in there.

Rooms

When we booked, we paid a bit more for one of the ‘superior’ rooms. I think these are the same size indoors as the standard rooms but you basically get a decent amount of outdoor space with a Balinese bed, instead of a standard balcony.

All the superior rooms are on the ground floor, and as all the other rooms half face the pool while the other half face the rear. I think our room number was 4013 or similar and we were pleased with the location… towards the end of a corridor so not too much passing noise like our last hotel stay, and we were overlooking the kids play area (and could see the hills in the background!)

We were really delighted with the room… nice modern decor, lots of space and plenty of storage space. The boys shared the bedroom, while me and the OH slept on the pull-out bed. The pull-out bed was really comfy! And there was a sofa too (whereas usually the sofa turns into the sofa bed)

We were surprised not to have a bath, just a shower but within a day or two the boys were loving the new routine of having a shower after dinner!

So we loved the inside, but we LOVED the outside. It was so nice having basically an extra room for the boys to play in, such a decent-sized area and a nice place to sit in the sun!

Swimming pools

The pools are the focal point of the hotel and they were perfect for our little boys… a couple of really shallow pools with slides and big animals to play with!

Also an adults pool, and while we were there, plenty of sun loungers!

Other facilities for kids

Every evening (about 8pm) there was kids disco and entertainment where the amazing staff did singing, dancing and at the end Coco the mascot came out which the boys loved!!

In the daytime there were some kids activities running late afternoon in the kids club. We only went one day when it was ‘Coco’s birthday’ and had face painting, and a birthday party including cake and balloons which was brilliant!! I’m assuming in peak summer, the kids club is open all day?

There’s a play area which kept the boys entertained for ages at a time and there’s a mini football pitch too.

Play area playa mar hotel Puerto Pollensa

So all in all very good facilities for young children!

Other facilities – spa

There’s a lovely, modern spa with pool, sauna, steam room etc. During certain hours you can take children too. I was treated to a massage and can vouch that it was well worth it!

Location

The Playamar is located right at one end of Puerto Pollensa. It’s a 20-30 minute to the main resort along the beautiful ‘pine walk’ along the coast. We saw some beautiful sunsets here, and made some lovely memories paddling in the sea etc.

The walk is lovely but a little bit bumpy for pushchairs etc just to warn you!

It’s a lovely resort, not tacky at all! Plenty of restaurants and shops, play areas on the beach, and the obligatory weekly market in the square!

We didn’t venture further than Puerto Pollensa but the area is very popular with cyclists and lots of people hired cars to explore the nearby mountains, villages and beaches!

Overall summary

We absolutely loved the Playamar and hope to return this year! It was perfect for our little boys… the pools, the space, the spacious rooms… and Coco!

The staff are very friendly and efficient, service is great! We loved the location too.

The only negative we found is that we thought the food in the restaurant was quite average. It wasn’t particularly bad and we always found something for us and the boys to eat, but we have had better quality and range at other all-inclusives. This wasn’t enough to put us off though… we will be back!

Small print: I wasn’t asked to write this review and Playamar didn’t know I would be writing this review.

Benalmadena for toddlers: our first holiday abroad as a family of four

Back in January we ventured abroad as a family of four, and it’s only now I can bring myself to write about it!

It was a bit of a disaster:

– we hoped for some winter sun but actually had a storm on our first few days!

– my OH was in bed for most of the week with man flu

-S lost one his shoes half way through the week… and obviously I’d only packed one pair

– S also smashed my iPad to smithereens

– just to add a cherry on top, when coming into land on the way home, the pilot nearly had to divert us to Birmingham due to low-lying fog. I nearly cried. Luckily he was able to land and the whole plane cheered!

Still, we tried to make the best of the situation. My OH’s parents were staying in a hotel down the road so were able to join me and the boys for lunchtime help while OH was on his deathbed!

Beach life

Every day I took the boys for a walk down the beach where they were happy to just play with the pebbly-sand, pushing it down the slide in the playground and the like!

Sealife centre

When my OH was well enough and the weather was a bit naff, we spent a lovely hour or so in the Sea life centre. It’s quite pricey for the size of it but (being out of season) we pretty much had the place to ourselves which was fab and so easy to whizz through! We saw turtles, small sharks, jellyfish, otters, lots of fish… and W was delighted there was a little dinosaur fossil digging area!

Benalmadena marina

From the Sealife centre we took a walk round the large marina… known for its unusual architecture. It was pleasant enough but would be good to see it in full swing in the summer!

Paloma park

Had a great couple of hours here with the boys and in-laws. It’s a very large park in a central area, full of birds and animals (eg rabbits). The boys loved chasing the pigeons etc, but also there’s a brilliant, massive play area there as well as plenty of scenic areas for adults like the selection of cacti!

Buddhist Stupa

And one attraction I did without the kids was grab a taxi up to the Buddhist stupa, a beautiful monument and fantastic location looking down over miles of coastline!

The butterfly park is right next to it and as much as I would have loved to go in, I didn’t want to on my own… I think the boys would have liked it!

So there we have it, certainly a memorable holiday! There was loads to do in the wider area that we didn’t get a chance to do, or places were closed out of season… water parks, zoos and wildlife parks, a crocodile park… Costa del Sol is a great family destination and we did like our family-friendly hotel: the Benalmadena palace

REVIEW: Hotel Benalmádena Palace, Benalmádena, Costa del Sol

Back in January we spent a week in Benalmadena… our first holiday abroad as a family of four!

Our trip was a late deal, we came across the hotel Benalmadena Palace on OnTheBeach, booked it, packed it…. loved it!

Rooms

The rooms are pretty much as seen/described on the website… a living/dining/kitchen area with sofa bed, a separate bedroom with twin beds and a bathroom. One of the reasons we chose this place was the fact it’s an Aparthotel and you have a little kitchen… so handy!

It feels like it’s been renovated within the last few years, quite modern and feels fresh, very clean and spacious enough.

We got a cot bed for S and in doing so blocked the space in front of the wardrobe so we ended up living out of suitcases for the week which is ok, but you’d be fine without the cot in the way!

Facilities – kids club

Another reason we chose the Palace is because they have a kids club. Ours were too young to stay in there unsupervised, which was fine… we just wanted access to a playroom to keep S entertained and we were very impressed!

Benalmadena palace kids club playroom

Plenty of toys, books, craft activities, dressing up… a ball pool/slide and an outdoor play area (which I noticed was in the shade.. very handy for hot summer months!)

For older kids there are lessons e.g. Football, archery

The kids club closes about 3pm/4pm but then opens again later after dinner and after the kids’ disco!

Other facilities

We tried out the indoor swimming pool but it’s 1.5M deep all the way around and I’m not much taller than that so wasn’t much good for me swimming with the boys… W and I stayed by the steps splashing instead! If you’re child-free, there’s a sauna and spa offering massages etc.

Holidaying in January it was way too cold to try out the outdoor pools but these would be fab in the summer.. the little toddler pool looks small but cute!

Food

We were on half board, which meant we had breakfast and dinner included in the buffet restaurant. We couldn’t fault the food. Every night there was something different e.g. Fajitas, Chinese theme, and always plenty for the kids to eat (pasta etc).

There’s a little seating area for families which is handy as yes a bit more informal with wipe-clean tables, and animals on the walls etc. I notice they have an adults-only section of the restaurant too!

We also had lunch a couple of times in the pool-side bar, the food here was great for lunch… pizza, toasted sandwiches, chips etc and it was just about warm enough to sit outside!

Location

The Benalmádena Palace is down the far end of Benalmadena so a bit of a trek (about 30 min walk?) to the main attraction of the marina etc. The hotel has a free shuttle bus every half hour/hour to a place near the marina which is handy!

The hotel is also situated at the top of a hill which a lot of the reviews mention. Although it’s quite steep, it’s not too far and we didn’t struggle with it. Within easy distance of the hotel is a small beach and promenade area, a supermarket (and Burger King with playarea!)

Benalmadena palace from the beach

Any negatives?

We really liked this hotel, the room, food and kids club were all great. I can’t say it was the best holiday as my OH spent most of it ill in bed with man flu!

But anyway, the only negative about the hotel was the noise levels from our room… we were in room 314 which was the same level as the main lobby… the bar is on the floor underneath and the sound just varied up the stairs, not so much the music but more just kids running about etc… they didn’t seem to go to bed til about 11pm! From the bedroom this wasn’t too bad, but sleeping on the sofa bed in the living room, you could hear everything!

In hindsight we should have asked to move, and if we go there again (which we definitely would!) we’ll ask for a quieter room, maybe the 2 floors above the main lobby (as they don’t have the open staircase)

11 reasons to visit Thailand (and some of my Thai memories)

If you’re a regular reader you might know that I LOVE travelling.

Phi phi Thailand

I did a fair bit of independent travelling on my own, then with my OH before we had the boys… those long-haul holidays to exotic climes are on hold for a couple of years til the boys are a bit older but it’s nice to reminisce….

In total I’ve probably spent about 2 months in Thailand, it’s an amazing holiday/travel destination and I can’t wait to take the boys there when they’re old enough to appreciate it…. why do I love it?….

  1. Culture – it’s mostly a Buddhist nation… with temples and Buddhas on every corner… some very grand, some more modest. You’ll see Buddhist monks walking around in their robes and if you speak to some of the locals you’ll learn bits about their positive approach to life (and death!)Grand palace Bangkok
  2. Food – it’s amazing, the curries, the noodles and pad Thais, the fresh fruit…. it took me a while to build up the courage to try the street food but you MUST try it… it’s how the locals eat (many city dwellers don’t have a kitchen!) and for a couple of quid you can eat like a king!
  3. Beers – Singha and Chang: both delicious in Thailand’s humid climate! There were always rumours going round that Chang’s alcohol content wasn’t very accurate which was used to explain many a drunken night and hangover!
  4. Beaches – you can’t mention Thailand without mentioning the beaches… I’ve been to a few including some on Koh Samui and Phi Phi but one of my favourites has to be Haat Rin where they hold the legendary Full Moon Parties – for one night a month it’s carnage, the rest of the time it’s paradise… the other beaches on Koh Pangan are too!Sunrise haat rin beach
  5. Finding your own paradise – there are so many beaches and destinations, it’s really hard to choose where to go but the beauty of Thailand is you can just follow your heart and find the most amazing place for you! I loved Pai, a very hippie-ish town a few hours away of Chiangmai and also Koh Chang which was one the less-developed parts I went to… where we hung out with locals, saw fluorescent phosphorus in the sea, slept in huts for less than a pound a night and had some adventures on moped!
  6. Adventures – I went on an amazing 2 day white-water rafting trip in Northern Thailand. We spent the night sleeping in the jungle and saw a cobra swimming across the river! If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, the diving and snorkelling is world-renowned and there’s lots of other things to do… zip wiring, treks, boat trips Thai boxing, cookery etc
  7. Wildlife – amazing place to see exotic creatures like monkeys and elephants in their natural environment. Avoid elephant rides, taking photos with monkeys, tigers etc… if you want to support animal welfare you can spend time volunteering at elephant and/or monkey rescue centresWater buffalo Thailand
  8. Transport – for such a big country, it’s easy to get around between the main touristy destinations. Overnight train sleepers are a great adventure, overnight bus services are surprisingly comfy and internal flights with companies like AirAsia are brilliant – low-budget but good quality! Oh and quite often your journey might involve a boat ride too… bliss! We actually chartered our own fisherman’s boat in Phi Phi!Fishermans boat Thailand
  9. Laid-back pace of life – it is so relaxed compared to British life! Generally people seem happier, more relaxed and happy with their lot. Their relaxed approach can infuriate Westerners especially on long journeys on budget buses where you get dropped off at roadside cafes for an undetermined amount of time…. #memories
  10. Nightlife – I’ve already mentioned beers and food… there is nightlife to suit everyone in this nation… beach bars, beach parties, live music bars, reggae bars, nightclubs and beautiful rooftop cocktail bars in Bangkok.
  11. Budget – I’ve alluded to it already but it can be a cheap place to travel/holiday. As well as slumming it in budget beach huts and guest houses, I did stay in some lovely hotels in Bangkok which had rooftop swimming pools and cost peanuts compared to hotels in the U.K. I’m really looking forward to taking my OH and our boys to explore Thailand in a few years time, can not wait already!

REVIEW: Bristol airport parking – is parking on-site better than off-site?!

Years ago, when booking airport parking I’d happily book the cheapest deal available – which meant parking miles away from Heathrow and Birmingham and getting bussed in, all adding quite a bit of time to our journey. The funniest off-site parking we did was when a friend booked us parking at a mushroom packing factory near Bristol airport – their minibus was running late so they dropped us off at the airport in a pick-up truck!!

For my recent child-free break to Marrakesh, I wanted everything to be as stress-free as possible, so wanted to park on-site at Bristol airport….

When I got there, it was pretty busy but I did find a space after a few minutes…. after that, what a bloomin’ treat – I could literally see the terminal and walk to it within minutes! (there’s even a bus if you’re at the far end/don’t want to walk)

 

Bristol airport
How close the terminal is to the car park!
Bristol airport car park
Lovely blossom tree overlooking the car park

Continue reading “REVIEW: Bristol airport parking – is parking on-site better than off-site?!”

REVIEW: Sensimar Medina Gardens hotel, Marrakech

On my 4 night break in Marrakesh, I stayed in the lovely Medina Gardens hotel…

Lobby, indoor public areas etc

It has a nice feel to it from arrival, the outside is full of plants and flowers and as you walk into the lobby you see beautiful Moroccan details like light fittings, tiles etc.

Moroccan light
Moroccan light

Continue reading “REVIEW: Sensimar Medina Gardens hotel, Marrakech”

4 days and nights in Marrakesh (child-free!)

I’m not long back from a wonderful few days away in the amazing Marrakesh – I had to share it with you, it was such a nice break! I’d visited once before, for a night, about 10 years ago and it was great to go back and explore it some more… and do a lot of chilling….

Continue reading “4 days and nights in Marrakesh (child-free!)”

Why I love travelling solo 

I’m sitting on a plane in my way to 4 child-free days in Marrakesh with my sister and her friend… can not wait!


I love travelling alone. 8 years ago I went backpacking by myself around South East Asia and Australia. It was such a big adventure. It seemed like a huge challenge at the time.
Nowadays as most of our travel is with the boys, and UK-based, a trip on a plane is a real treat… 
It’s the sense of anticipation. For your own journey… but also for everyone else’s. Where’s everyone going? What are their stories?
Always such a mix of people, I love wondering where the journey is taking them. For me, a plane ride usually involves a holiday… ideally a different culture to try out… delicious foods, thirst-quenching beers, amazing architecture, a chance to chill, take it all in…. breathe.
I feel like travel is a huge privilege that everyone should want to try. I’m always a bit baffled by people who don’t want to travel. Or who can’t travel on their own. 
But likewise plenty of people think I’m strange for having travelled by myself!


I love the feeling of independence that comes with flying/travelling on my own. I had some lonely days on my backpacking days but I also made some friends for life.
I love the excitement of new places, new cities to explore. 
I love airports, even when they’re rubbish and I hate them… I still love them…. again, it’s the people, the journeys. Oh the nights I’ve spent sleeping in airports… Kuala Lumpur… staying up all night drinking in airports waiting for early morning flights… Hong Kong… Bangkok.
I’m excited to have quality time with sis when I get to morocco but I’m enjoying these precious hours on the flight – very rarely do I have time to myself like this. Time for my book and a glass of prosecco 🙂

And now I’ve landed… and in the world’s longest queue… happy days 🙂

Bluestone: what’s new for families with toddlers for 2017?

We just had an AMAZING weekend in Bluestone. It was our fourth holiday there, and our first holiday with another family….. and the sun shone all weekend…. we couldn’t have picked a better weekend weather-wise!

Bluestone lake
I just wanted to share some new things with you….

A new outdoor play area Continue reading “Bluestone: what’s new for families with toddlers for 2017?”