Center Parcs vs Bluestone: which is best for families with toddlers and babies?

We’ve just come back from a break in Center parcs, Longleat – our first time there with a toddler and baby. As we’ve been there twice, and Bluestone three times… I thought compare them both for you…

Center parcs vs Bluestone with toddler and baby
Location, terrain, getting around Continue reading “Center Parcs vs Bluestone: which is best for families with toddlers and babies?”

Bluestone: Our first holiday as a family of four and 5 more things for toddlers to do there!

We had our first holiday as a family of four to Bluestone a couple of weeks ago, it’s the third time we’ve been and we love it…. especially toddler W!

Sunset from our lodge

Continue reading “Bluestone: Our first holiday as a family of four and 5 more things for toddlers to do there!”

Making memories with W at Cardiff Bay and Forest Farm

A couple of weekends ago, I made some lovely memories with W, half thinking it might be our last weekend pre-baby. (It wasn’t!)

On the Friday morning we headed to Cardiff Bay, and as it was half term my sister (a teacher) was able to join us…

As we were there nice and early (9? 10?) it was lovely and quiet, felt like we had the place to ourselves in the sunny weather…

As soon as we got there W found an abandoned balloon, which created lots of fun for him chasing it and losing it (it didn’t have a stick/string) so was a challenge to keep hold of 😉 


We walked towards the play area on the Cardiff Bay barrage…. 

W enjoyed trying to climb over the fence at the Captain Scott memorial (PS when did they put a fence around this?! And why?!)

We stopped for a coffee at the very cool ‘Coffi co’ which has an outdoor seating area which is pretty much enclosed and full of benches and deckchairs. This was lovely…. Sis and I got to catch up over a nice coffee in the sun while W could safely play with his cars and transport them from one deckchair to the other… This is the life!

As it was taking us ages to walk anywhere with me being heavily pregnant, and W trying to carry his balloon, we gave up on the plan to walk down the barrage and took him to the little play area behind the Norwegian Church instead. 

We had fun playing with him, but the funniest bit was when he hid behind a bin. Sis thought he was playing hide and seek but I knew…. He was having a poo! 
(He’s not potty/toilet trained yet but for a while now he leaves the room/hides if we’re out when he needs a poo!)


On the way back meandering through the bay, he took lots of opportunities to climb up onto the railings (one of his fave sayings at the mo is ‘climbing trees’ whenever he’s climbing up/across something… No idea where he’s picked up that saying from!) 

He was as chuffed as always to see some ‘quack quacks’ on the water’s edge, so much so that he fed them all of his crisps bless him!

Then it was lunchtime, and we decided to try Bill’s as I’d heard it was child-friendly… As it was sunny we sat outside and luckily there was a water feature nearby that he could play in while we waited for the food. He was mostly well-behaved, ate some of his macaroni cheese and our sweet potato fries (must make these at home for him!) and enjoyed playing with the crayons/colouring in book they lent him 🙂

Then it was most definitely home/nap time (we won’t write about the tantrum he had ;)) 

That night, my OH was out at the cricket (sis and I watched ‘train wreck’.. V good!) so Saturday morning I gave his delicate head a lie-in and took W to a wildlife day at Forest farm

We were a teeny bit early for the event and so were busy throwing stones into the pond….


…then the event organisers (inc RSPB and Cardiff council park rangers) came to do some pond dipping (at which point I was worried that W had scared everything away with his stone throwing!!) 

This was cool, we saw lots of tadpoles which W called ‘fishies’ (I don’t think he understood the concept of them being baby frogs!) and watched a couple of those tadpoles get killed by insects! 


We then had a walk around the meadow looking at all the ‘yellow flowers’ and ‘daisies’ 


It was a lovely little event and I’d definitely take him again. From here we drove a couple of minutes up the road to see ‘quack quacks’ and kingfishers at the old Glamorgan canal but by then he was grouchy so we headed home.

It was nice to have some quality time with him. Since then I’ve had less energy as bump has grown, and the weather has been more naff!

He’ll always me my special, first-born, gorgeous, adventurous, fun-loving son. I love you W! Xxx 

Cardiff’s bluebell woods (Wenallt): an early morning walk with W

I meant to post this 2 weeks ago when we visited the Wenallt (a bit behind with blogging sorry!) But hopefully you can still catch the bluebells if you visit this week!

cardiffs bluebell  woods
cardiffs bluebell woods

Usually on weekends, I’m the one who gets up with W when he wakes up, around the 6-6.30 mark. I don’t really mind, especially now I’m heavily pregnant and struggling to sleep/lie-in!

Usually we’ll spend a couple of hours pottering in the living room, him watching cartoons, me half asleep playing on my phone, trying to stay quiet so dadda gets a good few hours lie-in.

What I prefer is being able to get out and about early… I’ve previously blogged about wanting things like soft play to be open earlier… But now the mornings are lighter and the weather’s much improved then what better than a walk in the woods!? 

toddler W exploring bluebell woods
toddler W exploring bluebell woods

So at 8am on a sunny morning we headed over to spot magical bluebells… Through Rhiwbina, turning off at the Deri Arms up Wenallt road until we came across a car park leading into the woods.

W headed straight into the bluebells which was great for some nice photos but I was a bit worried about him trampling all over them! It really was a lovely, magical sight… And at that time of the morning we pretty much had the place to ourselves

wenallt woods, rhiwbina, cardiff
wenallt woods, rhiwbina, cardiff

We then took a long walk around the woods and created some magical memories….

  • W stopping to play at every brook/stream we came across, dipping sticks into the water and wiping them on stones
  • Hearing woodpeckers!
  • W chatting to all the dogs (lots of dog walkers up there!) and one was so friendly that W could feed him biscuits and play fetch with him!
  • W picking up lots of sticks… All called ‘stick man’

Of course, it was soon back to reality… A heavily pregnant me had to carry him (uphill) back to the car when he got tired…. By then the car park was full and so our special moment of having the woods to ourselves was gone… He was grouchy for the 15 minute journey home… And when we got home past 10am dadda was still in bed!!!

Seriously… magical though, it’s so close to the city yet so peaceful…. So good for the soul… Especially on an early morning Sunday!

Oh and I forgot to mention… Parking is free: bonus! Huge thanks to colleague and fellow blogger twinmummyanddaddy for letting me know about the place months ago! Xx

The most beautiful house I’ve stayed in

We had a girly weekend in Amport, Hampshire, but it wasn’t just any girly weekend… It was a girly weekend in the most beautiful house I’ve ever stayed in.

We caught a glimpse into how the other half live, and we loved it! Vintage chic and stylish, but at the same time homely and cosy.

One of the girls found it on AirBnB for the bargain price of £800 for the weekend (worked out at £120 each) but even the AirBnB listing/photos didn’t do it justice. 

So I’m just going to leave you with these photos I took…. 

 white flowers  
shabby chic white chair blue cushion  white heart ornament  
shabby chic bedsite table blue lamp retro floral radio  french chic beach paintings  
blue shabby chic mirrors  blue white bedside lamp  
bathroom shells starfish  flowers in shades of green  
roses in a cool glass vase  old teddy bear on white shabby chic chair  
grey shabby chic desk in  childrens room  old teddy bear on childs bed  
pink flowers in floral vase  bright flowers and lantern  
shells and glass bottles in bathroom  large lounge diner   
large kitchen diner galley style  glass ornament  
daffodils in jug   shabby chic silver lampshade  
white sofa blue grey cushions  shabby chic chest of drawers  
flowers and candles on mantelpiece
  bathroom with beautiful wallpaper and tiles  
cricket paintings  shabby french chic mirror  
yellow green pink flowers  view from the floral teacups 

A girly weekend in Amport, Hampshire 

I love weekends away with the girls. I love how they’ve evolved from budget, drunken, youth hostelling to slightly more sedate and relaxing affairs as we’ve gotten older!

Anyway, on this occasion we rented a beautiful house (more on that in a separate post) in a quaint (think thatched roofs!) village called Amport, close to Andover, in Hampshire.

vintage teddy bear on a vintage chair
vintage teddy bear on a vintage chair

Pit stop at McArthur Glen Designer Shopping Outlet, Swindon

On the way there the Cardiff contingent stopped in McArthur Glen designer outlet in Swindon, and I was very impressed… We have one nearby at Bridgend but this one seemed a bit more upmarket… And warmer as it’s indoors! We had lovely lunch and juice at Wagamamas and then hit the shops where I bought my first ever leather jacket (biker) from Ted Baker for a bargain £130 (reduced from £345) and a top to go with it! (£35). I spend a lot more money shopping when I’m with these two ladies 😜

Once we finally found our home for the weekend, Friday night we stayed in with pizza, prosecco and rugby in front of the wood burner.

Breakfast at Thyme and Tides, Stockbridge

Saturday morning we all had a full English breakfast at Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge, about 15 mins away. Stockbridge was a very cute little place, one street of shops aimed at the well-heeled locals. Thyme and tides is a very cool deli/coffee shop, and we all really enjoyed their brekkie which tasted like it was all sourced locally. Most of us washed it down with delicious freshly squeezed orange juice… Saturday morning bliss!

Wish I’d gotten a photo for you but was too ravenous 😉

Afternoon shopping in Winchester 

From Stockbridge we drove on to Winchester (another 15 mins or so) and spent a lovely (albeit cold) few hours wandering around the shops. It’s a cute, compact cathedral city and seems quite affluent eg high street shops are Mint Velvet and The White Company.

Dinner at the Black Swan, Amport

Saturday night we’d booked a table for dinner at one of two pubs in Amport, the Black Swan.

Early impressions were good, and we all enjoyed our starters (baked Camembert/ beetroot smoked trout/ kedgeree with a Scotch egg) but the main course for a bizarre turn…

When you see chicken kiev with carbonara and wilted spinach on a menu you ignore your instinct that it’s an insane idea, and assume that it’s a gastronomic feast that you wish you’d thought of yourself as it could have made you famous. Unfortunately it was the former, and four of us had fallen for the poor-tasting trap. The other two who’d ordered cod were slightly happier with their meal (which also included the infamous side of spaghetti carbonara)

Still, we ploughed on for desserts and again four of us plumped for the apple and blackberry crumble… How can you get this wrong, right? Wrong! It was best described as ‘warm jam with crumbled biscuit on top’… They obviously hadn’t baked it together, and you had to dig through a deep layer of the ‘crumble’ to get to the fruit. Very bizarre. 

Still, the food gave us plenty of lolz and memories! 

Black Swan, where the games were better than the   food!
Black Swan, where the games were better than the food!

Sunday lunch at the Red Lion, Clanville

Luckily, Sunday dinner more than made up for our Saturday night dinner. We descended on the nearby Red Lion in Clanville. The dining room was beautiful and airy, it felt like a mix between a cool gastro-pub and nice restaurant. Our waitress was fantastic… And the food was awesome! The six of us all skipped starters and went for the Roast Beef dinner, and every element was faultless! I’ve stolen a picture off my mate for you…. 
 

roast beef at the red lion, clanville
roast beef at the red lion, clanville

 

A couple of the girls followed it with delicious-looking sticky toffee pudding, I opted for the white chocolate mousse which was to die for! 

And that was our weekend, mixed in with lots of chilling at our amazing house! Happy days, happy memories 😍

A week in Nerja, Spain with a toddler (and a bump and the in-laws!)

Just come back from a lovely week in Nerja, Costa del Sol, Spain that I thought I’d share with you…

Pre-travel and first few days!

As if travelling with toddlers isn’t stressful enough, the day before flying W was showing all the signs of teething (lots of teardrop!!) but also potential signs of an ear infection (rubbing his ear) so cue our first trip to the out-of-hours clinic, luckily to get an ok to fly (we didn’t want to burst his ear drums on the plane!!)

He did really well on the day of travelling, but the first few days there he wasn’t happy… Teething, constipated, away from home… And it was too hot!! We learnt in Minorca last year that he doesn’t like hot weather! But on day 2 the weather cooled a bit so…

What we got up to – what to do in Nerja with a toddler!

Nerja has about 4 or 5 beaches but our hotel also had its own private little beach, it was lovely watching W playing with the sand (pouring it over us!), dragging us into the sea and picking up sticks!

Fun on the beach in Nerja
Fun on the beach in Nerja

 

 

Our hotel (Balcon de Europa) was right on the front and in the centre of a pedestrian area which was great… We spent a lot of time just hanging outside the hotel with W chasing pigeons and scaring all the (friendly and well-fed) stray cats!

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And it meant we could mooch around the side streets, W kicking his new football around and inspecting all the drains! We did a lot of walking and mooching, lots of cute little shops and pretty houses to nose at! And the coastline of course.

 

On Tuesday we walked up to the weekly market, was worth a trip but it was a LONG walk from our hotel especially as it was a hot day!!

There was a park on the way, and a few dotted around town which was great for W. Oh we also took him to DinoPark soft play one day pre-dinner too… This was perfect for toddlers, and you pay when you leave based on how long you were there which I thought was a great idea!

Having the in-laws around was handy, for a few hours here and there they looked after W, so one day we were able to have a lovely lunch date… And another day we chilled at the hotel (rooftop) pool.

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An added bonus of the trip was that an annual carnival was on while we were there… It meant some additional amusements for W (bouncy castles etc) and we stumbled upon the amazing carnival parade on our last night… Gutted I’d left my camera in the room as there were some amazing costumes and it was so cute to see whole families dressed up together, such an amazing sight!

Some recommendations

Hotel – as I said, we stayed at Balcon de Europa and I can’t recommend it highly enough, right on the beach so could see and hear the waves from our huge room, great location, good food and I’ve never met so many friendly, helpful staff… And of course they all doted on W (who was about 60 years younger than the rest of the guests ;))

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Hotel Balcon de Europa, on the right

Tapas – my other half and I had lunch together in Antica Roma, a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea. The location was so perfect that I thought it would be a tourist trap with non-descript food but I had the BEST tapas of my life! (I recommend the avocado salad, octopus, prawns and scallops… All cooked in different sauces etc… Amazing!)

Antico Roma, Nerja
Antico Roma, Nerja

 

Italian food – my in-laws stumbled across a fab Italian that was so good we went there twice! It’s called Gusto Italiano, it’s just round the corner from much busier restaurants but much cosier, family-run etc. and the pasta was all amazing!

Drinks at Marbellas – we had food here once which was good but we preferred just having drinks here – for me, it was more about the location and ambience – a beautiful, huge terrace overlooking the coast which would b perfect for a wedding!!

Overall
It’s always nice getting some mild winter sun, and great to see places in low season (so much cheaper too!). Nerja is a beautiful little town just an hour north of Malaga with none of the high-rise, English breakfast-signs-everywhere places like Benidorm.
We had a lovely week just mooching about the town and beach, but there’s also plenty to do if you want to stay busy… There are some famous caves to visit, and Granada is just an hour away.
Nerja was very toddler-friendly and the locals (and tourists) all fussed over W… He had a whale of a time!
We’ll be back!

I hope you enjoyed this and/or found this useful. I read this blog post from Zena’s suitcase when I was researching the trip which I also found handy – enjoy 🙂

3 nights in lovely, sunny Lisbon

A few weeks ago I had a lovely girly weekend in Lisbon, Portugal. Here’s a little montage and then I’ll give you some tips 🙂

  • We actually think our weekend in Lisbon was cheaper than a lot of UK breaks! Through the fab ‘flight-checker‘ tool we found flights for £50! (Easyjet, Bristol, Thurs-sun) and then via AirBnB found a gorgeous flat in a great location for £60 each… Bargain so far! (Oh and airport parking was £40)
  • I’m rubbish at working out exchange rates but all you need to know is that it’s good at the mo… So your British pound goes a long way against the Euro! That, combined with low prices for great food and drink, meant we could eat like Queens… Eg a full and fresh sea bass for lunch for 9euros (£6-7!)
  • As if low prices wasn’t enough of a temptation… Portugal is famous for its shoe making skills and there’s a shoe shop on every corner….
  • With that in mind, take a big enough piece of hand luggage with you otherwise you’ll have to do what I did and buy a new suitcase for the two pairs of boots that I bought!
  • What we loved most about Lisbon was the miles of mooching around the city centre and surrounding areas…. Soak in the pretty buildings and trams, stop for some shopping, stop for a pastry and drink… And repeat!
  • So don’t bother with the double-decker bus tours, you really won’t miss much… Our few hours in Belem was nice but prob much quicker to get a train there!
  • The views from the Skybar in hotel Tivoli are worth seeing… But don’t take a long walk there without making sure that it’s open (only open in the summer!) doh!
  • The Park bar is worth a visit to catch great views of the sunset… It’s a really cool open top bar on top of a car park, too busy for us to get a drink but worth it for the views!
  • If you can get into your appartment, try turning the key left instead of right 🙂
  • If you want to pick up some tacky souvenirs be sure to get them in the city… The airport has a cute shop and a McD’s… But no tat!
  • Enjoy… And have a nata pastry (or 10) for me….
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Nata nata nata nata… Batman!

12 things to do in and around Bluestone resort with your toddler

We recently spent 7 nights at the lovely Bluestone resort with our 17 month old. If you’re heading there with your toddler here’s some of the things you can get up to…

1 – Swim/paddle in the Blue Lagoon

Staying at Bluestone gives you free entry to their swimming pool complex, the blue lagoon. Most mornings we tried to head there for the 9am opening, and W loved it. He would wander as far into the main pool as he could, and then keep running back to the toddler pool where he could steer his ship and explore the ‘rock pools’ – brilliant place, and nice spacious family changing areas too!

2 – Circus soft play

W loved this too, a big playroom in the Adventure centre. Plenty to keep them occupied from a push along train/roller coaster thing, to bubbles, to little teepees, really great and again free to use!
The Circus at Bluestone

3 – the rest of the Adventure centre

We didn’t really use this as much as it’s better for slightly older kids, but your toddler could use the softplay on the ground floor too, ball pools and a bouncy castle!

4 – throw stones into the stream down at Camp Smokey

This is an outdoor eating place in a little valley, but we actually wondered down there for a walk when it was closed so eerily had the place to ourselves… And precious memories were made with dad showing W how to throw stones into the stream… So cute!

Throwing stones at Smokey Joe's

5 – a dinner show at the Wild wood cafe

We loved this, we paid about £20? £25? for the ‘shelby snail’ dinner which involved a lovely fairy telling stories, a platter of food and a chance to meet, and have photos with, the character of the show which in our case was Shelby snail! And we loved that it was an early dinner… Running from 4.30-6pm with food brought out about 5.15 – perfect for us!

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6 – eat out at the Farmhouse Grill or Knight’s tavern

We had a meal at the pub, the Knights tavern, which was ok but we much preferred the Farmhouse grill. We had the Sunday carvery there and a mid-week dinner, the food and service was great both times with 2 added bonuses for toddlers.. A fab little indoor play area, and they start serving dinner at 4.30pm!

Tenby half lobster at the farmhouse grill
Tenby half lobster at the farmhouse grill

7 – Book them into the crèche

We used the creche a couple of times and found it great, good staff and facilities, when we went to pick W up he was having a whale of a time! It cost £24 for 3 hours and seems to be on every few days.

8 – go to the Spa while they’re in the creche!

The spa is fab… A big outdoor jacuzzi, 2 saunas, 2 steam rooms, a salt room, and an ice room. Very relaxing 🙂

9 – try one of the toddler classes

We went to a toddler sensory class, which was £7 for an hour. Half an hour of that is ‘free play’ in the free-to-use circus room which I thought was a bit cheeky… The second half was fun though, singing and dancing (the adults… While all the toddlers were running off in all directions!)

They run a few messy play sessions that we missed, would like to check them out next time!

10 – Carew inn

Just a few miles away from Bluestone, we stumbled upon a lovely pub called the Carew inn. Good food, good value, and lovely, helpful staff… Oh and it has this fab outdoor play area….

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11 – Carew castle

Just across the road from the pub is a beautiful, derelict castle. Entry was £5 each per adult and W loved running around these magical, eerie grounds with lovely views across an estuary.

Carew castle
Carew castle

12 – a day trip to Tenby

We went to Tenby a couple of times during our week there, I hadn’t been for a few years and had forgotten how lovely it is (especially off-peak!)

We found a cute little park overlooking South Beach (the park with best views ever!) and had a nice cuppa tea in the lovely cafe/bar/restaurant on South beach… after a run around on the sand!

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Hope you find this useful if you’re heading to Bluestone… If you’ve already been, what did you and your toddler get up to?!

Small print: unlike most bloggers, I paid for our trip to Bluestone and opinions are my own 🙂

Taking a one-year-old baby abroad – including flying – tips and checklists!

Travelling abroad for a week with a one-year-old….

I’m a laid-back ex-backpacker. I used to travel light and ‘wing it’. I don’t think I’ve ever been so stressed as I was in the run-up to baby W’s first foreign holiday a month ago… so I thought I’d try and share everything with you, to hopefully ease your pain and stress!!

The ultimate guide to holidaying abroad with a one year old

Deciding where to go

Ok, you’ve agreed you *need* a week abroad – well, what next? Here’s how we decided on our destination:

  • We wanted to fly (not drive to Europe)- we were happy to fly from Cardiff, Bristol or Birmingham
  • We didn’t want the flight to be longer than 2 hours-ish
  • This also meant the temperature should be ok – mid-20’s
  • The flight times had to try and work within baby W’s schedule – we didn’t want any evening/late night/ridiculous early morning flights
  • These options basically led to mainland Spain or the Balearic islands (Majorca/Menorca/Ibiza)
  • Then we had to decide whether we wanted a hotel (various board types) or self-catering (‘aparthotels’ or villas) – think about what your evenings will be like – do you need more than 1 room? (we did ok with ours but an extra room would have been nice!)
  • We didn’t want the accommodation to be on its own, in the middle of nowhere – we wanted a beach within walking distance and ideally a couple of bars/restaurants/shops – but we didn’t really want to be in a big, busy resort
  • Transfer times – if you’re flying, how far is the accommodation from the airport?
  • Can you see yet why I was getting stressed?!
  • After looking at various flight-only options vs package holidays, we decided we wanted a hotel…. obviously you will have an overall budget that you need to work to
  • then we decided we needed a hotel with a crèche so that mummy and daddy could have a few hours off!
  • we decided the best value holiday for us was an all-inclusive week in Menorca with Thomson – in the Victoria Playa hotel – read all about our week here

So with the holiday booked a month before we were going… what was our…

Pre-holiday checklist

  • Make sure your passports are up-to-date and make sure baby has his/her own!
  • Make sure everyone has a free EHIC card – this entitles you to free healthcare within Europe – the official link is here, avoid any sites trying to charge you!
  • Even if you have an EHIC card, make sure you have travel insurance – in case your holiday gets cancelled, or they lose your luggage etc – I have a family policy free with my bank account but you can get it cheap enough from sites like Confused.com
  • If you need to, organise your airport parking – always cheaper to do it in advance. We went out of our way to fly from Birmingham as it was cheaper and the flight times were better – the money we saved meant we could spend a night up there before we flew- read about the Novotel stay and park deal  – remember that you will have a baby and extra luggage with you – we realised convenience of things like parking were more important to us than before, so you could even plump for a ‘meet and greet’ service?!
  • If you have pets like we do, don’t forget to organise a pet sitter 
  • Oh and don’t forget to give your nursery/childminder enough notice so that they don’t charge you 😉

Packing checklist for your baby’s foreign holiday!

So I went a bit overboard here – I envisaged us being so busy that baby W would need 2 or 3 change of clothes a day and lots more nappies than usual. In the end we took way too much (because he slept so much – we’ll come on to that!) but in a nutshell I packed for him:

  • 2 outfits a day (t-shirts and shorts)
  • about 9 babygros/vests
  • 9 sleepsuits (we didn’t end up using any of these as it was too hot at night for him!)
  • a pack of day nappies (I think there’s 31 in a pack)
  • 10 night nappies
  • 14 swim nappies (we used about 3 of these!)
  • Nappy bags
  • 2 baby bath towels
  • 4 packs of wet wipes
  • his teething essentials – Calpol, Nurofen, Anbesol
  • a handful of bibs and socks
  • his Tommee tippee bottles and sippy cups
  • washing-up liquid (in a travel size bottle, so no leakage!), tea towel and bottle brush
  • his bathing essentials – bubble bath, shampoo, bath toys, toothbrush and toothpaste
  • baby powder – I’d never used this but heard it was good for getting sand off babies – it’s true!!
  • 3 x swim costumes (all UV50 protection)
  • 1 swim towel
  • 2 x sleeping bags (1.5 tog but we could have done with a 0.5 tog)
  • his bedtime essentials – comforter, sheepskin, couple of favourite blankets
  • Black-out blind (didn’t need it)
  • a buggy (ended up having to borrow one from the hotel as we’d forgotten the sun visor thing)
  • Snooze-shade – absolutely great product to safely cover your baby so he can nap in the buggy out of sun’s harm!
  • Baby carrier (Baby bjorn)
  • SPF50 – some quick-dry stuff
  • Sunglasses and sun hats (even though I knew he wouldn’t wear them – just pulls them off!)
half-packed suitcase for our baby!
half-packed suitcase for our baby!

Here’s a link to his holiday wardrobe –  I bought a lot of new (but generally cheap) stuff (I needed to stock up on his next size up anyway) to take with us as I couldn’t bear the thought of needing to do laundry on our first day back lol, and it meant I could start packing early.

Nemo swimsuit from Tesco (£10)
Part of his holiday wardrobe!

I think I only forgot two thing which would have been quite handy:

  • his thermometer
  • some muslin sheets which we could have soaked and used them to cool him down

In the end, like I said, I took way too much – but I had heard things like ‘they don’t sell pampers in Spain’ – I was even worried that they wouldn’t sell normal cow’s milk!!! As it worked out, the supermarket opposite our hotel sold Pampers, Ella’s kitchen food sachets – the works – but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry?!

Hand luggage

Neither me or my other half had anything in our hand luggage for ourselves (apart from money, passports etc!) – it was all stuff to keep him busy on the journey (and when we got there) so we had:

  • Bottles (for milk and water)
  • Snacks – raisins, baby crisps, bananas
  • Books – his favourite 2 plus  new ones I’d borrowed from the library
  • Wet wipes
  • Couple of nappies and nappy bags
  • His comforter an favourite blanket
  • Couple of small toys e.g. his toy tablet
  • A few change of clothes (for all temperatures – I didn’t know if he’d get cold on the plane! He didn’t!)

We both used soft bags, so we could stuff them underneath the seats in front – easier than needing something from the overhead compartment when the seatbelt sign is on!

And we split everything between the bags e.g. pack of wet wipes one, just in case one of us wandered off with a bag!

The airport – some tips

So I was dreading this part – our flight was at 7am so we needed to be there about 4.30am – even though we were staying right opposite and figured we’d be early, there was already a huge queue!

  • So, we paid about £10 each to go ‘priority’ – this meant we could jump the check-in queue, security queue and our luggage would be first off – money well spent for us!
  • we checked our buggy in at check-in and carried him in the carrier – but you can take the buggy with you right up to the gate (so have a think about logistics, what if they fall asleep in the buggy etc?)
  • Now, I knew at security that they would let you take formula milk through – but I had no idea about cow’s milk?! Well they do let you take baby bottles full of the stuff, so we filled ours up at the security desk (so now you know, you can do it in advance)
  • Don’t forget your bottle insulators to keep the milk fresh for a couple of hours!
  • After security we headed straight to the comfort of the airport lounge – another perk that I have with a bank account. I’m not sure how much these cost as a ‘day pass’ but if I were you I’d seriously consider it – you’re guaranteed somewhere comfy to sit and you help yourselves to hot/cold/alcoholic drinks and snacks (bacon rolls in our case!) – so when you add up how much you might spend at an airport it could be a good deal?

We started giving baby W his milk in the lounge, hoping he’d fall asleep but he was still wide awake when we got on to the plane, which is what I was dreading the most!…..

The flight – with a one-year-old!

Lots of people had said that giving your baby a bottle for take-off/landing was a good idea as it helps with their ears popping. This seemed to work a treat for baby W, plus he eventually entered his usual milk coma not long after take-off and slept on his dad’s lap for a good hour (so half of the flight). The other half was taken up with a walk up and down the aisle, and using all the toys and treats from the hand luggage to keep him entertained.

He wasn’t happy about sitting still for landing, but at least it’s only about 10 minutes of moaning 😉

PS I really enjoyed reading/watching this blog post and video from Knott bump and us about navigating airports and flights with a baby (similar age to baby W) – worth a watch!

Transfer to your accommodation

We had transfers included in our package holiday but we could see from the website that it could take up to 90 minutes (because of all the drop-offs etc) so we figured we’d speak to a rep when we arrived and pay for a taxi (30 euros, 30 minutes) if it was really going to take 90 minutes.

Well, we had a lovely surprise on arrival – because our holiday was with Thomson but our flights were with Thomas Cook, we were in a minority and so the Thomson rep gave us a taxi slip and we got a free taxi to our hotel, instead of getting a bus 🙂

The taxi ride ended up being the hardest part of the day – baby W having to sit on our lap for 25-30 minutes. It was hot. He’d had a nap but hadn’t slept as long as usual, so he was grouchy and basically wanted to be on the move – he’d sat down for way too long by this point! So he cried and moaned most of the way and nothing would distract him but we got there in the end!

So have a think about how long your transfer might be on a bus etc. Our luggage came off early (as we’d paid for priority) but in hindsight, it might have done baby W some good to run around and burn some energy in the airport before we jumped into the cab….

On holiday – our new routine

We expected the weather to be about 20-25 degrees, but we arrived during a heatwave and for the whole week the temperature was 30-32 degrees! This was tough and basically baby W was not himself for the week, which I think was a combination of the heat but also teething (his back teeth were coming through). It wasn’t too bad, he was ok and did have some fun, he just wasn’t his usual, happy self.

Within a day we’d fallen into a new routine, we all know how much babies/toddlers love a routine – I’ve shared ours below, but you will of course find your own routine – I guess the point is, that your baby/toddler might be very different on holiday to at home so be prepared for that in case you were hoping to do excursions, go out at night etc!

6am – wake-up!

6.30am – 8am – play-time (softplay/wendy house area) or one morning we went to the beach (the swimming pool didn’t open til 9ish I think)

baby W loved his car in Victoria Playa!
baby W early morning play

8am – breakfast

8.30-10 – walk and a nap – we’d have a lovely walk along the sea, and after a while we’d zip up the snoozeshade (turned out to be a holiday essential!) and baby W would have a 30-45 minute nap

10-12 – baby W went into crèche 3 mornings, played with us the other 3 mornings. As I said in the post about the hotel, the crèche was brilliant and meant we had a little break from him (and most importantly, he loved it!)

12-1 soft-play!

1 – lunch

1.30 – 3.30/4 – nap time. Before holidays he’d cut right down on his afternoon nap but the teething/heat combo meant he basically slept all afternoon, every afternoon! This worked out great as daddy caught up with sleep and mummy caught up with sunbathing and reading books!

4-6 playtime – swimming/softplay

6.15 – dinner!

6.45-7 bath, bottle, bed for baby W – we tried to stick to him home routine as much as possible here.

One night we tried taking him out, asleep, in the pushchair, so we could enjoy a sunset drink, but he stirred too much for our liking, so every night we’d just sit on the balcony with beers and books instead! A couple of nights my other half went to watch the footie, which was fine with me – we’d be in bed for 9.30-10 anyway!

Read more about our week in the hotel here

Coming back – and home, sweet home!

Our flight home was at 1pm, so it was a nice time to travel. The taxi transfer was less stressful this time, but baby W was a bit grouchy in the airport and we had to queue a fair bit – we didn’t have the cash for priority queue-jumping here, and there was no airport lounge in menorca airport!

A bit of milk on the plane, and baby W then slept for most of the flight this time! Picked up our luggage, a trolley is a must as of course you have an extra suitcase, transfer bus to the car park and eventually home sweet home!

Summary

Holidaying with a 13 month old is great fun, but does need a bit more planning and preparation than usual! If you choose the right place for you and settle into a new routine, you can all have rest and some fun 🙂

I hope I thought of everything, and hope you found this useful – if you did, I’d love it if you could share it with your friends and peers on Facebook/Twitter! (And if you want to follow me, I’m @yummyblogger on Twitter) and if I missed anything, please do leave a comment!

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