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Beat The School Holiday Rip Offs

This is the first time I have booked a week off work in THE SCHOOL HOLIDAYS!

No problem-I thought. I’ll beat the price hikes by holiday companies and beat the system. I’ll book a Sun newspaper £10 holiday. So I Googled the passwords and avidly got to work booking my July holiday.

I chose Devon first- plenty of dates available-in 2015!

Then I chose Somerset- plenty of dates available in October!

Ok I’ll stay close to home-a holiday park up the road in South Wales. Not a sausage! I give up!

Lots of exclamation marks I know but it was very frustrating indeed.

Deflated I knew I had to book a full price holiday. So typing in Devon holiday parks I got to work searching. The prices varied from an eyes on stalks £1,000 for a week to the lowest of around £679 for a week.

I just didn’t have that sort of money and more importantly I didn’t feel like a week in a caravan was worth that sort of money-just because it was July.

So my next step was to wait for a last minute holiday. I set a budget of £300 which I might add made a private caravan owner laugh when I turned down her caravan for £490.

And I waited. Every day I scoured Teletext holidays.

My friends started going on their holidays and I started to think my frugality was going to get me the Worst Mum Of The Year Award.

We’d have to stay at home.

The Monday before my week off began my luck came in.

I found a holiday cottage in Brixham in Devon within budget. My first choice of location. It started life as £627. I’m winning. I checked Trip Advisor and the location had over 6 marks out of 10. Great.

The packing began. My little girl started counting down her sleeps.

Then I began to worry- I must have done something wrong to have got this. Once on the motorway to go to Devon I had to pull in. We’d gone less than 10 miles. “I think I’ve booked the wrong dates” I said. I pulled the car in and checked the confirmation. No. I’d booked it right. Phew. Off we went again.

We arrived in Devon and I was half expecting poor accommodation. To my delight we opened our cottage door and found lovely clean sheets in the beds, a nice clean apartment, two nice bedrooms, beautiful views out to sea and a patio door opening to a little garden.

And there the holiday began. We had a fantastic time and my little girl had lots of those precious ‘first experiences’. She went on a ferry to Torquay, had a horse carriage ride on the beach, went crabbing on the harbourside and went on a pirate ship.

I wanted to share my journey with you because I found the huge hike in prices really shocking.

Bide your time and set a budget- I’m sure you’ll have a holiday like ours.

I’m off again in a few weeks time. £1 camp sites offer this time- can I do it all again?

I’ll let you know

Thank you for reading my blog.

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Turn The Page

World Book Day is coming soon-March 6th 2014 and my little girl has just brought a letter from school saying they have to go in dressed as a character from their favourite book.

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I’m so excited-I mean my daughter is so excited.

This comes on the day, however, that as I was tidying her room this morning I found two crumpled pieces of a gorgeous pop up book in her bed. I was a bit sad to see she’d ripped this as it really it a lovely bright book with lovely thick glossy pages.

She loves books though and has a bookcase full in her bedroom and a book box in the living room. At Christmas time we have a Christmas book box filled with stories of Santa, Snowmen and the Twelve Days of Christmas.

I love books and have a floor to ceiling book case-full of art books, novels and hobby books. I have a case full of cook books too.

But I rarely get to read which is sad.

Books are a way of escaping, a way of dreaming and a great insight in to other people’s lives.

So what are our favourite books?

My daughters:

  1. Daisy Duck-A delightful story of a little duck who swims off with out her Mummy
  2. Peppa Pig and the tooth fairy
  3. Flip and flop-a story about two penguin friends
  4. Santa needs a wee-yes it’s still out and being read
  5. Day Monkey and Night Monkey (Secretly my favourite book of hers too!)

My favourite books:

  1. Phantom of the Opera by Susan Kay
  2. The Chronicles of Narnia
  3. The Diary of Anne Frank
  4. Lord of the flies
  5. We’re going on a bear hunt (Love reading this to my daughter)

There are some great resources for parents:

WORLD BOOK DAY ONLINE STORY http://www.worldbookday.com/videos/dr-seuss-on-the-loose/

TIPS ON HEARING YOUR CHILD READ http://www.topmarks.co.uk/parents/ten-tips-on-hearing-your-child-read

BUY BOOKS TO SUIT THEIR AGE http://www.thebookpeople.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/cms_rhPlainArticle?storeId=10001&catalogId=10051&langId=100&articlePath=%2Fjamboree%2FRed+House%2FTop+10s%2FTop+Ten+Books+by+Age%2FThree+years+%2B

So celebrate World Book Day and get reading.

I’ll let you know if my daughter goes to school as a duck or a pig!

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What Is Santa Bringing You This Year?

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I don’t want to come over all saintly but I do get a little annoyed that all people seem to ask my little girl about Christmas is ‘What Is Santa Going To Bring You’

I’m really pleased that her first Christmas at big school is quite traditional and I’m really conscious about giving her the same experiences I had when I was growing up. When she’s older she can make her own decisions about how she wants to spend Christmas.

We went to the Christingle Ceremony last week- a Church of Wales service organised with the Reverend and her school. To me it encompassed everything I think Christmas is all about-family, celebrating our children and the wonderful qualities and talents they have, joining with your community and thinking of others-after all in essence that’s what the story of the bible is about. Believer or non believer.

I wouldn’t say I was particularly religious but I do think the values of Christianity are crucial to a happy life. You don’t have to believe in God to want to live an honest and kind life. That’s what I want my little girl to grow up understanding.

So I’m struggling to find ways of ensuring she knows that Christmas isn’t about the presents you get.

After the Christingle service she was given the symbol of Christmas-an orange with a red ribbon, a candle and sweets on cocktail sticks. The sweets represent temptation. As I was driving home I thought ‘Those sweets will not last two minutes in our house’. But I thought I’d give my little girl the responsibility of looking after the orange until Christmas. One sweet went immediately but I’m really proud to say that five days later the rest are all still there and she checks it every day. For a three year old this shows amazing restraint-I’m really proud of her. I hope it teaches a little about being patient and not being greedy.

Being three she has just started ‘I want, I want’ and tonight she asked for a certain book for Christmas to which I replied ‘We don’t ask for what we want-Santa brings us what he thinks you’ll like’

And I know Santa has bought her way too much. and I’m sure that Santa must be relatively poor after all that shopping.

So what is Christmas if not all about the gifts- here are some of my ideas:

  • Spending time together-go to church, go for a walk in a forest collecting holly or fir cones to spray gold, go to a pantomime or just play games together
  • Christmas is about magical stories-read A Night Before Christmas together, read the story of the nativity, read Peppa Pig Christmas stories-whatever takes your fancy.
  • Make your own decorations-baked sliced oranges in the oven, make a fairy from a doily, make felt decorations to hang. There’s loads of ideas on the internet for all ages.
  • Do something kind-donate to charity, visit the animal centre with gifts, visit someone who’s not very well or make someone a handmade present
  • Do all the fun things that make Christmas magical-talc footprints on the carpets, porridge oats left outside for Santa, carrot-milk and cookie left out the night before, the sound of jingle bells outside as the sleigh comes
  • Go for a walk and enjoy the changing seasons. Christmas is a good time to get wrapped up warm and go outside.
  • Get your little ones to help decorate cards and wrap presents.
  • Give unwanted toys to charity shops

Don’t get me wrong-my little girl is totally spoilt-my house isn’t bare of decorations and I’m no bah humbug. I just don’t want to lose some of the more important parts of Christmas.

Do you?

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Crafts For Christmas

All of a sudden Christmas seems to be everywhere. For me it’s a great time to have some fun with my little girl making Christmas Crafts.

Here are my Top Five Christmas Crafts to make this year:

ONE: DRIED ORANGE SLICE FESTIVE GARLANDS

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TWO: JAM JAR CHRISTMAS SNOW GLOBES

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THREE: HOLLY WREATHS MADE FROM CHILDRENS HANDPPRINT

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FOUR: COTTON WOOL SNOWMAN

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FIVE: MAGAZINE CHRISTMAS TREE

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Thank you to all the bloggers that make it so easy to find inspiration on the interest.

Pinterest is an amazing site for creative ideas- I also like E-how.

Hope you like these ideas- I’m really excited to get crafting for Christmas-please share your ideas with me-I’d love to hear them

More ideas to follow soon