How to holiday better – TV company wants to hear from you!

21 Sep

Are you a family who holidays on a budget? Would you like to learn how to holiday better?

We have been asked to spread the word about a new TV show which can help you to get the most for your holiday money. To apply to take part in this programme, or for more information please email:  holidaybetter@7wonder.co.uk

 

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Cycling holidays with children

10 Aug

skim-3Cycling holidays needn’t involve weighty rucksacks and endless cries of “are we there yet?” Cycling with children can be so much fun. It takes the stress out of holiday traffic, will save you money and will guarantee that the children will sleep well at the end of the day.

There are holiday companies who will arrange a cycling holiday for you. They will provide bikes, maps and accommodation and will pick you up at the end of a day’s cycling to take you back to your hotel. There’s no need to break the bank though. If you are on a budget you can organise your own break using some of these tips.

Find a good base. Whether that is a tent, a cottage or a holiday park, ensure that you are in the right location for all the best bike routes. A good way to research this is to look up cycle routes and then find a base that is centrally placed. This Sustrans Book lists all the best routes along with an idea of the level of expertise required.  It will also point out good places to stop along the way, or detours that you can make to extend your day.

Plan your days out. Agree as a family on where you would like to visit, how many hours you will spend cycling etc. Do some research on your chosen cycle route. Are there cafes or playgrounds that you can visit along the way? Will you go via a beach where you can eat a picnic? Are there some lovely gift shops in the area where the children can spend some pocket money?

Know your limits. Stick within your capabilities as a family. You may yearn to go racing off on a 20 mile coast to coast but if your 3 year old is still plodding along on a balance bike then you just know that is going to end in tears.

Have the best gear that you can afford. Pannier bags are a great investment. It takes the strain off your back and means that you can load up with lunch, snacks, drinks, spare clothes, nappies, maps, more snacks.. you get the idea.

Use suitable bikes. Children and adults need bikes that are the right size for them. If you are not sure ask at your local bike shop. Your leg should be almost fully extended when your pedal is at the lowest point, otherwise you will start to feel the strain.

Balance bikes are a great first bike and we cannot recommend them highly enough. They teach your child from the off that cycling is all about balance. Stabilisers will just give a false sense of security and when you take them off they will have no idea how to balance.

For babies, the Weeride or a similar front-facing seat gives your child the best views and enables you to feel more connected to them during your ride. We also felt much safer with this frame-mounted seat as it does not affect your center of gravity and cause you to topple over.

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Weeride bike seat

Be prepared. Make sure that you carry with you a puncture repair kit, mobile phone and first aid kit plus enough food and drinks to fend off any child/adult meltdowns.

There are some areas which we have tried and would recommend. The Peak District is a fantastic base and my blog post from a couple of years ago has lots of information on this. I would also recommend basing yourself near The Camel Trail in Cornwall. This is a very flat, family friendly route and is great for days out to Padstow. Exeter is also a good base. This cathedral city offers everything you need for a fun day out with a huge choice of amazing restaurants. The City Museum is definitely worth a visit! From Exeter you can take the Exe Estuary Trail to Dawlish or Exmouth. A really lovely route, some of it is on quieter roads.

We’re heading to France this year and basing ourselves in Burgundy with access to many cylce routes via the Canal du Nivernais. We will let you know how we get on! Which family cycle routes would you recommend?

A moral tale: “Little Worm’s Big Question”. Book review and give away.

13 Apr

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From the depths of the ocean to the dusty moon, Little Worm travels the world and beyond to answer his big question: what makes him special? In ‘Little Worm’s Big Question’ we encounter Whale, Beetle, Polar Bear and others who reveal their special quality. Little Worm hopes that by hearing their stories, he will learn what makes him special. It’s only when he returns home and meets another worm, that he then realises the truth: everyone is special in their own way, including him.

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There is a clear moral message at the centre of this story. We all have something special about us and sometimes, even though it might not be obvious, it’s right under our nose. The illustrations are wonderfully accurate. The writing style is clear and easy to follow and it is a lovely story to share and to talk about. When we read this book it prompted a lovely conversation about what makes everyone in our family unique and different.

We have two copies of this book to give away. To be in with a chance of winning one, please email your details to tracydixon24@gmail.com. Two winners will be chosen at random on 18th April 2016.

You can purchase Little Worm’s Big Question from Ethical Shop for £7.99.

‘Amazing’ Magazine review and give-away!

6 Apr amazing cover

amazing cover.jpgRecently we were asked to review an educational magazine for children aged 7+.

I had my reservations about this because because I have purchased ‘educational’ magazines before and they have never really interested my children, despite both being avid readers.

I was pleasantly surprised when our Amazing magazines arrived. They have a very ‘comic’ book feel about them and the cover is very bright, colourful and captivating with a horrible history feel about them.

I instantly liked the issues that I was sent. They are easy to read and full of useful facts, puzzles and even recipes.

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The content of these magazines is based around the national curriculum and includes English, Maths, Science, Arts and Humanities, along with many other subjects. I really liked the section on Personal Development which included information on Special Educational Needs. This subject is explained in very simple terms that children can understand and I think reading this would really encourage greater understanding among children and their peers. I’m so glad to see this included.

Of course the real testers were Lily and Thomas (now 9 and 7 years). I gave them a magazine each and they read them cover to cover in bed that night. Thomas wanted to jump out of bed there and then and make a catapult as suggested in his magazine! We have since made this and it works great (video to follow!)

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I asked Lily for her own review of this magazine and this is what she told me:

“This Amazing magazine is awesome! From Roman Gladiators to Chariot Races, from Latin to a Roman word search. There are puzzling anagrams and poetry. i like page 26 because of the real ‘Roman Life Rap’. It’s fun to read but also educational. The step by step instructions for building a catapult have really come in handy!”

By Lily Dixon aged 9, nearly 10!

We have 10 free copies of Amazing magazine to give away! To be in with a chance of winning, please email me at tracydixon244@gmail.com. The first 10 readers to get in touch will be sent a copy direct from the publishers.

If you love the magazine as much as us, subscriptions can be purchased with a discount of 10% by using the discount code WOW10. Check out the Amazing website for details.

 

Win Christmas at Coombe Mill Farm

21 Oct

We want to win Christmas at the lovely Coombe Mill Farm! We have never had the chance to visit and we think Christmas would be the perfect time. This video explains why. Thanks to my lovely daughter Lily for the voice-over.

Our video entry: Christmas at Coombe Mill Farm #CoombeMillXmas

Book Review: The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting

12 Oct

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Like no other Green Parenting book I have ever read, The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting is more like an Encyclopedia for the eco-conscious.

From real nappies, co-sleeping, breastfeeding and vaccines to green travel and the green home – there are so many subjects covered in this book.

Each issue is tackled with a science-based approach and is backed up with hard facts and well-balanced advice.

The book covers all the essentials and is a great reference for both new or existing parents. The author tackles some previous so-called ‘expert’ advice and gives you proven facts to enable you to make your own decisions.

I really wish I had this book when I was pregnant. It would have made all those decisions such as which nappy to use so much easier! There is a great section on ‘Green Birth’ which would be very empowering if you are considering a birth outside of a hospital setting. Again, it is backed up with evidence, research, facts and figures.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would like to make greener choices for their family. It would also make a great gift for a new parent.

Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

17 Sep book cover

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We were recently sent a copy of a new book which is due to be released in October. The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting is a refreshing change from some of the ‘preachy’ parenting books that we find on the shelves. The book gives ideas and inspiration for raising your child in an eco way.

It is delivered in a fun and practical way, yet is still backed up with research and ideas for further reading. It is humorous, colorful and imaginative and very easy to read. It includes information on natural play, an eco-friendly home and garden, foraging, tips to avoid screen time, making greener choices for your family and many more.

It gives ideas for small or large changes that you can make and recognises that you don’t need to implement all of them to make a difference. There are simple projects such as making bird feeders or designing a bog garden.

This book confirms that you don’t need to be perfect to be a green parent, you just need to get outside, have fun and get muddy!

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