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Beautiful Burgundy. Family cycling in France.

9 Oct Le Moulinot near Vermenton

France is a great location for a cycling holiday. We are not quite ready for on-road cycle routes and travelling miles and miles each day so this year we opted for one base that was in easy reach of family friendly rides.

The canal paths and sleepy waterways are perfect for cyclists of all abilities. We set off for the day, loaded up with picnics, drinks and sun cream and just loved the relaxed and easy way of life. No one rushes anywhere in Burgundy. The colourful canal boats drift along with ease, the crew giving a wave as you ride by or perhaps lifting a glass of wine in your direction to say ‘Bon Soir’. The beautiful villages along the way are very welcoming with their boulangeries and cafes.


Our accommodation was on the edge of Vermenton. A lovely small town with all amenities and a very good campsite by the river. Friends of ours stayed at this site for a few days and loved it.

We stayed at Le Moulinot. This is a wonderful property that provides everything a family needs for a fun-filled holiday. The property is spacious and welcoming, has all mod cons (including a DVD player with English films) and is situated next to a beautiful millpond and swimming pool.


There is a canoe on the pond which we made use of every day. The swimming pool was cool and inviting during the scorching hot days and there were plenty of loungers for relaxing and reading.

You feel completely free here and are surrounded by fields, streams and wildlife. Other than the owners who live in an adjacent property, there are no other neighbours and it felt very safe for the children to be wild and free. It is a bird spotters paradise, with a resident Kingfisher, Dippers, Herons and Buzzards flying over-head and beautiful dragonflies flitting about on the water.

Wildlife Collage.jpgOur favourite wildlife were the Coypu who doggie-paddled across the pool at dusk and entertained the children for hours. Although they are from the rodent family they are very sweet and look like little otters or beavers. They  have been eradicated in the UK so we were quite excited to see them. There were also red squirrels and  Loir (Edible Dormouse). We had a brief glimpse of a red squirrel but sadly never spotted a Loir as they are nocturnal. We did however hear them in the roof space at night!

Coypu Collage.jpg

Coypu spotting!


The beautiful and tranquil, Le Moulinot

Vermenton is an excellent base for exploring Burgundy. Here are our recommendations for places to visit.

  • Noyers-sur-Serein. A beautiful medieval town with an old castle to explore. Try lunch at Rouge et Blanc where you can get a fantastic platter of cheeses and cold meats.
  • Grottes de St More – Quite an energetic hike to these and you do need to be a bit of a mountain goat at times! If you are feeling adventurous though they are definitely worth exploring. Good for spotting sleeping bats!
  • Avallon – Another medieval town with some great restaurants. Thomas had his first taste of snails here. L’horloge restaurant on 63 Grande Rue Aristide Briand was really good at accommodating my gluten free requests. The owner spoke good English and was very reassuring in talking me through their menu.
  • Chablis – The only place I have ever been where it seems normal to have wine with breakfast! Check out the wine tours here, there are plenty to choose from. The open air market is excellent too.
  • Vezelay – A trip to the Basilica is definitely worthwhile. We had lunch at Restaurant le Dent Creuse which was very reasonably priced and despite looking like a tourist trap was actually very good.
  • Grottes D’Arcy – These are excellent caves with a guided tour in French (my husband and children enjoyed a spontaneous translation from a lovely Parisian English teacher). Look out for the second oldest cave paintings in France and amazing geological formations.
  • Auxerre – We visted here on our last day and I wish we had discovered it earlier. It has the best market of any we had seen. Do not miss Cathedral St Etienne, it has stunning stained glass windows, statues, gargoyles and paintings that take your breath away.



vezelay-collageAs well as site seeing there are plenty of other things to do in the area…



There are quite a few options for Kayaking the Burgundy rivers. We decided to head to St Pere in the Morvan Valley and chose AB Loisirs. They were helpful and friendly and spoke English which was very useful for us! Our route was a five mile fairly easy paddle and was easily managed by our 7 and 10 year old who shared kayaks with us. This was a great way to explore the river Cure and get up close to the wildlife.

Two minutes from AB Loisirs is Brasserie de Vezelay where you could buy a perfect, cold, gluten free beer. They also serve bar snacks. Definitely worth a visit if you are a coeliac like me.


We love visiting French markets with their atmosphere, sights and smells and stocking up on local cheeses and pastries. You can find a list of market days here.

Ecluse Des Dames on the Canal du Nivernais


Ecluse Des Dames – a wonderful find!

I have to mention Ecluse Des Dames which we happily discovered on a bike ride. This is a play park in the trees! For just five euros each your little ones can play tarzan for as long as they like whilst you enjoy the picnic areas and hammocks and keep a close eye on them. (Children under 6 must be accompanied by an adult). The owners also have a small bistrot here where you can enjoy a glass of Chablis and a goats cheese salad. What a perfect way to spend the afternoon.

Burgundy was a delight for all the family and we would definitely recommend Le Moulinot. We will have some very happy memories of this trip.

What is your favourite holiday destination as a family?

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:



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.


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


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.


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 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.

Amazing inside.jpg

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!)


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 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

book cover

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.