5 Tips When Booking A Holiday

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As soon as Christmas is over I usually start thinking about a Summer holiday. It always seems the best time to start researching and gathering some costs for the Summer ahead. Planning a holiday abroad takes a lot of time so I have gathered some top tips when booking a holiday.

Hotel in Majorca

Do Your Research
When we have gone abroad in the past I find it quite stressful to actually find a suitable holiday for all of us. Our first holiday with big J was when he was just 1 year old. We researched for months before we settled on a destination. It had to be suitable for families, not too hot, plenty to do, clean and with amenities for a baby. It was hard work but it's worth it because holidays cost thousands and thousands of pounds and it has to be right. 

Does It Suit ALL The Family?
When it comes to booking a holiday you have to ask yourself does it suit everyone? If you have kids a beach holiday might be just what you want but is there enough to keep the kids entertained? Having a hotel, villa or apartment with a pool is fantastic but the kids will probably get bored or tired after a few hours and will want more. A play area, kids daytime activity programme or kids club are ideal for little ones and now most resorts offer this up to the age of 16 with teen clubs to keep them busy. 

Check TripAdvisor But Don't Get Hung Up On The Negatives
Over the past few weeks we have talked ourselves out of some fantastic hotels and resorts because of TripAdvisor. I love TripAdvisor but it is very easy to focus on the negatives rather than the positives. We found an amazing hotel through Thomson and overall on TripAdvisor it scored 82% on excellent and very good, but 3% of the 3,000+ reviews were negative. We focused on the negative and decided not to go which is crazy but we couldn't focus on all the positives after that. Some negative reviews will be genuine,  but most of the time it is usually down to personal reasons for example they didn't like the food or they found the entertainment boring. Don't get hung up on the negatives.

Ask Family and Friends For Recommendations
Knowing someone has been to a hotel or resort and is happy to recommend it to you is usually a sign it's good. I wouldn't like to recommend anywhere to my family or friends unless I was 100% sure they would love it. There would be nothing worse than recommending somewhere and they hate it.

It's OK To Visit Somewhere You Have Been Before
I was determined this year to try and find somewhere that we haven't been before but as we love Cyprus and Majorca so much, I am guessing we will probably visit the same hotel we have enjoyed in the past. At first I thought if we visit the same place we are being boring and not seeing what else the world has to offer but like I said earlier holidays cost thousands of pounds so if there is a holiday, hotel or resort you love and it has everything you need, why visit somewhere else? Why risk spending all that money for it to be not as good as a place you have visited before it's not you being boring its you being sensible. 

Have you booked your holiday this year? Leave us a comment below and let us know where you are going. 

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Review - Rory's Story Cubes

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Disclosure - We were sent the products below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our unless stated. This post may contains affiliate links. 

As you may already know we are a Board Game Club blogger and each month we receive a game to play. We received something a little different this month, Rory's Story Cubes. I have never heard of them before so we were all  eager to try them out. The idea behind the story cubes is you create a story using all nine icons shown on the cubes that you roll out in front of you.

Rorys Story Cubes
The nine cubes have various images on and once rolled out you let your imagination take over. They come in a handy pocket sized box that closes with a magnet so you could take them anywhere.

Rorys Story Cubes
At first I was unsure how or when we would use something like this as it's not actually a game. There is no board, rules or winner at the end. I did check the website for inspiration on how or when we could play this and it gave me lots of ideas.

Fun storytelling for family and friends, create magical moments with all generations, especially useful for the holidays.

Promoting literacy and language in the classroom – used and endorsed by educators across the globe.

Teaching Foreign Languages – endorsed by TEFL educators.

Creative Writing aid – Used for improving creative writing skills and as a tool when hitting the dreaded writer’s block.

Background story generator in role playing games – Create background stories and character scenarios for your next role playing game.

Ice breaker – At a party or in a work meeting, break the ice by rolling the dice and create shared experiences.

Idea generation and problem solving.

Agile coaching.

Bedtime stories – Create unique stories and adventures with your little ones every night. Never run out of ideas.

Improves social connections – Encourages, empathy and self esteem through storytelling.

Rorys Story Cubes
It's amazing how a package so small and simple can be used in so many ways. We have used ours at bedtime to create a story for little J. It's been so much fun because you can take the story anywhere and create as much fun and silliness as you want. Each night has been a different story and last night little J created his own.

What We Loved

Handy sized cubes that are portable.

Lots of different uses.

Allows us to create unique stories each night at bedtime. 

What Could Improve

Nothing, we love them

Rorys Story Cubes
You can read more about Rory's Story Cubes and check out the full range available. Rory's Story Cubes retail at £9.99 and can be purchased online and on Amazon


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Breakfast With Santa At The Alton Towers Hotel

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One of our favourite Christmas traditions is visiting Alton Towers each year for Santa’s Sleepover. This is a tradition that we have enjoyed for almost 20 years now and over those years we have seen the Alton Towers Resort change and evolve with new activities added each year. This year we enjoyed a breakfast with Santa for the first time.

Santa Breakfast at Alton Towers

Usually we visit Santa on our first day over at CBeebies land in the theme park and whilst this is still an option we were staying in an Arctic Explorer room so had the chance to have breakfast with Santa instead.

Breakfast was booked for us at 9:15am on the day of our departure. There were two sittings, one at 7:30am and one at 9:15am. I can’t say how busy the 7:30 sitting was but the later one was extremely busy in fact it was full and we did see a very disappointed family who had obviously booked but there was no room for them.

If you have enjoyed breakfast at the Alton Towers hotel before in the secret garden well the Breakfast with Santa is just next door in the Emperors Suite. We were advised to arrive at 10 minutes early and even by this time the waiting area was full.

When the doors opened there was a stampede to get through the door and find a table however there was no need as we had all been allocated a table already.

Santa Breakfast at Alton Towers
We were given a table for four and I will say it was a squeeze. Not only was the table of four small but we were packed in between other tables and it just felt a little overcrowded. Having said that little J didn’t seem to mind and was quite happy tucking in to the pastries that were on the table already.

meeting Mrs Claus
Once everyone was seated we were welcomed by Sir Algenon who is the explorer mentioned throughout Alton Towers. He told us of a time when he met Mrs Claus and then suddenly she arrived. She had prepared a lovely breakfast for us all but before it was time to eat we had to help decorate the tree. Some of the tables had tinsel on and some had presents. We had a present and little J took the present down to the front and placed it under the tree while Mrs Claus and the elves sang a very upbeat and happy song.

Then a special visitor arrived down the chimney - Father Christmas. He was sat throughout the breakfast by the tree so you could visit him, have a photo taken and receive a gift. Mrs Claus and the elves were happy to have their photos taken too.

Once the buffet opened everyone was on their feet to get some food. It was about 9:50am by this time so I can imagine there were quite a few hungry tummies by this time.

The selection of breakfast was just as you would expect. Cereals, fruit and pastries then hot food such as sausage, egg and beans.

There was plenty of food and it stayed available throughout right until it was time to go.

When it was little J's turn to see Santa he went very shy as usual but Santa was great and chatted to him before posing for a photo and then giving little J a gift. He received a cute elephant hand puppet.

Once everyone had finished their food and had their photo with Santa it was time for him to return to the North Pole to prepare for the big day. He sang a lovely duet of ‘Its the most wonderful time of the year’ with Mrs Claus as they made their way through the tables and towards the exit.

meeting elf
Little J really enjoyed the breakfast and was entertained throughout.

What We Loved

A nice addition to the Santa’s Sleepover experience.

It was something we hadn’t experienced before so was good to try something new.

The room and tables were decorated perfectly for the festive season.

Great selection of food and drinks available throughout.

Chance to meet Santa and receive a nice gift.

What Could Improve

The number of people in the room. The room was overcrowded.

There was no professional photograph with Santa as promised. We had to take our own.

The gifts were not wrapped and were not as good as previous years of seeing Santa at the resort.

Overall it was a nice experience for little J and I think we would definitely book again if it is an option next year.

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Chad Valley Post Office Review

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Disclosure - We were sent the product below for the purpose of this post. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own unless stated. This post may contain affiliate links. 

One of my favourite toys when I was younger was my Post Office play set. I would play with it for hours and I remember picking up leaflets and paying in slips when we visited the post office so I could add them to my play set. When Chad Valley sent us their Post Office Play Set it brought back so many memories. I knew little J would love it as he loves anything like this especially as it has lots of accessories.

chad valley post office
The play set looks like a post box but when opened it turns in to a post office counter. It comes with lots of different accessories including money, stamps and parcels. 

hand holding a penny
hand putting a stamp on a parcel
Little J loves adding stamps to the letters, postcards and parcels. We have used the money to help with little J's basic addition and subtraction and it has really helped. He likes to work out the correct amount of change he needs to give us. 

hand putting a stamp on a parcel
The post office also comes with driving license, tax disc and savings book. We received a stamper in our post office however there was no ink pad so we had to improvise and use paint. I'm not sure whether it was supposed to come come with an ink pad or not as I couldn't find an exact list of contents in the box. 

chad valley post office
As a play set it is quite sturdy but it can be quite tricky to unfold and set up, it definitely needs an adults help. 

What We Loved

Folds away in to a post box. Easy to store and carry. 

Lots of accessories.

Perfect role play toy and great for a little ones imagination.

What Could Improve

No ink pad.

Little J has really enjoyed playing with the Post Office play set and I know this will be something he will continue to play with. I will add a few extra accessories to add the fun including some extra money. 

The Chad Valley Post is available to buy at Argos and Amazon and is currently priced £16.99

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