Being the one usually behind the camera, you’re never that comfortable being photographed. It’s nonsense really as I know that when I’m staring through a lens, I’m not thinking how that person looks, I’m working out the settings, the composition and the focus. So why I feel a certain sense of unease having someone taking my photo is bonkers. But I do. It’s for that very reason why I detest staged and posed photos, to me, they lack personality and not a true capture of that moment in time. 

Nope, give me lifestyle, reportage style photos any day and this was reinforced recently when the boys and I were the muse for The AMP Photo Co, based here in Devon.

Curious? Well the session looked a little like this……

After several emails back and forth, one half of the award-winning husband and wife duo, Mike gave me a little background on how the location photo shoot would work. His wife Anna is credited with being one of the top wedding photographers in the country so I knew we’d be in good hands.

We were to choose a setting in which we’d be photographed just going about our day and Mike would be in the back round capturing every little moment. I was keen on a snap shot of raw family life; Our ‘normal’ is a different ‘normal’ to this time last year. The boys are teenagers, doing normal teenage things. My pre schooler is our happy little distraction, always keeping us grounded. Ditto for the dog.

And how best to preserve these days than in a picture diary which we can look back on one day and really feel that moment. Good or bad, it’s a memory and not the social media perfect we try to put out there.

Instead of the staged studio photos a typical shoot depicts, I look at these photos and I see a 17-year-old who is tired after a night out with his friends.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

I see a 13 year old, who I worry isn’t happy, smiling.

When you’re so focused on one little negative it’s so easy to miss the positives.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

I see a 3-year-old who is fascinated with the world around him.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

Who might be the smallest in our family but has the biggest personality.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

And I see a mum who’s often a little pre occupied with her thoughts……..
Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

but is easily distracted by the slightest thing her kids do to make her smile.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

Then there’s our spaniel, the one who gets over looked most of the time, but our go-to for cuddles.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

And that’s what The AMP Co photo shoot showed me, what is going on in our family right now.

Our normal.

Capturing the moments we sometimes miss with The Amp Photo Co location photoshoot

 

Many thanks to The Amp Photo Co for let us experience a photo session on our local beach in Devon 

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I recently completed a journey which I was secretly dreading. It was one of those trips which had to be done just to prove to yourself it could be done.  And once the initial maiden voyage was over, it would be plain sailing from forth with.

What made my nerves even more nonsense was that I’d done this journey many times before, the exception being I had children, older children but never a toddler. An adventurous, lively toddler who loves to explore and investigate everything, a toddler who I knew would be beyond excited at doing something new, a toddler who hated to be confined and rarely sat still for more than 5 minutes .

That was the cause of my concerns.

So the very fact that we completed our little journey, Toddler, Tween and yours truly, in a spectacular and stress free manner has compelled me to share how we managed 6 trains over  7 hours on our return trip from Devon to Oxford. And share some tips we picked up along the way for anyone else considering travelling with toddlers.

secretes to travelling with toddlers


The key to my success was in the planning. I knew that to guarantee that Toddler slept for some of our journey, I booked a train that should in theory give me an hour until his nap. This meant that he could get all excitement out of his system not long after boarding and then after a little snack, would settle down to sleep. failing that, the iPad is genius for quiet time. I’m careful never to overuse it as it looses it’s appeal and is only ever brought out at as a last resort.

As we were only staying away for a few days, we made do with a wheeled rucksack. This was our saviour when navigating the platforms or walking down train aisles and was soft enough to pack into the luggage holds. And packing was a crucial part in the planning. My BabyMule changing bag is an absolute game changer for travelling. slung over my shoulders, leaving my hands free and having everything stored in the different compartments makes grabbing snacks and nappy changes simples.

 

I also made sure I had plenty of snacks, dinners and drinks for distracting any efforts to continually want to toddle around, as toddlers do. I chose snacks which would take a while to eat and hopefully not make too much of mess of clothes or the train floor, thus eliminating any further stress.  Think raisins, Little Dish GoGo’s 

To make getting on and off the train safe, I carried my toddler in a baby sling. This meant I had my hands free to carry my baby bag and suitcase. And reins are a must for more mobile toddlers. I take mine even when I’ve got the buggy as it keeps him close by while I’m collapsing it.

Any experienced parent, who’s learnt from experience,  will know that you can’t really travel anywhere without a few extra items in your parenting ammo, one of these being a few first aid items and while my mini break was hardly crossing that Amazon, the basics still applied. Along with an emergency packet of stickers, a small pot of distraction bubbles and a favourite teddy.

Mothercare parenting expert, Liz Day, recommends that when travelling, keep your child’s teddy bear safely in your hand luggage or an easily accessible bag so they are within reach to soothe and calm your tot if there are any upsets during the journey.

So now I’ve got my plan for successful travelling with toddlers I’m hoping to be a little more adventurous with our days out and short breaks. Watch this space!

secretes to travelling with toddlers

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post 

 

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As promised, here’s the second part to our family holiday to Trevella Park in Crantock, Cornwall (part 1 is here if you missed it)

Busy Family Days and Lazy Evenings in Cornwall

As well as staying in a comfortable accommodation, there’s so much to do with Trevella Park as your base. The toddler’s all time favourite thing to while we were at the park was to visit the play park. A short walk from our caravan, it was set on a large grass area taking away an worries about toddler trips or falls. With a coupe of sets of swings, 3 slides and a wooden tractor it kept our boy more than entertained during impromptu trips to stretch our legs or burn off some last flickers of energy.

There’s also a much more adventurous play park with zip wire and climbing frames which was a magnet for older kids to congregate and make new friends. The toddler’s favourite also lead to the swimming pool, accessed via a keypad entry, it was clean and with the weather granting us a full week of sun, the sun beds were in great demand.

The toddler pool was perfectly positioned to allow my boy to paddle on his own with just arm bands to keep him upright and where I could just perch on the side. Both pools were heated and accompanied by some very funky looking old style changing rooms.

the toddler swimming pool at Trevella park is great for a warm paddle while the older kids and adults play in the larger pool

Out and about in Cornwall

We mixed up our stay with a beach day just a minute drive from our caravan, hiring surf boards from the onsite hire shop which were secured with straps by the friendly owner. This meant we weren’t confined to only surfing in Crantock and the boys could check out which beach had the best waves through out the day. Crantock beach is truly stunning, when the tides out your have vast expanses of sand with the Gannel river leaving puddles of water.

checking out the swimming pool in Trevella park, crantock

High tide and it’s a different story, the river fills and the island sand bank which has formed since our last visit disappears. The boys had just as much fun playing in the sand dunes as the waves and with a lifeguard patrol, toilets, small refreshment shop and National Trust car park.

Crantock beach in Cornwall
When the surf wasn’t on our side, we took the boys into Newquay to stop up on skateboard and surf gear spent the day zip wiring, free fall jumping and ride a giant swing at Hangloose  by The Eden Project, a 35 minute drive away, and a quick visit to Holywell Bay Fun Park, just a 10 minute drive from Trevella, where the older boys (and Daz) challenged each other on the go karts, played crazy croquet and panned for gold.

They toddler had his first experience of a bouncy castle here too. Bad move! That was literally all he wanted to do, even with a huge sandpit equipped with diggers wasn’t enough lure him away but with the park closing at 5pm he was dragged screaming for the ‘bouncey” with the promise to find some back in Devon.

With so much on offer, we headed home and planned our next day using the App for Cornwall, A day out at Flambards, sedgeway, another day of adrenalin adventure at Adrenalin Quarry as well as the FlowRider to practice their surfing skills were some of the ideas thrown into the mix. It’s definately worth downloading this app before you go and planning your break.

After busy days, we were more than happy to spend evenings at the park. We did pop out for an early tea to The Bowgie Inn one evening for typical teenage favourite pub food. It’s no frills family friendly sports bar with amazing views of Crantock bay but out ultimate recommendation  for somewhere to dine out is The Smugglers Den near Cubert for a top notch meal. We nearly always pay to a visit when we stay in Crantock but sadly we didn’t get to dine there on this occasion due to the boys being wiped out from their busy days.

Our caravan was a stones throw from the picturesque fishing lakes and a quiet stroll around early evening, or any time in fact, gives you the most amazing sounds of nature. With the ducks waddling around in search of friendly tourist nibbles to watching the swallows skim the lake for bugs, I took myself off for a few moments peace a couple of times and could’ve easily sat and watched the world go by for an hour if I had;t had the pull of wanting to spend time with my boys without the distraction of chores and work wasn’t beckoning.

Trevella Parks boats some amazing fishing lakes, perfect for a family holiday where we all get something to do
The lakes are also home to to resident swan, a number of wild birds and various fish which I won’t attempt to name! as well as the fishing decks, there are picnic benches and an onsite wild life ranger offering activities for the older children.

On our final day and after a last breakfast on the deck, we packed up our car and with heavy hearts (and a pair of sunburnt ankles, don’t ask, I had a packing malfunction) we began the journey home, stopping off for mid morning coffee in Padstow. Our memories of Trevella Park firmly embedded in our hearts with a lasting memory of a happy family holiday.

As ever, Crantock, you have been amazing!

our holiday to Crantock in cornwall where we reconnect as a family and enjoy busy days and lazy evenings

Disclaimer 

We were invited down to Trevella Park for the purpose of this review, all words and photos are entirely my own. 

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With the winter months finally behind us, the weatherman predicting a blistering hot summer and the kids pestering you about Legoland and all things Harry Potterland it’s the time of year to look outdoors and plan a summer of big adventures.

If, like us, you’re struggling for ideas of where to take the kids this summer, check out this handy ebook created by over 101 of the Best British Bloggers. With hundreds of activities, destinations, and just general FUN each of the ideas has been tested by a blogger just like myself and is personal recommendation straight from the heart.

101 activities and destinations to take the kids on holiday this summer in the UK
My suggestion for the book was BODYBOARDING IN CRANTOCK which is where I’m heading, funnily enough, next week!

Cranock in Cornwall has the most stunning sandy beach with an estuary which our boys love to play in. When they want something more adrenalin pumping the surf usually provides excellent bodyboarding and skim boarding opportunities.

Let me know if you have a destination favourite from the ebook!

Body boarding on a family holiday

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The man, the boys and little old me have all been huge Shrek fans for many years, all giggling at the crazy antics of Donkey to all trying to perfect the Puss look when trying to get our own way so when we heard there was a place we could experience a Shrek story for ourselves at Shrek’s Adventure we’ve added it to our must do list.

Sat facing the London Eye and sandwiched between the London Dungeons and Sea Life London Aquarium it’s in prime position for a trip to the capital. So as a birthday treat for the tween, we set off from sleepy Devon at 7.30am and by 10.30am we were embracing the London crowds at Waterloo station trying to get our adjust to the unfamiliar sights and sounds. It’s been quite a few years since I visited the big smoke and despite meticulously planning our walking route and travel plans to make the most of our day, finding our way, on foot to the South Bank was ridiculously easy.

our visit to London with a toddler, tween and teenager began with a visit to Shrek's Adventure

Checking In To Our Shrek’s Adventure

There’s no mistaking the attraction and after an obligatory pose in front of the Donkey statue, we headed in to get our tickets. The staff were super chirpie and helpful and we whizzed through the line and security checks and there began the first part of the tour.

Each party is allocated 1 wrist band and you begin by going through a series of photo opportunities where you’re encouraged to pose against a green screen so the photo is edited into comical scenes. It really gets you into the fun of it all straight away and while Daz & I are up for joining in with these things, getting two image conscious teens to do the same was never going to happen. My guys don’t even take selfies and unless it’s a cool, model like pose, pretending to be a character in Shrek was quite a sight to see!

The next round of interactive fun was an unusual lift ride then onto a 4D adventure ride via a Dreamworks bus which was the high light of my adventure. With your 3d glasses you take a journey through clouds and roller coast style twists and turns while feeling wind and rain. I was a little concerned that our toddler would find it a little too frightening but my over zealous ‘wows’ and ‘yays’ seemed to reassure him!

our visit to London with a toddler, tween and teenager began with a visit to Shrek's Adventure

The actors which guided your through the rooms were fantastic, instead of meandering through at your own pace you become part of the story and I really couldn’t fault a thing. From the set, the props to even the unusual smells when you’re in Shrek’s swamp, when you emerge out the other side you really do feel like you’ve been on an adventure. * Warning there is some audience participation but it’s all good fun and your divided in small groups of around 10-15.*

Theres no filming allowed once you embark on the bus but once you reach your destination (I won’t give the plot away) you are given the chance to purchase a journal with the photos which were taken at the start. Theres no hard sell though which was a great relief as ours were terribly awkward looking! After this its through to an area where you can take your own photos.

Apologies for the quality of my shots, this was one of those experiences where I got to live it rather than dawdle behind taking photos which for me, was a refreshing change. So the best I could get was some token iPhone ones to give you an idea.

So to wrap it up, Shrek’s Adventure was an exhilarating and fun hour. I’d recommend it for families with children age 4  through to 12, maybe older if they’re real Shrek fans.

courtesy of shrek’s adventure.com

Disclaimer 

We were given complimentary tickets for Shrek’s Adventure for the purpose of this review. All words and photos unless otherwise stated, are my own.

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