Slowing Down the pace on a cycle holiday

Bike riding has always been one of our favourite family activities, even with a toddler in tow, it’s a case of strap them in the trailer and off we go! From Center Parcs breaks where we spend the whole time biking around the village to day trips exploring  Holden Forest on 2 wheels and more recently, and my local cycle path favourite, a long leisurely ride from Darts Farm in Topsham, along the coast and stopping in Exmouth.

It’s only part of stretch of family friendly cycle routes in Devon, I prefer to keep off the main roads as much as possible as it takes all the stress out of keeping the kids safe and is nearly all on the flat, give or take a couple of hills. I don’t mind getting off and pushing my bike here as it gives you a chance to meander though the pretty village of Lympstone as well as have a gawp at the stunning houses and see how the other half lives. There’s also a couple of pubs along the route as well as a local shop where we stopped for an ice-cream.

Living in a hilly village, I don’t get to use a bike as much as I like, as much as it’s easier going down, it takes just as long to ride coming up and that’s without a toddler on the back so the only chance I get is when I’ve planned a day out and hired bikes or on holidays. Which is exactly why I would consider taking a biking holiday like those offered by the Slow-Holiday company, Inntravel, where they plan all their biking holiday routes carefully.

Just imagine being able to take in the scenery at a much slower pace, they make sure their tried and tested routes as enjoyable with quiet roads and country lanes wherever possible.The Topsham to Exmouth route would fit their bill perfectly. I’d need that reassurance when exploring another country on a bike

With detailed maps and route notes I’d feel suitably prepared they even transport luggage ahead to your hotel. <cough, cough,> (British Airways couldn’t even manage that for us!)  To top it off, as these bike holidays are for individuals, not groups, you can take your pick of the routes suggested each day and cycle at entirely your own pace.

I’m thinking Tuscany……. vineyards…….sunsets……bliss!

slowing down the holiday pace with a cycle holiday

 

Disclosure

This post is in collaboration with Inntravel

Follow:
Share:

As promised, here’s part 2 of my review of our stay at Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia with Mark Warner. (If you missed part 1, read all about the accommodation and restaurant here )  

What sets a Mark Warner aside from other travel companies are the activities for all the family. Our break had group sailing and windsurfing lessons, mountain bike, tennis, sea kayak and paddle board hire,as well as half day childcare and evening childcare and kids club sessions all included. And there’s one word which goes above ALL those activities and that’s quality.

There are no half measures on a Mark Warner holiday, especially when it comes to the the staff, everyone we met seemed to love their job and that radiated into how friendly, helpful and happy they were. For a mum who’s never used kids clubs on holiday before, I needed to be sure that my children were in capable hands but it soon became clear, from the quality of the rooms to the manner and friendliness of the Mark Warner nannies, that I had no reason to worry.

We’d booked morning sessions for Ronnie which ran from 9.30 – 12.30 am, with a programme of organised activities including bubble play, fun pool sessions (where all kids wore float suits and sun hats) beach sessions where tried mini on-shore sailing & playing on the paddle board or in the waves, as well as crafts, play time and singing and dancing. Phew!

In the afternoons, when he wasn’t booked in but spotted Phee, his Mark Warner kids club nanny, in the pool he tried to joining in. A sure sign he loved the kids club sessions, I’d say. What I really liked though was that the childcare team would stop and talk to him even when they saw him around the complex. (watch my video below if you want to see the cutest stage performance of the Mini’s which proceeded a presentation to conclude their week)

As for Ky, my awkward and shy teenager, the kids club was the making of the holiday for him. Initially he was very reluctant to join in but I explained that everyone was in the same boat; not knowing anyone and persuaded to give it a try. His had the opportunity to join in with as many or as few sessions as he wanted throughout the day. The schedule of activities would be listed on a board outside the kids club hut so he knew exactly what was on and where to go. It took just that first one session for him to make friends and end up having his best holiday ever.

From beach rounders, group games involving water fights, pool games and sailing sessions, he was spoilt for choice. And when the kids club finished, he was off with his new co host of Mark Warner teens and tweens. The complex is compact so quite safe leaving this age group to roam free. It probably explains why he was so tired in the morning and ate more than I though humanly possible. He made new friends which he’s still in touch with and more importantly, some of the best holiday memories money couldn’t buy.

I don’t want to go home and if we do I want to come back here for every holiday from now on

were his exact words!

the stunning beach at Perdepera beach resort in Sardinia
The evening childcare was a bonus too. After taking the kids to an early dinner at 5.30, it was back to the room to change Ronnie into his pj’s then back out to watch a movie with his new friends at 7.30,   The room was kitted out with mini camping beds and sleeping bags as well as the sofa area for movie time, and when he was tired he’d settle down and go to sleep. All under the watchful eye of British trained nannies and opposite the restaurant, so we were nearby if he was upset.

This was another 1st for me, although Ronnie’s stayed at his Dads and my mum’s plenty of times, he’s never had a babysitter but I soon realised it was a much nicer way for him to spend his evening rather than sat still in a restaurant for a couple of hours!

And finally, it wasn’t all about the kids. I got to try out some activities too. Unfortunately we missed a couple of days due to the chaos of British Airways IT failures, so I didn’t get to do everything on my list. But that just gives me a reason to start saving for another Mark Warner holiday!

I did, however, get to try windsurfing under the patient guidance of Maddie, my instructor, albeit in very choppy waters which meant I spent more time in the water than on the board. Sea kayaking on a calmer day was absolute bliss and (SUP) paddle boarding was a lot harder than it looks, but just as fun. Next time I would love to make use of the mountain bikes available and see a little more of the island while learning to sail is my number 1 priority. We met a couple who were keen sailors and had stayed in other Mark Warner resorts but found that Sardinia had perfect sailing conditions. The winds were stronger in the afternoon and calmer in the morning so for a newbie like myself, that would be the best time to learn.


As well as windsurfing and sailing tuition, there were also organised group sea kayak adventures, catamaran tasters or you can pay extra for 1-1 sailing sessions. For the days when you’re feeling a little less energetic, Perdepera Beach Resort has a chic, adult only pool with jets and a tranquil decking area or you can book a treatment in the mini spa

 

And if you’re really lucky and British Airways manage to lose everyone’s luggage, you get to spend the morning in a local shop buying essentials! Joking aside, I should  say a huge thanks to Mark Warner and Colette, our resort manager, for making the best of a difficult situation and going above and beyond their duty in helping us to enjoy our holiday after being stuck at Heathrow for 2 days during the British Airways IT failure. It didn’t go un noticed and was hugely appreciated not just by myself but other guests we spoke to.

the stunning beach at Perdepera beach resort in Sardinia

And if you want to see more, here’s a whistle-stop tour of the complex;

Disclaimer

This is a collaborative post but all words and photography are my own unless otherwise stated.

Follow:
Share:

Quality Time & Family-Style Dining At Prezzo

One of my favourite meal times are the occasions when everything is piled into the middle of the table and we all tuck in. With 2 teenagers as my regular dining companions, it’s usually a case of shove food in & go while the toddler and I try to decipher the adolescent grunts. But those meal times,  when it’s all laid out and we have to share are much more sociable so for a change of scenery, we took one of these family meal sharing moments to our local Prezzo to see if the La Familiagra   Sharing pasta bowls had the same effect.

Try out the La Famiglia sharing dish at Prezzo wile combining precious quality family time
Sharing a huge bowl of pasta was the challenge, so the first task was to decide which one. After much deliberation

me; “So kiddos, it’s spag bol, ham or chicken. What is everyone fancying?”

kids; “chicken”

Words are kept to a minimum between the ages of 13 & 17 in our house!

We went for a Penne Alla Rusticana – a tomato sauce and chicken & bacon pasta dish and our meal also came with 2 sides of garlic bread, great for mopping up the sauce. (Being vegetarian at this point took a side step as both Maddie, Jordi’s girlfriend and I were left to pick out the meat!)

We were on a tight schedule for getting back to pick up Ronnie from my mum & step dad’s so not having to browse a menu for too long meant we’d ordered drinks and our main dish within less than 10 minutes of arriving and the food being on our table pretty quickly afterwards. This all seemed way too easy and stress free!

Try out the La Famiglia sharing dish at Prezzo wile combining precious quality family time
Arriving in a large sharing bowl, it was up to me to play mum dishing up to each of us. There was none of that diving in, each man for themselves business, it was all very conservative. (Probably due to Jordi’s girlfriend joining us.) And bizarrely, with 3 teenagers in the group, we had leftovers, even after I  dished up a round of seconds, sneaky making sure we all got a share of peppers to boost our 5 a day.


My sharing style is based on age order for the kids. Even with Ky’s appetite catching up with his brother’s, it still has to be quite tactical as Jordi will always demand the biggest share in honour of being the eldest and then the smallest portion for yours truly. It must be a family trait as I remember my mum always having the smallest portions when we were growing up.

Try out the La Famiglia sharing dish at Prezzo wile combining precious quality family time
Just over an hour later, after washing it all down with ice creams, we were on our merry way. Our conclusion;

This was a perfect midweek treat for a busy family without getting in the way of homework, yet still long enough to spend much-needed quality time. Moments like these are perfect for catching up while sharing a nice meal and definitely one we’ll be doing again sometime.

Try out the La Famiglia sharing dish at Prezzo wile combining precious quality family time
This post is an entry for the BritMums #PrezzoLaFamiglia Challenge, sponsored by Prezzo.

Follow:
Share:

Our Mark Warner Holiday at Perdepera Beach Resort, Sardinia part 1

It’s been quite a while since I last ventured out of the country, with one thing and another family holidays have been taken on uk turf, but this year was going to be different, this year was going to be the year of the foreign holiday! There was just one problem. After an awful experience on a package holiday many moons ago, I’d been put off big time. I needed a break which guaranteed quality, offered activities for everyone and wasn’t too far to travel with a toddler. And the Mark Warner Perdepera Beach Resort  in Sardinia seemed to tick all those boxes.

With its mountain back drop and sandy shores, Perdepera Beach resort is compact and on a slightly smaller scale than other Mark Warner sites (so my fellow guests who have stayed at other resorts informed me.) Travelling from Heathrow, it’s only a 2 hour flight followed by a 2 hour transfer (with comfort stop luckily!)
Set with direct access to the beach, ‘friendly’ and ‘relaxed’ were some of the hit words which myself and fellow guests used to describe it. Full board dining was included in our package which included a buffet style breakfast, lunch and dinner all taken in the restaurant overlooking the pool.

The main pool, restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

The small nature of the site meant you quickly got to know the fellow guests which was a huge bonus, I’ve never been on such a friendly holiday! There were a few families who kept themselves to themselves, so you’re not on each other toes, but I loved the fact that you could chat and just generally have a giggle. We may have been lucky holidaying with such a friendly, like minded bunch of people. It tends to attract families looking to take advantage of the excellent sailing conditions, mountain biking and hassle free family breaks.


All meals are taken in the restaurant on a full board basis.  Breakfast consisted of fruit juice croissants, toast, fruit, cheese, cakes, cereals as well as your usual cooked breakfast. Worth noting that tea and coffee are only served in the morning although you can buy it at the bar when the restaurant is closed and there’s no facilities in the rooms. Caraffs of red, white and rose wine, sparkling and still water were also available.

The restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort
We got to sample many Sardinian recipes during lunch and dinner, with salads, hot & cold meats, cheeses, cakes, desserts, fruit, pasta, bread and chips on the offering. While it wasn’t al la carte, it was fine. My own personal fave had to be the huge chargrilled prawns which I along with the table of new friends we dined with on our last night couldn’t get enough of, I’m talking platefulls!

As for the toddler and teenager, I don’t think I have honestly seen them eat so much. This is where buffet dining comes into it’s own! While they tended to avoid the more local dishes, pasta, fruit and salad were reloaded many times with ice-cream top ups coming from the bar, the prices were comparative to back here in England which was nice to see they weren’t taking advantage of a captive audience!

The main pool, restaurant area at Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

A big pat on the back went to the early dining option for kids in the resort with the restaurant opening at 5.30 until 6.15 and serving much more child friendly meals of pasta, hot dogs, chips, salad, desserts and juice. This meant we had time to go back, shower and get ready and back out again to book the younger guests into evening childcare at 7.30pm allowing the adults relaxed dining while they watched a movie before being settled into sleep pods and sleeping bags by the British qualified nannies until they were collected at 9.30pm (Mark Warner info sheets stated the evening childcare ending at 10.30pm but most were picked up before then.)

Which leads me seamlessly on to my highlight of our Mark Warner holiday to Perdepera Beach Resort , the kids clubs. I’ve never used childcare or kids clubs on holiday before but with so many activities on the offering, it gave us the perfect chance to try some out. I’ll share the kids club and activities in a separate post, there’s waaaaaaaay too much to write in one sitting!

the beach at Mark Warner Perdepera Beach resort, Sardinia

Complex wise, the accommodation is set in singular blocks of apartments looking more like a quaint Sardinian village than a holiday complex. Painted in blues and terracotta, even a stroll around is a treat for the eyes. And with it being on the smaller side, you’re only minutes from the pool, reception and beach. Each one has it’s own covered patio with seating, table and clothes drier and designed so they aren’t overlooked.

I’d describe the rooms as more traditional than modern, with dark wood furniture, a small kitchen and bathroom with shower, large sink and (well lit) mirror and bidet. I’m fussy about my showers and ours was perfect with a good, clean and maintained shower cubicle ample enough for any sized person (or an adult with a toddler sitting on the floor as my son liked to do!) I did meet another guest who had a more modern shower and TV so I guess some rooms had been upgraded recently?

We had a mezzanine style house style. The front door opened in a small kitchenette area with a stocked mini fridge, sink, small hob and cupboards which you walked through to an area with 2 single beds, which could be used as sofas due to the padded back rests, chest of drawers and TV. As well as patio doors onto the private, outside seating area.

You accessed the other room up a flight of stairs within the downstairs room up to an open area with a double bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers. With it being open plan you can hear everything downstairs so there’s no worry about not hearing younger kids waking in the night.
To be honest, we only used our room as a base and the TV was switched on once for 10 minutes. With so much to do, other than sitting out on the patio after our evening meal chatting about our day, it was purely a case of, sleep, wash, get ready and out!

As mentioned earlier, this is only part 1 of our amazing holiday with Mark Warner to the Perdepera Beach Resort in Sardinia. Part 2 is all about the facilities and kids clubs available there.

Disclaimer

We received a discount on our Mark Warner holiday in return for sharing our honest thoughts on our stay. As always all photos and words are entirely my own unless otherwise stated. 

Follow:
Share:

Tips for Stress Free Train Journeys With Toddlers

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 

 

Follow:
Share: