All of it!

    It’s Hero Time: Our Night in The Rust Bucket from Ben 10!

    A Night in The Ben 10 Rust Bucket

    Bunnies hop in the Oxfordshire greenery, ducks waddle over to say hello, the kids run around and collect conkers, a pair of red kites circle and call out just above us. We’ve arrived at the campsite early and wait excitedly as the finishing touches to our accommodation are prepared.  Over the tops of ordinary motorhome roofs we spy an RV quite unlike the others. It’s blue, with go faster stripes and a giant satellite fixed to the roof. The roof rack is loaded with lots of spare fuel tanks.

    To celebrate the new Ben 10 episodes airing on Cartoon Network, a replica of Ben 10’s Grandpa Max’s motorhome – fondly nicknamed The Rust Bucket – has been created. We’re lucky to get to spend a night in it. You could too, more info below. Continue reading

    All of it!, Travel

    Halloween on a Cruise & Easy Halloween Costumes you can pack for holidays

    Halloween Cruise - spending Halloween on Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Sunshine

    When you are already packing for a half term holiday, Halloween costumes can feel like one more thing to stress about. However, some of our best Halloweens have been celebrated on holiday, one of the most memorable was our ‘Halloween Cruise’, actually just a day within a 2 week Mediterranean cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines, filming as their ‘funnest family’ – but Halloween fell on the last day of our cruise, so it was the kids’ lasting memory. Continue reading

    Travel, Wellbeing

    Our hobbies and headspace activities that also travel well

    Travel can be the perfect time to take up a new hobby, habit or to get clearer on something. These are my favourite travel headspace ideas.
    Travel can involve a lot of time sitting, and the more I do travel, the more I want to make that time count too. Sometimes of course, it is great to just look out the window and be alone with your thoughts, especially I find on trains. But other times, I think it’s nice to have something to pass the time. Double win if it also helps you to unwind.
    Over the summer we decided to retreat to a fairly out of it cottage in Wales, I decided it was time for some time offline and to try and remember exactly what my hobbies were too. I’m really proud that the time I spent in Wales really helped me reconnect with myself and that lots of those activities have really stuck for me, so I thought I would share them.

    Continue reading

    All of it!, Days Out, nature, Travel

    Bluffer’s guide: How to pass as a Capability Brown expert

    Bluffer's guide: How to pass as a Capability Brown expert

    Chatsworth is my nearest Capability Brown garden. I love seeing it appear through the wild scenery of the Peak District, as it might have done to Jane Austen when she wrote Pride and Prejudice*. It makes me take a sharp intake of breath, just as a cab driver told me the Downton Abbey fans do on first seeing Highclere appear from behind the trees, that or they scream. Capability’s dramatic reveals are still thrilling people 300 years later.

    Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, designed gardens at some of the country’s greatest stately homes including Blenheim Palace, Chatsworth and Highclere. This year is the Year of the Garden, the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth. I was lucky to spend a day at Highclere Castle earlier this year, location of Downton Abbey, learning lots more about Brown’s work from Lady Carnarvon and her team of experts.

    If you ever want to pretend to your kids, parents, in laws or a know-it-all sibling that you’re a secret garden whizz, here’s all you need to know to pass yourself off as a Capability Brown expert. Continue reading

    All of it!

    A Holiday Park with a Difference: Kelling Heath, North Norfolk


    ‘Mum! It’s a baby deer!’ The 7yo comes crashing into our bedroom in the lodge, where we’re reading, savouring the fact they are able to roam outdoors safely and completely happy to do so.

    ‘They’ve killed a baby deer!’ Mr A announces, ‘We should never have let them cycle in the forest on their own’.

    ‘No we haven’t!’ laughs the 7yo. ‘We’ve seen one, outside, come on!’

    I follow the very excited 7yo into the forest where my 10yo daughter and 11yo niece are hiding in the ferns.

    We saw it run off this way, says my 10yo. ‘It was adorable, can I…’

    ‘No you can’t have one as a pet.’ I jump in swiftly, ‘but let’s see if we can see it again’.

    So we take a dusk walk around some of Kelling Heath’s 300 acres, looking for the adorable baby deer. Sadly I don’t see it, but I am pleased the kids did, and seeing their eyes dancing with enthusiasm for nature is magic. We soon spot lots of rabbits and begin the process of narrowing down which lodge we would buy if we could… Continue reading

    All of it!, Travel

    Parentshaped – Best Family Travel Blogger Runner Up in the Family Traveller Awards

    parentshaped was runner up at the family traveller awards for best family travel blogger!

    Thank you so much for all the nominations and support from my lovely readers, friends and fellow bloggers. I was really blown away to be runner up in the Family Traveller Best Family Travel Blogger awards this week. It’s taken me a little while to recover from the excitement of a day out in London, an awards ceremony, three glasses of fizz and accidentally boarding the wrong train home to Nottingham*, but today, Friday I have recovered sufficiently to tell the tale!

    *In my defence, they always put the Derby and Nottingham trains on the same platform, it was an accident waiting to happen, especially when your confidence is slightly buoyed by being runner up in a lovely award ceremony, and by fizz. What can I say? I’m actually a very organised and reliable travel blogger and you shouldn’t be put off collaborating with me. The staff at Derby station were very sweet and although they had no train to put me on when I emerged confused on a ghostly platform, they did point me in the direction of a reasonably priced cab who reassured me I am not the first or the last person to be fooled by East Midlands trains, while Mr A sent me repeated texts demanding the cab number and to know I was ok – bless him. I got home at 2am and got up to do the school run at 7am. Back to the awards…

    The ceremony took place at The White Company’s flagship store, on Symons Street, London complete with fizz and canapés.  I tried not to get distracted by scented candles and a heart shaped Shepherd’s pie dish (NEED!) While distracting Katie’s baby** in the nursery section I also fell in love with a feather mobile. The room quickly filled with representatives from all across the family travel industry and we heard some fascinating stats about family travel, despite Brexit, it is still growing faster as an industry than travel in general and multi- generational getaways are particularly popular (did you hear that Dad?).

    There were 25 categories across the travel industry, and Best Family Travel Blogger was a new award this year. Amazingly the travel inspiration site I co-edit Space In Your Case was also a finalist, along with two of my co-editors blogs Mummy Daddy Me and Actually Mummy. Our fourth Space In Your Case member Alison Perry of Not Another Mummy Blog join us to represent Space In Your Case so it was the perfect excuse for a catch up in London before hand. It was lovely to see Mums Do Travel and All Baby Advice, fellow finalists Mini Travellers and My Travel Monkey were very much missed.

    Blogging has opened lots of fascinating doors for me and I’ve been lucky to win lots of awards for different things, from video to charity work during my seven years of blogging – but family travel really has become my passion. (Apart from a couple of moments in August when I had kids off school, a trip fell through, I suddenly had lots of lovely work offers coming in and I thought my head was going to explode. Luckily a digital detox in a remote Welsh cottage soon fixed that). It was incredibly exciting to have my passion for travel blogging acknowledged by a rather awesome expert panel of judges, and to be runner up for Best Family Travel Blog.

    The judges are super exciting actually, especially as I spent much of my summer back and fro-ing to London to do a Travel Writing course with Susan Grossman, with the aim of widening my writing beyond my blog: Jane Anderson, broadcaster and writer Mariella Frostrup, BBC’s travel documentary maker Simon Reeve; travel editor of The Times Jane Knight, and travel & lifestyle director of Elle, Sue Ward Davies. It feels like a huge honour to have parentshaped picked out by these writing and travel experts.

    Katie from Mummy Daddy Me won Best Family Travel Blogger, which does not surprise me, Katie’s stunning photography, video and honest documenting of the everyday moments of family life is utterly captivating. **Her baby boy was so well behaved all day, she’d almost convinced me third babies are a walk in the park, apart from the lack of sleep bit.

    Mummy Daddy Me won and parentshaped was runner up at the family traveller awards for best family travel blogger!

    parentshaped was runner up at the family traveller awards for best family travel blogger!

    Gretta from Mums Do Travel, Helen from Actually Mummy, me and Jen from Britmums

    parentshaped was runner up at the family traveller awards for best family travel blogger!

    It was good to chat with Dr Ranj of CBeebies fame, who has presented me with an award before, for Outstanding Contribution at the MAD Blog Awards, along with Team Honk who I have worked with for the last 3 years to stimulate blogger awareness raising and fundraising for Comic Relief. Dr Ranj also writes a health column in Family Traveller, the one about Zika virus was really reassuring.

    Woo hoo! was Runner Up in the #familytravellerawards for family travel blog. Presented by Dr Ranj of CBeebies. Thank you so much for the votes and support. Huge congrats to winner @mummydaddyme and so lovely to hang out with fellow finalists @mumsdotravel @spaceinyourcase @iamalisonperry @actuallypics @kahanka plus congrats to fellow finalists who couldn't be there tonight @mini_travellers and @mytravelmonkey Also fab to see @jhowze ❤️

    Woo hoo! was Runner Up in the #familytravellerawards for family travel blog. Presented by Dr Ranj of CBeebies. Thank you so much for the votes and support. Huge congrats to winner @mummydaddyme and so lovely to hang out with fellow finalists @mumsdotravel @spaceinyourcase @iamalisonperry @actuallypics @kahanka plus congrats to fellow finalists who couldn’t be there tonight @mini_travellers and @mytravelmonkey Also fab to see @jhowze ❤️

    Here are all the winners and runners up, it was especially lovely to see some companies and destinations we have worked with – click on the links to see the posts – including TrunkiNorthumberland, the YHA, the RSPBNational Trust, and Amsterdam. It was lovely to meet representatives from some of the lovely brands listed, travel people really are the friendliest and I was sad to have to leave to go back to Nottingham.

    Best Family Cruise Line
    Winner: Disney Cruise Line, Runner up: Celebrity Cruises

    Best Family Ferry Operator
    Winner: DFDS, Runner up: P&O Ferries

    Best Family Airline
    Winner: Norwegian, Runner up: Virgin Atlantic

    Best Family Travel Accessory
    Winner: Bundlebean, Runner up: Trunki/Jurni

    Best Kids Fashion for Holidays
    Winner: AlexandAlexa, Runner up: H&M

    Best Family Festival
    Winner: Isle of Wight Festival, Runner up: The Big Little Tent Festival

    Best Family Theme Park
    Winner: Efteling, Runner up: Diggerland

    Best Conservation Charity for Families
    Winner: National Trust, Runner up: RSPB Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

    Best Family Travel Blogger
    Winner: Mummy Daddy Me, Runner up: Parentshaped

    Best UK Accommodation (independent)
    Winner: Cary Arms, Runner up: Sands Resort Hotel & Spa

    Best UK Accommodation (group)
    Winner: YHA, Runner up: Coastal Retreats

    Best Overseas Accommodation for Families
    Winner: Domes of Elounda, Runner up: Lux* Resorts & Hotels

    Best Self-catering Accommodation for Families
    Winner: HomeAway, Runner up: Sawday’s Canopy & Stars

    Best Kids Club
    Winner: Explorer Kids Club, PER AQUUM Niyama Maldives, Runner up: Sani Resort kids clubs

    Best Adventure Holiday for Families
    Winner: The Family Adventure Company, Runner up: Sunsail

    Best Eco/Sustainable Holidays for Families
    Winner: Forest Holidays, Runner up: Wilderness Safaris

    Best Multi-Generational Family Holiday
    Winner: Oliver’s Travels, Runner up: Center Parcs

    Best Family Ski Operator
    Winner: Esprit, Runner up: Ski Famille

    Best All-Inclusive for Families
    Winner: Ikos Resorts, Runner up: Crystal Cove by Elegant Hotels

    Best Luxury Tour Operator for Families
    Winner: Scott Dunn, Runner up: Sovereign Luxury Holidays

    Best UK Day Out for Families
    Winner: ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Runner up: Seaton Jurassic

    Best UK Region for Families
    Winner: Northumberland, Runner up: Isles of Scilly

    Best UK City Break for Families
    Winner: London, Runner up: Bristol

    Best European City Break for Families
    Winner: Barcelona, Runner up: Amsterdam

    Best Overseas Destination for Families
    Winner: California, Runner up:  St Lucia


    Thanks once again for all those who voted and who have supported parentshaped here, on facebook, instagram or twitter, especially big thanks to Emily from A Mummy Too for nominating me, championing this space and telling me to go for it!

    To find out more about working with parentshaped go here.

    Fun, Nottingham, Reviews, Wellbeing

    How many family problems can you solve at Poundworld Plus?


    Do you ever feel like life needs a great big shake up? Like it is one big long list of things to do? Got loads of niggly things that need sorting, but never get to do the stuff you really want to do or work out what you really want from life?  Kids are bored, or have been complaining about the same little problems for months? Or demanding playdates and you just haven’t found the time to sort it out? It is so easy for important things to get shoved on a back burner, because there is always way more urgent stuff that needs doing.

    We had a tough weekend of being ill, the kids were bored and hit meltdown, so Mr A and I decided to think up some new strategies to make family life a bit happier. The new Poundworld Plus store opened in Nottingham last week, and the team had challenged me to see how far I could make £50 go, so sorting out some of our family niggles in a thrifty fashion seemed like a great place to start.

    Continue reading

    All of it!

    My experience of the Air France Kids Solo Unaccompanied Minors Service

    Have your kids ever flown solo? I've been checking out the Air France Kids Solo Transit Lounges. Air France fly more unaccompanied children than any other airline, making them a company of reference for this service, raising a new generation of confident travellers.

    I know, I’m a little old to be considered an unaccompanied minor, I’ve certainly grown up since my first ever flight, flying solo in my early teens. Flying solo was an life shaping experience though, I’ve been hooked on travel ever since, and always felt confident flying, so when Air France recently invited me to fly to Paris to walk through their Kids Solo service at Charles De Gaulle Airport I couldn’t wait to find out more and to check out the fab new Kids Solo Transit Lounge. Air France fly more unaccompanied children than any other airline, making them a company of reference for this service, raising a new generation of confident travellers. Continue reading

    All of it!

    Capturing Precious Moments with Cadbury Dairy Milk Buttons

    Have you been making some precious shared memories this summer, have you saved them anywhere yet? As we all know I love capturing our travel moments, but it turns out the everyday moments I am not as reliable at documenting!

    Do pop over to my You tube channel and check out this Memory Lane tool, and my latest videos, I’ve been having loads of fun relieving my media teaching days making them recently, and this one even has prizes to win! It’s been great fun working with Cadbury and Channel Mum on this 🙂