Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

17/06/2019

Tips on saving for the school summer holidays


Bournemouth Alun Chine

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Can you believe the summer holidays are nearly upon us, while it's a time that both my kids and I look forward to all year but in all honesty I am also guilty of having that feeling of slight dread, not because I find having the kids at home all day hard (I love having them at home) but because of the financial implications it has, as like many I work, freelance and from home and on top of losing any day time working hours during the summer holidays it also happens to be one of the most expensive times of the year - not a great combo when your earning the least but spending the most.

No matter what your situation whether you work full time, are a single parents, a freelancer or a stay at home mom, I thought I would share a few tips on how to have a little bit more in the pot when it comes to the summer holidays, even with only a few weeks to go.

Empty the penny Jar

We have a big penny jar where we pop our 1p, 2p and 5p coins and we empty it twice a year - just before the summer holidays and just before Christmas and while these coins on their own have very little value you will be surprised how quickly it adds up - within around 6 months we usually have anywhere between £45-70 in small change which we then take to the bank. This is a really nice little bonus with no work or time going into it and it equates to a few ice-creams when at the beach or coffee and cake stops when we are out on our adventures.


saving money


It's not too late to put money aside weekly

With a few weeks to go it's still not too late to tighten your belt and go without your daily coffee or weekend bottle of wine and put £10-20 aside each week and if you do have a partner get them to do the same. Even in this short space of time, together you can save over £100 which can really come in handy over the summer, even if it just means it will help cover petrol and parking for those free days out at the local park.

Make a clear summer bucket list with mainly free activities

For big attractions, summer is their biggest earner and can sometimes hike the prices up which is why we focus on mainly free things to do in summer with the odd special paid-for treat. We make a clear list of things we want to do, some of our favourites are - geocaching (the app is free to download), hiking up local peaks (just pack a picnic), trips to lesser-known (and less crowded) beaches, gardening and playing in the garden, visiting local country parks etc.


eating apple


Check online for discounts

The great thing about the internet is the easy access to online discounts for everything from cinema trips to amusement parks, so if you are planning on some day trips over summer it's really worthwhile searching for online discounts which can save you up to 50% off making it far more affordable. There are also a few websites which offer discount cards for £1 for the first month and you can cancel at any time - Day Out With The Kids offers this kind of membership with 35% off cinema trips it's worth taking the £1 deal for a month over summer.

Break up the summer with a budget friending camping/glamping or YHA stay

If you haven't booked a trip abroad this summer don't let yourself get down when your seeing everyone else swanning off to sunny destinations. My kids love staycations and will never turn down a couple of nights under canvas or exploring the coast and countryside of the UK. Camping can be a very budget friendly option with some pitches only costing around £12 a night - you just need to do some research. Websites such as Groupon often have excellent glamping deals over summer and it's worth checking out. We are also huge fans of YHA for a quick night away and last year we had a brilliant stay in St Briavels castle - yes a castle, in the Wye Valley which cost only £35 for the night!


Glamping Cwmcarn
Glamping in Cwmcarn Forest 


Have a budget and stick to it

No matter what kids cost money so having a very clear budget for days out is really important as it can quickly spiral out of control. There are easy ways to reducing extra costs, many which I have listed above but also always take your own food, remember to pack those reusable water bottles are buying drinks out can quickly rack up an extra £15. Make sure you research places before you go for any hidden costs and if you can do put a little aside for those treats such as ice-cream at the beach - it's often the small things that go a long way and to a child who doesn't have much concept of cost, an ice-cream or a big meal out are the same things so just make sure to focus more on the small. 

Get family and friends to help if you have to work during the holidays

Like I said the summer holidays can be an expensive time, many of us work and are unable to take 6 weeks off, instead, it's about finding a workable balance and you may have to work for some of the duration of the holidays and summer clubs can be incredibly expensive. This is the time to call in favours and if you have grandparents that are able to step in, don't feel bad about that. My two boys go to my mothers once or twice a week in summer and it's a real lifesaver for me to catch up on work during the holidays. Another option is sharing childcare with friends, perhaps you are able to just work part-time and you can babysit your friend's child on the days you are free and visa versa. It's always worth checking out as many options as possible.  The less stressed you are the better you can enjoy the moments you have free with your kids.


caravan glamping
The boy's grandmothers are a huge help during the holidays.


If you are struggling financially explore options

Things like the school holidays shouldn't be stressful or cause real financial constraint but for some it really does, we all go through up's and downs but it's really important to talk to people, this could be friends, family or places like the Money advice service. Talking to your bank can also be an option although not everyone has ideal credit and you may not be looking for a long term commitment to cover the 6 weeks of the summer holidays. There are some well-established and reputable short-term loan lenders on the market and as long as you have read all the terms and conditions and know you can make the repayments a no credit check loan could be a good option depending on your circumstances.

At the end of the day, the school summer holidays should be a joyous time and you really don't need to be splashing the cash to have a good time as some of the most simple joys cost nothing. Get outdoors more, embrace nature more and focus on quality family time, plus putting down the phone and screens is a good idea too, especially if you start to get wrapped up in what everyone else is doing. Let's just keep our fingers crossed that we have some good weather.


school holidays


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14/06/2019

A Family Travel guide to Guernsey


Kids in Guernsey

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As you may already know we recently visit Guernsey, the second largest of the Channel Islands, a place on a bucket list we were keen to tick off and it didn't disappoint, we had an incredible time and one we won't forget for a while. Being well travelled and having visited over 25+ countries I can honestly say Guernsey is something special and I know we will be back as it truly offers that relaxed island life without the long-haul stress, so if you're looking for a Brexit-proof break this summer then I highly recommend you consider the Channel Islands.

I would say that reading up before you go anywhere is essential but if your planning on visiting with your kids, even more so, as you need to know there are going to be the right facilities and what to expect. Now what I loved about Guernsey was the lack of takeaway chains restaurants, garish seaside arcades or multi-story soft play centres - instead, the focus is far more on embracing nature, getting outdoors and enjoying the simple things, which is what we love. However, some places are naturally more family-friendly than others on the island so I thought I would share my guide to getting the best out of your stay in Guernseys.


Family travel Guernsey
My son in a disused canon at Clarence Battery, just above the coastal bathing pools


Getting there

Ferry

We took the high-speed Condor Ferries service from Poole to Guernsey, with a sailing time of only 3hrs! The big benefit to taking the ferry is you can take your own car and even though there is a bus service on the island, having your own car massively helps.

You can of course also hire a car on the island and if your time short and really want to make the most of your stay you really do need to have your own set of wheels. Our ferry crossings both left and arrived on time, the staff were very professional and friendly and the ships have good facilities to help make your crossing as comfortable as possible including wifi, kids TV room, viewing platform, a duty-free shop, a well stock bistro and bar and a guaranteed seat for every passenger, plus the option to upgrade. The trip out what a bit chopping so if your prone to seasickness than I do recommend using Sea-bands which helped with both my son and I, as well as drinking real Ginger juice, although our crossing back was so smooth and very enjoyable.

Flying 

There are quite a few airlines that fly from the UK to Guernsey and Jersey although the Islands actually have their own airline called Aurigny, which flies daily to both London Gatwick and Stanstead as well as 6 other smaller airports across the UK. The prices are in general really budget friendly and this, of course, is the quickest way to get to the Islands and perfect for quick weekend breaks although if you plan to stay for more than a few days I would highly recommend hiring a car so you can explore more of the island.


Guernsey travel guide



Where to stay

I can personally recommend Les Rocquettes Hotel having stayed there 3 nights with my two young boys and it's perfectly located within walking distance of St Peters Port. It's a 3-star hotel but certainly packed a punch with the facilities as there is free parking on site, a relaxing family friendly lounge, a reasonably priced Bar with children's menu, as well as an upmarket restaurant. You also have access to the Health Club with an indoor heated swimming pool (and kids pool) which my boys loved and there is also a quiet and well-contained garden to the back of the property.

Our room had a comfortable king sized bed along with a pull out sofa bed, as well as all the normal amenities such as a coffee station and TV, as well as Wifi but with all hotel Wifi, it can occasionally be a little hit and miss.

There are also some great Wood Cabins and glamping options at Fauxquets Valley Campsite, which also has an outdoor pool, kids outdoor play park and far animals as well as La Bailloterie Campsite which offers a tranquil tea garden, Boules, mini golf and an outdoor play area. These are both great budget-friendly options but still keeping comfort in mind and perfect for families.

If camping or glamping is not your thing Visit Guernsey have an extensive list of the accommodation available on the island, from high-end hotels to Bnb's and self-catering, there is something for everyone's needs and budgets. 

Where to eat

Crabby Jacks, Vazon Bay

Crabby Jacks is probably the most family-friendly restaurant on the island and a fun dining experience with friendly out-going staff and a well-rounded home cooked menu including vegan options. I loved the colourful surf inspired interior and located right next to the beach in Vazon bay and the kid's eyes were on stalks when they saw the massive ice-cream menu. I went for the vegetable fajitas which were delicious and the kids enjoyed pizza and hot dogs. It is slightly on the pricey side but a great treat for the whole family when you're on holiday.

Cafe Delices, Market Street, St Peters Port

Hands down some of the best Crepes I have ever had and well worth the wait as the first time we visited all the tables were filled but after a little stroll around the cobbled streets of St Peters Port we made out way back to Cafe Delices and managed to grab a table. They offer a variety of sweet crepes and savoury galettes as well as omelettes and salads and some excellent coffee. Great place for a lunch stop, and bonus they don't use any single-use coffee cups either. 


Cafe Delices


Dix-Neuf, Commercial Arcade, St Peters Port

This all-day cafe restaurant welcomes families and we popped in here just before our return crossing back to the UK. It located in the heart of the capital, on one of the quaint streets with bunting hanging across it and has a lovely al fresco terrace to hang out in and people watch. I had a delicious French Onion soup while the kids enjoyed some pastries, the staff were welcoming and the atmosphere nice and relax, a great little place to wind away the day.

Richmond Kiosk, Vazon Bay

Inevitably you are going to spend a lot of time at the beach if you visit Guernsey and with most bays having a little Kiosk it would be wrong not to indulge in some locally made Guernsey Ice-cream. What I love about Richmond Kiosk is that is had a seating area so you can avoid the sand while you and also that they offer up a surprisingly good variety of choices for lunch including baked potatoes and pulled pork baguettes, as well as veggie and vegan options, all being very budget friendly too.


Guernsey travel guide


What to see and do 

We really wanted to focus on getting outdoors, discovering the history of the island, connecting with nature and allowing the boys to enjoy those moments of carefree childhood joy in the simple pleasures. Of course, there are tons of things to do in Guernsey but here are the ones we enjoyed the most.

La Vallette Coastal Bathing Pools

With the weather being warmer and milder in the Channel Islands it means you can have more fun enjoying the simple pleasures such as swimming outdoors and not just outdoors but in a sea pool! The La Vallette Coastal pools have a fantastic view of the sea and Castle Cornet. The pools are free to use and have changing facilities.

The Little Chapel, Saint Andrew

No visit to Guernsey is complete without visiting one of the worlds smallest chapels. Created by Brother Deodat in 1914 the chapel is decorated with seashells, pebbles and broken china and it really is quite breathtaking how beautiful it is. The boys and I loved wandering around it looking at all the pretty decorations and intricate details. It's free to visit by leaving a donation goes back into helping to restore the Little Chapel.


Wild swimming

Guernsey travel guide


Explore Fort Hommet and The Gun Casemate Bunker 

For those who don't know Guernsey was occupied by the Germans in WW2 with many coastal bunkers and forts remaining as a permanent reminder of this prominent time on the island's history. Fort Hommet is a large fortification on Vazon Bay headland and a fantastic place to explore with kids, overlooking the ocean.  Next to Fort Hommet is the Gun Casemate Bunker which is open from April-Oct on Tues and Saturday with a nominal entrance fee. The kids were really keen to go inside one of the 21 Fortress bunkers built on Guernsey and this offers an interesting insight to the history of this time without being overwhelming.


Get on your skates at Beau Sejour Skate Park

Located right new to the island Leisure Centre which itself has an indoor swimming pool, cinema and cafe. If you take the ferry to the Channel Islands like we did, we made sure to pack the kids scooters so they could enjoy one of Guernsey latest additions that is the large concrete skatepark. With a bowl, street course, mini ramp and many features for beginner to intermediate it's a great space for skaters, inline, scooters and BMX.


Fort Hommet Guernsey

Beau Sejour Skatepark


Walk across the causeway to Lihou Island

If you're looking for a family-friendly adventure then pack your sandwiches and water bottle and head out across the causeway at low tide to small tidal Lihou Island. You need to check the tide times before you go as you will only have a limited time to make the crossing which takes around 20mins (longer with small children). Once your on the island which is rich in marine and bird life, you are free to run around as there are no cars or roads. There are ruins of a Priory on the island and are worth visiting as well as the famous Venus Pool. I highly recommend this mini day adventure, just make sure to take a picnic along with you and you know the right times to cross.

Take in 800yrs of history at Castle Cornet

The castle which sits proudly in St Peters Port is one of the islands main landmarks and while the entrance is more on the pricey side but the Castle is much bigger than it appears and also includes five museums and four-period gardens and more than enough to spend a few hours taking it all in. Kids will love the firing of the noon-day gun by scarlet-clad gunners followed by a living history performance as well as many other activities on offer.


Castle Guernsey

Causeway Guernsey
On the causeway from Guernsey to Lihou Island


Other things we really enjoyed doing during our time on the Island was Fort Grey, Candie Gardens, Clarence Battery,  the small Aquarium housed in a tunnel used by the Germans, Pleinmont Observation towner and the Petit Train. There are also plenty of beaches to explore, 27 in fact and spend the whole day simply building sandcastles and going for a swim.

Guernsey is also great for those with older children or if your there on couples break and want to try something new such a surfing, kayaking, sailing or stand-up paddle boarding or if relaxing is more your thing then why not visit on the islands spa's for a treatment.

We really enjoyed our time on the island and are already planning a return trip, especially as there are 5 off-islands to visit and explore and feel we have only just scratched the surface of what makes this very special place tick.


Travel Guernsey

This blog post was written as part of my Press Trip with Condor Ferries to Guernsey, words and thoughts my own. 

Is It Time Your Kids Had A Little More Freedom?

young boy


I eldest is going to be turning 9 this year and I am starting to feel a real shift in how he perceives his place in the world, our family unit and himself. He is not old enough to do things unsupervised as of yet but I can see the beginnings of wanting a little bit more independence. While I actively encourage my boys to take calculated risks such as climbing trees, making dams in rivers, exploring the outdoor world and their surroundings, I am always in close reach, in fact nearly all playdates with the except of one or two when I've known the parents for a substantial time, I have been present, even birthday parties are mostly with parents present. Although the change is slowly starting to happen, for example, he has yet to do a sleepover but I can imagine that it will be the first request of the small step to independence and it's made me think about the future.   

One of the hardest thing for a lot of parents to come to terms with is just how fast their kids grow up. After all, it can feel like one day you're cradling this tiny, fragile thing in your arms and the next they're heading off on their first day of school. However, one mistake that a lot of parents tend to make is that they try to stop their child from growing up too fast and can unintentionally end up smothering them. The truth is, as much as we don't always want to accept it, is that, as your kids get older, they're going to want more freedom and you need to be willing to let them have it, within reason. With that in mind, here are some ways I am trying to prepare myself for the future to allow my kids to feel like they can have personal growth and the freedom to do so while still being safe and well looked after. 


Kids travel


Sleepovers with friends

I feel that this is going to be the first thing we will have to negotiate. At the moment the only sleepover he has done has been with his younger brother at their grandmother's house which of course is very familiar to them and I am always on hand and can be there very quickly if something goes wrong. Of course, his first sleepover will need to be with one of his longer known friends and someone he has built a solid friendship with as well as myself knowing the parents having done playdates before and that trust has been built up. My son at the moment is not a great sleeper and doesn't like the dark so I feel these things need to improve first and I am sure they will with age. I just feel this one will need to be carefully planned and well throughout so that all parties are happy.

A phone they can use when going out with friends unsupervised

While I know many parents allow their children to have phones at a young age and I know their reasons will be justified, as it's a personal decision, for us it's something we are going to hold off on for a while to come. While my son won't have his own phone for a few more years we will probably get a spare phone that he can use when he starts to go out with friends unsupervised or on sleepovers, so that he can get in touch with us quickly. A phone can be a great tool and an extra measure in their personal safety so when the time comes we will get a basic phone that cannot connect online with a very simple and straightforward plan such from someone like  SMARTY Mobile. That way you can be sure they're not racking up huge bills but still means we can contact them easily. 

Going out alone

Again we are a few years off from this but the idea of your kids walking around out in the world unsupervised is one of the scariest things there is for a parent but it's an important milestone that you all have to reach. As I've said above, the great thing about the modern era is that it has never been easier to keep in touch with your kids when they're spending time out and about without you so again using a phone in their moments is a good safety tool, as well as knowing where they are going to be as well as planning a clear a pick up spot and time before and knowing who they will be with (and preferably having their contact details too).

converse shoes


Shopping

You've been buying pretty much everything for your child since the day they were born and it's been fine. After all, toddlers tend not to complain about which clothes they're wearing. But as kids get older they want to be able to have some say over what they wear. Sure, you're still going to be paying for it but there's definitely something to be said for giving your kids the money they need for clothes and letting them make their own choices, I know I was very excited as a child when this happened and it gave me sense of some control over my own choices. To start with, you might have to give yourself veto power but most of the time kids are actually pretty good at choosing their own clothes (I say most of the time, but not ALL the time).


Of course, just because you're giving your child more freedom and independence doesn't mean that you're just going to just stop setting boundaries for them. The truth is that kids really need boundaries in order to properly express their own independence. If they're left entirely to their own devices it can not only cause trouble but it can actually be more than kids are ready to handle. They might not realise it, but kids really do want boundaries so working on the finding the balance is key and it's something that is on my mind a lot now that my child is moving further away from being a young child.
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