Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Side Street Style

Family travel and lifestyle blog

24/11/2021

14 Essentials to pack when Travelling With Kids

family travel

*This post contains affiliate links


If you are anything like me then your often pack in a rush or wishing you had started earlier so having a packing list is really important especially as I hate taking anything unnecessary especially when travelling with kids as you can really feel the extra weight (as a parent I usually end up carrying their stuff as well as mine). 

 There are however a few essential items that really do make travelling with kids easier and less stressful and that's what you really want on a family holiday or mini-break away. So here are 10 essentials to grab before heading off on a family trip. 


1) Snacks, ALL the Snacks!

Snacks are a must-have when you have children and never underestimate the power of snacks. You never know when they will get hungry while travelling and when they do you will know about it as kids can quickly become "hangry" or impatient if they need to wait until the next mealtime. Be sure to pack plenty of snacks in your suitcases such as snack bars, banana cake and crackers.

2) Water Bottles

Be sure to bring along water bottles for everyone in your family when travelling. If you are staying at a hotel, there may be drinkable water available from the faucets. Even if you're just heading out on a day trip, going on a hike or visiting nature spots during your trip then don't forget to root through the kitchen cabinet under the sink and pull out those water bottles. Make sure that all members of your party have their reusable water bottles.


water bottle


3) Travel Utensils

If you are going on a long road trip then some travel utensils can really come in handy. If you planning on making stops along your road trip to stretch your legs and refuel then reusable utensils are a must as they are pocket friendly, zero waste and are much better than quality than cheap single-use ones. 


4) Paper Towels

Paper towels are essential when travelling with kids and are a more sustainable option than wet wipes. If you have a child still learning how to use the bathroom, paper towels can come in handy for cleaning up messes that may be made on themselves or their clothes during the trip.


5) Foldable reusable Bag

A small foldable bag (a waterproof one would be even better) that you can pop into your backpack or handbag is a great item to have on hand when travelling with kids. You may need something to carry dirty or wet clothes, as well as swimsuits and towels or in my case random sticks and pebbles the kids have picked up on their travels. 


6) A First Aid Kit

Kids are accident-prone, which means you will need to have some first aid supplies on hand when travelling. You never know if your child may fall or get hurt during the day's activities.


7) Sunscreen

Sun protection is significant when travelling. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of exploring a new place, but if you plan with sunscreen, your whole family will be able to enjoy themselves without worrying about harmful UV rays or sunburns.

8) Sunglasses

As adults, we always pack sunglasses for ourselves although on average children actually get more sun exposure than adults so protecting their eyes from UV rays is equally as important, especially if you're heading off to somewhere warm.


first aid


9) Hand Sanitiser

If the only bathroom available has no soap for washing hands, having some hand sanitisers can make things much more manageable. Kids often don't understand why they can't eat or drink something after touching it, so having these on hand to keep germs at bay is essential for maintaining safety and health.

10) Headphones

If your going to be driving for a few hours and your children are bringing tablets or audiobooks then a set of headphones is really useful as not everyone may want to hear what the other person is listening to. 

11) Activity books

Thin, light, paperback activity books can be a real boredom buster for kids and if they have a story as well they double up as a bedtime book which can help bring some routine even when travelling. 

12) Pen and paper

Even if you are taking tablets or handheld game consoles you would be surprised how even children get bored or want a change and having pen and paper on hand gives them a space to write, journal, draw and doodle and encouraging art on the go is never a bad thing. 

13) One favourite toy or plush

If your child has a particular toy or plushie that helps them to settle or gives them reassurance then yes it's definitely worth letting them bring it with them. While I don't get in the habit of allowing my kids to bring every toy they like they can bring their favourite one with them. 

14) Coffee (for the adults)

Coffee is a necessity for some parents. To feel awake and alert during the day, you will need caffeine. Pack your favourite coffee mug or thermos so that you can have access to this pick-me-up at any time of the day.

Having the right items on hand will make it easier for parents to travel with their families. If you travel fairly frequently you could even create a small storage space with some of these essentials in it ready to go, making packing even less stressful. What are your must have's when travelling with kids? 


coffee cup


15/11/2021

11 Reasons to have a family break in Southern Wales


AD Press Trip - this post is written in collaboration with Southern Wales.

We recently spent an action-packed weekend exploring what is on our doorstep here in South Wales and I couldn't be more excited to share 10 reasons why you need to visit Southern Wales. As some of you may know I live in South Wales, between Cardiff and the Welsh Valleys and personally I think it's one of the best areas in the UK with so many hidden gems, wild spaces and cultural hubs that are often overlooked for more well-known destinations. But if your looking to get away, out of the city, into the outdoors and have a real family adventure then Southern Wales is definitely a destination you need to check out so here are 10 reasons to visit the area.

1. Try out mountain biking with the kids at Dare Valley Gravity Park

Have you ever fancied giving Mountain biking a go but feel intimidated or not sure where to start? Well, Dare Valley Gravity Park which is located in the stunning Dare Valley Park is perfect for all ages and complete beginners with all the trails being blue runs. You can hire all the equipment at the centre or bring your own and they also offer an Uplift service on certain days which takes you up the mountain to the start of the trails. My boys and I had an amazing time here and are already planning to visit again soon. I would put aside at least 2hrs aside and there is also a cafe on-site and an amazing play park for kids as well as some fantastic walks and trails within Dare Valley Park to explore. 


Dare Valley Gravity Park


2. Connect with Nature at the RSPB Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve

The Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve is a special place that has conservation at its heart and does so much for the local environment, is a real benefit to both wildlife and people and it's a great place to spend a couple of hours exploring with the kids. I would recommend bringing along some binoculars as you are likely going to spot a variety of birds, flora and fauna and we came across some amazing mushrooms in the small forestry area of the reserve. There are also some unique features to the wetlands including a floating walkway (or "bouncy bridge" as my kids call it), East Usk Lighthouse and easy to follow nature trails, kids can also pick up wildlife activity sheets from the visitors centre. To gain an even deeper insight into the area you can take a guided tour with a knowledgeable RSPB guide, the tours are 1.5hrs and suitable for young children. There is also a shop and cafe on-site and the entrance is free, you only pay £3 for parking.


RSPC Newport Wetlands Nature Reserve

Newport Wetlands


3. Explore the biggest castle in Wales

Caerphilly Castle, the largest castle in Wales is definitely one to tick off the bucket list and is always a popular choice with kids, I mean who doesn't like pretending they are a king or queen of a castle? The impressive moat, massive castle walls, towers and gatehouse spread over 30 acres means you need to put aside at least an hour or two (or more) to see everything. There are also the resident dragons to visit and Wale's very own leaning tower and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, plus it makes for an all-weather attraction. There is a visitors centre and shop on-site and plenty of cafes nearby, do check opening times online as it's currently only open on weekends due to enhancement works. Some other castles in South Wales worth visiting are Castle Coch, Chepstow Castle, Caldicot Castle and Abergavenny Castle


Caerphilly Castle

4. Get your adrenaline pumping at Zip World Tower

Hirwaun in South Wales is now home to the latest Zip World and the fastest seated zip line in the world, suitable for 7yrs upwards so if you're looking for an adrenaline hit then look no further. Situated at the old Tower Colliery coal mining site, surrounded by the Welsh Valleys, this is a great place to spend a few hours even if you're not zipping down the mountainside as they also offer the Tower Coaster which is suitable for children as young as four (when accompanied by an adult) as well as Cegin Glo Bar and Bistro serving some fantastic food and drinks. I would also recommend a drive up to the Rhigos viewpoint above Zip World Tower as the views from up there are incredible.


Zip World Tower

Rhigos Viewpoint
Standing at the Rhigos viewpoint watching Zip World



5. Marvellous Museums

South Wales has some amazing Museums, many of which are free or budget-friendly and are perfect for a family day out. Here are 5 of our favourite museums in the area

1. St Fagans National Museum of History, Cardiff

A fantastic open-air museum with over 50 historic buildings including a Victorian school and medieval church to explore that walk you through the history of life in Wales, it's free to visit although parking cost £6. 

2. Cyfarthfa Castle Museum and Art Gallery, Merthyr Tydfil 

Set in the lovely Cyfarthfa park the Museum and Art Gallery is open all year round and focuses on the social and industrial history of Merthyr, which was once the iron capital of the world, in a fun & interactive way & gallery also houses ceramics, Egyptology, natural history and artworks by Welsh Artists. Under 16yrs are free and Adults are £2.30 and there is also a quaint Tea Room on site. 

3. Big Pit National Museum, Torfaen

Fancy heading 300ft underground with a real miner for a true coal pit experience for free? The Big Pit offers a completely unique experience and is suitable for the whole family including a multi-media tour of a modern coal mine, mining galleries, exhibitions and an underground tour. The museum and tour are free and there is a Miners Canteen on-site & picnics are also welcome.

4. South Wales Aviation Museum, Rhoose 

My boys really enjoyed our visit to the South Wales Aviation Museum in Rhoose and I recommend a visit as unlike other aviation museums this one encourages a hands-on experience and some of the cockpits are open for you to climb into. The museum is a self-funded, not-for-profit, volunteer-run charity with 100% of its admission going to the upkeep and running of the museum. Under 14's are free and adults are £7.50.

5. Caerleon Amphitheatre & National Roman Legion Museum 

Caerleon is a site of considerable archaeological importance and was once the Roman town of Isca and has various Roman ruins to explore including the incredible Amphitheatre which was built in AD 90 and would have sat 6000 spectators. A short walk from the Amphitheatre is the Roman Barracks, both of these sites are overseen by Cadw and free to explore. While you there I would also pop into the National Legion Roman Museum which again is also free (although still requires pre-booking) and houses many Roman artefacts, a barracks room and a beautiful Roman garden to walk around.  


Caerleon Ampitheatre


6. Stay Overnight in a Forest

There are plenty of options when it comes to accommodation in South Wales, from upmarket hotels in Cardiff City to countryside cottages in the hills, although if you're looking for something cosy, relaxed and perfect for families then why not stay in Cwmcarn forest? They have 3 different options including camping, glamping pods and luxury lodges which are self-catering and have everything you need for a comfy but adventure-filled breakaway. 

Other hotels in South Wales I can personally recommend are the Heritage Park Hotel which makes a great base for exploring the Welsh Valleys. Indigo Hotel Cardiff for a chic city break and Castle Knights, Usk for a summer glamping adventure. 


Cwmcarn Forest lodge


7. Indulge your inner foodie

South Wales has some incredible foodie spots from fine dining to traditional pubs to street food, it has it all and in abundance. While Cardiff seems like the obvious choice (and in many ways it is) as it naturally has the city cafe culture, there is plenty of amazing foodie spots outside of the city that are family-friendly, here are 3 I recommend 

1. Tiny Rebel Brewery, Rogerstone, Newport

Tiny Rebel, a homegrown business started by two friends has gone from strength to strength and they now have 3 bars in South Wales although the Tiny Rebel Brewery is the largest and most family-friendly of them all, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating and also only a stone's throw from the 14 locks centre which is perfect for a pre-meal walk. The menu also has something for everyone including children and the brewery bar is also dog-friendly. 

2. Barry Sidings Cafe, Barry Sidings Countryside Park, Trehafod, Pontypridd

Barry Sidings Cafe is an award-winning cafe located in a lovely countryside park and serves up not only really good coffee but also smashed pattie hamburgers (an awesome vegan option as well) and loaded fries along with some indulgent cakes. There are also bike trails to explore and bike hire next to the cafe, along with a lovely play park and free parking. 

3. Cegin Glo, Zip World Tower

I was really impressed with the food at Cegin Glo at Zip World Tower and you can eat in this Bistro without a booking and watch people zip down from a crazy height as well as stunning views across the valley. The menu is locally sourced with a Welsh twist with dishes such as Rarebit and Cawl and they even had their own Phoenix Burger in a charcoal brioche bun. The rustic yet modern setting with floor to ceiling windows, with references to its mining past and, is a really cool place to have a meal with family or catch up with friends. 


Tiny Rebel Brewery



8. Fourteen Locks Canal Centre 
 
An engineering wonderFourteen Locks Canal Centre is a bit of a hidden gem and perfect for a family day out exploring the Mon and Brec canal towpath. Located at the top of a unique flight of 14 locks, the Cefn flight of Locks is an engineering wonder of the industrial revolution, rising 160 feet in just half a mile and is a scheduled ancient monument. The countryside surroundings are beautiful and the locks are a haven for wildlife with coots, moorhens, swans, herons and the odd kingfisher calling this area their home. There is a great circular walk and short activity trails for kids and it's worth popping into the craft shop and Vistors centre with a lovely cafe serving locally sourced meals, coffee and fair-trade teas. The centre is free, dog friendly and there is just a minimal parking charge.


fourteen locks


9. Stunning memorials to the miners

There are a couple of different memorials dotted around South Wales which tells the mining history of each town or colliery, which undoubtedly shaped the landscape of Southern Wales. There are two that I recommend as they are all located in countryside locations with family-friendly trails and walks. 

1. The Guardian at Six Bells

The Guardian statue which stands at 66ft tall is a beautiful and thought-provoking monument to the miners who lost their lives in the Six Bells Colliery in 1960. The statue which was designed and created by artist Sebastien Boyesen is beautiful & will be appreciated by all ages and towers over the site of the former colliery which is now Parc Areal Griffin and there is a lovely 2.5mile family-friendly Guardian trail walk. There is free parking nearby 

2. Sultan the Pit Pony, Parc Penallta

My boys love visiting this enormous earthwork sculpture in Parc Penallta which sits on the site of the old Penallta Colliery and is now a lovely country park. This land sculpture pays homage to the ponies that worked down the pits and is one of the largest figurative earthwork sculptures in the UK. It was created by Welsh artist Mick Petts using 60,000 tons of coal shale and stone to construct this 656-foot long artwork. In the Parc is also the High Point Observatory which offers fantastic 360-degree panoramic views of the surrounding countryside & is a favourite with my kids. There are also plenty of geocaches in the area along with 3 easy to navigate trails. There is plenty of parking with a small charge. 


Guardian Six Bells


10. Chasing Waterfalls

Everyone knows about the Four Waterfalls Walk in the Brecon Beacons but the Welsh Valleys has its own fantastic waterfall walk that is a lot quieter and a little easier for kids to enjoy. Pen Pych waterfall walk in Blaencwn. There is plenty of free parking at Pen Pych forest car park at the base of the hike. The walk goes through some stunning forest with a river running below and smaller waterfalls before the larger one comes into sight. There are also picnic benches halfway along with views points and it's great for dogs and young children, plus you are rewarded with a fantastic waterfall at the end. Here is a blog post explaining the hike in more detail. 

There are also smaller waterfalls at Cwm Clydach Countryside Park which has a lovely lakeside cafe and circular walk, Parc Cwm Darran which is a pretty tucked away countryside park and Pistyll-Goleu waterfall in Llanwanno Forest. 


Pen Pych Waterfall


11. Take a stroll in one of many Countryside Parks

We are very lucky in South Wales to have access to a variety of outdoor spaces from forests, mountains, countryside parks and coastal regions. Most of our countryside parks have free (or minimal charge) parking, cafe and family-friendly trails. Some of our favourite parks in the area which are worth spending a few hours exploring are - Dare Valley Park which is home to Gravity Bike Park, mountain hikes and lakes. Parc Bryn Bach, also offers additional activities such as archery and bushcraft as well as having hike trails and mountain biking. Parc Slip Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve offers a relaxing space to have a stroll and look out for local wildlife and birds from their bird hide. Cwmcarn Forest is another unique outdoor space as it offers a 7 mile Forest Drive which takes you to some fantastic viewpoints and adventure play areas in a breathtaking part of South Wales. 


wild mushrooms


There is, of course, an array of other things you can get up to in South Wales, including exploring the stunning coastal paths and Cardiff city centre, as well as trig points and mountain summits and if Geocaching if your thing then South Wales is a great base for that. I hope this post has given you some ideas and inspiration to come and explore this part of Wales.  

12/11/2021

Home Interiors - Thinking of updating your flooring?

wood flooring

*This post contains affiliate links

Thinking about updating your interior spaces, maybe you have one room, in particular, you are working on? For me, it's my lounge and then my kitchen, both of which need new flooring. My lounge is carpeted and ever since we moved in I have always wanted to replace the carpet especially as it's starting to look old no matter how much I clean it so I have started to explore options when it comes to flooring. 

A lot of people are beginning to see and hear the benefits of having luxury vinyl flooring which is more affordable than some of the other options while proving an increasing level of satisfaction and security for homeowners who want a great look on top of low maintenance for their lifestyle, which is what you want when you have kids. It is viewed as a very reliable and budget-friendly product over real hardwoods and stone styled flooring and provides many benefits on top. As I love interior design but have to work to a small budget, I thought, after researching the options,  I would share why luxury vinyl flooring could be the right decision as it's something I am considering for my lounge. 

Ease

Vinyl flooring does not require a professional to install the tiles or planks in a majority of cases (although of course if you feel you rather have a professional fit it that's fine too). It is as simple as glueing down or clicking together whichever choice you go for, which is just fine for those who love to get their hands on a little afternoon DIY project.

As each section can be cut to specifics, it saves on cutting yourself and any leftover waste resulting in a finely placed floor placement. Karndean click vinyl flooring is a durable and highly resistant product against stains, scratches, and water damage due to various manufactured stain and water safeguards as well as anti-scratch - vinyl flooring is secure and a long term investment. Typically, vinyl flooring is not left requiring any replacement of tiles or planks or having to cover up any embarrassing accidents that would affect other flooring options. It is a product designed for ease.


wood flooring


Complimentary

If your home design is modern, new age or has a touch of a classic, you can match the floor to pretty much anything you are wanting to achieve with it. You could go from light or dark natural wood to a strong statement in stone. You can find endless styles and palettes to suit the mood of each room or change things up by having multiple flooring styles throughout the house giving each room its uniqueness. With luxury vinyl flooring, whatever look you are wanting to achieve will be just as good if not better than the real thing and compliment your lifestyle to match.


Comfort

With those colder nights coming into effect, it would be worth adding underfloor heating as the perfect companion for vinyl flooring. Whether it is for a bedroom, a children's bedroom, a bathroom, or a living room space, you can have nights of warmth and comfort. No cold floors greet you in the middle of the night and no raising panels or tiles due to temperature changes. As the weather changes from hot nights to cold rainy evenings, your floor will stay solid all year round and not allow moisture to ruin the look of your home.


Bringing Karndean Click vinyl flooring into your home is not only a safe step but also a smart and long-lasting move into having your home your way for a satisfactory life. If you want reliable flooring throughout all seasons that provides better quality of life, choose luxury vinyl flooring. I also have a blog post about redecorating your bedroom on a budget, do check it out if you found this post interesting. 


vinyl flooring

02/11/2021

8 gifts for kids that inspire a love of travel & the outdoors

Kids camera

* AD sponsored Post


When it comes to Christmas I always try and find gifts for my children that are fun but also encourage learning about the world around us, near and far, as well as inspire time outdoors away from screens. Of course, the main criteria is fun, if they sense it's too educational they sometimes turn off but there are plenty of really original and interactive toys and gifts out there that will spark a love for travel, nature and provide lots of screen-free time as well as time together as a family. So here is a list of 8 brilliant children's presents for those who love learning about the world around them

Here are 8 gifts that your kids will love

1.  GeoSafari Talking Globe 

This interactive high-tech globe that brings a world of travel, learning and culture to your fingertips will definitely be a hit with kids who love learning about the world around them. With the use of the interactive smart-pen, you can learn about continents, countries, nature, animals and more with over 1000 cool facts and over 10hrs of audio means you can plenty of use out of this very cool Globe. Suitable for 4yrs+ you can purchase this online at Wicked Uncle 


GeoSafari Globe


2. Hide and Seek Periscope

These well-made eco-friendly bamboo periscopes are perfect as a stocking filler for kids who love adventures outdoors. Taking hide and seek to a new level, this 30cm long periscope allows you to peek from behind trees without being seen or learn more about nature but look into normally inaccessible spaces such as rabbit holes. You can pick these periscopes up from Wicked Uncle for £10.95 and come with a gift wrapping option.

3.  Full Rounders Set & Carry Bag

I still remember playing rounders as a kid with my friends, one of the funniest games that gets you active and outdoors and you can play all year round weather permitting. This high-quality set is great for the whole family and includes everything you need including a travel bag so you can take it on holidays away. Both of my boys love playing rounders and have personally tried this kit out and love it. You can pick up this traditional British game at Jaques London for £23.99


Rounders



4. Our little Globe Subscription box

Our Little Globe is a monthly travel and adventure box for kids. Each month it focuses on a new country and is packed with stories, letters, a craft kit and recipe cards to keep kids busy with educational learning fun. They also do a smaller "happy post" subscription which contains pen pal letters, stickers and recipe cards from £4 per month. You can also buy one-off boxes which make perfect Christmas gifts.

5. World Map Colouring In Table Cloth 

These huge fabric tablecloths from Eat Sleep Doodle are great for rainy days and inspire kids to learn more about the world and ask questions about famous landmarks while getting creative. You can also re-sue these table clothes are it come with wash-out fabric pen set and washes out on a warm machine cycle meaning you can keep on colouring time and time again. These large world map table cloths cost £24.95


World map


6. My First Camera 3

While this My first Camera 3 is designed for kids it also packs a punch quality wise with a new macro mode perfect for up close shots and 16MP image quality this is a great option at £70. It's easy and straight forward to use, comes in a shockproof pouch and also had an additional selfie mode and can also shoot HD film so kids can truly express their creativity. If your heading off on a holiday or adventure soon let your child capture the experience from their perspective. 

7. Go Genius World - Play & Learn Game 

Who doesn't love a board game at Christmas and not only is this one fun and perfect for the whole family but also encourages learning about the world around us. Players travel around the board answering multiple choice questions on everything from countries and capitals to what is the longest river or saltiest seas. It's designed to aid Key stage level 1 & 2 and the Go Genius board game costs £20


Kids Travel journal


8. Kids Travel Journal by Lonely Planet Kids

 I used to have one when I was younger and loved jotting down all my adventures and memories from my travels into my journal so if you heading off somewhere soon this is will make a great gift. This journal has some great prompts for inspiring creativity when on the road with lists to complete, space to write, draw and collage and fun illustrations to colour, turning this journal into a wonderful backpack size scrapbook to treasure forever. This book is currently £8.99 and can be found in Waterstones

These are just a few ideas to help inspire wanderlust and love for the outdoors and world around us this Christmas and perfect for children around 5-11yrs old. 

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