My morning Elixir


Fruit and veg juice

So far this year has been somewhat up and down for me in terms of health and wellbeing. At the end of last year I felt really burnt out both physically and emotionally after nearly 3yrs of interrupted sleep as we have struggled to get my youngest to sleep through the night (something which is still problematic) as well as extended breastfeeding, working, juggling motherhood, sleep deprivation and losing some people very close to me to cancer. Well the time has come to work on myself because it really is true that as mothers we tend to look after everyone else's needs before our own.

I think making small changes in the home is really important because these are more doable for the long term. I am going to bed a bit earlier each night so should my youngest wake, which he does 90% of the time, I at least got in a few hours before being woken. Also getting outdoors at every opportunity as the fresh air I find really helps put things in perspective. I am also working on being more organised for the day ahead as this saves so much time and stress than rushing in the morning. But my biggest focus is improving what I eat and drink. Now I have always had a healthy diet, packed with fruit and veg and I have always kept myself fit and active but as my iron levels dipped so did my fatigue which only added to how tired I was already feeling and because of this I have been making less time to prepare better meals for myself - that needs to change.


I am focusing on how I start the day, with a light breakfast and a nutrient dense freshly made fruit and veg juice which is packed with minerals and vitamins. This morning elixir is my favorite and best of all both of my kids love it too so its a really nice easy way to get more veg into my children.

Here is how to make your own morning Elixir to get you going each day

2 Carrots
2 Apples
3 Small easily peelers
1/2 cucumber
1 celery stick

This should make enough for two decent servings and what you have left over just pop into the fridge for the next morning ready to go. I feel when it comes to juice making your own is far superior to buying it in the shop as there is no filler or concentrate, preservatives or additives but just whole fruit juice. I have had my juicer for about 2yrs now and it's been a godsend because the kids love to get involved in the juicing process and they are always very keen to try what we make meaning we have had fun experimenting with fruit and veg combinations.

Morning routine

What is your morning routine like? Do you start the day calm and with a regular routine or do you feel its rushed and need to work on making it a healthier start to the day? If your interested I also have a healthy skin boosting juice recipe here.

Associated Post 

Read More

5 Overlooked destinations for a family holiday in the UK


UK Holiday

We have always been big believers of their being plenty to see and do right here in the UK and love a good staycation, plus with the value of pound looking fairly weak in 2018, many people have found that going abroad for holidays is getting very expensive. But there is some good news in the fact that we have a huge wealth of brilliant places to visit so there is no need to travel far for you to enjoy a truly memorable time. If you are thinking of holidaying with your family in 2018, here are five very different locations that are all perfect for adventure and fun this year.

Camber Sands

If you’re looking for a truly classic holiday destination that gives you the chance to visit somewhere brand new, why not visit Camber Sands? Found in East Sussex, the town of Camber is famous for this beautiful beach that stretches for miles. With lifeguards over the summer months, Camber Sands is also surprisingly quiet during the majority of the year so you can enjoy a very relaxed atmosphere.
Only a little way down the road from Hastings, there are a range of great attractions nearby including the Miniature Steam Railway and the Drusillas Park zoo.

Seaside holiday

Isle of Wight

The Isle of Wight has been on our bucket list for a while and this year we are hoping to tick it off as I know like many my kids love to hop onto a ferry, it really feels like an adventure and that you're leaving the mainland. The small island is easy to explore by car, has plenty of historical sights and activities to see and do as well as the stunning coastline. If your looking for a real frugal getaway there is plenty of camping and glamping options on the island.


Cornwall remains one of Britain’s absolute premier tourist destinations, and for good reasons, as it's home to lovely beaches and charming towns, and it gets some of the best weather you’ll see anywhere in the British Isles. But if you’re looking for somewhere brilliant to stay, Truro makes for a lovely base. It’s the only city in Cornwall and has a great selection of restaurants and things to do.

Of course, staying here makes it easy to get around to the best that Cornwall has to offer. There’s a cathedral here to visit as well as the very worthwhile Royal Cornwall Museum. But you are also a stone’s throw from the coast including the resort town of Perranporth and St Ives.

Seaside holiday


Blackpool is somewhere we hadn't considered before but after reading some positive reviews over the past year our interest has been peaked. One of the most famous seaside resort town, Blackpool is known for being great fun for families. The well-known Blackpool Tower has been standing since 1894 and has been drawing in tourists since it was built. The town today has a huge range of activities and attractions that can keep a family entertained for days.

If you’ve got any thrill-seekers in the family it’s definitely worth spending some time at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The theme park is home to Big One, which was the world’s fastest and tallest roller coaster when it was launched in 1994, as well as a huge range of fantastic modern rides.


Conwy is a stunning choice if you are looking for a family holiday steeped in both history and wonderful natural beauty. This small walled town in North Wales packs a big punch in terms of adventure and fun for families of all ages.

Perhaps the most memorable site on the holiday will be the majestic Conwy Castle. This UNESCO World Heritage Site enjoys a backdrop of Snowdonia and the River Conwy. It was built Edward I in the 13th century and remains impressively well preserved today – a real treat for children and adults.

Welsh Castles

I hope you enjoyed my little list of some more unusual, fun and family-friendly places to go on holiday in the UK this year, of course there are many more I could add to this list but the main thing is to go out and explore what is on your doorstep this year. 
Read More

Cardiff Coffee - 5 Places you need to try this month


Hard lines coffee

So like many people in the UK I like my coffee and the ritual that goes behind each cup. That quiet calm before you have to set off for work or that 5 minutes of rest in a busy day, an artisan cup in a cool cafe while you getting work done or having it in hand as you walk through the city. Coffee to me can be a moment of self care or belly laughs with a friend, either way the connotations are positive. With so many new independent cafes popping up all over Cardiff I thought I would start a monthly post of ones you should check out in and around the city. As this is my first post in the series I thought I would share some of the better known ones to get started, the ones that you know you are going to be guaranteed a good cup.

1. Little Man

Little Man coffee has been a favourite of mine for a while as it's centrally located but off the busy high street and sort of hidden away in a more quite location. The interior is simple with a touch of scandi chic and they take their coffee seriously, certainly one of the best Cortado's in town. They also have a simple but beautifully formed menu, I recommend the smashed avocado or homemade granola with the green smoothie. Also their homemade cakes are delicious, plus they have super fast wifi, support local producers and hold some fantastic events, so do check them out!

Beautiful coffee
Little Man Coffee

2. 200 Degrees

200 Degrees is right in the heart of the city but it's large open space means there is always somewhere to sit and attracting a friendly millennial clientele but also very family friendly at the same time. It is actually part of a small chain but it certainly doesn't feel like it and has a stylish minimalist interior with some very capable barista's and some impressive latte art. In fact there is a barista school upstairs if you want to have a go at making your own understanding the guidance of one of their qualified team members.

200 Degrees

3. The Earlybird

The Earlybird is one of our favourite breakfast and brunch spots just out of the centre and is located in the vibrant and creative Cathays area. The only problem is its not very big so you may have to wait to get a seat as it's popular for a good reason and is well worth it especially as they have their own bakery on site and their sourdough topped with avocado, poached egg and chilli is amazing as is their danish pastries the size of your face. The coffee is also excellent and the atmosphere friendly and welcoming, perfect place to start the day and when the sun is out you can enjoy the small garden patio out the back.

Danish pastry
The Early Bird

4. The Potting Shed

Another independent coffeeshop just outside of the city centre in Llandaff in the grounds of Insole court. Their coffee may not be as refined or perfected as the others on this list but they do a very decent Flat White and they support local coffee companies plus their homemade cakes are not only pretty to look at but delicious too. The Potting shed is a lovely little gem in beautiful grounds and after a bite to eat I recommend taking a walk in the community allotments right next door as well as the well kept gardens of Insole Court. This cafe is also dog friendly and has a small kids table with books and crayons, an adjoining small art gallery space and yes fast wifi too!

The Potting Shed Cardiff

5. Hard Lines

If your looking for the most instagrammable coffee then you have to head to hardlines which now has two locations, a little pop up style booth inside Cardiff market and the other in the Castle Emporium with both serving up some of the best speciality coffee, made with care, love and a high level of hipsterism (yes I made that word up but the description fits). They also have a pink, yes pink coffee called the Dirty Barb and while you may be skeptical you really shouldn't be as it's delicious. Made with a dash of beetroot and argave with coffee running through it's smooth, sweet and of course pink!

Coffee Cardiff

A lot of locals will already have visited these places but if your heading to Cardiff for a weekend break do check them out. I will also be creating a monthly series of my 5 favourite coffee shops to visit each month so do come back and see what's on the list next month. From small to big and everything in between and with so many new places popping up in the city I am looking froward to discovering the best of what Cardiff has to offer when it comes to coffee. 

Read More

How to always be ready for a last minute trip


1 comment

Over the past few years we have had the odd occasion where the opportunity to go away at the last mintue has popped up, in fact that happened this month. We have now learnt how to pack very quickly for a family of four and getting this skill down to a tee means you can take advantage of those last minute travel deals in which time is the essence.

Of course it is easier if you are traveling solo or as a couple but even as a family if you adhere to some basic rules and hacks than a quick break away at the last minute shouldn't cause to much stress. Firstly the most important thing to do is travel light! We very rarely every check any luggage in, instead we always have carry-on luggage. I actually managed to get my clothes and both of my boys into one small carry-on for a weekend, then usually John will take a small bag for him and between us we have our Kanken (small day pack) for small things like food, water and nappies on the go. 

Essentials for last minute travel

1. A compact and comfortable carry-on bag with plenty of storage space. It's worth investing in a decent one if your planning on traveling regularly as this will make your life a lot easier.

2. Have all your documents stored together in a safe place. The one thing that can cause delays or make you late is looking for a lost passport or ID. You should really have an important travel documents stored somewhere safe and you know where they are at all times, meaning if that last minute trip comes up you don't have to spend hours searching for it. 

3. Portable charges, always have one fully charge so that if you are time short you dont have to worry about your phone being full charged as you can charge on the go. Also make sure you have a universal plug packed, any batteries you may need or memory cards. Just like your travel documents these should be kept together.

4. Clothes, you should always have a mini capsule collection in mind, a few pieces that work really well together so you dont reaslly have to even think about what to wear. This way you have some fail safe fashion pieces, mostof which can be adjusted to fit different climates. I have written before about Minimalist style for weekend breaks so check that out for a little inspiration.

A traveling lover would never like to miss an opportunity of the weekend trips and tours. They passionately look for the opportunities of exploring new destinations and with so mamy fantastic sites such as expedia or airbnb offering monthly deals, you dont have to be owning property in different areas of world through in places like Princeton real estate to be able to feel like a rockstar on a roadtrip. It does not even require having a bunch of money for travelling a lot, rather you just need planning and wise spending. You can cut the extra expenses and making it economical. It is more important that you explore, learn and enjoy more than you buy and spend. The new destinations are always waiting for you can you can make your dream come true with a little effort.

Read More

7 Unlucky Presents from Around the World


No comments


Christmas and Valentine’s Day might be behind us for another year, but with many international gift-giving celebrations yet to come, you have plenty more opportunities to show your loved ones around the world how much you care.

Choosing a gift for a friend or family member is already tricky enough when you only have to account for personal tastes. When that loved one is living abroad, you then have to factor in the peculiar customs restrictions of that country, cost, as well as local traditions and superstitions that can make present-picking even trickier! For information about international parcel restrictions for over 50 countries, click here.

How many of the following superstitions had you heard of before?


Can you ever go wrong when picking up a bottle of wine to give someone as a present? In many parts of Europe, it’s an appropriate gift for most occasions, and especially when you’re attending a dinner party. It’s the complete opposite in France, where the host will usually have taken special care to choose a wine that complements their meal. Bringing your own bottle can be perceived as rude and you certainly shouldn’t expect it to be opened during the evening.


Kitchen knives

Practical gifts often seem like a good investment, particularly when it’s something like quality kitchenware which your recipient can get a lot of use from. Granted, you might be concerned about the safety of sending knives through the post, but were you aware of the superstition surrounding them? Many places around the world, including Germany, Brazil and Switzerland believe that giving and accepting the gift of any kind of knife will result in a severance of the friendship.


Ideal for cooler weather; what about a nice scarf and matching gloves? Depending on where in the world they’re going, you might need to rethink. Particularly in Canada, gloves received as a gift are considered an omen of bad luck. Some people think you can balance out the fortune by ensuring the giver receives a gift in return, but why take the risk?

Purses or wallets

A thoughtful personal gift, or a symbol of bad luck? Lots of cultures - including in the UK and Italy - believe that giving someone an empty purse represents financial misfortune, and even just a penny should be put inside beforehand to ensure that prosperous wishes are bestowed upon the recipient.

Equally, don’t forget that some religions frown upon the use of leather, so it’s unwise to gift your Hindu friend a beautiful calfskin wallet!

beautiful watch


Receiving a nice watch sounds like a treat to most people, but think twice before sending one to a recipient in China. The Mandarin phrase for giving a timepiece (sòng zhōng) is the same as the phrase meaning “to terminate” or “to attend a funeral”, creating a deep superstition between the two. A gifted timepiece is viewed as cursed, representing the countdown of the receiver’s life – so don’t make this easy mistake!


Sending flowers is common all over the world, but you may not have been aware of subtle etiquette that dictates appropriate arrangements in each country.

For example, sending a dozen red roses in the USA or the UK is an extremely romantic gesture. However, in Russia it is considered unlucky and even offensive to present an even number of flowers at a joyous occasion. Equally, the colour red can be used to symbolise luck or revolution in different parts of the world – so your message of passion might go missed! You might think that you can play it safe with a bunch of friendly yellow marigolds or pretty white carnations, but these are both reserved for funerals in different parts of the world, so be careful!


No wine, no flowers… surely jewellery would make a harmless present? Well, certain superstitious folk are wary of opals, believing them to be unlucky (unless you’re giving them to someone who has a birthday in October, when their opal birthstone protects them from the negative effects). You should also apparently hesitate before giving your lover an emerald - while supposedly lucky, the luck will be lost if your gift arrives on a Monday. Not only are these gifts seen as unlucky in different cultures, but you may find that they get caught up in postal restrictions on their way. If in doubt, it’s best to save yourself a lot of trouble and stick with a nice gift voucher!


Read More

What we are looking for in our next family home


Milk and Sugar Cardiff

I have spoken a few times about how we are nearing the end of our (somewhat slow) renovation of our current home and will be fingers crossed putting it on the market this year so we can move. This has got me thinking a lot about what we are looking for in our next home, nothing lavish or anything but for a variety of reasons our current house really doesn't tick our boxes and was always bought as an investment to do up and then sell. While our current home does have some pros such as a nice sized garden and a light and airy kitchen extension I do have a list of things I would love to see in our next property although of course we are realistic about the fact there is never a perfect home and you do have to compromise somewhere but not on everything.

Character over a New Build

I'm just putting this out there but I am not a huge fan of new builds, I certainly wont discount them altogether because at this point we have to consider all our options but we have always lived in period style properties or cosy welsh cottages and I do love original features in a home but with a modern refresh. I am really hoping with our next home we can get a small Bay fronted Victorian property or if not just a nice terrace that hasn't been stripe of all it's original character.

stylish home

Good size bedrooms

At the moment we have a really large lounge and kitchen diner which is great but our bedrooms are very small, in fact I'm not even sure if my youngest will be able to fit a proper single bed in his room to replace his toddler bed. We would actually take a two bed house that offers double sized rooms over three tiny bedrooms so size proportion is important for our next purchase.

Garden space is a must

We had a wonderful garden at the moment that has enough space for a small vegetable patch, play area and social area with under cover seating and lovely green grass for the kids to run on. I know moving more into the city we are probably going to have to sacrifice this space but I don't want to replace it for a yard so some kind of outdoor space is important to us even if it has to be a little smaller.

wooden floor boards

Wooden flooring

I grew up in a house that had exposed wooden flooring through out and I just love it. In our lounge we had parquet flooring, which I loved and in my childhood kitchen we had beautiful original floor boards so finding a home that either has that or we can lay it down would be a massive bonus especially as it's something I don't really want to compromise on. Like I said we are happy to get some solid wood flooring laid down but in our current home thats just not possible. Not only is wood flooring easy to clean but it's also warming under your feet and very stylish. There is also a lot of research to say that the more natural products we have in our home creates a more happier and more calm environment to live in.

Roll Top Bath

For me this is another must have but doesn't need to be there when we buy but as long as it's possible to get one put in. The thing is we are hoping to spend a couple of years in our next home and I want to very much make it feel like a home and to me that means having a nice bathroom and a roll top bath. We have re-done our bathroom in our current home but in a very practical way to resell so I am hoping to make our next one much more personal to our tastes.

vintage bath


Well they do say that when it comes to finding a new home the location is the most important. We are currently a fair drive away from my sons school, in bad traffic it can take an hour and in no traffic less than 20minutes but it's just a commute I don't want to do any more and as he is very happy and settled there moving him to another school is not an option. We need a house that offers easy public transport to the city for my partner as well as a quicker commute (and preferably even be able to walk).

Are you planning moving soon and if so what are you looking for in your next home?

eating melon

Read More

5 Ways to Save Money for a Family Holiday



family holiday

Are you long overdue a family holiday? Even if it's just a weekend camping trip, staycation or you have dreams of long haul destinations it can be hard if you don't have some kind of budgeting plan in place especially if you have children. Life in general can be so busy, hectic and draining finically but it's also really important to step away from it all every now and then so having a travel kitty you can contribute towards to during the year is key and really will add up over a period of time and take the stress off planning a trip away. I thought I would share 5 easy ways to help save for that family holiday so do check it out even if you have already paid for most of it in advance it's always good to have some extra spending money. If you already know where your going check out my other post about how preparation and booking at the right time can save you loads.

1. Declutter and Ebay what you don't need

I often do this before we are going away somewhere. I am constantly minimising what we don't need in the home and I often do a big drop off at a local charity store and what I can Ebay or put on Gumtree I do because it can really add up and it's a great way to declutter your home but also make a little bit of extra money to go towards any family travels we have planned.

2. Reevaluated any memberships or subscriptions you have

Review any memberships, subscriptions or services you're paying for to see which you could do without. Remember that you may only need to suspend these luxuries for a few months to pad your savings account. You could drop a gym membership, for example, in exchange for running and other free exercises you can do at home or at local parks such as yoga. Review your TV provider and package - you maybe able to reduce it down to a basic package and add a cheaper streaming service instead, an easy swap but will save you money monthly. Also, you could check to see if you're paying any unnecessary fees on your student loan and if you're thinking of taking one out then I recommend checking SoFi which has no late fees or insufficient fund fees which is great.

3. Stop Eating out 

Buying groceries and cooking at home, especially if you have a family, can literally save you hundreds of pounds. If you enjoy eating our regularly you may initially find this hard or tedious but its a great way to save money as well as eat a little healthier and why not get the kids involved with the cookie. Also, try to cut morning coffee from coffee shops and cafes from your morning routine and rather brew your own at home.

kids in the kitchen
Make eating at home fun

4. Trim Other Monthly Expenses

Expand your budget trimming to your other monthly expenses as well. For instance, you could dial back your central heating now we are going into summer and if you can adjust the temperature by a few degrees a day you'll save 10% on your energy bill in one year. Combine this with other utility-conscious adjustments, like taking colder showers and using less water, and you can reward yourself with more money to spend on your adventures.

Also, if you have debt, you can look into refinancing options to lower what you owe each month or taking out an interest free credit card and transferring your current balance which could provide you a breather. You could also consider student loan consolidation which can be an excellent money-saving option if you have multiple student loans with different interest rates. By refinancing your student loans, you can bundle these expenses, leaving you with a lower interest rate overall.

5. Use Your Credit Card to Accumulate Travel Points

If you have a credit card with cashback rewards, use it wisely to accumulate points that can be redeemed for airfare. Whatever purchases you have to make, put them on the credit card. This is like earning free money. Just remember to pay off the balance completely every month so you don't accumulate debt.

If you have six months to a year to prepare, you could save thousands of pounds for your holiday by following these and other money-saving tips. Though you might have to make a few short-term changes, you can look forward to a trip you've earned by being frugal.

travel savings

Read More

The Gratitude List


instagram life

If your a regular reader to my blog you are probably already familiar with my gratitude posts and I usually post them every 2 months or so. I really like to reflect back on some of the small and positive moments in my life that brought happiness and be grateful for the little things and how important they are as it's just so easy to get wrapped up in trivial issues and events these days. This past month however has not been easy with so many ups and downs as I lost someone very close to cancer, in fact this is the second time in 10 months I have lost someone special to this dreadful disease and I've really struggled with the reality of that. Because of this it has been a very up and down month, emotions have been high but I slowed down, took a break from social for a few days and have been practicing some mindfulness and gratitude for my life, health and being present in the moment. So I just wanted to share a few of the moments that have been special this month.

1. A fun family day out with the kids in Cardiff, running around, playing golf, eating pizza and finding lots to laugh about
2. Taking time to sit down and eat good food at Milk and Sugar
3. Enjoying the golden springtime sunshine on a riverside walk
4. Exploring the Gower with my family and taking in the views from the cliffside hike
5. Taking is slow on Easter Day and embracing the love I have for my family
6. My eldest at Edinburgh Castle, loved showing him the first city I lived in when I moved from Cape Town to the UK
7. Realising how lucky we truly are to be able to have weekend breaks away and how gorgeous Shrewsbury is, plus this converted stable we stayed in.
8. Flourishing in the first colourful signs of spring at our local National Trust property
9. Taking time to take in deep breaths besides the seaside in Penarth

What are the things that you have been grateful for this month?
Read More

Why France is the perfect Family Destination


Father and Son
The boys in Nice, France

France has always been very special to me, especially after living and working in Nice for a couple of months before having children. As a family we love visiting France whether it be a chic city break in Paris or getting a sun tan on the French Riviera or a quick road trip to the Opal Coast - we have always had a fantastic time as a family and it's why I picked France as the country I wanted to celebrate my 30th birthday in a few years ago.

I was pregnant at the time with my second and eldest who was four at the time was just coming into his own in terms of his passion for travel. We took the Eurostar from London to Pairs where we spent a few days exploring the array of family friendly museums and gardens before taking the fast TGV down to the South for a week of good food, relaxation, exploring small towns as well as taking in the culture of Nice and Cannes. You can read more about our stay in Valbonne and my 30th birthday celebrations ‘French style’ here.

Enjoying the sunshine in Valbonne

Then a year and a half ago we decided to take a little impromptu road trip to the Opal Coast in Northern France staying in the small hamlet of Hardelot near Boulogne-sur-Mer. We took the ferry from Dover to Calais and this part of France is in fact so close you could easily visit over a weekend. The ferry trip was smooth and had plenty to keep both kids entertained and time flies by, before you know it you’re in France. While there we spent a day exploring Nausicaa, Frances National Sea Centre which is located pretty much on the beach and is perfect for an action packed day out with kids.

That brings us to now and we are once again planning a trip to France, this time to Brittany this summer where we plan to spend a week by the coast, soaking up the sun and enjoying the simple pleasures of life while the kids can run free, build sandcastles and go swimming. With the weather being remarkably more reliable than ours in the UK, it makes for a great family destination when you’re craving some warm weather and we are really looking forward to our week long break.

Paris locks
My eldest looking at all the locks in Paris

What makes France the perfect family destination?

1. It's very accessible - with so many ferry services you can drive there and enjoy a road trip. France also has an excellent rail network and the Eurostar is so fast, making Lille and Paris so easy to get to - you could even visit as a day trip. There are also plenty of airlines that fly to a variety of destinations across the country for very reasonable prices.

2. It's a cheaper option compared to long-haul destinations - with so may gîtes (cottages), holiday parks and campsites, France is a great budget friendly country for families looking to get away. I would recommend booking in advance as it does get very busy in summer.

3. The weather is more reliable than the UK - Did you know that Nice in the South of France has roughly 300 days of sunshine! Even in Northern France you can pretty much guarantee good weather from May to September, making it one of our closest destinations for a proper beach break.

Water fountain
A beautiful evening in Cannes

4. It's culturally and historically rich - besides the beautiful beaches there are also plenty of castles, chateaus, art galleries, wineries, war time relics and breath taking countryside to take in. There really is something for everyone and if you’re feeling short on inspiration then do check out some of the great itineraries online to print off and work to.

5. It's foodie heaven - if food is your family’s thing then France is the destination for you, with nearly every region offering its own delicacies and traditional dishes. France is of course also a huge wine country so visiting a winery is a must.


What we also love about trips to France is how easy they are to organise, especially with sites such as France-Voyage out there, which are straight forward to book through and offer up plenty of inspiration and information. You can also book a variety of accommodation types through them, as well as discover attractions and restaurants and save your favourite things to do in the area that you are visiting, to reference later.

The site also has over 500,000 pages about tourism in France, so really is the best point of reference for any trips you are planning. Plus, it's updated daily so check it out if you are planning a trip this year.

French Riveria
Sunset in Nice

Read More

48 hrs in Edinburgh - A Family Guide



Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, it's visually so beautiful and unique and makes for a fantastic weekend city break, although it's easy to spend much longer in the Scottish Capital as there is so much to see and do but if you are heading up north here is my 48 hour family friendly guide to get the most out of your trip.

We arrived into the city very early via the Caledonian Sleeper Train from London, check out my post about what we thought of the experience. We wanted somewhere that was close to Waverley Train Station due to the early arrival and late departure on our return. We decided to stay at The Premier Inn as it's less than 5 minute's walk from the train station, in the older part of town and only a few hundred feet from The Royal Mile. After dropping our bags off we decided to head out as we wanted to make the most of our time in the city. Here is what we got up to in our 48hrs in the city.

Scottish bagpipes

Hit up the Royal Mile 

Yes it is very touristy but there is a reason for that, this mile takes you from The Royal Palace up to Edinburgh Castle and takes in a lot of the old town with many historical buildings and sights. It's a beautiful, vibrant and busy street, packed with plenty of places to eat, traditional pubs, eclectic shops, visitors attractions and entertaining buskers. If it's your first time in the Scottish Capital this is a great place to start and the kids will be captivated by everything that is going on. Along the mile is also a variety of museums including the Museum of Childhood and the Scottish Story Telling Centre, both perfect for families. Even if you don't plan on visiting Edinburgh Castle it's still a must to walk to the top to take in the view and make sure to look out for the Heart of Midlothian Mosaic on the way up

Edinburgh Castle

The Castle without a doubt is one of the most well-known and iconic sights in the city and sits perched high up on the castle rock overlooking the city. While admission is on the pricey side (you can save on booking in advance and under 5's go free) I do feel it's worth it as it's great for families with plenty to see and do and the views are amazing. The ticket not only gives you access to The Great Hall, Palace Apartments and getting to see the Crown Jewels but also includes The National War and Regimental Museums. I also recommend sticking around for the One o'clock Gun which fires each day from the Mills Mount Battery and it's a highlight for kids. The Great Hall is also adorned with armour and swords and is fascinating for both children and adults. 

Kids at the castle

Edinburgh Castle

National Museum Of Scotland 

This has to be one of the best free attractions in the city and one of the most beautiful museums we have been to and fantastic for both adults and children. With Dinosaurs, race cars, aeroplanes and science experiments it has everything you need for a fun few hours, plus it's great if you're looking for somewhere action pack on a rainy day. My kids loved the Animal World gallery with plenty of hands-on exhibits including unearthing a dinosaur fossil as well as trying to generate power in the human-sized hamster wheel and having a go at racing a formula one car. The main gallery is full of natural light and has a wonderful cafe to keep the kids hydrated and tummy full.

Kids Edinburgh

Edinburgh Museum

Dynamic Earth

At the lower end of the Royal Mile, you will find the modern-looking Dynamic Earth, an interactive journey through time and space and nothing like anything else you would have done. I wasn't sure what my youngest was going to think of this as you start the tour off stepping into a time machine and being whisked off millions of years back in time with very realistic visual effects. My eldest loved it right from the start but my youngest was a little unsure but really warmed up as time went and they both had a fantastic time. You are brought back from millions of years to the present day in a fun, inspired and educational way that includes plenty of hands-on activities, a 4D flight, exploring everything from and real-life Ice Glacier to the Rain forest, your ticket also includes a film in the 360 show dome.

Arthurs Seat

If you love the outdoors as much as we do and fancy a little bit of a challenge then head up Arthurs Seat, depending on your fitness levels it will take around an hour to get to the top. I have done it a few times before and I would recommend this for children 5yrs plus unless you are happy to carry them part of the way. The views from the top are fantastic and it's located right behind Dynamic Earth so you can tick both off in the same day.


Art Galleries

The city has plenty of Art Galleries, cultural centres and museums and we always make sure to pop into at least one or two when we are exploring a city. We decided to head to The Fruitmarket Gallery which is a small contemporary gallery with a fantastic shop packed with independent books, creative pieces and unique toys as well as a hip cafe which is always busy but there is good reason for it. This is a very family-friendly space and while we were there they had an audience-led exhibition with large cardboard boxes that encouraged people to become bricks which you can imagine the kids loved. Also right opposite The Fruitmarket Gallery is The City Art Centre which houses a variety of traditional and contemporary Scottish Artworks. Both Galleries are free entry

City Sightseeing Bus

This was the first time we have ever done one of these open top hop on and hop off bus tours and I think they are a great way to get around the city when you are short on time as they take in a lot of the sights and kids love sitting at the top of the bus and there is a special Horrible Histories commentary which my eldest really enjoyed. We used the bus to get us around to places which were just a little too far to walk as well as seeing the sights such as The Scotts Monument, Greyfriars Bobby, Grass market and taking you to the bottom of Carlton Hill.

Edinburgh tour bus

Art Gallery Edinburgh

Carlton Hill

Carlton Hill is another popular hill and viewpoint in Edinburgh and a great place to take kids to run off some steam while taking in some pretty breathtaking views of not only the city but also across The Leith and the coastline. Located on the East End of Princess Street it's a pretty easy climb up to the top and doable for even toddlers. The hill is also the location of some iconic monuments including Nelsons Monument, the Robert Burns Monument, the City Observatory and the unmistakable Athenian Acropolis which is actually an unfinished monument but is very popular with visitors climbing on top of the giant steps. You can also climb to the top of The Nelsons Monument and there is a small hip coffee station with some delicious cakes and its easy to spend an hour or two up here and I recommend fitting it into your trip.

Princess Street Gardens

This is a lovely public park right in the heart of the city with the castle in the background and Princess Street right above with a view of Scotts Monument this is a great little place to get away from the manic city for a moment and let the kids run around. During the winter they have a fantastic Winter wonderland here and through the warmer months, it's a great spot for a picnic. During our stay, there was a really cool interactive light installation as part of the Lumen show and it was a really fun art piece to see and the kids loved running through the light show which played to music.

Light lumen

A few more suggestions 

We could have easily spent a few more days exploring the city but when your doing a short weekend visit you have to be selective about what you fit in. We also would of loved to have checked out more of the Leith area and The Royal Yacht Britannia as well as the Botanical Gardens. Camera Obscura which is only a few meters away from Edinburgh Castle is also a big hit with all ages as well as The Edinburgh Zoo. We all had an incredible action-packed stay in Edinburgh and would highly recommend visiting this unique Scottish city as a weekend break or part of a bigger trip to Scotland. 

Check out the vlog of our time in the Scottish Capital

T ravel Loving Family
Read More

London to Edinburgh on the Caledonian Sleeper Train



Sleeper train

A couple of weeks ago we got to tick one of the bucket list by taking the overnight Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Edinburgh and back and it was certainly an experience we won't forget for a long time and is a great way to embrace slow travel and arrive in a different city in a unique way. We had an amazing break in the Scottish Capital which I will share in a larger post but for this one I just want to focus on our family sleeper train experience. Now I have done a few sleeper trains before across Europe a few years back but the UK has a pretty limited service when it come to overnight train travel.

Firstly I would like to point out that all of the Caledonian Sleeper trains are being upgraded and rolled out later this year, around October time and I think this is going to have a massively positive impact on the service this line will provide and the timing is perfect. During our trip we couldn't fault the attentiveness and professionalism of the staff although the train in terms of amenities needed a modern facelift which is what it is getting and I cannot wait to see the new trains for myself.

Caledonian sleeper

Sleeper Train Compartment

On our departure from London, we had the chance to pop into the Virgin first-class lounge which was available with our ticket type and gave us a space to relax, have a drink and use some wifi before heading up North. The departure time from London is pretty late so you need to have something on hand to keep the kids entertained, luckily Euston station has plenty of places to eat as well as fast wifi so after food we let our kids watch some movies on their tablets to let the time pass by. 

Once we were allowed to board we made our way down to the platform and were greeted by a lovely carriage attendant who arrange for us to have some coffee and orange juice delivered to our compartment in the morning along with a wake-up call. We were lucky enough to try out both of the sleeping options during our trip, on the way up we had two rooms that opened up into one, each with bunk-style beds, with cleaver storage these small rooms also fit a sink, storage space and coat hangers. You are also provided with a small necessity pack which has ear plugs, a sleep mask, soap, a towel and some fresh bottled water. 

On the return trip the train left from Edinburgh earlier so we decided to head to the lounge car for a drink and some snacks which I recommend as it's a great place to relax, meet other travellers and indulge in some Scottish delicacies. The lounge car was a stylish and comfortable space and is going to be even more impressive on the new trains. The staff were also very friendly and accommodating of the children who enjoyed the experience of being dined on a train.

Due to an issue with the door of our compartment on our return trip, which was quickly dealt with by the fantastic team, we were upgraded to first-class rooms which were single rooms joined together and offered up a little bit more space. These rooms are going to become "club rooms" on the new stock and will be fully ensuite each with a private shower and toilet which is fantastic news, along with the option of a Suite which will have a double bed making the new stock the future of overnight travel.

Sleeper train compartment

family sleeper train

So what are the benefits of taking a sleeper train?

1. A relaxed way to travel and arrive in a new city as well as saving on a hotel and being able to wake up somewhere new a refreshed.
2. You have more flexibility with what luggage you take as appose to flying.
3. You can travel with your pet for a surcharge
4. The sleeper train accommodates bicycles if you book in advance.
5. Great family-friendly way to travel

Also here are my top tips on getting as much sleep as possible on a sleeper train

1. Use the earplugs! These will help block out any noise which naturally occurs when your travelling by train and help you get a more peaceful sleep.
2. Use the sleep masks which are provided - again this will block out any light that may disturb you during the night and help you sleep more restfully.
3. Pack your favourite Pyjamas as the more comfortable you are the more likely you are to get a good night sleep.
4. If your travelling with kids try and keep them up all day and reduce any naps, the train departs around 10-11pm so as soon as you board you can put them to sleep. My eldest slept like a log on both journeys.

My vlog of our journey will be up soon and in the meanwhile here is a sneak peak of the new compartments rolling out this October. I would certainly recommend this experience and imagine it's going to be even more fantastic when the new stock have hit the rails.

Thanks to Caledonian Sleeper Train for providing us with our travel and allowing us to review their service. All our words and thoughts are 100% our own. 

Read More
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...