The best destinations to get married this leap year


leap year proposal

*Associated Post 

As 2020 rolls on, it’s worth remembering that February will have an extra day, as we are in the midst of a leap year. Coming around every four years, leap years give us an extra day on the calendar – February 29th.

A mythical date – just what do you do if it’s your birthday?! – Feb 29 has been long associated with the Irish custom of Bachelor’s Day, which states women can ask men to marry them, although in modern times it's, of course, no matter what your sexual orientation, whether in a traditional relationship or a same-sex one, you can propose to your partner.

If you are thinking about proposing having a bit of a whirlwind ceremony, I thought I would share 5 beautiful destinations for the leap year that are also LGBTQ friendly

1. Cape Town

I may be a little biased as I grew up in South Africa's mother city but honestly, it's a fantastic place to get married with reliable sunny weather, white sand beaches and an array of private wine farms stretching for miles that make for a great wedding setting. It's also refreshingly affordable as overseas weddings go and being the fifth country to recognise same-sex marriage in 2005 it's progressive style is appealing. 

Camps Bay

2. Toronto

Canada has long been known for it's welcoming and accepting attitude to all religions and cultures and I can vouch for that having worked with many Canadians over the years that they are possibly the friendliest nation I know. Toronto is known for Casa Lomo, a gothic revival style mansion and garden right in the heart of midtown which has stunning landscaped gardens. Canada is also an exciting and vibrant foodie destination so you know your wedding reception would be on point. 

3. Stockholm

I knew I had to include Stockholm after reading about LesBeMums trip to the Swedish Capital. Not only is Sweden an interior design dream with it's chic and minimalist inspirations but it also adopted a gender-neutral marriage law in 2009 making it a welcoming destination for all. You won't be short on cool venue choices as Stockholm is packed with on-trend hotels and bars. 

Hot air balloon

4. Barcelona

For those arty creative couples who love a spot of street art, dancing until the sun rises and eating fresh delicious food in a youthful and laid back setting then Barcelona is a city to consider. Spain has long been a forward-thinking liberal European country has been the third nation to institute marriage equality in 2005. 

5. Iceland

While this destination is a bit on the pricey side it's also one of the most magical and dramatic in terms of land spaces and you can even get married in a quaint wooden church with waterfalls and glaciers nearby. Iceland also welcomes and celebrates acceptance especially after the Prime Minister 
J√≥hanna Siguroard√≥ttir and her partner were among the country’s first couples to marry under the new law.

Wild horses

No matter what your orientation, gender or religion wouldn't you rather get married in a country that supports equality for everyone? I know I would.
Getting everything right

Once you’ve proposed and picked out the perfect location, now you need the ring if you don't already have one so making sure you find out how you can get the right size for your beau’s ring, to ensure the big moment goes off without a problem.

So who has proposed during a leap year or had a destination wedding? I would love to hear your story in the comments.

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Ideas for enjoying an Active Easter weekend



ladies who hike

Easter doesn’t have to be all chocolate, bunny rabbits and egg hunts. It’s a spot in our diaries that lends itself to free time to explore the outdoors, both near or far and getting away from it all, but so often sees people falling into the same routines.

If you don’t fancy a bank holiday that’s over before you’ve so much as shifted off the sofa, here’s how you can make the most of Easter this year.

Make use of the time

Most of us will have two bank holidays to enjoy, with a four-day weekend opening up many options.
Sure, you’ll want to chill out at some point across the weekend, but with so much time on your hands, get the diary out and start making plans and they don't have to cost much at all.

We have already put together a small bucket list of things we want to do and experience over this year such as hiking different mountains and hills in the Brecon Beacons, cycle paths we want to explore, villages we walk to wander through and long weekends are the perfect time to do that.

You can also use this time to reconnect and catch-up with friends and family as well as quality time with yourself or your children.

Paddle boarding Cardiff

Get out of your comfort zone

A short break overseas, or in a spot you’ve never visited before in this country will open up your horizons and could well provide memories that last a lifetime. Making use of the extra time to discover a new passion could give you extra impetus for the rest of the year – those four-day working weeks won’t last forever!

Or perhaps you want to give a new experience and with so many taster sessions on offer in the UK why not try out indoor rock climbing, surfing or stand-up paddleboarding? Last year I did a few stand-up paddleboarding sessions and it's such a fun activity that is perfect for all ages and why not make the Easter holidays a time to give it a go. 

Rediscover an old passion

When was the last time you went did a hike, visited a country house, or took a trip to the coast?
As spring starts to really kick into gear, the natural world can offer plenty of hidden gems, while satisfying the inner child inside might keep the grown-up going through to summer as well.

Last year for the first time in over 10yrs I picked up my skateboard again and it was one of the best things I've done in a long time - not only for my physical wellbeing as it's a great work out but also for my mental health as it's a great way to clear my mind and also I have made so many friends, it's increased my social circle, so you never know what rediscovering an old passion will take you.

feeble grind

Treat yourself

OK, so Easter isn’t all about filling your face, but a delicious treat can’t certainly isn't off the table.
Enjoying an Easter dinner with all the trimmings is a great way to spend quality time together as a family or with friends and maybe even you can share the cooking responsibilities?

And let’s be honest, Easter wouldn’t be Easter in 2020 without the chocolate eggs, but you deserve a real indulgence, and chocolate Easter eggs are the perfect way to treat yourself and your loved ones.

Give something back

Seen as you’ve got all this time to yourself, why not use it to pay something back to the community? Volunteering opportunities are everywhere, whether official or informal.

You might be able to help clear up a public space, assist with a charity’s work or make a lonely neighbour’s day by stopping for a cuppa and a chat. It’ll all give you a sense of self-worth and could really make a difference in your community. If you don't want to meet up as a group you could head out and do a beach clean which is a lovely refreshing way to get outdoors and do a little good in the process. 

beach clean Barry

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7 Family Travel Safety Tips for hassle-free travel


Cheltenham fountain

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Most people love to travel, explore somewhere new, whether that means lying in the beach and soaking up the sun rays or getting off the beaten track or being more action-packed by hitting the slopes or hiking up mountains, either way, there is something we all have in common and that is wanted to stay safe while on the road.

Before having kids I backpacked around Europe for around 2yrs and I had a blast but there was the odd occasion I felt unwell or caught a virus and needed to see a doctor and it can be tricky when you're in a foreign country. Another time my Airbnb or Couchsurfing host cancelled on me last minute and I needed to find somewhere to stay or simply getting lost on local transport systems - all of these experiences where learning curves and I feel have provided good groundwork for safe travels with kids. So I thought I would share with you 5 things you need to do before setting off as they can save you time, money and hassle and even though some of them are not the most exciting thing to do they are equally important and ensure you will stay safe as possible.

1. Research your destination

Before going anywhere new you should always do at least some basic research beforehand. It's good to know things like the political situation or if there are any travel warnings before leaving. Also, be aware of any area's you shouldn't visit and know what the situation is when it comes to exploring in the evening as some cities it's best to stay indoors after the sun goes down. Being aware of local customs is also important as not to offend anyone or cause a possibly tense situation.

2. Be up to date with Travel Vaccines and Health Advice before any trip

It's not only exotic destinations you need to check but also many countries across Europe, South America and Africa require certain vaccinations prior to travel, along with appropriate health advice on the region you are going to. It's really important to do your research and also schedule an appointment with your GP as one cannot presume you and your families immunity will match that of a local foreign environment. You can also get a lot of advice from The Travel Doctor.

family travel

3. Have Travel and Life Insurance

I cannot say this enough but if your only going to do one thing, make sure you have travel insurance because you never know when your going to need it and a small amount can literally save you hundreds and thousands of pounds. Everyone should have health insurance while travelling, it really is essential and gives you peace of mind. Another important thing everyone should have, especially if you are a parent is life insurance - in fact, this was the first thing I did after becoming a mother, because no one knows the future and whether at home or on the road I want to know my kids will be looked after and it adds an extra level of reassurance and peace of mind.

4. Protect your money

Keeping your money safe while your on your travels is very important as many travellers can be targets of pickpocketing regardless if your travelling as a family or on your own. Firstly you want to inform your bank of where you are travelling too because if you don't they may see your transactions as suspicious and lock all your cards - this has happened to me and it can be really inconvenient trying to sort it out from overseas. While your travelling it's best to use a mixture of cash and card and never keep it all in one place and make big purchases using a card as these can be traced. When using an ATM always do some basic checks, if it looks like it's been tampered with then use a different one of go into the bank. Keeping a secret backup stash is also always a good idea should you find you have been the victim of pickpocketing and using an anti-theft bag such as Nayo Smart.

5. Make copies of travel documents

It's always worth having a copy of your essential travel documents and can save a lot of time and hassle should you lose one of these or have one stolen. Important documents to make copies of are, your passport, visa, travel insurance, hotel reservations along with any other pre-paid reservations and also your driver's license should you want to hire a car. Some countries may also need copies of your Vaccine information so be aware of this before travelling.

travel documents

6. Write down emergency numbers

Not only should you have the numbers and address of your hotels (and preferably share this with family so they know where you are staying) but making note of local emergency numbers such as local police, ambulance, hospital and your nearest embassy, can be lifesaving. 

7. Pack a first aid kit

Don't rely on the possibility that your destination will have the similar medication you are used to or just being suck in a hotel with a child who has spiked a fever at 11pm when everything is shut, is not ideal. So having a basic first aid kit can really come in handy and it's something I always pack. Mine contains anti-septic wipes and anti-bacterial gel, plasters, a pack of paracetamol, a small bottle of Capol, a few re-hydrating sachets, a small tube of suncream and anti-histamine tablets.

These are just a few ways to stay safe when your travelling as a family and can not only save you lots of time and hassle but also loads of money too.

travel safety tips

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5 Reasons to visit Florida


Palm trees

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One of my favourite family memories, when I was growing up, was a trip to Florida and the first time I headed to the States and I love looking back on photos from that trip. Florida is a popular destination and for good reason with its warm weather, crystal clear beaches and easy way of life, it is, of course, the sunshine state.

There is a variety of reasons why you should put this destination on your bucket list as when it comes to tourism, Central Florida takes the cake and not just because of its favourite family amusement park, Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, but there are plenty of other activities to enjoy so if considering a trip to the States this year, here is all the more reasons to come to Florida.

Fun for All Ages

One of Floridas biggest draws is, of course, the fact it's home to one of the most famous amusement parks Disney World, which I have fond memories of visiting when I was a child, along with Orlando include Universal Studios. Of course, there is also the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which wasn't around when I was 9 but has not surprisingly proved to be a very popular addition. The one thing I can promise is that children will love it so much they will want you to move over to Central Florida and will have you searching for Orlando houses for sale in no time.

Disney World Florida

The Food Scene

Florida has a vibrant food scene with a diverse mix of cultures and inspirations thrown in and of course plenty of fresh seafood. You will find an array of Cajun and Creole dishes and there is a cuisine often referred to as Floribbean which has a strong Caribbean influence coming in from neighbouring Cuba and Bahamas. 

Wildlife Spotting

If your a budding wildlife photographer or just love getting outdoors and being one with nature than Florida has it all. A ride through the famous Everglades National Park is one for the bucket list and you're sure to come across an alligator or two as well as the possibility of some pythons, pelicans, bobcats and majestic manatees. 

Florida wildlife

Sporting pursuits

If you like to try something new or stay active when on holiday than Florida has a variety of options from scuba diving to stand-up paddleboarding and world-famous golf courses, there will be something to get your heart pumping. If you rather just be a spectator than NASCAR fans know there is no better place than to visit Daytona Beach, home to the Daytona International Speedway. Each February, the city of Daytona Beach hosts the Daytona 500 NASCAR Race, a huge event that attracts hundreds of thousands of people annually. Full of energy and excitement it would be one event you wouldn't forget quickly.

A relaxing breakaway

Central Florida is also a great place to lie back, relax and take some time to unwind. There are plenty of fantastic beaches such as Daytona Beach and Tampa Beach where you can take a towel,  a good book, perhaps a cocktail and enjoy just soaking in the laid back atmosphere. If you're looking to explore more of the local area and smaller beach towns with fewer crowds than places like Clearwater, St. Augustine, and New Smyrna Beach make great options for a more lowkey trip.

Everyone I've talked to that has visited Florida has only ever had positive things to say as there is a good reason so many families decided to make there way there, but you don't have to get swept with the crowd as there is so much to do in and around Florida you will be able to find your own slice of holiday paradise. 

Central Florida

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Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh Exhibition



Tutankhamun Saatchi Gallery

* Disclosure - I was invited to attend the family press day and was therefore provided with exhibition tickets in exchange for an honest unpaid review. All other costs were covered by myself.

The kids and I love history, in fact, most weekends are spent exploring one of the many amazing castle ruins we have in Wales or on rainy days we head to museums, so when we were invited to visit the Tutankhamun exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery which on until the 3rd May 2020 and we were really excited to see it.

Having done a little research pre-trip I decided to leave my youngest (who is 4), at home, while I know he would of loved it, the exhibition takes around an hour to get through and there is quite a lot of literature alongside all the priceless artefacts and I knew that both my eldest (who is 9) and I would want to take the time to read about everything and not rush through and it also meant some much-needed one on one time with my eldest.

As we had to be their pretty early, we were up at 4:30am to catch the early train so I was apprehensive about how that would go but it was fine, we headed to bed really early so felt ready for the adventure ahead. Despite visiting London a couple of times a year this was our first visit to the Saatchi Gallery, which is located in the pretty borough of Chelsea, which is a lovely part to explore in itself.

I'd like to point out that your ticket works on a timed entry system and you need to arrive within those times and it can take up to 30mins to pass through security, although we found it less than that, but do keep things simple and don't bring to much along with you. Once we passed through security you have the option to take an audio guide which we did along with a family trail which proved to be a fun and engaging way to explore the exhibition.

Tutankhamun Saatchi Gallery

Saatchi Gallery

For those who don't know much about what the exhibition entails, it's more than 150 original objects from the tomb which 60 pieces travelling out of Egypt for the first and last time, making this exhibition really special. The artefact highlights include the life-sized guardian statue of the king, funeral bed, gold inlaid hands holding the crook and flail and the famous gold coffinette.

The exhibition takes you through the timeline of how Tutankhamun's tomb was discovered in The Valley of Kings and getting to know the life of Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon and it was really fascinating and digestible for all ages.

We spent a good hour taking in everything before heading to the cafe for some coffee and pastries and a moment to sit down and recoup. We wanted to make the most of our time in London as possible and I had seen that the National Army Museum was only a 10-minute walk from the Saatchi Gallery and while the military is not something I am overly interested in, my son is and again it's apart of our history.

Army museum London

Army museum tank

On the way to the museum, we stumble upon the house of where the author of Mary Poppins use to live, that's what I love about London is you never know what you're going to find. The National Army Museum is a free museum with some great facilities for kids and has lots of interactive displays including being taking over a tank, army style training from a virtual commander, crawling under a scout car and trying on a variety of outfits and army costumes.

There is also a small shop, cafe and a play base soft play area, you need to book into this and there is a nominal charge and is suitable for children up to 8yrs old.

Cool kids London

Overall we had an amazing time at the Saatchi Gallery and with many of these artefacts never going on tour again once they return to Egypt I would highly recommend you visit it now, it's well worth the money. The National army museum is also a great place to explore with kids if you wanting to explore more of the area.

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The Garth Mountain - Family Friendly Hikes in Wales



The Garth

Have you ever heard of the book (later turned into a film) The Englishman who went up a hill but came down a mountain? Well the author Christopher Monger was a Taff's Well native and many have said that the The Garth which rises above Taffs Well was the inspiration for the book. Most geologists classify a mountain as a landform that rises at least 1000 feet and The Garth does just that, coming in at 1,007 ft thanks to the tumuli (Bronze Age burial sites) at the summit which pushes The Garth just over the 1000ft criteria, which makes The Garth one of, it not, the smallest mountain in Wales and perfect for a family hike.

I've taken my boys up a few times now and I thought it would be a nice idea to share some of the family-friendly hikes we get up to in and around South Wales and a walk-up The Garth offers some amazing views across Cardiff, The Valleys and all the way to the Severn Bridge.

There are a few different ways to walk up The Garth, although our favourite is to start in the village of Gwaelod-y-Garth, which has a lovely pub you can visit on the way back down. Talking of the pub, the Gwaelod Y Garth Inn, you can use that are you start point as you head up the small winding road right next to the pub, walking straight up and veering to the left. You follow this path over a cattle grid and past some farmers fields, which usually have a few ponies and horses grazing.

The Garth

It will take you around 20-minute slow walk from the pub up the base of the mountain trail, which is along the path, past the fields and you will see a small car park and a path heading up the mountain. Do wear sensible shoes as the path can be narrow in parts as well as a few rocks you need to scramble up and there are some steep sides so as always supervise young children. My 4yr old has been up at least 3 times so it's perfect for younger kids although there are of course some of the normal dangers that come with a walk like this so just keep to common sense.

The first path up as I said can be steep in parts although my boys love the ruggedness of it, you also come to a small stream which is fresh running water right off the mountain (we have tried it a few times), last time we got stuck behind some sheep at this point. Shortly after the stream, you come to a flat platform although this is not the summit and you will need to scramble up a rather steep hill, which my kids find rather entertaining. Once at the top you then have another more gradual gradient up towards the plateau and once you reach that you will see the summit and trig point in the distance.

family friendly hike

If you are into Geocaching there are a few geo's on the Garth and in the immediate area which can be an extra incentive for kids. What's nice about The Garth is that there are always people walking so it doesn't feel isolated or quiet and on warm sunny days you will always find people picnicking near the Trig point along with people exploring the area on their bikes and horseback.

I would like to point out that it is often 2-3 degrees colder, as well as windy on the top so do take extra layers with you and the weather can also change pretty quickly. The last time we went up it was a beautiful sunny day but just before the trig point a huge rain cloud descended and we got soaked so packing a waterproof jacket, fleece and umbrella is never a bad idea, along with plenty of water of course.

family hikes Wales

Trig point

The Garth is only around a 15min drive from the Cardiff, the Capital of Wales so this is great if your visiting the area over a weekend and are looking for a fun and enjoyable walk with the kids. I would say set around 2-3hrs to do this hike as if you have small children you need to allow for a slower pace.

Make sure you take plenty of snacks, water and a few extra layers and get outdoors and treat yourself to a pint in the village on the way back, the perfect way to spend a Sunday if you ask me.

family hike

The Garth mountain

If your thinking about doing this trail then do also check out my vlog from our last visit up The Garth

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Four Reasons to choose Vintage Jewellery

boho lifestyle

Collaboration post 

I have to say I don't wear or own that much jewellery but every single piece I do own is very special to me and has been carefully selected for one reason or another and each has their own story. I always believe in less is more so I rather invest in a piece I love than have lots of low-quality pieces. I have a beautiful silver anchor necklace from anchor & crew I haven't taken off in a few years and it's my way of sharing my love of the ocean and travel and it's one of the newer pieces I own, but I often buy second hand and for a variety of reasons.

When it comes to style I tend to go with classic designs that are timeless with a minimalist Scandi inspired look as I feel these last the test of time and when it comes to any purchases I always look towards the future and if it's something I will be able to pass down to my children, which is what my mother has done and I know eventually I will inherit a beautiful Ruby and Diamond ring, both of which are so beautifully designed that even now they classic enough to wear.

When it comes to picking the perfect piece of jewellery such as an engagement ring, why not consider going down the Vintage and Antique route? Firstly Vintage refers to anything over 20yrs old and antique is anything over 100yrs old and this can affect the price and of course doing research beforehand is always key but here are 5 reasons why vintage jewellery is the way forward.

engagement ring

1. Ethical and environmentally friendly

Most are aware of some of the ethical issues associated with the diamond industry so opting for antique or vintage pieces ensures your not contributing towards any of these issues as well as bringing life to preowned goods. Purchasing antique jewellery also means that you're supporting local and independent businesses such as the highly reputable Flaxman Fine Jewellery in London which specialises in antique jewellery while having less of an impact on the environment.

2. It's Unique

One of the major benefits of buying antique jewellery is that you are getting something completely unique and it's unlikely you will come across another piece like it. Very often antique rings were hand-made by skilled craftsmen using old world techniques which means they often have beautiful detail and designs.
vintage jewellery
3. Better Quality

As I said above often these pieces are made by highly skilled craftsmen with workmanship more refined than today, often making bespoke pieces that took a lot of time, over the mass-produce modern jewellery we see today.

4. Excellent value

Buying antique or vintage engagement rings do come at a price and it should be seen as an investment, saying that it's often really good value going down the pre-owned route. Firstly did you know that secondhand jewellery is VAT-exempt? Which instantly makes these pieces 20% less than a comparable new piece. There is also no manufacturing costs involved which means better quality diamonds and gemstones for your money. Antique jewellery also often retains it's value and is easy to resell should you want to part with it in the future.

With every piece of vintage and antique jewellery, it tells a story and offers something really special, unique and sustainable. Another tip is going with a reputable dealer, such as Flaxman Fine Jewellery, that knows what they are talking about, has speciality knowledge, offers a repair service and offers some kind of return service - such as a 14-day money-back guarantee should you change your mind, because at the end of the day it's an investment.

engagement ring

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Creative ways to reinvent your garden Shed


barn doors

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Most homeowners who have a garden usually have a shed and one would probably assume that it was for storing tools or garden equipment and you would more than likely be right. Storage sheds in a person's backyard are notoriously used for these things and quickly become cluttered with stuff that rarely sees the light of day. However, these little structures can be so cute that it is a shame that they are not used for more creative things, you could even You can add a cute sliding barn door that can make it useful for just about anything. The backyard sheds have so much potential instead of just being an extension of the home for storage clutter.

It is all about waving goodbye to unused and unwanted clutter and instead of making spaces useful and practical so here are just a few different ways in which you can use storage sheds. Sheds come in all shapes and sizes as well as designs, some really impressive and if you are looking for a little inspiration do check out Sheds for sale.

Mini movie theatre

All you need for this fun idea is a projector that projects a motion picture in high definition, and a large blank screen. This will turn your shed into such a fun experience that you will never need to pay a bunch of money to go to the movie theatres again. Take it to the next level and add in some comfy seats or a sofa, a popcorn maker, and low lights. This will give you the perfect ambience for a great movie and a fun time together at the same time.

The perfect playhouse

Sheds are sturdy in their structure, but they can be cute as well. With a fun coat of paint in a colour like pink, white, baby blue, etc., and adding on a porch, railing shutters, and curtains, you can turn your small tool shed into a playroom that every little princess dreams of.

garden playhouse

The most comfortable dog house

Your dog is part of your family and, as such, should be treated to all the same comforts that the rest of the family gets to enjoy on a daily basis. You can pamper your pooch by getting a small shed and turning it into a spacious accommodation. It will not only be stylish and look nice in your back yard, but it will give your furry friend a safe and comfortable place to perch in. Add on a screen that will keep the elements out and not allow bugs to go in during the summer months. Then put in a bed, insulation around it, and add in some fun toys and blankets. This will give your pooch a place to go that will keep him cool and safe from bugs in the summer and warm in the cold months when they need to be outside.

A cute little greenhouse

Sheds can be used to keep your pots and shovels. They are even a great place to store your seeds or unplanted plants. However, your simple potting shed can be taken to the next level and turned into a greenhouse so that you can grow your favourite plants at any time of the year. All you need to do is take out the roof that it comes with and replace it with glass. Your side panes will also need to be taken out and replaced with fibreglass or polycarbonate sheets. Most people choose to do the entire shed while others choose to do only a portion, depending on how large or small you are wanting your garden to be. This will let in enough light and warmth so that plants can grow all year long.

A backyard bar

On a nice spring or summer night, one of the most fun things to do is have friends and family over for drinks and food. You love enjoying the fresh air outside and being together under a blanket of stars, but trying to go in and out of the house for drink refills can be a hassle. Instead, turn your backyard shed into a type of bar by stocking it fully with your drinks of choice so that your refills are right there at your fingertips. You can even bring up a few stools and create a saloon-type atmosphere right there in the middle of your backyard.

backyard bar

Your shed or barn in the back yard does not have to be just a plain shed. There are so many fun things that you can do with your shed. All you have to do is get creative and have fun with it! Do read this post from the Telegraph for more ideas on how to reinvent your shed. 
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My top 10 travel posts of 2019



Well, 2019 was pretty action-packed with lots of adventures near and far. We always try and make the most of what is on our doorstep and hope to inspire other families to do the same, no matter what your budget (we are always on a tight budget). So I thought I would share 10 of my most popular travel posts of 2019 and hope that you one grabs your eye and inspires you to get out and explore.

1. A Winter weekend guide to Tenby

Every year we do an annual overnight trip to Tenby in West Wales which is one of our favourite spots, especially during off-peak as it's lovely and quiet. The pastel-coloured houses that face the coastline, victorian houses and quaint coffee shops make this is a popular destination so if your ever thinking of heading down that way do check out my guide.

Last year I had a brilliant partnership with the fantastic Hotel Indigo and spent two days at their fantastic Manchester hotel taking in all that Northern culture. It was a great child-free weekend away and the hotel has one of the best locations in town being only a short walk from the cool and creative Northern Quarter. If you're looking for a chic and stylish stay in Manchester then do have a read of my review. 

Another great partnership we had in 2019 was with the YHA which was perfect for us as we have used the YHA many times in the past as it offers fantastic budget-friendly accommodation in central locations. This trip we spent a weekend in the heritage town of Ironbridge in Shropshire and the birthplace of the industrial revolution. We enjoyed many of the museums in the area, local walking trails and are keen to go back and explore more of this beautiful place.

No I have to be honest I am not a good flyer as it is and with kids it can be a stressful affair which is why I wrote this post and it seems to have been a popular read. Sharing a few simple hacks to make your next flight less stressful and more enjoyable. 

Who hasn't dreamt of spending a night in a castle? Well, it's possible even on a small budget as St Briavels is also run by the YHA and is a unique place to stay with kids. My boys loved it and you are free to explore most of the castle which has a nice lounge to relax and banqueting hall, along with a dressing up box which was popular with my boys who love to dress as knights. Its also a lovely location right in the heart of the Wye Valley.

As I mentioned above I spent some time in Manchester last year and put together a child-free weekend guide to the city. There is so much to see and do there from museums and historical sites to cool and hip bars, eateries, galleries and plenty of places to shop from thrift stores to independent boutiques. I hope to revisit the city soon and recommend it as a great place for a weekend city break.

As with every year, we attend as many festivals as we can and we hadn't been to the Big Retreat in West Wales before so didn't know what to expect but we loved it. It's focused on wellbeing, mindfulness, good food, music and spending time relaxing and making connections. It's in a beautiful location and is nice and small so no long waits for the toilet or long walks to the campsite, it's all within easy reach. It's quickly become a favourite so have a read to see why. 

Over summer last year we decided on a last-minute glamping break in a traditional yurt near the famous book town of Hay-on-Wye. We have done a lot of glamping, from bell tents to pods and converted horse boxes but this was our first yurt stay and we loved every second, especially being able to spend the evening next to an open campfire outside our yurt. 

One of the highlights of 2019 was ticking off a visit to the Channel Island of Guernsey, off the bucket list. We spent four days on Guernsey and loved every second, it was right up our street with plenty of outdoor walks and places to explore. It felt like the perfect mixture of French and British cultures and we loved the food, scenery and coastal living you get on Guernsey. We are now planning a trip to its sister island of Jersey and can't wait.

Last year I went on a fun press trip to the South Wales Valleys, which are not very far from where I live but it was fantastic to discover even more about the area and try new things such as rock climbing at the summit centre and a hike up Blaengarw and taking in views right across to the Severn bridge. Also some amazing places to eat that embrace the local produce and tasting a variety of beers brewed right in the Welsh Valleys. 

At the moment we don't have any firm plans for 2020 but are looking forward to what the year brings. We have already taken a short road trip up through Mid Wales to Chester to explore some Roman Ruins and I am hoping to take the boys to both France and Italy this year although I like to keep things flexible and we couldn't end up somewhere altogether different. I hope you continue to keep reading about our adventures and have many of your own this year.

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