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Summer Sun Wishlist

It is only in recent years that the promise of warm, sunny weather in a holiday has ever appealed to me; prior to this I resolutely stuck to Northern European city breaks (Amsterdam, Paris, Dublin, Brugges).  These trips adequately satisfied my wanderlust and didn’t pose the same risks as beach holidays, ie I was unlikely to be burned to a crisp within 30 minutes of landing.

Amsterdam letters

In 2016, however, we were invited to visit family in Paros, a Greek Island effectively defined by its climate.  And guess what?  We had a great time.  The bright, warm weather meant that we could be outside for as long as wanted every day.  The children could swim in the sea, build sandcastles, play in the park long after they would usually be indoors at home.  They slept so much better as a result of all the fresh air and exercise and barely touched a screen in two weeks.  Furthermore, I discovered that yes, I will still burn easily if out in direct sunshine (I am a redhead, after all) but even hot countries have shade, and what better way to while away the hours than by reading?  I was sold.

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This summer, we have a trip to Italy booked for the end of August, which is very exciting.  An hour’s train ride away from Venice, we intend to visit the city during our stay – one more destination ticked off the bucket list!  The rest of the time we will be utilising our hotel’s water park or private beach, swimming, having a laugh and making memories as a family and probably eating rather a lot of pizza…

In addition to this, we have recently booked a holiday to Spain for October half term, a mere 30 minutes away from Barcelona but at an altogether more reasonable price!  Spain is a perennial favourite with British holidaymakers and, whilst I have never been before myself, I can see the attraction.  The weather is almost guaranteed to be lovely and the beaches are plentiful and pristine; there is also so much to see.  In Barcelona alone, we have at least two days’ worth of adventuring planned.  Click here for your own Spanish inspiration.

Are you planning a summer holiday this year?  I would love to hear your plans in the comments.

Kids Summer Wardrobe Ideas

Summer is fast approaching, which can only mean one thing – shopping!  With a diary full of summer events and escapades, including a weekend at the fabulous Camp Bestival, I am so excited to bring the kids’ wardrobes bang up to date with some gorgeous new clothes.

Dressing your little ones for different activities throughout the summer can be challenging, not to mention costly!  Whether you’re on the guest list to a fancy wedding (check!) or have planned a little trip abroad (double check!) — I’ve teamed up with River Island to bring you this life-saving style guide for all occasions.

Summer Weddings

Styling children for a wedding was once quite restrictive, but not anymore.  Forget finding the perfect suit — there are plenty more child-friendly options.  You know your child better than anyone else and it’s guaranteed that they’ll be on the dance-floor all night long so comfort is key.

Boys

Summer weddings make for the perfect opportunity to experiment with the little man in your life and create a versatile outfit for both the day and evening events.  Make a bold statement with a white shirt that includes bright and colourful prints, such as tropical leaves.  Then, match with a sage green blazer jacket that will complete the outfit for the daytime ceremony but can later be removed for the after-party when your child gets too hot from (inevitably) running around like a loon.

Pick a light pair of chino-styled bottoms and go with a beige or grey colour — however, I do recommend staying away from white to avoid any of those notorious spill stains that might appear throughout the night.  The options are endless when it comes to your child’s footwear, too.  Try loafers that match the blazer or white laced-up trainers to create a pristine look.

Girls

If your daughter is anything like mine, they will be happily selecting their outfit from the boys section.  However, I realise we are probably in the minority so, to make your little girl stand out from the crowd, choose a bright print, double ruffled Bardot dress that is suitable for both the daytime ceremony and evening event — removing the need to conduct a quick outfit change on the big day.  Bardot dresses will allow your child to feel like a true princess, with the freedom to run around playfully without feeling restricted.  Pair this with chunky sandals or backless plimsolls to highlight that summer-fun vibe!

Alternatively, you could mix and match products to create that one-off look for your daughter and make her feel really special.  Tiered frill cami tops are essential for any wedding in the summer and we recommend choosing a pretty pastel shade to complement a spring-summer vibe.  Partner with light blue, wide leg jeans to help show off those buckle, block-heel sandals.  Finally, add the finishing touches of the outfit by letting your little one model a white straw sunhat with a yellow ribbon as well as yellow tinted oval sunglasses to give off that retro style.

Beaches Abroad

Mastering beachwear for your child can be tricky; you want to ensure that they are dressed appropriately for all scenarios, including climbing rocks, swimming in the ocean or being buried deep in the sand.

Boys

The number one rule to dressing your children when abroad is to stay away from black clothing, as you don’t want your child to feel too hot.  Let your little boy channel his inner sailor by ordering a light blue striped shirt which should be left unbuttoned to create that effortlessly stylish effect — also allowing him to take it off easily when he wants to venture into shallow water.

Match the shirt with a pair of printed trunks that allows him to show off his child-style status.  For footwear, you have two options — pair with traditional boat shoes or nostalgic jelly cage sandals.  Now it’s time for accessories and there are a few key things that you should have in mind: shades and sunhats!

Girls

It’s important that your little girl feels comfortable on the beach.  So, before you buy, ask her what type of swimwear she would like — a tankini, bikini or a swimsuit? Whatever she chooses, we have the lowdown of the type she needs to feel like a fashion star in the making.  All three swimwear types are available in a variety of colours so there is something to suit all tastes.

Trapeze girls’ dresses are must-haves when you go to the beach, as it allows your little one to cover up when lounging on the sand, keeping the sun and wind off their delicate skin.  Pair with light, double-buckled sandals or jelly wedges then add cat-eye shades and an elegant beach hat.

river island

Family excursions

It can be difficult to decide how to dress your children for family get-togethers; do you stick with formal or turn up with informal attire? We’ve come up with the perfect balance for both your little boy and little girl, so that you don’t have to decide!

Boys

Let your boy rock the cool-dude look with a faux-suede biker jacket that will add an element of sophistication to your family gathering.  Keep it unzipped so that you can show off a dark printed short-sleeved shirt that sits underneath; be adventurous with the design, whether this is flocking birds or waves of the ocean.

Go with light-blue tapered jeans to tuck the shirt into and a buckled belt to match the jacket to create that suave, mini gentleman look.  Don’t forget that black leather plimsolls are in for the season, giving your boy the chance to add a touch of informality to a formal escapade.

Girls

Your little girl must have a faux-suede waterfall jacket in her wardrobe, and pairing it with a light lace top makes for both a wonderful yet powerful combination that will surely get family members talking.  Whatever colour her jacket is, you must go for a light tone underneath to enhance the elegance of the outfit.

When it comes to bottoms, go for light, tie-waist tapered trousers that allow room for comfort during all occasions.  Finish the look with a chain trim captain’s hat, a chain bucket backpack and some cork sole sliders to match!

How will you be dressing your child this summer?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Books for 7 Year Olds

My 7 year old happens to be male and, without wishing to resort to stereotypes, his relationship with books (and indeed with learning as a whole) has always been different to his sister’s. He has always adored stories but the desire to read them for himself did not show until he was six (as opposed to his sister who could read before she started school, due to her own determination). For a long time, the stories he enjoyed were largely read to him by me, and there were some that he couldn’t get enough of. Room on the Broom, for example, was a bedtime staple for many months when he was two, to the extent that he was soon able to recite it, almost word for word.

Nowadays, he is a proficient reader and happily reads chapter books to himself, though he is quite picky about what he will read – it has to really grab his attention. I asked him last night if he could find for me his 7 favourite chapter books (I quickly had to specify only one book per author to prevent this post becoming a Harry Potter biography) and this is the stack he selected:

Books for 7 year olds

Daisy and the Trouble with Zoos by Kes Gray
Matilda by Roald Dahl
Ultimate Football Heroes: Messi by Matt and Tom Oldfield
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling
Mr. Stink by David Walliams
Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

The overwhelming theme here is humour; find a book that can make my son laugh and he will be hooked.  We have read all of the Mr. Gum books (personally, I’m not a fan, but the kids LOVE them) and listened to most of them on Audible as well and they always make Sonny laugh.  Audible is an app that I absolutely adore and that the children are both addicted to – they listen to stories on it every single night without fail.  Interestingly, the Messi book aside, we have listened to all of these books on Audible (though we read them all first) and I wonder if that is what made them stand out to Sonny.  He prefers listening to audiobooks to any other form of reading, though he did spend Mother’s Day devouring the Messi book and managed to finish it in less than 24 hours.  I used to be a bit of a snob when it came to audobooks and didn’t feel they were quite as beneficial to a child as actually reading, but the stories are still digested, the vocabulary, grammar and structure still as present as if on the page.  Though I can’t imagine ever choosing an audio download over a physical book myself, I am more of a convert these days and would definitely recommend audiobooks to anyone who struggles with a child who shows little interest in reading and/or books.  I suspect they can be a useful gateway to other forms of reading and may engage children who might otherwise miss out on the magic and escapism of  being transported to another world.

What do you think of Sonny’s choices?  What books do your children like to read?

Going to the Grand National Festival

Sport events can be a family thing and horseracing festivals are a special occasion to visit the racetrack with the whole family. Here in the UK the two biggest festivals are the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, both just a few weeks apart in March and April accordingly.

Horseracing may sound something adults who do gambling may enjoy more, but the truth is these events have always been family oriented with things to do aside from watching the races or testing your luck with the bookies.

Sure, the events are crowded and last the full day, which might be a little too much with children to keep an eye on. But there’s usually early morning events prior to the races were kids can enter the stables and meet the horses.

Festival booths are laid out around and inside the venue to shop souvenirs with numerous food selections. Races will begin late in the morning or noon and occur every 45 minutes.

The Grand National is probably the biggest event of its kind, not only in the UK but in the world of jump racing. The track is an adventure of obstacles, which is the reason why the race is so popular with the masses.

The race began more than a hundred years ago with town’s folk competing against each other racing through the open field in between land marks like churches. Horses would jump over fallen branches, stone walls and mud puddles. That same route is located exactly were the Aintree racetrack is built today with a replica of those obstacles, including a sharp turn on the Leeds channel were some horses end up in the water.

When is the Grand National?

Begins on Thursday 12th of April and ends the Sunday 14th.

Which day is the best day to go?

Probably the most exciting day to go will be day two on Friday, Ladies Day. Ladies Day is all about fashion and the attention is not only on the races. Most people attend dressed-up in the best fashion, some of which can be vintage or fantastical with huge wild hats.

Is not a bad idea to dress-up your kids and even enter the fashion completion to win this year’s prize, a Range Rover Evoque.

Children Tickets

Child tickets for the Grand National can be acquired by purchasing an adult ticket, once acquired call 0344 579 3001 with no extra fees. Child tickets are capped at 200 for each day, so make sure you buy them in advanced.

Child admission is restricted at 2 per adult ticket.

Horseracing is one of those sports were a little gambling for fun doesn’t hurt, why not let your kids select the winner based on their criteria? Who knows, you might score a big win. We are not a horseracing expert, for everything you need to know about Grand National betting WilliamHill will the site of choice.

Springtime Garden Use

Now that the snow has finally cleared and the weather seems rather milder (though I am currently staring out at a grey and wet landscape, it is indisputably less cold), thoughts turn to making the best use of the garden this spring.  I like to get the children outside as often as possible and find that they thrive in this environment so warm, dry weather is ideal for us all.  This spring, I would like to get a sensory garden going as well as encouraging the children to grow some fruits and vegetables.  I love the idea of them eating homegrown strawberries on bright summer mornings and have had my eye on this little kit from Waitrose for a while now.

strawberries

A relaxed outdoor seating area is something that is high on my wishlist this year; I envisage fabrics and drapes, large beanbags, a hammock, some kind of table to hold books and drinks.  I would love to spend whole days in the garden lounging and reading together, though I’m unsure whether Sonny would be able to keep calm for an extended period of time!  To really make the most of the outdoors, I would like to add some string lights.  Not only are they aesthetically very pleasing but they also serve the great purpose of allowing us to enjoy the garden even when the sun has set.  Add some blankets and cocktails and you have the perfect evening – even better if the night is clear and the sky full of stars.

lights

I am so over dark, cold, wet weather and cannot wait for long, warm, sunny days.  Here’s hoping we get lots of good weather this year!