12 February 2018

Experiences Not to Miss When Travelling Abroad with Kids

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As a family we love our little holidays away from the front door and some of the best have been abroad. We also love experiencing new and wonderful things and what better way to do this than when you’re travelling. It’s something to look forward to and definitely something the kids will talk about for years to come.

One of the best experiences I had abroad as a child was spending the whole day with family on a gorgeous beach, swimming and snorkelling in the water. It was so care free and fun. I remember seeing lots of little fish and exploring the different caves along the coastline. So if you’re looking for something different for your family to experience when travelling abroad please do read on for my suggestions.


Camel Rides
On a recent trip to Lanzarote I noticed quite a large sort of Camel Ranch on the way to our hotel in Puerto del Carmen. My son got very excited when he saw it and so I investigated further at the hotel. Turns out it was a Camel Safari tour which took you on a stroll through desert terrain so you could enjoy the mountain views. It’s suitable for children aged 7+ and they can either ride single seater or two seater if they prefer to be beside a parent. It’s a lovely idea and the Camels all look well cared for. We never managed to go on our recent trip sadly but at least I know it’s there and we’ll definitely be going next time.

Snorkelling and Freediving
One thing I highly recommend doing with the kids abroad is snorkelling or freediving. Snorkelling of course is simply obtaining a mask and snorkel and floating on top of the water (preferably near a reef) to see what you can spot down below. Freediving is basically donning a mask and flippers, holding your breath and diving under the water without any breathing equipment. It’s a good way for kids to practice their breath holding skills (hands up who else did this in the bath as a child!) and of course see some beautiful wildlife under the sea in it’s natural habitat. Make sure you're equipped for your adventure by checking out Simply Scuba. There’s lots of lovely places to snorkel and freedive all over the world from Egypt to the Canary Islands. I’ve personally snorkelled in Egypt with my Dad and the creatures we sighted were amazing. I think the octopus had to be my fav.

Swim with Dolphins
If your children are slightly older then why not book a trip to Mexico to swim with the dolphins or even visit the Whale Sharks out in the open ocean. It’s a great thing to have on the bucket list and your kids will love it. There’s something so beautiful about being up close and personal with animals of the deep so I highly recommend. I swam with dolphins when I was in early pregnancy with my daughter and they could totally tell she was in there. Fascinating to watch.

Climb a Mountain
This might be hard for younger children however Calamorro mountain in Benalmadena has lovely cable cars that travel all the way up to the top. This means children of any age can go and enjoy the mountain and you can take in the great views. At the very top they even have a birds of prey display during certain times which is beautiful to watch. Especially the vultures! Those birds are so big when you see them up close. My son’s favourite part was when one of the little birds of prey was bobbing about and landing on people’s heads. Very hilarious as you can imagine.

The Beach
Sounds simple but you can’t go abroad with the kids and not visit a lovely beach. One of the best beaches we’ve visited as a family has to be the one in Caleta de Fuste in Fuertaventura. It’s super family friendly with the waters being calm and full of little fish. A top tip is to take some crackers/biscuits along with you from your hotel so you can feed the fish. The splashing and commotion they make when you throw some crumbled crackers in will have the kids delighted. My two personally loved it and kept them occupied for ages.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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Review: The Grown Up Chocolate Company

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Last week I was lucky enough to be sent some tasty chocolates from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. I couldn't possibly have said no so of course agreed to do a review of their scrumptious goodies. I was sent a box full of their treats and honestly couldn't wait to tuck in.

So why the name The Grown Up Chocolate Company. Well the idea behind the Grown Up Chocolate bars is that they are reminiscent of the bars we all ate as children, but re imagined for Grown Ups only. I wish I could have kept mine for the grown ups only however the kids had other ideas! The chocolates are super tasty though and use only the highest quality ingredients with 41% of pure cocoa solids - an exceptionally high ratio compared to the market standard of 18%.


I received a few different flavours to try; crunchy crispy toffee trilogy chocolate bar, crunchy praline wonder bar, superb salted peanut caramel bar, very naughty nutty nougat and glorious coconut hocus pocus chocolate bar. I also received a couple of boxes of their chocolate cups; heavenly whole hazelnut praline cups and perfectly buttery peanutty chocolate cups. I think my favourite had to be the chocolate bars with the salted peanut caramel. Oh my goodness these were amazing!! I tried my hardest to share with the other half but sneaked a few of these to myself.

In each chocolate bar box (around 70g) you get 2 snack sized bars and in the chocolate cups boxes (around 80g) you get 6 cups to enjoy. I would say share but they're so delicious there's hardly going to be any chance of sharing on the cards. The individual bars and cups boxes retail for £2.25 however The Grown Up Chocolate Company have lots of offers on their site to choose from. For example you can purchase 10 bars for £20.09 or even 100 bars for £165. They would make excellent wedding favours and if you purchase 100 that works out at £1.65 per bar box which is fantastic.


What I really love about The Grown Up Chocolate Company though is that you can make your very own personalised chocolate bars from a wealth of ingredients. Things such as mango cubes, nutmeg, fig & port, poppy seeds etc. There really is loads of choice and how awesome would it be to give this as a gift! Totally understand if you kept it for yourself though as they're so tasty.

Everyone in our house (including the kids) loved the chocolates I was sent from The Grown Up Chocolate Company. They must have been devoured in less than a week, that's how heavenly they were to eat. If we hadn't eaten them too quickly I would have popped a few in my hand bag as an emergency snack stash for when I was working in the office. It's always handy to have a piece of chocolate on hand when you're stressed out with spreadsheets.


Overall 100% amazingly moreish bite sized pieces of chocolate that'll leave you wanting more. Highly recommend if you fancy something different to the old boring chocolate bar you have in the cupboard and also recommend as giving to someone as a gift. Say like Mother's Day (hint hint). They'll be talking about it for weeks afterwards.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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10 February 2018

Things to Consider When Building Your Own Summer House

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A few years ago now the other half and I decided to have a little summer house built in the garden. Our garden is on 2 levels so we thought putting a summer house of some sort in would make better use of the space. It was either that or try and level out the whole garden which I'm not sure would have worked.

We'd never done anything like this before and didn't realise the amount of time and effort you need to put in when building from scratch! I've seen a lot of people start to build their own summer houses recently so I thought I'd write this post to help those embarking on their own summer house project. Do read on then for my tips on things to consider when building your own summer house.


North, South, East, West
You guessed it. Which way will your summer house be facing? Depending on your garden and the size you'll need to consider what way your summer house will face. We get the sun at the bottom of our garden in the afternoon and evenings (when the sun is setting) so it didn't matter too much where we placed ours. We've also got stairs going down to the bottom level where our summer house is so there was only one way it could face. If you have more options than us (hopefully) then choose wisely.

Materials
What will your summer house be built from? Will you go for a weathering timber such as cedar or maybe something cheaper that you can paint and weather seal? We personally went for cedar, yes it's more expensive than some other timbers however we haven't had to do a thing to it and it's still going strong 6 years on.

Doors
What style of door(s) will you choose to have on your summer house. Some people quite like the double patio door style while others prefer bifold doors. We actually have a lovely set of bifold doors on our summer house and they're fabulous for opening right up in the heat of summer. Getting a price couldn't be easier either with a bifold door quote so definitely have a think about it.

Usage of Summer House
You'll also need to think about why you're building this summer house. Is it going to be a garden room to chill in, an office/work space, a chill out zone for the kids and their friends, your own pub or perhaps a gym or even a beauty therapy business? Ours was a chill out zone but is now a gym which is quite handy although I haven't used it for a while, whoops.

Interior
Depending on your choice of usage you'll need to consider how you're going to decorate the interior. I went for a forest feature wall at the back using wallpaper and the rest of the walls are skimmed and painted so it looks like any room in a house. My parents have a summer house and they've left the wood exposed in theirs so it looks like a log cabin. It's really nice and quite an effective look I think. You'll also need to think about the type of furniture you'll have. Will it be modern, hand made, all wood etc.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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7 February 2018

Review & Giveaway: Titanic for Children and My Perfect Puppy Books

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Carlton Books have some new releases on the shelf soon which have excited the kids no end. Logan and Harlow were lucky enough to receive a book each to review with Logan getting The Story of the Titanic for Children and Harlow getting My Perfect Puppy AR.

As you'll have seen from our previous reviews Carlton offer a wide variety of Augmented Reality books for children and My Perfect Puppy AR is an excellent new addition for young readers. With technology such a big part of our world now combing tech with books is a genius idea. My daughter loves her stories at bed time but adding the AR is an extra delight to book reading and interacting.


So with the My Perfect Puppy book and accompanying app (which can be downloaded from the app store), children can take care of their very own Augmented Reality pup. All the fun with no mess. Each page of this book is bursting with cute puppy photos and all the info you'll need to know how to care and look after your new friend. To make things more exciting there are 13 special interactive pages so loads to get involved with.

It's simple and easy to use as well. You download the free app, point your phone or tablet's camera at the book and say hello to your new virtual friend! There's so much you can do. You get to name your puppy, feed it, play with it and teach it new tricks and commands. You can even taken photos and save them in the My Perfect Puppy Hall of Fame.


Harlow personally loved this book and found it fabulously amusing to be able to interact with a virtual puppy using her iPad. It was easy to do and scanning each interactive page was no issue. I think her favourite was getting her Puppy (named Pup) to play the piano and fetch. She also loved choosing accessories for her puppy to make him look pretty.

Next up is Logan's book - The Story of the Titanic for Children. As most of you will know Logan is a collector of facts and loves to share his acquired knowledge with the world. So this titanic book is perfect for him. This paperback has 48 eye catching pages which are full of facts, photos and illustrations sure to ignite your little ones imagination. The titanic is of course a very famous ship and this book helps to teach your little one the great history surrounding the legend.


Logan was particularly fascinated by the stories of the children on board and also couldn't believe how big the iceberg was that sunk the ship. He found it incredible how most of an iceberg is submerged underwater and only a tiny portion is seen from the surface. Another snippet to fill him with joy was the youngest survivor of the titanic who was 7 weeks old at the time but lived to 2009 (the year Logan was born) at the ripe old age of 97.

So if your little one is into history, facts, boats, ships, the sea etc then this book is definitely for them. The Story of the Titanic for Children will satisfy even the most curious minds. Carlton Books of course have lots of other fabulous reads on their website for children so do go and take a look.

Luckily for all you readers I also have a copy of each book to give away. So simply enter via the rafflecopter widget below as always and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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5 February 2018

What the Husband Really Wants for Valentine's Day

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I'm lucky that I can mostly read the other half like a book and usually know what kind of gifts and surprises he's after on special occasions such as birthday's, Christmas, anniversaries etc. So with Valentine's Day coming up in just over a week I thought I'd put a little gift guide together with the things I think he would quite appreciate and like to receive.

I've gathered together a few different gifts with a variety of prices which I'm sure will suit a lot of men out there. Read on to see what I've selected.


New Trainers
If your hubby is a child of the 90's then they're probably still in love with trainers as a daily footwear choice. My other half loves a good set of trainers and the brighter, bolder and funkier they are the better. I usually pick from the Nike website as there's always a sale on and they tend to have a good selection to choose from. There's even some Nike Jordans for as little as £69.

Personalised Watch
The other half is a mad watch collector but he currently doesn't have any personalised watches in his possession. I find this strange because he absolutely loves watches so I would have thought he'd have a personalised one by now. I'm never too sure about personalised gifts as I worry I'll mess it up or get something wrong however GiftsOnline4U let you check it all before ordering and have some amazing engraved gifts for men to choose from. So if your man doesn't wear a watch you can always get him a hip flask, whisky glasses, work tools, pocket tools etc. There's something to suit everyone. I chose a watch though as he'll love it and the one I choose has an unusual face (see photo above) with a lovely leather strap. The engraving on the back is clear and perfect. I went for "time will always tell how much I love you..." soppy I know but very true. You can pick up a personalised wrist watch for as little as £40 so definitely not going to break the bank but it's such a lovely personal gift to give. One that will be cherished and well thought of for years to come.

A Gadget
There's never normally an occasion goes by where I cannot purchase some sort of gadget for the other half as a present. I always try to get him something different and quirky and that's why this discovery channel smart phone telescope is perfect. He's constantly on that iPhone of his so I'm sure he'll love trying out this little beauty. And when he's not using it I'll be stealing it to nosey in on the neighbours, haha. This is of course a cheeky joke (or is it!).

Slogan Tee
I love buying my other half a good slogan t-shirt and I always find funny ones from Weird Fish. They have plenty to choose from online but if you're anywhere near the Livingston Designer Outlet they also have a shop in there with t-shirts from as little as £10. Quite the bargain if you ask me. If you do a quick search online you'll also find many a slogan tee to choose from as well. I believe Amazon have a good few for a decent price as I bought a couple of them for Christmas presents last year.

Beard Grooming Products
If you haven't already noticed from my photos and Instagram feed then my other half has a beard. He loves using beard products on it daily such as beard oil, balm, combs, conditioner etc so getting him a set of beard grooming products will go down a treat. I love the beard oil from ishga as it smells amazing and you get a massive bottle for £45. There are loads of other fab beard companies out there though so do shop around to find the perfect gift.

This is a collaborative post. All opinions are my own.

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3 February 2018

How to Make Your Home Look More Expensive on a Budget

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If you're like me and you love making your home look fancy and expensive but don't want to spend a fortune then this post is for you. I'm going to share with you my tips on how to make your home look more expensive on a budget. It's really simple and anyone can do it, you just have to know how.

The last rooms we decorated and freshened up in our home was the kids rooms and it's now time for my bedroom to get a little makeover. It's been the same for the past maybe 6 years or longer and it's about time I changed it. So here's a few of the things I'm going to do to make it look fabulous with very little money.


Furniture
We do currently have matching furniture for the bedroom but we've had it for ages. It would be really nice to get something new and exciting so I'm going to look at some second hand stores, outlet stores and any end of line discounts in furniture stores. You just never know what you can pick up and I'll also have a nosey online to see if there's any good bargains on there to be had. It really doesn't have to cost a fortune to have nice furniture. I could always be really thrifty and give my current bedroom furniture a new makeover with a lick of paint. The options are endless and it saves waste.

Accessories
I think having the right accessories around your home is definitely key to making it look more opulent and loved. Things like matching cushions, luxurious throws, scented candles or reed diffusers, paintings and prints for your wall. All the little details make such a difference but you can pick up some gorgeous accessories very cheaply from high street stores as well as online. If you're like me and you love a good candle as well do a quick search online for a Yankee candle sale as there's always plenty to be found and they make your home smell amazing.

Paint
A fresh lick of paint on the walls will instantly add the luxury feel to any home. Keeping the walls light and crisp can lend to an air of sophistication and also allows for rotation of furnishings and colour. Like I said my bedroom currently needs a make over and it's a rich mustard/yellow at the moment. I've grown sick of it though as I can't do much else with it so I'm going to go for possibly a light grey or white walls next. It just leaves so much room for adding detail and colour in elsewhere.

Flowers
I haven't bought fresh flowers for ages but 2018 is going to be the year I start and they won't just be for the living room or kitchen either. Instead I'll spread them around the home and have smaller arrangements throughout the one living space so it adds to the sophisticated look. It's kind of like what hotels and stately homes do. Fresh flowers also add some much needed colour and draw the eye, they also don't cost the earth so are quite practical.

Less is More
Clutter and mess definitely don't scream luxury so try and keep your space as tidy as possible. I know it's harder when you have kids but good storage can definitely help. Ikea have loads of different storage solutions so start there as they're very cost effective. I haven't had a look around Ikea myself for ages but we do need more storage ideas for our house so I must take a trip soon.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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2 February 2018

Saving Money with the Penny Saver Challenge

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A few years ago now I spotted a good money saving challenge doing the rounds of the internet but never really got involved myself. I don't know why as I do love a bit of money saving and cash generating ideas so when I spotted the Penny Saver Challenge with WOW FreeStuff I couldn't wait to give it a go.

So what is the penny saver challenge? It's a simple money saving exercise that will have you over £600 better off by the end of the year. You simply start with saving 1p on the first day then increase it by 1p every day. So for example 1p, 2p, 3p, 4p, 5p, 6p, 7p so you'll have 28p saved after this. You keep saving like this each day and increasing by a penny so that on the last day of the year you come out with £667.95 in your pocket!

I honestly didn't think you could save so much by putting away so little but the numbers don't lie. Also because you are putting such a small amount away each day you're less likely to notice such an impact on day to day living which is really good. It of course means you'll have a healthy little sum of money at the end of the year to do with as you please. Maybe use it for Christmas, some home decorating, a staycation here in the UK (you can have a 3 day staycation here for as little as £300 for a family of 4, that's including breakfast and trips out). There's no amount of things you can't do with this money and I bet it'll come in handy.

I'm definitely going to give the penny saver challenge a go myself as I could so do with saving a few pennies this year. We plan to continue doing our monthly travel trips as a family so these extra pennies would come in so handy.

If you have any other money saving challenges or ideas you know about please do share in the comments below as it's good to hear of new ways to save some cash. 2018 is the perfect year to start getting your savings in shape and looking healthy.

This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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1 February 2018

Review: Brewhemia Restaurant in Edinburgh

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Last week the hubby and I had a free night to ourselves so we headed into Edinburgh to have some couples time without the kids. It was Burns Night and we'd been invited along to Brewhemia to enjoy their burns supper. I honestly couldn't wait as I've never really done a proper burns supper out before (I know, shocking since I'm Scottish) and to make it better I made the executive decision to get the train through from Fife instead of driving in case the roads were busy/ hassle looking for parking etc.


Brewhemia is towards the Edinburgh old town so when we got off the train we headed that way. I was super surprised to see that the restaurant was directly outside the train station! How amazing is that for transport links. It also meant I could wear my heels for a change (which I never do anymore) and not have to walk far at all.


When we arrived it was a little busy at the front desk waiting to be served and shown to our table. I can only assume this was because it was a special night i.e. the burns supper but we were quickly directed away from the bar/pub area and through to the dining area. Through here we were seated quickly and efficiently. As I've mentioned it was a burns supper night so we opted for the set burns supper menu which was £30 per head. I thought this was excellent value for what you received. With this menu you were given 4 courses plus a glass of prosecco and a nip of whisky to toast the haggis of course. It's worth mentioning that you didn't have to have the set menu and could have ordered from their regular menu as well.


Settling down for the evening I surveyed the dining area as the other guests started to arrive. It's a gorgeous large area with high ceilings, a balcony wrapped around, an area for performers above the bar and a delightful friendly relaxed atmosphere. All the staff seemed in good spirits and our lovely waitress for the evening explained all the entertainment that would be going on whilst she served our drinks. There were promises of bagpipes, poems, Scottish dancers, piano music played live and of course a toast to the haggis. It all sounded so exciting and I couldn't wait to see for my own eyes.


Before long the first course was served which was a small appetiser to get your taste buds started. It was a lovely crispy cod ball with accompanying sauce. So delicious and I could have easily eaten a tray to myself! After this a young chap playing the bagpipes came out followed by some Scottish country dancers. It really set the night and was great to have entertainment with our meal. Soon the lovely Compare for the evening, James, arrived to have a chat and toast the haggis. He was brilliant and so lovely. By this point I was starving and thankfully the starters were literally coming out of the kitchen and being served. It was a scrumptious dish of posh haggis, neeps and tatties with a whisky sauce. Oh my it was so good!


The live duelling piano duo, Howl At The Moon, had now set up for the evening and were handing out request cards to the diners below. I requested All The Single Ladies by Beyonce but I wasn't around to see if they played it or not. I'm sure they would have though. The main course was now being served and it was a delicious Balmoral chicken. You would think you would get sick of haggis but you really can't, it's just too good. Last but not least our dessert arrived. It looked amazing and honestly tasted even better. I'd rather go for a starter than a dessert myself but this Cranachan we were served was mouth watering. To top it off it was served with Scottish shortbread. Absolutely delicious.


The hubby and I had such a fantastic night here, so much in fact that I ended up purchasing a gift voucher for my father-in-law as a birthday present! He'll love getting out for a meal with my mother-in-law especially since Brewhemia have the duelling piano guys every Thursday night. I can hand on heart say I'll definitely be back myself and probably with friends and other couples this time. I've even thought about having the works Christmas lunch here! Highly recommend booking a table and getting yourself down to Brewhemia folks.


We received a free meal in return for writing an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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Our Family Winter Getaway to Lanzarote

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Last year the family and I decided it would be a good idea to get away for some Winter sun. We’ve never really been abroad so close to Christmas but decided to give it a go and jet off to Lanzarote for a much needed fix of Vitamin D. So on 19th November 2017 we flew out to lovely Playa Blanca for a weeks stay. You might remember we visited Lanzarote in February last year too but were in Puerto Del Carmen so thought we’d try somewhere different.


We traveled via Edinburgh airport again and their additional needs team was first class as always. And the best bit of all, the airport itself was totally dead! Security was a breeze to pass through, the departures lounge had minimal noise and bustle and our gate was beside a small soft play which helped no end. Our flight out was really good as well and the kids really behaved (for a change) so that was lovely. 


When we arrived we jumped on our transfer bus and traveled to the resort. I didn’t realise how far away from the airport it would be and it did take a good 30-40 minutes on the bus. It was fine because the kids were tired and more subdued but not so good for the travel sickness passengers.


The Labranda Suite Hotel Alyssa was our accommodation of choice and it was really lovely. We received a 2 bedroom apartment which had a bathroom with shower only and a large living area with a big TV, plenty of seating and storage. Since we were all inclusive we didn’t require a kitchen in our apartment which was fine with us. We did have a fridge though to store water, drinks and snacks so that was really good. The apartment we were allocated was very modern and overlooked the children’s play area/ kids club. It was perfect for us as in November there were hardly any other kids around so not noisy at all. It meant we could sit outside the apartment at the table and chairs provided and watch the kids have fun.


The accommodation was a bit out of the way however it was only a 10 minute walk to the beach and a 5 minute walk to a nearby water park, called Aqualava, so we really had all that we needed for our weeks stay. The accommodation had a lovely simple pool and bar area so plenty to keep the kids amused. Even though it was November it was still a good 22c some days which meant that even though the pool was chilly we could still use it and swim in it no bother. 


The Aqualava water park was a big hit with my two kids. It's not huge but it has lots of lovely flumes and a great area for toddlers and young children to walk around or swim in. I liked that I could let Logan go off on his own to ride the flumes and felt safe there was plenty of staff on hand watching. It was reasonably priced as well to get in and the food within the park was tasty and cheaper than I thought it would be. We spent a whole day here as the kids loved it so much so I highly recommend going if you get the chance.


Like I said it took 10 minutes to get down to the beach from our accommodation and what a lovely little beach it is. It's small but well protected from the harsh waves and this makes it perfect for little ones to paddle and play in the water. We did wonder round to a beach further up the coast but the waves were quite big and I worried about the kids playing too close to the water. We stuck to the smaller beach as it wasn't busy and so much safer.


Since we were all inclusive we of course had our meals in the hotel and we were really happy with the food. It was fresh, tasty and had a good variety for adults and children. I liked that they had a fresh pasta area where the chef cooked different pasta dishes for you. This was by far Harlow's favourite. I'm glad to say the kids happily ate their meals every day and the pool bar had snacks and drinks available throughout the day if you got peckish between meals. The kids often got hungry since they were always on the go so we'd often order up a portion of chips or a toastie to keep them going.


Our trip to Lanzarote has been amazing and if you know me you'll know I love to get the best deal possible for my money. I'm always searching the internet and local travel agents for the best holiday deal I can get and you should too. Anything to make your money go further for holidays is definitely the way forward. Just think if you even saved yourself £50-£100 that's more Euros towards trips over there or even money towards more food like a nice meal out for a change. So definitely shop around and do a few comparisons if you can. We can't wait for our next trip abroad and currently have a little holiday booked for May. Bring on the sunshine!


This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

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