Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Our Week in Selsey with Seal Bay Resort

I was looking for somewhere to take the children away to over the Easter holidays that wasn't too far to drive from us and I came across the recently renamed Seal Bay Resort in Selsey near Chichester. We are fans of a mobile home style holiday because as a larger family they are usually well set up for us to have our own space and all be together and there seemed to be plenty to do, so with only a couple of weeks until the children broke up, I booked our stay.  Ed unfortunately had to work, but my sister had volunteered to come with us and the children were so excited to spend some quality time with her.

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex

I had seen that Seal Bay was big, but I hadn't realised it was quite so huge, with over 3,500 mobile homes across three sites that were all linked by a complimentary bus service.  Our three bed caravan was on the White Horse Site, only metres from the new White Horse Complex which had an outdoor pool and splash zone, a huge arcade, bowling alley, soft play, restaurant, pottery painting shop and a massive theatre which had bingo and shows on every night.  The children would have happily spend all day in the arcades and we attended the silent disco by the outdoor pool mid week which was a big hit.

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex

The busiest park was West Sands, which is right on the seafront and you find yourself on the beautiful pebble beach as you step out the door.  The complex here also had a huge arcade and theatre as well as the indoor pools (which included a pool for lanes, a shallow kids pool, a beach pool and two water slides), a gym, restaurant and café, crazy golf, a wave rider and more.  

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex

During our stay we tried out the Cove club for kids where the children got to take part in crafts as well as go on an immersive adventure (Sophie was the team member running these on our trip and her energy was incredible).  We also watched the 'Fun Factory Live' each evening which is an interactive show and all four of my big kids were at the front each evening hoping to get called up for the games.  Every evening there was a fun filled line up including 'Bonkers Bingo' and musical shows.  The Rock Show was a highlight of the week for all of us and we were so impressed with all the entertainment.  Every caravan park we have stayed at has had entertainment for children (and adults) but I was blown away with the quality at Seal Bay with so much to see and do.

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex

During our stay there was an Easter circus which I had booked and the children found it hilarious.  I didn't think it was as impressive as other circus shows we have been to, but the two clowns were brilliant and the focus on humour definitely engaged the children more.  There was an adult only circus available too but we didn't visit that.

I had made a list of things to do in the area but other than the day we had booked to go to Southampton (around a 45 minute drive) to do the Ninja Warrior course, we didn't want to leave the park!  There is plenty to see locally though including Chichester town, Arundel Castle and the South Downs National Park.

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex

I didn't take nearly as many photos as usual to share, but you can see more of our adventures over on this Instagram Highlight.  It was Rex's first holiday and I think he loved it!

Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex


A few bits of practical information
  • There is a shop on site but there is also an Asda (and Costa) three minutes drive from the park if you want to fill up the fridge.
  • The swimming pool requires one adult per child for under 1s and one adult per two children for under 10s (we may have added a few months on to Archie's age as I was confident he is a capable swimmer).
  • They don't sell food in the theatres but you can bring in your own food. We ordered from the fish and chip shop and the Papa John's situated just outside the main complex doors and could take our dinner in to the table with us.
  • There was a big screen outside the restaurant/bar when the football was on if you don't want to miss your game (West Sands)
  • We found three playgrounds in total, one on our site near the circus, one on the West Sand's site that was at a bus stop and the largest one was down by the playing fields. They weren't all obvious on the map.
  • There are so many activities you can pay to do as extras.  Some sounded brilliant but on a budget trip (or if you have lots of children and don't want to pay out) you can find so much to do without spending too much extra. Everything is bookable through an easy to use app.
  • This advice does not include the arcades.  We spent all our money there as you have to walk through them to get to everything else!




Selsey, Seal bay resort, larger family travel in sussex




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Thursday, 24 February 2022

Tomorrow You are Seven

You started counting down to this birthday as soon as Christmas was out the way, asking Alexa each morning how many days until February 25th.  I hope that tomorrow is everything you hope for.  It is your first birthday spent at school, something you are really happy about, and we have a friend coming back for a sleepover after wards so excitement levels are through the roof.

Six has been a long year - it feels like a lifetime ago that we were celebrating the end of you being five, just the six of us in our house as we were in full lockdown.  This year your world has opened back up and we are free to see friends and family.  As a six year old you welcomed your new baby brother with love and affection and became the 'middlest of the middles', with two younger and two older siblings.  


When I look back at what I wrote last year, so much of it I just want to repeat because you are that same boy, just taller, smarter and louder.  You are so intelligent, so capable and so desperate to learn, but only on your terms.  You still love music and feel it in your whole body, and you are currently planning for a career as a ninja.  You are determined, focused and I have no doubt you will get where you want to be, one way or another.  You are head strong, stubborn and know what you want.  You aren't always (ever) easy to parent, you push me to my limits, but loving you is so rewarding and I am forever grateful to be your Mummy.


Every year on this day I like to look back at pictures of how small and poorly you were, to think over what the doctors told us as we sat in special care and to remember the journey we have been on together.


Finn, you are a force of nature.  You are vibrant, confident, overflowing with personality and the world needs to be ready for you.  You frustrate me regularly but you make me proud just as often.  I hope you never stop being so unreservedly yourself.  You have come so far, you have proved everyone wrong and I will take a moment tomorrow to really remember what an amazing little person you are.

Happy Birthday baby boy, Happy Birthday Finn.  You are loved more than I ever knew you could be
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Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Before You Turn Nine

I feel like turning Nine has crept up on us, probably because of the strange year we have had.  I just re-read the post I wrote this time last year and I am so grateful that things have changed in the past year.  Whilst we are still in a pandemic, the world has opened back up and you have reclaimed your childhood from it.  Unlike last year where we weren't allowed to see anyone outside our house, we have spent today trampolining and eating out with a big group of friends and you have a party planned with both your friends and with your family.




As an eight year old you have been certain, loving, outraged at every injustice done to you, full of love and quietly contemplative.  You became a big brother again and you refused to look at his photo when he was born, wanting to wait instead to see him in real life.  You adore your brother, you are wonderful with him and I am eternally proud of how you handle it all. I love watching you interact with him, desperate to teach him, trying to copy the way I talk to him.  You are the easiest child in some ways, not desperate to be the centre of attention, not as talkative as the others, not as big or bold or needy and I hope you never feel like you get less attention because of this because my love for you could not be bigger or bolder or louder.

As an eight year old you still love black, blankets, computer games and cuddles but you have recently started loving books more too (as long as you have someone to read to) and your favourite place ever is the arcades. You don't always want to talk, but you love company and you are still quicker to tell me what you don't like instead of what you do.  

I want to remember how kind and loyal you are, how deeply you love, how you are so big and so small all at the same time,  the way you talk, those features that are starting to change and give me an idea of how you will look as a teenager.  I want to remember eight year old Archie before you change again.  

Before you turn nine, as I kiss you for the last time as an eight year old, I want you to know how truly loved you are.
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Thursday, 3 February 2022

Days out in Kent // Walmer Castle

We have had English Heritage passes before, but until recently we have never visited Walmer Castle.  Situated along the Deal Coast, Walmer Castle is a smaller castle with beautiful grounds and a fantastic place to visit with young children.

There is parking on site, although it was closed the day of our visit, and there is a car park opposite the entrance and free parking on nearby streets.  You enter through the castle and have a choice whether to explore indoors first or head outside.

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent


The castle was built during Tudor times to help protect the country from perceived threats coming from France and Spain.  It's history involves stories about William Pitt, The Duke of Wellington, Winston Churchill and other Lord Warden's of the Cinque Ports, and was visited every year by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother in her later years.  The interior of the castle was fascinating to explore (more for older children and adults than younger ones) and there were plenty of staff on hand to share knowledge with us.  Upstairs in the castle we could go out and see the cannons as well as looking out to see the coast of France.

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent


The children's favourite part of our visit was the woodland walk. The natural play trail means you don't have to walk far before finding something new to climb on, swing from or play.  The beautifully designed areas kept the children entertained and we loved the information about birds along the way too, written in a way that younger children can easily take in and helping us to spot and listen out for them.  

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent


The castle's grounds also include an incredible cloud yew hedge, shaped in the most interesting way, a kitchen garden where food for the café is grown and the QEQM garden.  Even on an overcast day, it is a beautiful area to walk around and there were plenty of picnic areas and large open spaces to enjoy over the summer too.

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent

We visited the café which served sandwiches, sausage rolls, soups and cakes alongside hot and cold drinks. I was impressed with the options including vegan sandwiches and sausage rolls. 

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent


Walmer Castle is a lovely afternoon out and situated close to the town of Deal, opposite a pebble beach and walking trails and a short walk or cycle to Sandown Castle.  Our children enjoyed exploring and have all requested we head back to the nature trail again soon.

Walmer Castle, Days out in Kent




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Wednesday, 26 January 2022

What I have Learned in the Past Two Months

I had my first four babies all so close together, that the newborn stage still felt like a recent memory when the next baby came along, but there has been a gap of over five years this time and there was so much I had forgotten over those years.  Rex is now two months (and a bit - first thing I remembered is how much longer it takes to get anything done with a newborn) and I thought I would share a few things I have learned (or re-learned) over the past two months

1. How easy it was to forget the sleep deprivation

We all know that new babies don't sleep through the night, but we don't really understand what that means or how it feels unless it is our reality.  I knew it of course, but I had forgot how the lack of real sleep affects my functions and how unrelenting it is as a breasfeeding mother who can't get anyone else to help with the night feeds.  I think what I find hardest is the not knowing, when some nights he can do a long stretch and others he seems to wake every twenty minutes.  Each night I go to bed with no idea how much sleep I am actually going to get and whether I will be able to function as a human in the morning!




2. How quickly the heart expands to fit another child

I worried that our hearts and lives were full already, that four children is so many without adding in a fifth, but I forgot how quickly our hearts expand to fit in one more.  I don't have to share my love between them, spreading it thinner with each new baby, it grows instead each time in ways I cannot explain.  The love I have for each child is unique and individual and as powerful as if there were only one.


3. The benefits of a bigger age gap

This is all new to me, previously I had four babies aged four and under so apart from the first, I navigated the baby days with another baby or toddler in tow.  Dylan got to attend baby massage and sensory groups but none of the others could do any baby centric activities.  I think they got so much from having siblings close in age, but it means I feel like a new mum again with Rex, having so many hours a day with just him to occupy me.  Having a bigger age gap also means the other children are much more independent, they don't need the same level of attention to keep them safe and they are able to help out with the baby, reading him stories, cuddling him and singing him songs.  They are more helpful and less of a liability!




4. The need to change a little boy's nappy quickly

Anyone who has a little boy will know what I mean by this.  I was brutally reminded when Rex weed all over my last pair of clean leggings!

5. How quickly newborns grow

He was born 7lb 13oz and in the past 2.5 months I have had to pack away three different sizes of clothes already, each with sadness about the stage left behind.  This newborn stage may well be my favourite but it is also the shortest and they grow so fast and learn so much every day.  Of course it is bittersweet because growing means they start sleeping better, they start responding more and those early smiles just make everything so much easier. 




6. How giant my other children are

I have referred to Cora as 'Tiny Girl' for so long, she is still one of the smallest in her class, with friends whose shoulders she only just reaches, but with a new baby around, she just seems giant.  She is so large, so capable and not tiny in the slightest.  Don't even get me started on the size of my ten year old whose feet are now the same size as mine - it is hard to believe he was ever that small! 

7. That I can do it all . . . but not for long

For the first week I was running on adrenaline.  I thought I could do it all and I was.  I was cooking, cleaning, doing school runs and taking things on with the belief I would always feel that great. Somewhere around day 8 the tiredness kicked in, the hormones started to balance and I just felt exhausted.  I regretted the fact that I had started doing it all as the expectation seemed to be that I was capable, but it is easy to burn out.  I needed to stop trying to be a martyr and accept the help I was offered and know my limits. 


 

8. The importance of my village

I know how privileged I am to have a village, to have friends and family locally and I realised that when Rex was born.  Friends helped with school runs as we worked out how to balance the two separate schools and clubs, they sent cakes and supplies, they helped entertain the bigger children and they were always there to listen and support.  Adjusting to a new baby was made so much easier knowing I was surrounded by people that wanted to help us.

This newborn stage is coming to an end, my tiny baby is growing daily, learning new skills, becoming more alert and reminding me of all that is to come. 





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Saturday, 8 January 2022

The Maxi Cosi Iora Review

Advertorial

One of the hardest parts of having a newborn is the sleep deprivation.  It doesn't matter whether it is your first or fifth baby, it is exhausting.  I spent a week living on adrenaline with Rex, able to wake up every hour of the night and still feel human in the morning. Around day 7, things started to change though and the reality was a lot more tiring! 
 
One thing that I find really helpful in combatting just a tiny amount of that tiredness, is having Rex close enough to reach without me having to move at all.  We chose an Iora co-sleeper crib from Maxi Cosi after seeing the options in person for several reasons.  It seemed a great size for a baby expected to be big, had a huge basket underneath and I loved how the design looked. 

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

I didn't end up actually putting it together until the day he was born but thankfully it was really easy to assemble.  The crib has five different heights so it can go alongside beds of varying heights and has long straps to attach it to different types of bed frame.  You have the option to use it as a free standing crib with solid sides, or to have one side down so baby is right next to you.  The box also includes a bag for if you want to travel with the crib but this is something we haven't tried.  It is easy to fold though and I am sure it will accompany us on an overnight trip in the future!

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

With a breastfed baby that wakes frequently in the night, the convenience of not having to stand up at night is fantastic. I can reach out and touch him to reassure him or help him put his dummy back in if he wants it without having to move.  When he needs a feed, I can sit up and reach over to pick him up without having to get out of bed and it is easy to put him back down.  I feel happy being close enough that I can hear his breathing and react to his cues and I hope he will fit in the crib until it isn't safe any longer (usually around 9 months) as it is a generous size.

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

The Iora has a large basket underneath which I use to store nappies and wipes for night time changes and a few small toys so that we can play in the morning without having to get out of bed.  I also have spare muslin cloths and blankets under there and there is plenty of space for more.  I love how the colour of the crib goes well with our bedroom.  It is also available in a lighter grey and a beautiful dark blue so you can plan to your interiors.  The mattress is described as ' the most comfortable mattress your baby could ever dream of' amd it does seems to be very comfortable as Rex is happy sleeping in there every night 

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

I am so pleased that we chose the Maxi Cosi Iora as Rex's crib as it fits all our needs and looks snuggly and comfy for his night time sleeping.   Whilst this one was sent to us so that I could share our opinion, it was our first choice and all the love for it is genuine in every way!

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot

Maxi Cosi Iora, co sleeper crib, bedside cot









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Saturday, 4 December 2021

Gift Guide for Tweens

The 'Tweenage' years have started in our house, this period between being a child and a teenager, when everything is changing and they are growing up too fast.  I wanted to share some Christmas gift ideas for 10-13 year olds.



Positive Vibration Headphones

These positive vibration XL headphones, available in black or copper, are a great gift for music or gaming loving tweens.  They offer up to 32 hours of playback after charging and come with the option of ANC- Active Noise Cancellation.  Even a 15 minute charge can offer two hours of playback.  They are designed by House of Marley, a sustainable brand created in collaboration with the family of Bob Marley, designed to carry on his love for music and the planet.  These headphones feature 40mm Hi-Definition Drivers for that signature Marley sound and crafted using FSC certified wood, recyclable aluminium and iconic Marley REWIND™ fabric.  I think these would be a huge hit on Christmas morning!

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



This is Silk Hair Scrunchies

Gone are the days of oversized bows, this is the age of starting to look after your hair and a more grown up style.  These pretty silk hair scrunchies are excellent at preventing damage to hair which is caused by elastic hairbands and they protect from friction.  These pure Mulberry silk hair scrunchies also look great on your wrist when they aren't keeping hair up.  I think these would make a gorgeous gift for this age and This is silk have plenty of other products including silk pillowcases which I use for myself to prevent frizz.

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Mechanics Gravity Track

The Mechanics Gravity Track is a  STEM product is designed to  develop children's imagination and curiosity through the science of magnetic construction and I think my son would love to find this under the tree on Christmas morning.  Harnessing the invisible forces of magnetism and gravity this construction system shows how motion can be achieved without electricity or batteries.  Secondary school begins during this age and the introduction of Physics as a seperate science and I think this kit will help nurture of a love of learning and experimenting.  A great hands on gift for this tricky in between age.

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Moleskine Notebook

The luxury notebook brand Moleskine released a set of children's noteboooks earlier this year and I think they would make a wonderful gift for tweens.  The start of secondary school falls at this age and this range which includes Hello Kitty and Pinocchio as well as the Little Prince pictured below and they are both fun and special (and may well start a stationery addiction!). 

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



The Best of Sport Logo Game

The Best of Sport and Leisure Logo Game is a great idea for this tween age as they start playing with toys less and games more.  This looks like it would be ideal for families too, something to bring us together as they start pushing for more independence.  There are other versions of The Logo Game is Sport isn't for your tween too.

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Mega Spin Saturn

If you are looking for a stocking filler for a child this age, then check out the Mega Spin Saturn.  Yoyos are making a comeback and they have been upgraded since we had them in the playground! The Mega Spin Saturn comes with a super smooth ball bearing axle and bright colour changing LED lights.  So much from my childhood is making a comeback at the moment (the fashion included) so I might have to see if I can remember any of the tricks! 

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Friends Top Trumps

Top Trumps have been a staple family game for us for many years and I am excited to see there are always new versions coming out that are relevent as children get older.  This Friends Top Trumps set is great for the tween age as they start discovering the program that we loved all those years ago! Not only good for playing at home, this is a great set for popping in a bag and playing out and about too.

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Guylian

You cannot go wrong with chocolate at any age in my opinion and Guylian make beautiful Belgian chocolates that not only look pretty but taste delicious (taking this picture before I popped one in my mouth was challenging!). These are a great stocking filler!

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide



Roxi

ROXi provides unlimited on-demand access to every original music video, album and song with 70 million music recordings which are constantly updated with the latest releases and right now they are offering a free karaoke microphone to anyone who signs up for a 30 day trial.  The microphone works with any TV and allows you to sing along with any of the 140,000 tracks.  ROXi is backed my music royalty Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams and would be great entertainment for tweenage music fans! 

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Christmas gift guide, tween gift guide

Hopefully this has inspired some Christmas shopping!






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