Saturday, 24 August 2019

5 Family Friendly Tips for Visiting Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik has been on our list of places to visit for a while but it wasn't until this summer that we made it over to Croatia to discover all it has to offer.  Travelling to a city with four small children can be challenging and we definitely see a different side to places than couples or backpackers but I love seeing the new sights through their eyes and we found Dubrovnik was a brilliant city to take children too, especially with a bit of preparation!

The city is built along the coast and there are so many stairs so the obvious tip is to be prepared when it comes to transport.  We took a small stroller but it didn't make it through the holiday and annoyingly we forgot the sling so we had a few days with just our legs to get us around (and my arms for the smallest one when she got tired).  We made sure we added lots of rest stops and thankfully our children are all at the age where we can sit with a game of Uno and an apple juice when we needed to get out the sun or just take sometime out.

Everywhere we visited was child friendly, we always felt welcome and the absolutely stunning coastline and architecture was amazing to us all.  Here are my top 5 tips for visiting Dubrovnik with a whole gang of small children (or even just one or two)


Where you stay

For us, apartments are much easier than hotels and we love the opportunity to self cater.  We were away for nearly 2 weeks in total and eating out with them all can be tricky so we loved being able to make our own breakfast and grab a take away pizza when we needed a film night.  We booked through Booking.com and this was our three bedroom apartment.  It was only a few minutes walk from the centre of the old town and was right next to a playground and a pizza place (another tip if you visit Croatia as a vegetarian - stick to Pizza as they don't do meat free dishes in most places!).  There are so many wonderful districts a little further out that we would love to explore but our apartment was fantastic for being a central base with plenty of space. (If you do want to book this link gets you 10% back)



Day Trip

We had 5 days in the city which gave us plenty of time to see other things and we decided to go on a Three Island tour.  There were booths all over the town selling them and we paid roughly £100 for the day for the six of us (under 6 are usually free and children are discounted) which included our lunch and drinks for the day.  We sailed around the coast of Dubrovnik and discovered three small islands, all of which don't have any cars and are mostly just nature, two of which had the most beautiful sandy beaches.  We had between an hour and three hours at each one of free time and we ate lunch aboard the boat.  We loved the freedom to explore, the wonderfully clear waters and the fresh air on the boat and I would really recommend this with any age children - there were a couple of babies in prams on the boat too!




Playgrounds

For us, an important part of travelling with them is knowing when we need balance and sight seeing, culture and trips have to be balanced with familiarity, play and parks and we quickly located some local parks for when the children needed to run around and be kids.  There was a little one right next to our apartment and the one we visited most was right next to Pile Gate via a little pathway.  There was a fountain there as well as the usual swings and slides and it helped balance the day for us.  There was also a fun playground at the main port as well as an outdoor gym and we had a long play there before our day trip.



Water Fountains

Dubrovnik certainly isn't the cheapest place we have visited and drinks were very expensive in the main areas, but there were water fountains around the old town where you could fill up water bottles and the water was fresh and cold.  The fountains are impossible to miss and are wonderfully built in white stone with intricate carvings.  The kids loved filling them up themselves and it helped remind them to keep hydrated which we needed when the temperatures never dropped below thirty degrees.



Cable Car

There is a cable car that runs from the old town to the top of Mount Srd which gives you the most spectacular views of the city and surrounding islands and definitely shouldn't be missed.  You can walk up or down via a zigzag stony path and we decided to walk down (definitely don't bring a buggy for this) and whilst it was exhausting with little people, it was so worth it and one of the highlights of our trip.  At the top there is a cafe and gift shop as well as the opportunity to zipwire most of the way down which I would have totally tried if we didn't have all the children with us!



So those are our tips based on our recent trip to Dubrovnik.  We absolutely adored it as a city and I am desperate to go back and see the rest of the country as it is just so beautiful!



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Thursday, 22 August 2019

Starting to Run

I’m so excited to be working with Simplyhealth who have signed me up to the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Run and are supporting my health & fitness journey with my own health plan.


After nearly 8 years of having a baby or toddler, I have finally reached a stage where I can go out without a small person attached to me, I can start thinking of myself and what I want to achieve away from motherhood and there is so much I want to do. I started getting a bit more active around the same time Cora started sleeping through the night as it became easier to get out in the evening and the more sport I have done, the more I have enjoyed the way it makes me feel.


Starting running was tough but I signed up to the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Run in September and I definitely do better with a goal. 13.1 miles still seems like a really, really long way but I am confident I will get there and the key is definitely in listening to my body, moving on to longer distances slowly and making sure I look after myself.






I started running in old battered trainers, but the more I read, the more I realised they were going to cause me an injury if I didn’t get something better suited to what I was doing! I have a health plan from Simplyhealth, which is designed for families like mine and it covers a whole range of things that are brilliant for runners or anyone who is into sport, from physiotherapy to podiatry as well as dental, optical and health cover. My first step was visiting a qualified podiatrist who offered me help with gait analysis.


Gait analysis looks at the way you run and I was filmed running on a treadmill so that we could later slow it down and look at the way my joints, muscles and feet work to see where any issues may be. I was told that I have a slight pronation on my right foot and I was recommended stabilising shoes with a couple of brands being well suited to this issue. I ended up going for Mizuno ones after trying a few on in a running shop and the difference in how they feel to run in is extreme! Whilst at my appointment I was also given some exercises to help strengthen my right calf and ankle as I am having a few issues and I was given feedback on my running style.





The Simplyhealth Great Bristol Run is in September so I have all summer to finish my training and the little ones are helping me. They are really interested in my running and love joining in. We go to the park for speed practice races, and I take the big two out for interval training as they are best at running short fast distances and then plenty of walking in between! My plan from Simplyhealth can cover up to four children under 18 so they are all covered too!


Being active as a family is really important for us, to keep everyone mentally and physically well, to balance the time the children spend sitting down at school and to reduce the risk of things like Type 2 diabetes. Simplyhealth are passionate about promoting being active as a family and at many of the events in the Simplyhealth Great Run Series there are children’s runs too. One of the best benefits to me of being active outdoors as a family is how quickly the children fall asleep at bedtime - it is worth it for that reason alone!





How are you being active as a family? Check out Simplyhealth for more training advice.


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Monday, 19 August 2019

5 Reasons we Loved Staying at Zaton with Eurocamp

Our accommodation was provided by Eurocamp but everything else including flights and food was paid for by us.

We have recently returned from a week spent at the Zaton holiday Parc with Eurocamp and we had the most amazing week.  We loved the freedom of staying in a mobile home with the amenities of the park including beaches, pools, kids clubs and so many activities.  It was such a great holiday with four young children and we are desperate to go back there!

I wanted to write about some of our favourite features, the things that made this such a special holiday for us, so here are 5 reasons that we loved staying at Zaton with Eurocamp

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia




The Sea

The parc has its own private beach in two bays and the sea in July was so warm and clear.  Even walking in to my neck I could still see every detail of the sea floor, and the water was shallow for quite a whole making it a great option for kids.  There was an obstacle course you could go on for a fee ( It was around £6 for half an hour and not much more for a half day pass ).  I had so much fun and this would be great for teens and confident younger swimmers as you most definitely fall in!  There was also a slide that you could swim up to that I had to have a go on! One of my favourite memories from our week was swimming in the warm sea with the children as the sun set behind us! We had taken some inflatables but in the Eurocamp tent there was a section where you could pick up or leave books and toys and we found some armbands here which the kids loved.

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia





The Splash Park

There were several swimming pools and splash pools of different depths and shapes but the children absolute loved the wide slide which dropped into a pool around 90 cm in depth.  They must have gone down in hundreds of times over the week with them all getting more adventurous as time went on.  There was something for all ages from a great zone for crawlers or toddlers to a more exciting tower with multiple slides for the children that wanted a bit more.  All around the pools were deck chairs which you had to pay to hire (around £5 per day each and the same for an umbrella). I wasn't sure about this at the start, but it meant that there was always one available, whereas in parcs we have been to where they are free to use, we can never get our hands on one!

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia




The Land Train

Zaton is a large parc with a mix of accommodations and the Eurocamp mobile homes are towards the back of the area.  This meant we were closer to the offsite larger supermarket and it was wonderful and quiet in the evenings and we could use the free land train to get down to the sand if we didn't want to walk.  Finn at 4 is a huge train fan and this made his holiday.  We only had a few metres to walk to our stop and the train ran every 30 minutes during the morning.  It also ran in the evenings as a service from the parc to the local town and back again although unfortunately we didn't manage to try it out as we seemed so busy! It was all lit up with fairy lights though and looked amazing! The beach was easily walk-able and took us about 10 minutes with the four children all on foot but the train was way more fun!

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia




The Kids Clubs

Zaton far exceeded our expectations when it came to organised activities.  There was a kids club run by the parc 7 days a week which ran both a morning and afternoon session with a theme each day which included things like pirates where the children went on a treasure hunt and pool games where they played races and team games in the shallow splash pool.  The kids club room was open from 10am to 8pm and acted like a creche as you could drop the children off for a while and they would be entertained by the animators.  Alongside this there were activities like a kids ninja course one afternoon, free archery for both adults and kids and a disco every night.  Each evening had a different activity after the kids disco with quiz nights, musicals and all sorts so there was always something to take part in or watch and the children had so many options!  We found even visiting during the school summer holidays nothing was too busy and the children loved the kids club and the disco as well as everything else they tried.  The animators were young and enthusiastic and the kids warmed to them immediately.

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia





The Relaxed Atmosphere

During the day everyone walked around in swimwear, there were no cover-ups, just freedom and it immediately made me feel more relaxed.  Everyone we met was friendly and helpful, the restaraunts were laid back and the atmosphere was so chilled out that you couldn't help but smile.  The children ran around the parks into the evening and it was so well suited for young families like ours.  The atmosphere of a parc can make a big difference and we found this one of the most social ones we have been to.

Eurocamp, Zaton Holiday Resort, Zadar croatia


We had such a brilliant week staying at Zaton with Eurocamp and we hope to go back again one day!


For further information on Eurocamp, please call 01606 787787 or visit www.eurocamp.co.uk











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Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Our Croatia Holiday

We have been on some amazing holidays as a family but this one was definitely one of our favourites. I had heard wonderful things about Croatia but I wasn't prepared for the beauty, the heat, the atmosphere and how much we were going to fall in love.  We probably (definitely) could have planned things a bit more but we winged it all the way and it worked out well so I have no regrets.  

We flew into Zadar airport and grabbed a taxi to take us to Zaton parc where we were staying courtesy of Eurocamp. We found our mobile home after a 10 minute walk up hill and headed down to get some food for dinner. We arrived late afternoon and as we approached the beach and the centre of the parc the sun was setting over the sea, the colours were breathtaking and we couldn't wait to get in. We paddled in the warm water whilst we waited for our dinner to arrive and we tried to keep our feet in the water for the rest of the week!


Zaton has 3 kids splash pools and four swimming pools as well as a large private beach.  There were plenty of restaraunts and we quickly realised that the buffet one was the best choice for us as we could help ourselves to food and drink and there was so much choice. Children 6 and under were free so it helped that we only had to pay for the two adults and then half price for Dylan! There were drink and ice cream cafes all over the place and so much to do.


Zaton has three different minature golfs, archery, table tennis, playgrounds, a climbing net area, an outdoor gym and so much more.  There was a kids club that ran sessions in the morning and afternoon as well as organising activities throughout the day and evening, a disco each night and it ran a creche from 10 - 8 if you wanted some child free time  - all this was included in the price of booking with Eurocamp.


The children loved the kids club, the pools, the playgrounds and the golf and I spent all week looking forward to doing the inflatable obstacle course in the sea. I never wanted to get out of the clear waters and one of my favourite memories of our time in Zaton was swimming in the sea with the children as the sun set and the sky turned the most magnificent shades of pink, orange and purple around us.  
We loved the freedom of having a mobile home so we could cook at home when we wanted to and have space to play away from all the excitement.  We would definitely go back to Zaton with Eurocamp as they made every step easy and were there to greet us as we arrived.


We hadn't really planned how to get between the two halves of our holiday, but we ended up booking a hire car to collect at Zadar and drop off in Dubrovnik and we packed up after an amazing week and headed down the coast.  The drive was all along the coast and we had views over the sea of the islands and coastline the whole way. It would be amazing to take it slowly and stop off at more of the little villages and towns along the way in the future.  We arrived in Dubrovnik late at night and had booked a 3 bedroom apartment through Booking.com right in the old town.  It was great for us, with plenty of space for our large family and a great location (as long as you don't mind steps). We were a 10 minute walk from the centre of the old town and our apartment was next door to a playground!


We loved exploring the old town of Dubrovnik with the white stone and smooth floor, the water fountains, the history and the architecture and at every turn you saw the sea and the islands, the rocky coastline and everything under the crystal clear waters.  It was hot and busy but not too busy and we took it slowly with plenty of stops in cafes for a cold drink and a few rounds of Uno.  Kontiki ice cream was the favourite for all the children as it was rainbow coloured.


We booked onto a three island tour where we caught a boat to three beautiful remote islands where cars are banned and there is very little built up areas but there are sandy beaches and the water is still shallow enough for Cora to stand in 50 metres out to sea.  


We took the cable car up to the top of the mountain and looked down over the city and we walked down the cobbled zig zag path back to the town, taking in the views the whole way.  It was long, the kids whinged and I wondered whether sandals were really the best footwear but it was also brilliant fun and the kids consider it one of the highlights of their week.  


We came home after a long time in a very small airport thanks to more delays and we were glad to be home in a way, to have our beds, toys and comforts but I think we are all missing Croatia already as it was such an amazing holiday - probably the best one we have been on.  I will be writing more about both our stay in Zaton with Eurocamp and our time in Dubrovnik, but for now here are some of my favourite pictures from our trip.



































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