Tuesday 29 October 2019

Our Week in Kiani Beach Resort, Crete.

As Autumn hit full swing, the rain started falling and the shops were full of scarves and hats, we found the shorts that had been pushed to the back of the drawer, dusted off our sunglasses and flew to Crete to spend a week at Kiani Beach Resort in Chania, part of SeaCrete hotels.  It was not only our first time in Greece, but our first time as a family going on an all-inclusive hotel style holiday too and everyone was excited.

We paid for our own flights but the people at Kiani offered us a stay at the resort in exchange for our honest feedback and they collected us from Chania airport around 3.5 hours after we left London.  We were greeted at the hotel with sea views, spacious areas and wonderful smiles.  In fact, the entire week the staff were so happy and helpful, the Greek hospitality is incomparable. 

Our week was wonderful and the children (and the adults) are desperate to go back again. I will talk later about their favourite bits, but I have broken down our stay into headings so that I don't start rambling.

The Rooms

We usually struggle to find hotels that accommodate our larger family but our room at Kiani Beach Resort was spacious enough for the six of us. Downstairs there was a huge bed for us and a cot for Cora (she isn't in a cot at home anymore but loves the novelty of staying in one although she prefers to sleep right in the middle of my bed).  There was also a bathroom, mini kitchen and plenty of storage space from wardrobes to cupboards.  On a mezzanine level there was three beds for the boys and a separate bathroom.  The boys beds were all close together (Finn was on a fold out bed in the middle) and they loved it, especially as there was a tv that they could all watch.  Despite the fact we were all in one apartment it felt spacious and fitted our needs well.

Our apartment had a balcony with a table and chairs and a drying rack which was perfect for drying off swimwear each night! Our balcony looked over the pools and bar.  Every day our rooms were cleaned and beds made, our dressing gowns were folded and fresh towels were left if requested. There are lots of room options at Kiani Beach.

The Pools and Beach

Kiani Beach Resort is comprised of the original resort and a newer half that is built right next to it.  As well as having a private beach, there are four outdoor pools and one indoor pool.  We found the outdoor pools were a little chilly to spend all day in during our October visit but I imagine they were fantastic in the summer and we still spent plenty of time in them.  Our favourite was the one pictured below which had 50 metre swimming lanes as well as plenty of space to play.  There is a shallow circular kids pool and another kids pool with four slides in.  The indoor pool was lovely and warm, spacious and never busy during our stay.  Each pool was surrounded by sunbeds and we never had a problem finding free ones and on both sides there is a pool bar.

We didn't spend much time at the beach as the children preferred the pools but I loved that there were both options so you can mix things up.  The pools were all so clean and well maintained and all were open from 9am to 9pm during our stay.  All of the pools allowed inflatables and there was a shop on site that sold all kinds from lilos to arm bands and all the crazy rubber rings.

The Play Areas

My children love a playground and there were two at Kiani Beach Resort, one on each half of the resort.  On the side we were staying on was a smaller park and on the other side next to the sea was a larger one with a pirate ship playground as well as swings and playhouses.  We spent lots of time there and the children could play whilst we sat at the bar (both pool bars are next door to the two playgrounds). Everything was well looked after and they were open all evening so the children could play out there late in the evening if they had a little two much energy after the dessert buffet!

The Kid's Clubs

Kid's clubs might not be for everyone but my children love them.  The love the organised activities, the chance to have some time away from us and the possibility of meeting new friends.  The kids club at Kiani Beach is for 4-8 year olds (although younger children can join in as long as a parent stays) and I believe there is one on for older children but mine are all in the younger group.  Every morning between 10.30 and 1pm there were activities outdoors which ranged from crafting and t-shirt painting to fishing in the sea and every afternoon from 4-6 there were activities indoors.  Both sides of the resort had their own kids clubs so there were always activities to choose.  The big two loved creating their own t-shirts (10 euros sur-charge) and they enjoyed playing bowls whilst Cora's favourite was the sandcastles and beach games morning.  Finn loved the games in the afternoon clubs.  We didn't take them every day but they knew when the clubs were on and had the option to go in and out.

Every afternoon at 12.30 a local donkey called Hercules came and the children could feed him and have a little ride in his cart.  Cora loved feeding him apples and carrots and going for a ride around a small patch of grass.

Every evening there was a kids disco at 8.30 followed by a family activity.  We did kids movie night at the bar and watched the belly dancing. We missed the magic show and bingo sadly but every night was different. Whilst one pool bar had entertainment, the other had live music and a relaxed atmosphere and we spent the evenings there sometimes playing games of uno.  The animators (kids club crew) were around every evening in the bars, running the entertainment and spending time with families and the children were over the moon when they came and joined us for games some evenings.  

The Food and Drink

It was our first time as a family trying out an all-inclusive hotel and I must say we all adapted well to the lifestyle. I am still in amazement at how much they can eat! Every morning there was a huge breakfast buffet with traditional cooked breakfast, a chef making omlette and pancakes fresh, cereals, cheese and meat and pastries.  Every lunch and evening there was a huge selection of hot foods as well as plenty of salad and an amazing dessert selection.  There was a specific kids area that had things like fish fingers, chip and peas so the fussier eaters (like Finn) could have their favourites.  As a vegetarian I found there were always options and plenty of salad choices.  Often things like roast potatoes were cooked with ham though so I had to look carefully.  There was always plain pasta with a choice of sauces and the chefs were cooking fresh food to order at one counter with a different choice each day.

We had the VIP bands which meant as well as the unlimited soft drinks, alcoholic drinks and local beer and wine, we could order from the cocktail menu and have some branded alcoholic drinks each day too.  I was a huge fan of the Strawberry daiquiri and these could be ordered at the bar until 11pm each night.  The children were delighted to find out that there was a kids cocktail they could order too although they really liked the self service machine for juices and fizzy drinks too.

At the pool bars, you could order a fresh crepe between 11 and 6pm with either sweet or savoury fillings and this was one of our favourite things to do.  They were absolutely delicious! There was also self serve ice cream and cones out twice a day for the children to cool down with and a fridge full of snack foods like sandwiches and cakes which you could help yourself to during the day if you needed something between meals.

We had such an amazing week at Kiani Beach Resort in Chania and I will be writing more about what else we got up to during our week.  The onsite excursions office can organise trips and hire cars (both of which we used) but as a family we could have happily spent all week at the resort and exploring on foot.  It was such a safe, friendly and family focused resort that we are all hoping we can return to. Check out their current offers here!

You can read about our day at the sister hotel Kaylves Beach Hotel here  and about our day trip to Chania city here. 

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Saturday 26 October 2019

What the Kids Wore // Maxomorra

I love this picture, despite the fact one child doesn't look overly happy and you can see the messy garden in the reflection of the window.  I made all four of these people and they look more than ever like a little gang here (can you tell who the leader is?).

The reality is the height difference is pretty huge, but the little ones are sitting further forward and they spend just as much time squabbling as they do getting along, but they are so great together when they want to be.   

Maxomorra sent us some of their Winter range and I just love these hooded onesies.  They are perfect for snuggly lazy day at home and we use them every week after swimming lessons too.  Everything is made from the softest organic cotton and you can buy the polar bear print in everything from pants to dungarees as well as adult tops (I still need to get a photo in mine!).

My other favourite print from the latest collection is the pink penguins and Cora loves matching with me.  I might have been a bit optomistic when guessing which size she would be in (Maxomorra sizes are based on height rather than age and Cora is quite petite) but we will get at least 2 year's wear from this hooded dress and Cora loves the pocket on the front. I find organic adult clothing is hard to find and I love wearing Maxomorra as it is so soft!

I need to take more photos of these four as their relationships change, and before they get older and don't want to be in photos together.  The big two are very much happy to be involved on their own terms and so I have to get them on a good day and Cora is definitely calling the shots most of the time, letting me know exactly what she wants to do!

Check out the Maxomorra website to see more and find a local stockist.

 Thank you to Maxomorra for sending us a selection of clothes from the latest collection.

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Monday 14 October 2019

Our USA Travel with Kids Wishlist

The USA is so full of personality from the small towns to the big and I would love to go exploring across the country, but I have been thinking more about which states look great for travelling to with a young family and I have narrowed it down to my top 5, all for very different reasons.  Flights to the USA aren’t as expensive as they used to be and it is easier than ever to get an ESTA visa with E-visa. 


To travel to the USA you must have a visa whether you are travelling for business or pleasure. You can apply directly for your ESTA with E-Visa and it takes only 5 minutes.  The ESTA covers you for up to two years on multiple trips and E-visa take all the hassle out of applying! Everyone needs to have one regardless of age and you must do it before you get to the airport. You can find out more about an ESTA Application here


California may be an obvious choice for a family trip but for good reasons.  It hosts its own Disneyland parcs as well as Universal Studios and Legoland. There is so much more than just theme parks though with the beautiful Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, the national parks and of course Hollywood.  The state is huge with so much to explore that I think it would be impossible to do in one visit!  

The Golden Gate bridge looks stunning and we would love to hire a car and road trip around this state.  I think with the sun, theme parks and all the national parks like Redwood and Yosemite this would be the children’s first choice!


My children love animals and Alaska has an amazing variety from the bald eagles in the sky to the bright red salmon in the lakes as well as all the reindeer.  Alaska is a state for outdoor adventure, wildlife and scenery on a grand scale. Whilst other states have all the attractions I am attracted to Alaska for the wild beauty of it and I would love to visit in a few years when the children are all big enough to go hiking through the national parks.  There seems to be plenty to do all year round and I would love to visit in the winter where snow is on the ground and you might catch a glimpse of the northern lights.

I love the idea of cruising to Alaska but I have heard that driving around is pretty special and it could be combined with a trip to Canada which is included in your ESTA from E-visa.


Dylan has been talking of visiting Florida since his visit to the Harry Potter Studios last winter and I would love to take him to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando.  It looks huge, spectacular and the kind of place that would make me want to re-read all the books! There are two parks and you can catch the Hogwarts Express between the two which would be magical!  I visited Florida a few (many) years ago and I would love to take my children back to the Kennedy Space Centre and Busch gardens as well as the obvious Disney parcs.  

I have seen photos of Miami beach though and that is somewhere I have never been and would love to visit as a family.  The white sand, the beautiful blue sea and the atmosphere look so different from our beaches at home (and so much warmer!)

New York

I would love to visit New York with the children (or without them) and I think they would be mesmerized by the skylines, the bustle and the culture.  I want to watch a play on Broadway and see the sets of TV shows I have loved. Central Park is on my bucket list of places I have to visit one day and I think the children would be amazed by the Statue of Liberty.  

Times Square, the Empire State Building, Rockefeller building - there is so much iconic architecture in this state but there are also places to camp, to enjoy a beach cabin or so many other types of holiday.  It is a city of culture, museums and diversity and I think it would make a wonderful place to visit as a family.


The beautiful beaches and the opportunities to surf draw you in but it is the opportunity for island hopping that makes me want to visit. On our recent trip to Croatia we went on a boat tour round some smaller islands and it was one of our highlights.  The Hawaiin islands sound like they are full of culture and exotic cuisine.  

My curious children would love to learn more about the state’s active volcanoes, go whale watching or on the submarine adventures available and I think it would be a truly memorable trip.

I could go on listing the states we would love to visit in the USA and all the places we could travel to and I hope that some of these become a reality for us in the future. If you have any American adventures planned then check out E-Visa for ESTA USA to make sure everything runs smoothly!

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Wednesday 2 October 2019

Running a Half Marathon

I have to admit, I wasn't convinced I would ever be ready but I turned up early last Sunday morning and registered my name at the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon with the hope that my legs wouldn't let me down. I have been training for a few months with the help of my Simplyhealth plan and whilst I hadn't run 13 miles, I had reached 10 on my training and I was told if you can run 10, you can run 13.

The atmosphere was amazing and Millennium square was full of excited looking runners with numbers pinned to their t-shirts as well as partners, parents and families preparing to cheer on their loved ones. I noticed the notes on people's backs that told me a fraction of their story, why they were running or who for. I was confident my body could cope with the grueling two hour run but I was trying to make sure my mind could as well.

The sun was beating down as we lined up, I was in the green wave, and everyone was setting up soundtracks on their phones or making sure watches were ready to track the action. The crowd was full of excitement, the music was playing and it was hard not to feel enthusiastic and positive. We started, slowly at first as we edged towards the start line and then with a bounce in our steps as we crossed and begun the easiest mile of the 13. The streets were lined with people cheering us on, there were smiles everywhere and I set a time in my head of when I wanted to complete the half marathon. I had a few issues with my ankle during my training and I had used my Simplyhealth plan for physio to ensure it was strong enough to make it through. I felt no pain at the beginning which is usually the toughest bit and I was so grateful I had seen to my problem early before it escalated.

It was around mile 4 I started to lose the bounce, the heat was intense and I wasn't used to training in the sun as I tend to run in the evenings. I focused on reading people's shirts and I felt humbled and uplifted by those running in the name of Will, a little boy with a brain tumour. Everyone there had their own story, and we were running not in competition but together. By mile 9 things were getting really hard and my body was running out of energy, my pace had slowed right down but every time I saw children holding out their hands for a high five I found a little more energy, every time someone called out the number on my bib and reminded me I was doing great, I found another bit and the support from strangers, from marshalls and from the other runners kept me going even when everything felt exhausted.

I knew I was getting close to my target time when I saw the 12 mile board and the streets were full again with music and people and cheering and suddenly it said 400 metres, then 200 metres and I dragged the last bit of energy out to get across the finish line. I did it, with over a minute to spare before my aim time. 2 hours and 8 minutes and I could stop and walk, pick up my finishers pack with the medal I had more than earned and find my family to celebrate.

My daughter was so excited to come and tell me that I won and I did, because I wasn't running against the other people, I was running with them, trying to beat myself, to beat my expectations of myself and to prove to me that I could do it. I didn't care about anyone else's time, I was a winner and I was going to celebrate my success!

Back in the running village, I headed straight to the Simplyhealth stretch zone where a trained PT was leading a full stretch which I definitely needed after over 2 hours of running. You could join in halfway through the session or wait for the next one so I jumped in and stretched out my poor muscles. They got a real treat afterwards though in the complimentary massage tent and I could have fallen asleep on the table!

The running village also had a 'Rate my Gait' station where you could run on a treadmill and have it recorded and then speak to a physio or podiatrist about your results and your running style which was really interesting and has definitely given me some pointers to work on! It is such an important thing when running to understand your body and how it moves - this is such a valuable service.

Running the Simplyhealth Great Bristol Half Marathon left me feeling both completely exhausted and utterly invincible. The runners high is like nothing else and I felt so incredibly proud of myself and still do. I worked so hard to get here and I had such an amazing day in Bristol. My Simplyhealth plan has helped keep me on track with my health as I took on the commitment to train for this. It has covered my costs from dental work and optical to physio and I am sure I will be using it plenty as I want to keep up the running (although I think 10k might be my preferred distance for now!). I have definitely caught the running bug and the children really want to take part next time after watching the Simplyhealth Great Bristol half Marathon (and seeing the medal I got!). They helped me throughout my training so I think now I need to help them with theirs!
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