Friday 31 January 2020

The End of January

I can never get my head round how January is so long but it is coming to an end today and I wanted to finish it off with a family photo.  I have been taken these every month since Archie was a baby but I got a bit lazy at the end of last year. I want to get them all printed and into a book or something as they are so special to us and I love that no matter what else happens, there is a photo of me with them each month and a record of how we have all changed and grown.

In the first photos we are both holding the boys, but now I can barely lift  8 year old Dylan and I don't think there will be many more with Cora in my arms either if she keeps growing! This photo was taken on our recently holiday in France after a sledging session on the slopes.  I am impressed that I got anyone to smile as we were all a bit exhausted but the promise of a chocolat chaud (hot chocolate) 

I think the highlight of January for all of us has been our ski holiday but I have really enjoyed getting back into reading and Finn is fascinated by letters at the moment and is making a big effort with both reading and writing.  Cora has spent all month asking me if I can get her a dog once her boys are at school and the big two have to be dragged away from Minecraft if I need them to act human! We are looking forward to two birthdays in February and keeping our fingers crossed for some snow in the UK!
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Thursday 30 January 2020

The Ordinary Moments - The Down Time

I have all the exciting skiing snaps to share, the sledging and snowballs and all the amazing things that made our week in the snow so special but there is more to a holiday than that, there are completely ordinary moments alongside the extraordinary.

Being at a ski resort is exhausting.  Every morning the children had their ski lessons and every afternoon we were either swimming, sledging or back out on our skiis.  They all loved the evening clubs and were desperate to go each night so it became part of our holiday routine to be home by 5pm from our afternoon fun, to snuggle the children on the sofa and put on one of the films I had downloaded onto my laptop for them.  There were only four and we pretty much watched the same film (Toy Story) every night but they were tired and enjoyed the familiarity.

Ed and I would tidy up and get dinner ready and they would all sit along the sofa and have some downtime to help balance a day of excitement.  It was totally ordinary and I wanted to take a picture of that too.  I love the idea of going tech free on holiday but I felt like what they needed most at this point in the day was to sit and relax.  Chances are if we were at home they would be doing a similar thing at 5pm!

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Tuesday 28 January 2020

5 Reasons to Book a Family Activity Holiday to the Azores.


Off to the west of mainland Portugal lies a collection of nine volcanic islands, collectively known as the Azores.  They are not as popular yet with tourists as other areas in the country but they offer a unique charm and so many exciting activities for families and the more I read about the area, the more I want to pack a suitcase and hop on a plane!

Here are 5 reasons I want to plan a family holiday to the Azores.

1) The islands have such outstanding natural beauty , each one bright green and bursting with fauna.  The natural parks including the magnificent Ribeira dos Caldeirões Natural Park look breathtaking but it is the volcanoes that can be seen in places like Furnas and the caves and tunnels of lava that would attract my children who are incredibly fascinated by these things.  You can walk through Gruta do Carvão the longest lava tunnel on the islands.  The Azores boast some beautiful tall mountains and you can visit the black sand beaches

2) Being built on volcanic land, the Azores have hot springs across the islands and their mineral rich waters are perfect for taking a dip in.  For more water filled adventures you can go lagoon snorkelling at the Vila Franca Islet which sounds incredible and you can't forget the Atlantic Waters that surround the islands and are well known for the possibilities of spotting dolphins and whales.  Seeing a dolphin in the wild is something I would love to do one day and family activity holidays to the Azores tend to include the opportunity to do this, maybe even snorkelling alongside them!  Whilst we are talking about the water based reasons to visit the islands, you can't forget Caldeira Velha waterfall in Caldeiraes national park which you can go for a swim in!  My children are drawn to water (as am I) and a holiday filled with so many possibilities would be wonderful.

Credit : Futurismo Azores Adventure

3) When we plan our travels we try to avoid places that are too busy when we can.  The children all love the opportunity to make friends and chat to other people but we don't like to be too crowded and cramped and the Azores are so much quieter as a tourist destination than the Algarve and other well known parts of Portugal.  The uniqueness of this experience is definitely a big draw for us as we love to discover new places together.

4) Nobody can get bored on an adventure holiday and the number of experiences available in this area is extraordinary.  From snorkelling with dolphins, to walking through lava tunnels and exploring the black sandy beaches of Santa Barbara, no two days would be the same and there is bound to be something amazing for each member of the family.  Other activities possible on a family activity holiday to the Azores include jeep tours, botanical gardens, viewing the oldest remaining tea plantation and factory in Europe and visiting a pineapple farm. I love the idea of really getting to explore and know an area and there are plenty of opportunities to try the local cuisine which is very important when visiting somewhere new!

Credit : Futurismo Azores Adventure

5) I love to know the history of where I am visiting and everything about the Azores is fascinating.  The geographical history of how the islands were formed is really interesting and the way the islands became home to the current inhabitants is something I want to read more about.  The islands got more popular over time and the waves of immigration mean the area is rich in culture and cuisine.  Originally they sent some sheep out to get the ground ready for people and it slowly built up over many, many years.

The Azores area is full of excitement and adventure and I think it would make a wonderful destination to visit as a family.  It is definitely going on our travel bucket list for in a few years time when the little ones are old enough to keep up with it all! The temperatures are great with little variation throughout the year and not too hot that it gets uncomfortable  and the area is full of merged cultures as people have settled on the islands at different times and from different areas.

Have you visited the Azores?

Credit : Futurismo Azores Adventure

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Thursday 16 January 2020

The Ordinary Moments - Sparkle

Finn has never been shy, but he was quiet and content as a baby, slower to walk and talk than his brothers and curious about the world around him.  As a toddler he was headstrong, determined, wild and adventurous and we always knew we had him.  He is on the cusp of turning five now and he is still all the things he was as a toddler but more loving, caring and able than before.  He loves choosing his clothes and is drawn to anything bright.  His red Lycra unicorn leggings go straight back on the moment they come and the wash and he likes to pair them with his rainbow striped jumper just to make sure you really can't miss him.

Father Christmas understood his sparkly personality and chose him a sequin zip up top as his 'something to wear' and I wish I had captured the moment he put it on and first looked in the mirror.  He slowly turned, admiring himself from each angle with the biggest smile on his face.  He did a little boogie to watch the way it sparkled and looked absolutely delighted.

As he was enjoying his new present, the sun came out from behind and came flooding through the window, making the whole room light up with the reflections and his face was magical.  I wanted to capture that love and amazement as he realised he was a walking disco ball.  These photos weren't taken on Christmas morning but at the weekend as he was getting ready for a friend's birthday party.  There is no better excuse to wear a sequin jacket and he loved jumping around on my bed first admiring his impact.

This is a boy who knows his own mind, what makes him happy and he isn't afraid to go and get it and dressing up in your best sequin jacket is just an everyday moment in his life.

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Thursday 9 January 2020

My Achievements in 2019

It is my first post of 2020 and I wanted to look back at the last year because when I think about it, it was a pretty big one for me! I want to write down five of the biggest things that I did last year, not as a family necessarily, not even as a mother but as me because I feel like 2019 was the year I started to rediscover my own identity a bit more.

For eight years I have had a baby at home and last September Finn joined his brothers at school and Cora started nursery part time and suddenly I have two days a week where I can do whatever I choose.  The freedom is wonderful although the reality is that the 5 hours or so goes pretty quickly and is mostly taken up by work or running errands, but still.

So here are my five achievements from the past year

1) In March I decided to start running and I could barely manage half a kilometre before having to stop and walk.  I kept going though, pushing myself each time and in September I ran a half marathon in Bristol.  I remember the sensation as I crossed the finish line feeling simultaneously like I could conquer the world and pass out on the spot but I am so proud that I kept at it, I didn't stop and I ran 13.1 miles.

2) I had only left Cora overnight until September but this year I managed to go away twice without the children, once for a weekend with some friends and once for four nights with my Mum and Sister.  It was so lovely to be able to get away and really relax and recover, coming back to real life with a little more energy.  It feels like an achievement to have got this far and the children be secure enough that they don't mind and I really felt like it did me a lot of good.

3) Having a little bit of free time made me decide to volunteer as a school governor this year.  I am still learning the ropes and I think there is always going to be more to learn about but it feels great to have some focus and it is fascinating seeing how the education system runs from inside it.  

4)I took my first driving lesson on my 17th birthday and finally, many years later, I got my pink driving licence.  I didn't tell anyone I was learning as I didn't want the pressure, especially having failed my test when I was learning before and I sobbed so much when the examiner told me I had passed.  It seemed much harder to do as a proper adult but I love the freedom it has given me and I am making plans for 2020 to maybe drive a little further out than the 20 minutes from home which is currently the longest drive I have done!

5)Visiting new places is always on my to-do list and last year I visited three new countries, Croatia in the summer ( which is one of the most breathtaking countries I have ever been to), Greece in October where we spent a wonderful week in Crete and then Tunisia in November which was pure luxury.  I loved discovering new places and I feel so lucky to be able to travel through my blog sometimes. 

I honestly can't see myself accomplishing as much in 2020 but I have set myself some goals, one of which is to read 52 books this year as reading is something I have always loved and has fallen to the side a bit since I have had children.  I also want to get more creative with my photography and try new things.

What are you most proud of achieving in 2019?
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