Finally! Finally there is a reason I leave a trail of mess wherever I go. It’s not my fault at all – it’s all down to my star sign! Leo, in case you were wondering.

My husband used to roll his eyes every time he stepped into our home ‘office’. I use the word office in the loosest sense. I don’t think you could see the desk under the piles of washing, the spare vacuum bags and the boxes of play doh and craft kits. It was never supposed to be a fancy office by any stretch of the imagination – we set it up as a quick make shift office when we moved in with a basic table and hunted out some cheap office chairs.

However, it soon became overrun and I ended up migrating to different spaces in the house to work. Turns out it wasn’t the room, it was me. I seem to be physically unable to keep my working space organised. Something I’m trying hard to fix.

I was always the same when I worked in a public office too. I’d have great intentions of becoming this organised and professional individual with a cool minimal desk vibe but ended up with crumbs from my lunch strewn over the keyboard, old coffee cups left for days and post-its stuck in every conceivable space. Not something I’m proud of!

My Furniture at Work have just released this infographic which shows how messy or tidy you are as a person based on your horoscope and I have to say, for me, it’s pretty accurate. Although it’s probably more likely to be my fast food wrappers in the glove compartment of my car, not my friends! Whoops!

How accurate is it for you? I’d love to know whether it’s correct or if not, how does it differ to your real life personality?

home office constructive chaos

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all inclusive holidays

Quite often people look at me like I’m mad when we say we’re taking the kids abroad for our holiday. We’ve done so ever since our eldest was three years old and yes, it’s not always a barrel of laughs when you’ve got a tired toddler but we always take the hassle out of it by opting to go all-inclusive when booking our holiday package.

We’re off to the Canary Islands in a few weeks time over the Easter break and I can’t wait. Booking was pretty simple and with all-inclusive we’re safe in the knowledge that their aren’t any hidden extras; luggage allowance, flights and transfers are all included. We like the Canary Islands as the weathers pretty reliable throughout the year and the flight time isn’t too gruelling when you have multiple kids in tow.

holiday

We’re staying at a hotel we’ve stayed at previously which makes me even more excited as I know how fantastic the food, drink and snack options are throughout the day. I don’t know about your kids but mine graze constantly. They could be hungry 10 mins after we’ve left the breakfast table and will be crying out for a drink after just 5 minutes of swimming. Knowing we can help ourselves to food and drink throughout the day means we’re not dipping into our pockets or needing to carry cash around the hotel which is a big weight off our minds. It can soon add up if you’re paying out for each and every drink and snack or equally, you feel bad having to say no when you’re supposed to be having fun. It’s also this pregnant woman’s idea of paradise!

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Although we do like to get out of the hotel and see other parts of the town or island we’re staying on there really isn’t any need. The older two kids are usually wrapped up in kids clubs or day time activities on the complex and Elsie has been known to spend time in nursery so Matt and I can truly relax – even if it is just for an hour or two. A holiday wouldn’t be a holiday without a little down time!

holiday

When you look at the value for money you’re getting by going all-inclusive it really is a no-brainer. We barely take any cash with us when we go – just a little bit of spending money for the kids and perhaps a few souvenirs. We’re already planning our 2018 break and the first must have on our list is that it must be all-inclusive. After all the bigger the kids the bigger the appetites!

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city breaks for kids

I think there’s a common misconception that city breaks are just for adults; when in actual fact that couldn’t be further from the truth. In my opinion holidays are all about experiences and making memories. Doing and seeing things you might not otherwise have the chance to do. Many of my favourite childhood memories stem from holidays abroad exploring exciting places.

I always thought having children restricted where I could travel to and what we could do on holiday. But in reality the world is your oyster, if you want it to be. With access to some of the worlds most iconic cities on our doorsteps there really isn’t any excuse to feel confined.

Just because you’re visiting a city doesn’t mean you can’t do traditional holiday activities such as visiting the beach. Take some time out from sightseeing on one of Miami or Cape Towns many beaches. Cape Town has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and, if you’re lucky, you might even spot a penguin or two paddling in the shallow water. Going on safari and visiting Cape Town has always been on my bucket list and I’d love to share it with my family.

I’ve never been but my sister lives in New York and it sounds like an amazing place to take the kids. What do kids love best of all? Going to the park, and what could be better than a trip to Central Park; one of the worlds most iconic parks. Take a trip to Central Park Zoo, hire bicycles or if you’re visiting at Christmas take to the ice with a spot of ice skating. The possibilities are endless – you just have to think like a kid!

We can’t talk about exploring exciting places without mentioning the Far East. It’s always been on my bucket list and, once I’m done having kids, I plan on escaping out to the likes of Singapore or Bangkok. The culture is so far removed from our own that I think it would be a real eye opener. The lights, technology and skyline alone would blow my sons mind for sure! Florence would be in her element; Hello Kitty and other cute animated characters as far as the eye can see no doubt!

There really isn’t any need to restrict where you plan to travel when you have kids, no more than you would when travelling as a couple anyway (unless you plan on scaling Everest of course). Kids minds are like little sponges pre-adolescence and they really do gain from varied and rich experiences. Both myself and my husband spent a lot of time abroad as youngsters and it’s a love of travel and exploration that’d we love to pass on to our kids and city breaks are a fantastic way to do it!

city breaks with kids

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Would you spend your hard-earned money to buy something that was otherwise being offered as a freebie? If you are like me and wouldn’t miss a chance to get stuff for free, the 5 tips on how to get freebies outlined below should come in handy.

1. Be a whiner

Although I’m not suggesting you whine about anything and everything, complaining about a bad service, especially in the restaurant can win you a free meal. While many people consider it bad manners, you should never keep quiet especially if there’s a genuine problem with the service or meal. Some of the things you can/should complain about include hair in food or even a fly in your soup. Although these mistakes are rare, you shouldn’t suffer in silence while you can get better quality service elsewhere. You however need to notify the responsible person nicely, otherwise be ready for a nasty surprise.

Restaurants aren’t the only ones notorious for bad service, banks, electrical companies, and even telecom companies have these issues as well. Complaining about a certain fault especially from these businesses can see you compensated for the same.

2. Ask for more (Be cheeky)

There’s nothing wrong with being cheeky especially when making an expensive purchase. You can always negotiate with the salesperson, not for a discount, but see what else they can throw in the deal to make it more attractive. Most salespeople are good at this and will know exactly what to throw in to entice you into buying something from their shops. If buying a new computer, ask for an antivirus software for a discount. You can as well ask for a free laptop case if purchasing a laptop, or even some speakers if shopping for an expensive TV.

Most fancy department stores provide giveaways of travel-sized bottles of beauty potions and lotions. Some of these giveaways are offered at a reduced price, or even for free for those who have already spend much on other products. You too can get lucky especially if shopping for a skin care product but not sure how efficient it is.

3. Become a mystery shopper

Signing up as a mystery shopper on various websites (UK Mystery Shoppers and Mystery Shoppers) is another great way to enjoy freebies. These sites pay you for assessing their customer service. As a mystery shopper, you get to enjoy free meals or hotel stays as you evaluate the quality of service offered there.

This strategy however has a downside; you have to pay for services rendered first before your money can be refunded afterward. You actually have to report your findings back to the website to get a refund for the money spent. Since everyone has to start out small, you have to build your ‘mystery shopper’ profile to enjoy some of the big deals on offer.

4. Virtual Scavenging

The internet is full of surprises with internet users being able to take advantage of freebies available on various websites. You will be surprised how many items are up for grabs on Craigslist, the Freecycle network, and other freebie sites. You however should expect low or high-quality items from these freebie websites, as most of the items are mostly second-hand or used. Some of the things you can find on these sites include old typewriters, laptop chargers, televisions, fax machines, beds, and even wooden trunks.

5. Register on Freebie Websites

All you need to do is set up an account specifically for registering with freebie websites. Hotmail is the most preferred account for such uses, hence recommended for all. WOW FreeStuff is one of the best UK free stuff site to register with for free preview tickets and other gems. Some giveaway sites use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to offer free giveaways to their followers. Freebiesiteuk is a good example of such sites that provide anything from free washing powder to cleaning detergents, and even trendy food supplies. Although most of the items up for grabs on many of these sites may be pointless, you can get something valuable once in a while.

how to get freebies

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It’s only the 5th January yet I can feel myself longing for some foreign travel, family time, a change of scenery and, dare I say it, some sun! The cold weather of January always catches me out. Ice should be for December. Come January I’m ready to see blossom on the trees and the beginnings of Daffodils poking through.

It’s not very often we don’t have any kind of holiday or weekend away planned. We love to travel and we love to have something to look forward to, who doesn’t right?  This year, our adventures start in February albeit we aren’t travelling too far.

During 2016 I became a Butlins ambassador and we’ve finally managed to plan a short break in the February half term at the Minehead resort. I’ve never been to Butlins and I’m excited to see what it’s like versus my expectations. I don’t think I’m alone when I say I’ve always been a little dubious about what I’d find at Butlins but I think I’m going to be pleasantly surprised. We’re staying in a three bedroomed lakeside chalet – they look stunning on the website and from existing reviews they sound like they’re as good as the pictures portray.  As part of my Butlins ambassadorship I will be blogging and vlogging our stay so if you’re thinking of visiting anytime soon stay tuned for our honest experiences.

butlins minehead chalet

Eight weeks later we’ll be jetting off to the Canary Islands, more specifically Fuerteventura. We’ve booked the same hotel we stayed at two years ago as we were so impressed with it and it’s location was ideal for us – walking distance to a beautifully clean and safe beach, playgrounds and plenty of local shops and bars.  Travelling as a family of five will be….interesting to say the least.  The packing invariably falls to me and so I feel I may need to come up with some actual packing lists for each person just to keep myself on track.  Packing for five people for a ten night break will quickly get confusing….that’s at least forty pairs of underwear plus a gazillion nappies!

caleta de fuste, barcelo

No sooner have we unpacked our cases we’ll be repacking them to head to Alton Towers during Whit week. We’ve booked a two night break to celebrate all the kids birthdays; Elsie’s in May, Logan’s in June and Florence’s in July! Soon to be two birthday celebrations in July!!

We visited Alton Towers in March 2016 and thoroughly enjoyed it. I was about 31 weeks pregnant last time we went and I’ll be about the same this time too.  Funny how things workout.

We’re staying in the Moon Voyager Room of the Alton Towers hotel which wasn’t our first choice but the enchanted lodges were astronomical prices!  I think we paid around £600 for the two nights, which isn’t cheap by any means, however the woodland lodges were well over £700.  You have to draw a line somewhere! But, when we considered what we spent out for a birthday party for Florence last year and what you get for your £600 I think it’s a pretty fair price.

alton towers, splashlandings

In terms of planned travel, that’s all we have booked up. BUT….I doubt that’s all we’ll do! We’d usually do a couple of days out during August and we’ve got a couple of passes for National Trust properties so we shall probably be making use of these when the holidays run out! However, with baby due in July it might throw a small spanner in the travel plans or a while!

It’s usually around summer that we start thinking about Christmas and this year we really regretted not booking something up.  We’ve been to Cornwall for the last two New Years but this year, sadly, Matt needed to work. It soon dawned on us, however, that Florence doesn’t start school until a week after most people so it would have been an ideal time to snap up a bargain and travel to the sun!

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