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5 Family Villas in France & Italy

It’s hard to compute that you need to think about your Summer holiday far in advance to get the pick of the bunch, but now we are well and truly into September – it’s time to start thinking about the next holiday (or is that just me?) Well appointed villas that can accommodate the whole family in a lovely area are gold dust – so you don’t want to leave it too long if that your plan next year.

Rachel of Rachel’s Villa Holidays is THE go-to villa holiday specialist for France and Italy, so if those countries are on your hit list – it would be worth speaking to her.

Today she has kindly written about how to choose a Villa right for you and your family…

Finding your ideal villa for your particular mix of little ones, tweens, teens, parents and grandparents is key to a truly memorable and stress-free trip.

How to start the search?

I recommend looking no further than Italy and France for a good choice of stylish, family friendly villas with easy access to the coast, countryside, culture, an abundance of sunshine, delicious food and wine.

Below are my five favourite family villas in France & Italy.

Villa Le Pratola, Tuscany

While you swim in the heated pool or have a work out in the villa gym, a personal chef will prepare the meals and your house staff will discreetly tidy and clean.

There is a games room, extensive gardens, swings, toys and books, as well as a pool safety cover and lockable pool gates for peace of mind.

Explore the surrounding countryside, the stunning cities of Siena and Florence and enjoy Tuscan wine tastings, cookery courses and more.

A week here is really not long enough! 


Beachside in Sardinia

This spacious villa easily takes up to 16 guests and boasts a winning formula of superb location, easy style and great facilities, including a 15 metre pool and games room.

Leave the car behind and stroll from the villa to a gorgeous sandy beach or the local restaurant, take a dip in the huge inviting pool and enjoy relaxed barbecues at the end of the day.


Rural chic in Provence

A dream villa for large groups who love chic, spacious interiors, large landscaped grounds and an enclosed pool.

Ask for a chef to cook for you at the villa while you explore colourful local markets, wineries and hilltop villages.

Horse riding and cycling is a must for active guests.

Provenc Villa

Puglia Countryside and Coast

Authentic and charming, this white washed trullo and villa in the heel of Italy’s boot, is ideal for families with young children.

A lawned garden, play area, fenced pool and toys will keep little ones happy for hours so parents can relax and enjoy the peaceful, rural setting.

Trattorias (more relaxed than a restaurant) and sandy beaches are all within easy reach.


Cote d’Azur Luxury

Ideal for a special celebration, this elegant villa in a glorious setting ticks all the boxes. The spacious interiors comfortably accommodate 10 guests while a large heated pool, summer kitchen and barbecue set the scene for summer living.

Villa essentials are included from wifi to table tennis and a well-stocked wine cellar. A daily cook service can be arranged while you explore nearby Grasse or head to the coast.

Now to decide which one to investigate!

Rachel’s Villa Holidays is a bespoke villa holiday consultancy service offered by an independent travel expert. Set up by Rachel in 2010, the service offers informed guidance to villa guests and villa owners, with a focus on luxury villas with pools in Italy and France.

If you would like to find out more about Rachel’s recommended villas in France and Italy, contact Rachel for a free 30 minute consultation on 07983 801 337 or email

Places Reviews Travel

Black Pig Retreats : Luxury Safari Tents, Dorset

We have just returned home with our hearts full and a renewed love of camping. We stayed at Black Pig Retreats in Motcombe, Dorset (near Shaftsbury) this weekend and didn’t want to leave.  We arrived on Friday evening and were welcomed by the very calm and kind Carolyn who immediately asked if the kids wanted to go in the boot of her ‘buggy’. That won them over and within two minutes they were off with her. I like this place!!


We followed them down the dirt track and then up the hill we were presented with out accommodation for the weekend. Wow was the first thing I exclaimed – and that was without even seeing inside.

Safari Tent

The tent had an eat in kitchen living room, 3 bedrooms (to sleep 6), flushable loo, hot shower a lovely terrace.


The whoops of joy as the kids explored their surroundings. They were particularly enamoured with the tree house style bedroom painted in Greek blue with rich mustard curtains to keep out the light and make it true camp style.


The kitchen was spotless and very well equipped – I didn’t need my trusty plunger as there was a stylish and sturdy Le Creuset one that was far superior to mine.  There was some milk, break and biscuits too to keep hunger at bay for when we arrived. They really had thought of everything.


I couldn’t believe how high spec our bedroom was, 6 pillows and a goose down duvet!!! This is one place that you can leave your pillow at home!




There was so much space, we were able to have friends over for drinks and a BBQ. The kids were in heaven meandering through the brooking exploring all the sights to see on the trail – especially the ‘Lion’.

Sweet Peas

The next morning the children were whisked away to feed the animals on the farm. Carolyn has a real way with children and felt immediately comfortable with her.


The highlight was feeding the real black pigs and of course the horses!

Horse Feeding

I highly recommend you visit. It is super comfortable and so peaceful and beautiful – I feel really well rested and refreshed and will definitely be heading back. It would perfect with the family or even a midweek break with a couple of friends as they have a studio for Pilates & Yoga too.


To book, call Carolyn on 01747 590 678 or email

Days Out Places Travel

Drayton Manor Theme Park : Fun Family Day Out

Despite the 300 mile round trip, we had a lovely day at one of Britain’s best theme parks. Situated in the county of Staffordshire, Drayton Manor Theme Park is a picturesque theme park based around a duck laden lake. Like many of the major theme parks (Peppa Pig World at Paultons, CBeebies land at Alton Towers), Drayton Manor has a dedicated area for any little Thomas The Tank Engine fan.


Thomasland is the perfect place to introduce your little one to the delights of a theme park in a gentle and fun surrounding.


There are so many rides in this area that queues were minimal. They loved the water pistol Fire Engine ride. Simple but brilliant.


The rest of the park is packed with traditional theme park rides. This car ride is always a winner isn’t it?

car ride

The log flume was brilliant but very wet so make sure you cover up otherwise you will be walking around soaking for the rest of the day 🙂

Log flume

Sadly my oldest who is a rollercoaster fantatic was disappointed to be 5cm too short to go on the ‘only 1 of 2 stand up rollercoasters in Europe.  #secretlyrelieved


Instead we went on the some twisty upside down ride that made me slightly ill for the rest of the day. However we had our rollercoaster fix as there were plenty of miniature rollercoaster for 110cm and up…


There was a vast choice of places to eat. We chose a Pizza Pasta place next to the zoo (below they are checking out the Meerkats) and had pretty good meatballs!


We let lunch settle with a viewing of an Ice Age 4D Cinema experience.  We were thrown around and sprayed with a fair bit of water which the boys loved.


The younger two had a run around on one of the many adventure playgrounds.


H and I had a wander around the Dino Trail and brushed up on our dinosaur intel.

Dino Trail

H also practiced his photography skills – great one of the three dinosaurs…


All in all a lovely day which would make a great birthday or holiday treat.

Price list

If you looking for a fun day out to amuse the kids this summer, you can’t go wrong with Drayton Manor.  As one of my kids asked the next day ‘ When can we go back?’

That’s always a good result!

Tickets were complimentary in return for an honest review of which all opinions are my own. 

Places Travel

Seventy Ten Travel : Last Minute Summer Holiday Ideas

As half term is looming, there can only be one thing around the corner – The Summer Holidays. My friends fall in to two camps. The organised and fully booked or the ‘fly by the seat of their pants’ camp. As a fully fledged member of the latter camp the former unnerve me.  If you haven’t booked anything yet, but realise you want to and kind of have to if you don’t want the dregs – this post is for you.

Kindly written by Ed Burke at Seventy Ten Travel, he has collated suggestions from Europe to Further afield – to suit all ages and requirements.



Porto Elounda, Crete

This is a great value luxury option for families. The interconnecting family rooms ensure complete comfort and the idyllic setting will ensure relaxation from the get-go.

This 120 room hotel is one of three hotels in the Elounda SA Resort, which all share the same facilities (if you really want to treat the family then the Elounda Peninsula adds an extra layer of comfort and glamour).

Here you get the best of both worlds, the ambience of a small hotel with the facilities of a large resort and the space that comes with it. There is a great choice of restaurants, a superbly spoiling Six Senses Spa, The Kids Ark has a huge range of activities on offer for babies all the way up to teenagers and there’s a football academy as well as golf and tennis facilities. The beach is small but calm, so perfect pottering territory for the little ones.


Package Price: £6,925 based on a family of 4 (children aged 2-12), departing 29th July, staying in 2 interconnecting sea view rooms with breakfast and buffet dinner, return flights and private transfers.

Sun Gardens, Dubrovnik

There is something beguiling about Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Coast, the stunning coastline encased by crystal clear water, punctuated with delicate islands and intriguing historical remnants. Sun Gardens Dubrovnik allows families to enjoy this spectacular area without foregoing any of the often mandatory family requirements.

The Two Bedroom Residences allow more than enough space for everyone to get a peaceful night’s sleep (the secret to every successful family holiday!), as well as a sitting room, kitchenette and terrace – giving the option for a quiet night in every now and again. The dedicated kids pool and pebble beach is perfect for lazy days pottering around the resort, or for a mini adventure there is a boat service into Dubrovnik old town and further afield you could take a boat to explore some of the beautiful neighbouring islands and beaches. For a bit of parental R&R there is an excellent kids club as well as lots of supervised sport activities. There’s also an excellent spa and some superb restaurants to choose from.


Sun Gardens

Package Price: £5,895 based on a family of 4 (children aged 2-12), departing 7th July, staying in a Two Bedroom Residence with breakfast, return flights and private transfers.

Abama Ritz Carlton, Tenerife

You may remember Tenerife was one of our recommendations for the Easter Holidays. The summer is also a great time to visit. Despite being so far South the weather in July and August is absolutely perfect.

Dubbed ‘the island of eternal spring’ the July day time temperatures average is in the late 20’s with very little rain. Despite the perfect weather it’s not high season like the rest of Europe so you get good value for money. If you are looking for a world class resort hotel, then the Ritz-Carlton Abama should be high on your list.

Set within an enormous private estate on the less developed west coast, you are cocooned away from the masses and there is no real reason to leave. Firstly the food and drink is astounding, M.B holds 2 Michelin Stars for it’s Basque cuisine and the Japanese-fusion restaurant Kabuki has one star – these are complemented by a great range of alternatives both formal and informal. Adventures await children aged 4 – 12 at the enormous kids club.

All in all, the Abama is perfect for families looking for a spoiling break away.


Package Price: £6,245 based on a family of 4 (children aged 2-12), departing 7th July, staying in Two Connecting Rooms, Half Board with daily Kids club and Spa Circuit, return flights and private transfers.


If you feel the children are old enough (or young enough), you may wish to to embark on a more active holiday. Getting out and about seeing places brings opportunities to create memories that last a lifetime. It also makes the holiday seem much longer and on returning home you’ll feel recharged and rejuvenated despite the additional exertion.

Ed and Rosie would be able to advise on many fun options and have detailed a few below.


The Alps

Bring out the “von Trapp” in your family with a summer trip to the Alps. Whether you choose to visit the Sound of Music heartland of Salzburg or the convenient French Alps, there is a host of wholesome family fun to be had. Walk or take a lift up to the beautiful meadows and collect flowers, swim in the bracing lakes or cycle the designated routes (electric mountain bikes are now widely available).

Megeve is particularly fun in summer and easy to get to, with loads going on and some excellent hotels.


Italy, Slovenia and Croatia

This year for my annual family adventure, I will drive through Northern Italy and Slovenia to the Croatian Coast. Starting in Lake Maggiore we will show the children where we got married and spend some happy days swimming, boating, visiting the islands and enjoying the fabulous food.

We’ll then drive across to the Veneto region to visit Verona and Lake Garda (unfortunately the opera might be a bit late for the children, but we may try and have a peek). We will then bite the bullet and take the long drive to Pula in Croatia (you can get a boat from Venice if preferred). After a few days on the coast, we will venture into Slovenia, visiting the beautiful capital Ljubljana, before heading into the mountains to the Lake Bled region. Then it will back to Italy to drop the car in Venice before flying home.

Lake Bled


Last summer, Rosie spent time exploring Transylvania in Northern Romania. The destination totally surpassed expectations and she’s already plotting her return there! It really is an idyllic destination not only for couples but also for families.

We covered a fair bit of ground visiting many traditional Transylvanian towns and villages, stopping along the way to nose into some ancient squares, overtaking many a horse and cart (which are still the mode of transport for many rural families), tasting some schnitzel and pork soups, striding up hillsides and of course driving the famous Transfagarasan pass (voted quite rightly by Top Gear as one of the best mountain roads to drive in the world).

However this area is not just for the speed seekers; with such a stunning array of historical buildings and countryside to explore I would absolutely recommend it to all ages and interests, especially for a real family holiday with a difference!

Accommodation here is in beautifully restored local houses and buildings; not only offering further insight into local life and culture but also offering extremely comfortable and tasteful rooms as well as deliciously prepared local food – all for a fraction of the price that you can expect to pay in Western Europe.




If you’ve been thinking about a long-haul trip this summer but not got around to organising anything yet – then don’t panic – it’s not too late to get something organised.

There are many long-haul options perfect for summer holidays and often they’ll work out a similar price to a high-end European resort.

Our top options for a family long-haul trip would be:

South African Safari

A combination of the Malaria Free, Big Five – Madikwe Game Reserve with a predator free Ranch experience in the Waterberg is a winning combination. There are lodges that specialise in creating magical African nature based experiences for families.

Ed would be delighted to advise on ideas and suggestions.


Indonesia or Thailand

Thailand, strictly-speaking in its rainy season, so choose carefully, however the East coast and Gulf of Thailand enjoy idyllic weather perfect for a tropical family beach break. Indonesia is also in its prime, with over 17,000 islands to choose from you’re spoilt for choice. Whether you’re partial to an action-packed adventure filled with wildlife and exploration or a relaxing stay in a world-class family resort on the beautiful island of Bali – Rosie has a treasure trove of suggestions to offer.


USA Road Trip

Ed has spent the last two summers exploring the US with his family. He would delighted to help you plan a memorable road trip. Whether you plan to hire and RV, explore the beautiful beaches and islands, visit the theme or national parks – he will have some great tips to help you get the most out of your trip.


If you would like any advice, help with your itinerary or to book a holiday or trip of a lifetime, contact Ed at Seventy Ten Travel


T. 020 8004 7937

Days Out Travel

Lucknam Park : A Perfect Night Away

This post is hard to start. If I am truly honest (which is of course the route I am going to go down) I will be sure to incite a little of bit of envy when I tell you about my whistle stop trip with my mother, to Lucknam Park near Chippenham in Wiltshire last Thursday.  You have to know about this hotel (if you don’t already) and add it to your bucket list. Here is why…

After an easy journey from the M4, we meandered up the tree lined entrance to Lucknam Park at midday.  I was struck by its grandeur.

Lucknam Park

This 10th Century building was home to various Airstoctratic families until it was turned into a hotel in 1987.  In 1994 the hotel was bought by a European shipping family who operate Lucknam Park as a single private hotel property. Below is a picture taken of inside the courtyard.

Inside the courtyard

We started with a quick coffee in the Brasserie before we explored.  Yes, you can tell I was pretty happy to be here!


We wondered around the landscaped gardens. There were gardeners beavering about in every corner. I was suprised not to see them cutting the edges with nail scissors – it was immaculate.


There were numerous pretty pathways and secret gardens throughout (which you are allowed to enter).   It is a wonderful destination if you are a keen gardener.

Secret Garden

One of my mothers highlight was the Orangerie – not because it was a designated smoking room (she doesn’t smoke but it was quite novel) but because it was so stylish and would make a fantastic garden room if you had the space and money!


Not only is Lucknam Park part of Relais & Châteaux exclusive 500 of the finest hotels and gourmet hotels across the world due to its beautiful setting, this 5* hotel boasts an excellent Spa, Cookery School and one of the only on site Equestrian Centres with her 500 acres to explore.

The Cookery School was in full swing – I could have happily joined in!

Cookery School

I loved the home from home feeling, especially in the drawing room where you could have afternoon tea or drinks that felt like in the comfort of your own home (obviously without the antique furniture and interior designed rooms!)

Drawing Room

My mother loved the multitude of fresh flowers and the clever way they were arranged.

Fresh Flowers

The Spa is accessible to all hotel guests or you can book for just the day.  They use ESPA products which always make me feel like I’m at a spa due to the lovely lemony wafts from the oils and diffusers that are omitted through shout the spa and your treatment room.


We had an excellent deep tissue massage with Abi and Tania and felt well and truly pummelled and preened afterwards. We were instructed to rest and drink camomile tea in the rest room afterwards! We didn’t complain – it was the first time I have lied down during the day in a few years (unless I have had a heavy night the night before 😉

The tranquil pool was utilised by many of the guests but never crowded and I couldn’t believe I actually forgot my swimsuit. (For those who ambitious to use all the facilities they did have s mall shop where you could buy swimsuits and aids…)

Indoor pool

I loved that the indoor pool continued on outside. This would be even more incredible in the summer when its slightly warmer and all the flowers are out.

Outside pool

Now for food. An important topic for me and many!

There are two dining options, a Michelin starred restaurant – Hywel Jones (see below) or the more informal Brasserie.

Hywel Jones

(BTW If you want a taste of old school opulence but cant stretch to Michelin prices, breakfast is held in the same room as Hywel Jones).


Before supper, we had a lovely drink in the old school drawing room. On the left hand side of the photo  there is a permanent puzzle that you can add to or plenty of wooden games on the side tables and sills to keep you occupied.


After our evening drinks, we headed to The Brasserie which is in close proximity to the Spa (so a perfect suit stop for lunch in-between treatments too).

We chose to share the sirloin steak (golly, doesn’t that sound gutsy and unladylike but it was delicious!!)

Sirloin Steak

We stayed midweek so there were a mix of guests both local, international and many staying due to the nearby Cheltenham racecourse.

I have no doubt, on the weekend there would be many couples enjoying the tranquility of being somewhere so beautiful and grabbing a quick couple of days away from their kids.

Whether you come on your own for some solo recuperation, fancy some cooking lessons, participating in some riding clinics or for a family gathering with multi generations – you really couldn’t beat it.

It is world class.

Family Life Travel

10 Easter Holiday Ideas For Families

With Easter falling early next year, it’s great news for skiers but warm weather in mainland Europe will certainly be quite a gamble. So, where do you go if you fancy some sun at that time of year?

Ed Burke from Seventy Ten Travel has shared all his experience and ideas with us today to bring so many ideas for the Easter holidays.


Seventy Ten Travel was started by Ed in 2015 having worked at t two large luxury holiday firms. It is is a dynamic and forward-thinking luxury tour operator, travel agency and concierge service.  The difference is with Seventy Ten Travel is you are dealing directly with a small team. Ed and and his wife Rani started the business in 2015 later joined by business partner Rosie Kennedy a year later.

They are approved members of the Travel Trust Association, which means we uniquely offer 100% financial security on any experience you book which in this current erratic climate it is great to have this for peace of mind!


Family Road Trip and Safari to South Africa (best for children 4-14)

In my opinion South Africa is the best option for a first time family long haul adventure. With no jet lag, superb hotels and perfect late summer weather, you can really hit the ground running.

Cape Town the “Mother City” is full of interest for young and old, the little ones will enjoy the major sights like Table Mountain, The Waterfront, Cape Point and the Two Oceans Aquarium. From Cape Town, it’s about a 6 hour drive or a short flight to the Garden Route. You could stop for a night or two in Oudtshoorn the Ostrich Capital of the world (it will be worth it if Daddy takes an ostrich ride!).

On the Garden Route, you can have your fix of beach. But there is so much more; coastal forest walks in Tsitsikamma (you could try and spot the elusive Knysna Forrest Elephant), Ocean Cruises as well as Elephant, Wildcat, Bird and Monkey Sanctuaries. Now the kids are fully briefed on the animals, they can see them in the wild! There are many excellent family friendly malaria free lodges an easy drive from the Garden Route.


Tenerife (best for children 0-10)

Come Easter, you and the kids may well be exhausted! In which case you want an easy flight to warmer climes and an excellent family friendly hotel. Tenerife ticks all these boxes. It’s protected from the winds and the hotels are masters at creating an atmosphere that keeps everyone happy.




The best 2 options in Tenerife would be the Grand Hotel Bahia del Duque and The Abama, though they do charge a premium and will be very busy; the Roca Nivaria is a better value for money option. We also know some excellent options in Lanzarote and Gran Canaria.

Morocco (best for Children 4-14)

Early Spring is the best time to visit Morocco. It’s perfect if you want something culturally different, without going too off grid or sacrificing any luxury. There’s a host of superb family friendly hotels within the surrounds of Marrakech; many of which you needn’t leave for the week.

Though if you do, el-Fnaa square and the Souks will be an eye opening experience for the children. The Oasiria Water Park is a must for families of all ages. We can also arrange a day trip into the Atlas Mountains with lunch in a Berber Village, which is an incredible experience for young and old. If there are 2 or 3 families travelling together we know some superb catered villas.

Florida Road Trip (best for children 3-15)

I took my 3 and 6 year old on a road trip to Florida this summer. We had an amazing time but concluded it would be better weather wise over Easter or Christmas.




Regular direct flights make the travel easy and the jet lag is manageable. Miami, Disneyland, The Everglades and Gulf Coast are a must.




Read all about our Florida trip here


Oman (best for children 4-15)

In my opinion, Oman offers the most authentic and refined Middle Eastern experience. The friendly and laid back capital, Muscat, is easy to explore with little ones and there are some absolutely superb luxury family friendly hotels just up the coast.

The Gulf of Oman is rich in marine life (though April is a bit early for the turtle laying), so great for marine cruises, snorkeling or diving. If you’re looking for a mini-family adventure we can organise a desert camping trip or a luxurious night or two in the stunning Jabal Akhdar mountains.


Skiing – Saint Foy (best for children 3-12)

With snow already falling and an early Easter, 2018 promises to be a great year for Easter skiing. Our hot tip for families, especially first timers, is Saint Foy. This cute and quirky resort has great nursery slopes and excellent ski schools who magnify the fun.

There are some really lovely chalets and apartments, within a stone’s throw of the slopes, minimising the dreaded long walk or ski bus. For those with babies there are some excellent creches who will look after your loved one whist you hit the slopes.


Costa Rica (best for children 6-15)

If your children are curious; love nature and animals, then Costa Rica is just the ticket. For the curious there’s active volcanoes, indigenous tribes and a national sustainability blue-print that puts the world to shame.




For animal lovers: sloths, turtles, monkeys galore, toucans and even jaguars are common encounters. For nature lovers: there’s pristine rain and cloud forest, untouched beaches, winding rivers and tumbling waterfalls. All this comes with warm and welcoming people and excellent (very safe) food and drink. All in all the perfect enriching family destination.




Mauritius (best for children 0-15)

This idyllic Indian Ocean island has become somewhat of a luxury family hotspot over recent years. With a long history of first class hospitality, many of its iconic luxury hotels have embraced the needs of the modern family.




We are particularly excited about the reopening of the One&Only Le Saint Geran, after a full scale renovation. It’s always had the best natural location on the island and now will have the best facilities. Thanks to the extensive and excellent competition, the prices are very reasonable for a hotel of this standard.

Thailand (best for children 6-15 years)

April is the perfect time of year to visit Thailand. There are so many exciting options for a family holiday. You could do a simple beach break to Phuket, Krabi or the surrounding islands. (We would recommend escaping the hustle and bustle by going to one of the smaller islands, though this does involve a bit more travelling.)




Or you could add in a touch of adventure with a stay in the Khao Sok National Park just north of Phuket. Or to make it a trip of a lifetime, add in the awe inspiring Bangkok and Chiang Mai. Jet-lag can be a bit of an issue going out so we would recommend a minimum of 10 days to 2 weeks.

Cyprus (best for children 0-10)

If you want to stay within Europe and not travel too far, then the weather in Cyprus is normally quite a good bet. There are some excellent family friendly hotels which are excellent value for money if booked well in advance.

For beach lovers we would recommend the Anassa, whilst those with very young children may prefer the Almyra, much closer to Paphos, who offer a unique baby-go-lightly programme which covers any needs or requirements for travelling with very young children.

So many fantastic ideas, now to decide which one to book #wishfulthinking 

Contact Ed on or call him on 020 8004 7937 and he will be able to help you with any ideas, itineraries or bookings at a fair price and a personal service. 

Bon Voyage xx


Activities Reviews Travel

How To Do Euro Disney Successfully

If I didn’t bore you on Instastories over half term with our last minute family trip to Eurodisney over October half term and you are thinking about a trip yourselves, this post is for you!

Alex and I have collated some top tips about the journey, the hotel, the experience and the Disney attractions. You will notice from the detail that he has had a profound input! I know if you are considering it – you need hard facts and not just Lucinda’s spiel (oh dear, I am talking in the 3rd person, I must move on)


If you would rather watch than read – have a sneak at this 3 minute video.



So, we left home straight after a large breakfast and drove to Folkestone which is around 2 hours by car. The quickest travel crossing to France is Le Shuttle and it’s also much easier to get to as you don’t have to drive through Dover to the port. The crossings are regular (3 or 4 per hour) and only around 30 minutes journey time until you reach sunny Calais the other side.

The ferry may be more fun if you can spare the time. Shopping, duty free, arcade machines, restaurants, coffee, children’s play area etc…  but be prepared for the longer journey and a little bit more sweat.

After your arrival in Calais it is just under 3 hours to the parks and with the GPS it takes you straight to your hotel front door. No navigating French roadsigns and the French motorway system. Just remember to drive on the right hand side of the road! There are lots of yummy French welcome breaks to enjoy a croque monsieur on route and on the tollroads are always clear of traffic.

We left home at 8am and even with the hour time difference we arrived at our hotel by 3pm. Just in time for check in, a cheeky beer and an explore of the hotel.


On top of the Eurodisney Hotel they are loads of themed hotels which are much cheaper and just a shuttle bus ride to the park entrance.

We stayed at the Explorers Hotel which was 5 minutes by shuttle bus. Explorers was very reasonable (depending on which tripadvisor deal you can get) and we had a lovely themed family room which slept up to 6 people.

The highlight was the water park which for my two boys was just as big a treat as Disney itself!



The bus from the hotel drops you right out the front of Disney Village so you only have a couple minutes to walk before you hit the action. The two parks  open at 9.30am and the first ride or show start at 10am.

The earlier you get there the less queues so we would always do the most popular immediately.


There used to be more characters wandering around (4 years ago when we last went) but now they follow a timetable so you can see when and where they will be.

Here they are with Mary Poppins.


Try and do 4 days rather than 2 or 3.

It means you’re not in a panic sweat to complete everything. You can really enjoy the magic and take it all Disneyland has to offer.

It’s also cheaper the more days you go. 4 day passes were not available through our hotel so best to book these on the official site or on the door when you arrive. The sterling price was also cheaper than in Euros.


Into the afternoon the queues can sometimes be up to 45 minutes long so fast track passes are a must. Go to the ride and put your fast track ticket in the machine and you will be given an allocated time to come back. Don’t do it too late in the day (after 2pm) unless you want to be given a time slot that may be too late in the day (and you will be in bed!)

There is also an option of baby switch so one of your stands at the side with the baby whilst you go on and then you swap (take the baby) and go on -taking your other kid for another go without having to queue.

The best thing we discovered was Single Rider. If you are prepared to sit on your own, the queue time is really quick, often only 5 minutes.

The parades were a massive highlight and run all the way through the day. The Grand parade which includes all the characters is at 5.30pm and well worth staying for. The Princess parade was on at 1215 which we also loved.


Fireworks are at 10pm during french holidays. 8pm during off peak days. So check this before you go as they were too late for the kids (us) when we went.

For an extra special treat and to meet the characters over dinner the Eurodisney Hotel buffet is brilliant. It is called Inventions.

It is the only place you can meet the characters other than Auberge De Cendrillon (Cinderella) in Fantasyland at the Park. Be prepared quite expensive but so worth it to spend time with the characters without the rush and pushing from other people in the park or the studios.

You have to book in advance (sometimes up to 8 weeks) as it gets booked so quickly. It is difficult to get a good slot and at a sociable time of the day so be savvy and book way before you get there!


Buzz, Small World, Pinochio, Peter Pan

Avoid Snow White (3 year old was petrified!)


Animagique, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Stich

The shows are are over in the studios and they are not to be missed. It’s easy to ignore them on the map as they are in French and you have no idea what they actually are but they were my total highlight – especially Animagique.


Hyperspace mountain, Toy Story land, Star Tours, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Thunder Mountain


Food is expensive!

I am not particularly fussy and can show down a burger as quick as a hungry trucker but service is slow, queues are long and the food as meh.

I recommend eat a massive breakfast and taking some snack for the queues. If you do want to eat in a restaurant, eat in the Disney Village (where you can actually get a decent coffee – you can’t in the park!)


If you don’t have the luxury of 4 days and you are maybe thinking of a long weekend – divide and conquer!

Boys go and one way girls go the other. (don’t hold it against me – if your son wants to go to the Princesses and boys Star Wars – still divide and conquer!)

Height restrictions can be upsetting if you fall short after much excitement, so check on the rides and height restrictions ahead of the day.

Basically it is either 100cm (most rides other than family where all can go) or 120cm (height of a 6 plus year old)

We were pleased to have gone when we did (age 7, 5 and 3) and don’t feel that we need to go again so they can do more.. but time will tell eh. We are rather partial to a theme park.

Is it for you? Do you fancy it or do you think your kids won’t even notice if you don’t do Disney? xxx

Head over to my shop to get ahead of Christmas shopping (or just to treat yourself!) 


Essential Tips For a Child Friendly Holiday in Sri Lanka

Planning a family trip to Sri Lanka is a much more relaxed affair than in years gone by. A little thought is still required, though. Ailsa, the go-to-girl for all things family in Sri Lanka, has spent six years on the island with her two young daughters.

Here are her notes on travelling en famille…


As Sri Lanka has developed, so has the option for holidaymakers to find most things they need while they travel. In more rural areas certain items are harder to find and with less English spoken, the language barrier can make it tricky.


What To Take :

I’d suggest all the usuals…sun tan lotion (though not overly-slopped as it damages the coral), mozzie spray, insect bite cream etc.

A small umbrella – good in the rain and the sun

Car seats (if you can fit one in) – aren’t too easily found so many drivers
won’t have them.

Disposable nappies – you can find them in most bigger supermarkets but the quality isn’t always great (powdered/formula milk is widely available)


How To Travel :

From Europe you have the direct/indirect dilemma – stopping in the Middle East or long-hauling it with Sri Lankan Airlines. Personally I always welcomed the chance to stretch the kids’ legs for a couple of hours mid-journey.

Once here you’ll likely be with a driver or, perhaps, jumping on the train. Just bear in mind that time and distance in Sri Lanka don’t correlate as you might imagine. Nip down the highway to Galle from Colombo and you’re done in an hour and a half. A ‘lesser’ journey between Colombo and Kandy can take you up to 4 hours. Well-stocked iPads are a (somewhat guilty) life-saver!

Train journeys, while wonderful, can be similarly lengthy. The most popular, from Kandy to Ella is stunning but you might do better to split it, either doing Kandy to Nanu Oya, or Nanu Oya to Ella, if you’re with young kids.

Sri Lanka


Where To Stay :

Set-ups obviously change from one place to the next so always worth checking what room
arrangements hotels can offer.

Ashburnham Estate has a great Family Room and two doubles that link privately which work well for families.

Sri Lanka

Gal Oya Lodge has a Villa with two bedrooms; again an ideal set-up.

Sri Lanka

Another favourite of ours, Coco Tangalla, has a really lovely two-room set up for families down by the beach.

Why House, near Thalpe, offers a beautiful suite – ante-room ideal for small children – from which parents can sip G&Ts on the terrace with kids asleep inside.

Sri Lanka


Best Beaches :

Sri Lanka’s beaches can look stunning but a surprising number have to be treated a little carefully when it comes to swimming.

The drop-off at Unawatana, near Galle, is a fair bit sharper than at, say, Mirissa.

Down south, the little beaches around Thalpe and Habaraduwa are gorgeous but can be
rocky in parts.

Weligama Bay is widely thought the best and safest beach for kids on that southern stretch. It’s a great spot for beginner surfers too.

At the right time of year, we’ve seen fewer places better for safe swimming than off Kalpitya on the west coast – try Palagama for starters.

Sri Lanka Beach


Enjoying The Food :

The locals love spicy food, but they are also very accommodating when catering for children. Most restaurants will serve simple food like omelettes, chips & vegetables etc. But for days when you are off the beaten track and it’s a struggle to be understood then the simple Sinhalese phrase “miris epa” (don’t add chili) is a really useful one, or “sarai (sa-rye) veddi epa” (don’t make it too spicy hot).

Sri Lanka


First Aid ‘Stuff’ :

Medical care is good in Sri Lanka – you won’t find many swanky GP clinics but access to very good doctors isn’t a problem. The island is now officially Malaria-free so Malarone, or anything similar, isn’t needed. In some parts, notably Colombo, Dengue Fever is a concern, though, so mozzie nets and spray in the late afternoon and evening are recommended.

Many Sri Lankans will also, of course, be very happy to recommend natural and Ayurvedic medicines. If you or the kids get too much sun then there are plenty of Aloe Vera plants to be found. In Sinhalese it’s “Kumarika” and if you ask anywhere you’re staying it’s likely they’ll have some in the garden and be very happy to provide it to soothe your or children’s sore skin. It’s the best!

For any more tips please email or visit to book your family holiday to Sri Lanka.