Our journey into a dragon’s butt and other adventures…Visit Wales.

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Visit Wales asked me to go and see what our family could learn there in a weekend. Our trip came in the midst of a chaotic few weeks in March, I had just returned from Tanzania, Mr A was about to go to San Francisco for a week, did we really want to go away again? I think the photo above says it all!

I spent many happy years on family holidays in Harlech. Wales has the perfect mix of everything a child needs for a happy holiday – long sandy beaches, castles full of adventure, beautiful countryside to run wild in and myths and legends galore to fuel those adventures.

Turns out it is amazing what you can learn in Wales in a weekend, and how utterly refreshing a weekend of exploring can be. Fancy a journey into a dragon’s butt? Continue reading

Carnival Cruise Lines Funnest Family Episode 5 – singing and voiceovering

IMG_0482Last year we were selected to go on two cruises with Carnival Cruise Lines, and be their funnest family. We had so much fun on board Carnival Sunshine in October, enjoying the ship, the destinations and working with the film crew, and there are now five short funnest family films about cruising as a family, featuring us.

In the last of the five funnest family films from Carnival Sunshine, me and Mr A sing with Seth in the piano bar and fine tune our voice over skills as we look towards our next cruise in the Caribbean… Continue reading

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Old blackboard with clipping path

OntheBeach asked me what my favourite holiday destination was. For me it has to be Italy every time. Even if I have ended up close to tears at my complete lack of Italian. Even if I have sat in Italian beaches heavily pregnant, mosquito bitten and feeling like a very white, beached whale next to olive skinned lithe Italians. I still love the place.

Amazing food, such heaven found in such simplicity . A warm and all encompassing family welcome for bambinos. Steeped in history, art, architecture and stunning beauty at every turn, every square, every side road, every covered archway, every tower, every building.

I have been to Verona with my true love Mr A, been cheered as we sailed under a bridge under a gondola in Venice, sailed across a misty Lake Garda together. Stumbled drunk though Genoa as a student, boarded a train from Milan, fallen asleep and woken up surrounded by snowborders in the the snowy alps. Eaten my self silly in the foodie captial Bologna and sighed at the beauty of field after field of sunflowers in Tuscany.

Italia T’iamo. Just wish we could talk more!

This is an entry for the On the Beach Picture Your Perfect Family Holiday Competition

Guest Post: Discover Paris en famille

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paris22q by kikasso, on Flickr

Many people think of Paris as a romantic getaway. A place to go if you’re planning to propose or celebrate your anniversary. But the French capital is also worth visiting with kids. And we’re not just talking trips to Disneyland Paris either. Away from the world-famous theme park, there’s plenty for families to do. So hop on a ferry and discover Paris en famille. Continue reading

Focus on Italy with Eurocamp

Lake Garda

Not booked a holiday yet? We haven’t either.

Eurocamp got in touch to tell me about a great holiday offer.  They pledged to back Andy Murray by offering a celebratory 30% discount on five of their top parcs which include tennis courts, if Andy Murray makes the Wimbledon Male singles final 2013. Well he did it, and here’s the discount offer, but what can you expect at a Eurocamp park? Continue reading

Ahoy, Mateys! Set Your Sights on a Norfolk Broads Holiday

I’ve stayed in a windmill, but I’ve yet to try a boat as a family holiday experience, however, I know at least one pirate resident who would be well up for it! Over to an expert, today’s guest post by Laura Potts is all about boating holidays…

Boating is in the blood in our family. I grew up sailing and later teaching and crewing; my husband graduated from racing his father’s handmade dinghies on the River Orwell in Suffolk to serving aboard aircraft carriers around the world.

So when the kids came along, it only seemed natural to get them into life jackets and on-board at the earliest opportunity.

It was, to say the least, not a success. Continue reading

The Alexander Villa

One like this please! Picture credit – James Villas, Cyprus

About two and a half years ago the Alexander Residence blog was born, from a rather nice villa in Spain. That was the last time we had a foreign holiday as a family. I miss that sunshine so much. It was an effort getting the kids there, they loved sleeping in their clothes and leaving for the airport at 5am, they were an absolute pain to drag through baggage reclaim.  But it was worth it. Continue reading

A 3 night family summer break for £99

I’m really excited, later this month we are going to review a stay in a private family room at Losehill Hall in Castleton in Derbyshire.  It’s one of nearly 200 Youth Hostel Association properties across the UK.  And until the 12th June 2012 the YHA are offering an amazing deal to Alexander Residence readers booking family breaks in many of their properties over the Summer holidays, see below. I think this could make a holiday, or even an extra holiday affordable for many families this summer.

I’ve stayed in Youth Hostels as a student and while travelling abroad, but I haven’t stayed in a Youth Hostel as a family since I was little. I remember visiting a Snowdonia hostel as a family.  My Mum told us about her adventures youth hostelling as a teenager in the days of helping out with jobs, bringing your own bedding, lights out and making your own food. Now you can have a private en suite room with bedding provided, have meals and packed lunches prepared for you, or self cater and there’s no expectation to muck in with the chores.

YHA properties don’t claim to compete with larger chain hotels but have definitely had a facelift that resembles them. Browsing the YHA website each property has lots of images, description and information which makes choosing a hostel easy.  How welcoming is this room at Losehill Hall?

And the dining room looks fab too:

I’m most excited about having a packed lunch made up for us each day, the little things that take the stress out of a weekend away and allow you to get on with adventuring out and about with small children.  The food on the families and individuals menu is seasonal and features regional specialities.  Breakfast is a full hot and cold buffet, lunch a packed lunch and dinner 3 courses or a cafe bar style menu in city hostels. Children under 10 eat free when adults purchase a main meal in YHA restaurants, and in addition to smaller portions from the main menu there are Annabel Karmel meals.

Hostels can be an affordable way to get out into the country or to explore big cities, there are several hostels in London for example.

The Summer break offer

The YHA are offering Alexander Residence readers a very special offer which covers the majority of hostels:

Getaway with YHA this summer and stay in a family room for only £99 for 3 nights!! Simply book by 12th June for stays between 6th July and 17th September. Enter your offer code FAMSTAY-025 at the checkout or give us a call on 01629 592 700 and enjoy a well-deserved break for an incredible price.

To book a YHA family break using this Alexander Residence offer and to read the terms and conditions, you’ll need to go to this page: www.yha.org.uk/aresidence. Please note food is not included.

Hostels are a great way for large groups to get together.  I have a good friend locally who hires out an entire hostel once a year for a reunion with her friends from University and their expanding families. She says it works perfectly.

I will report back on our visit later in the month!