As your children get older there are certain things that you come to realise may never happen again.

Some of them you positively look forward to ending – soft play for instance, and 6am wake ups on Sundays when you accidentally drank too much sambuca the night before – others you don’t realise you’re going to miss until it’s too late.

Dance shows fall into this category for me.

I don’t mean proper SHOWS, at school or in a church hall or whatever, I mean the kind of dance show where a chubby hand gives you a handmade ticket saying ‘Show starting NOW in the lounge!’ and you have to go and sit quietly on a box while your child improvises routines to their favourite songs.

Every time you clap and say ‘that was a fabulous show!’ they say ‘but it’s not done yet!’ and immediately think up a new dance.

At 15, Belle no longer dishes out those handmade tickets.

Sometimes though you’re allowed a little peek back at when they were younger, which is exactly what happened last night when we stayed at the Apex City of London Hotel near the Tower of London.

We’d had a bit of a stressful afternoon as we’d found ourselves walking TOWARDS a stadium just as a rugby match was finishing and everyone wanted to walk AWAY from it. It’s not Belle’s best thing. By the time we arrived at the hotel then we were feeling a bit frazzled. Fortunately the Apex Hotel is only a few minutes walk from Tower Hill station. (Its right by the Tower of London so if you fancy a family sight seeing trip over Easter then it’s ideal.) View Post

We put a lot of emphasis on relationships with that ‘special someone’, while friendships can often get neglected. We take them more for granted perhaps, or we gather some good friends when we are young and then we stick with them, knowing we don’t have to make too much effort.

A friendship is just like a romantic relationship though, especially as you get older. In school it’s easy – you just HAVE to hang out with people every day – and if you work somewhere with lots of people you like then that’s great, but if you work for yourself and don’t have any babies to take to groups any more, then making new friends can be hard. It takes some work, some investment.

Fortunately I have no shame, so the initial stages are not too tricky for me. I went to a party before Christmas for instance and got chatting to a woman at the bar and really liked her, so I invited her for brunch and now we go out every month. BOOM.

It was similar with my friend Rin.

Rin and I met in an online forum for journalists and decided, as we lived only about an hour from each other, that we’d have brunch. (Brunch is the key to most of my friendships.) Within about half an hour of meeting in person we realised that we both liked Nancy Drew mysteries and that was that. We even ended up running a business together for while, mainly I think as an excuse to hang out with each other for a day a week.

There is a step though in a friendship, just like in a relationship, that feels like taking something to the next level.

The MINI BREAK.

Rin has two year old twins now, (#RinsTwins – couldn’t have planned that better if you’d tried), and so when The Olde House in North Cornwall asked if I fancied coming to stay for a lambing weekend, how could I not think of Rin? I did try to get Belle excited about it, but it’s pretty hard to get her exciting about ANYTHING right now, especially farmyard animals. I knew though that Summer and Harmony (how cute?) would be well up for it. I packed some wine and hot cross buns, Rin packed some pretzels and two enthusiastic toddlers and we were set. All the mini break bases covered.

The Olde House is a development of holiday cottages set on a 550 acre working farm in North Cornwall. If the phrase ‘working farm’ makes you nervous and you feel like that sounds a bit ‘rural’ for your tastes then don’t worry, it really isn’t. The cottages are proper big houses – the one we stayed in was bigger than my actual house – and they have everything you need for a proper home away from home. There are over 30 cottages on the farm, ranging in size to suit families of all sizes.

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Despite the title of this blog post, it’s actually freezing outside at the moment – a thick layer of snow and ice. Yuk.

I’ve got the heating up on full but even with all three cats on my lap I’m still far from warm. Just the thought of a sunny holiday in the Caribbean is making me feel a little bit cosier, but seriously, isn’t it supposed to be spring now? I’ve seen lambs being born and everything. Wearing a scarf and gloves everywhere just isn’t fun when you’re not wandering a Christmas Market with a hot mulled wine in hand.

Sunny holidays are, inevitably, something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’ve been on work trips as far as USA and Vietnam, but I’ve never been on a really luxurious summer holiday in the sunshine. I’ve always kind of liked the thought of going on a really luxurious resort holiday, either on my own or with Bee and Belle somewhere really exotic that I would probably never go to again. The Caribbean seems like somewhere only people on fancy cruises go to, but I guess there’s nothing to stop me browsing a few Jamaican retreats as options is there?

Cool things to do in Jamaica

Jamaica is a world so far from our own in terms of the culture, the scenery, the weather, the food, everything. I think I’d have a really good time there. It’s a really interesting place. Did you know that Jamaica is home to over 200 species of exotic orchid, or that it was the first Caribbean country to launch its own website? Thanks Google. View Post

I saw something on Twitter a week or so ago.

‘We are now entering the third month of January,’ it said.

It took me a minute, but God, that’s how it felt this year didn’t it? It became a thing for us to all talk about, as a nice distarction from the weather.

‘January’s dragging isn’t it?’

‘When is January going to be over?’

‘How long even IS January this year?’

Needless to say that Belle and I were very much looking forward to a night away at The Belfry Hotel and Resort over the last weekend in January. It came a couple of days after a slightly stressful parents’ evening, and was generally much needed.

The Belfry Hotel and Resort was incredibly easy to get to, which is always a nice start to a mini break. We whizzed (sensibly) up the M5 and the M42 and there it was, just a few minutes off the motorway.

First impressions were ‘blimey, this is a massive place isn’t it?’ And it is. The Belfry resort is huge, with over 300 rooms, a large restaurant, separate bars, a huge golf shop, indoor pool, spa and of course, a golf course. I was expecting January to be quiet, but the place was buzzing with people. (Hence some of the images in this post being provided by the hotel, as I couldn’t find anywhere to take pictures without people in them!)

Belfry Hotel Lobby

This is just the lobby!

First things first, we checked in and dropped off our stuff in our room. This was a little bit of a mission as the place is so big that our room was a good walk from the reception, through some corridors, the golf bar, and then up in the lifts. We found it in the end though and only had to stop for directions once. View Post

It’s been a while since Belle and I have been on a mini-break.

After we got the kittens, I think we were a bit reluctant to go away and leave them on their own, and so the weeks and months passed and suddenly we realised we’d not been away anywhere for ages. With the evenings being a bit dark and gloomy, it was obvious that Belle was beginning to get a bit twitchy at home. She seemed more anxious than usual, and I was definitely feeling like we’d got stuck in a rut.

It was time to blow away some cobwebs, and what better place to do that than at the seaside?

We’ve got some good friends down in Bournemouth, so we headed down to the south coast. Our accommodation was The Beach House in Milford-on-Sea, which is part of the Hall & Woodhouse group. I was a little bit unsure of what to expect, as sometimes bed and breakfasts that are part of chains can be a little on the naff side, but The Beach House was anything but.

It was dark when we arrived, as we’d not set off hugely early. Partly because Belle likes to sleep until about 1pm, partly because I had a massive hangover. I’d had a couple of friends over the night before for ‘a couple of drinks’, which had degenerated rather unexpectedly into about 14 drinks and a poorly thought out live Instagram broadcast. It’s a long time since I have felt that bad and so I needed to leave it as long as possible before driving for two and a half hours.

The front of The Beach House looked beautiful as we pulled into the car park, as it has some really lovely stained glass windows. I love a bit of stained glass. Inside it positively oozed character. The reception area is also a bar, and there was a real fire roaring, and loads of unique details – books, paintings – and plenty of wood, which is exactly what you want in a winter weekend away. Lush.

The Beach House View Post

Hafan Y Môr Haven park review

I know that a caravan isn’t everyone’s idea of a fun holiday, but they’ve always held a special kind of excitement for me.

I think it started when I was about seven or eight and we went on a caravan holiday to Cornwall with my Gran and Grandad. We stayed in a separate caravan from them, but nearby, so I was allowed to run on my own to my Gran and Grandad’s caravan and knock on the door to play games with my Grandad.

There are two things I particularly remember from that holiday. The first is that we went on a trip to Goonhilly power station and my Gran had TWO milkshakes in the cafe, made with real ice cream. To me this was the ultimate in decadence, the kind of thing I could only DREAM of doing as a grown up.

The second was being allowed to spend the night in my Gran and Grandad’s caravan. It was like a holiday INSIDE a holiday – madness!

I’ve since been on loads of UK caravan holidays, especially when the girls were smaller. Caravan parks are ideal for holidays with kids as you normally get a good range of facilities on site should you want them, but you have the freedom and independence that comes with a self catering holiday.

Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park

This summer we went to Haven’s Hafan Y Môr Holiday Park in North Wales. And by North Wales I mean REALLY North Wales. It was FAR. We drove across Wales through the Brecon Beacons though, which was very pretty.

We stayed in a two bedroom caravan from the Platnium range, which was very clean and modern and had a little balcony attached too. I’m not going to bore you with pictures of the inside of a caravan when you can have a proper look here, suffice to say there was plenty of room for Belle to arrange her make-up, which is clearly the most important thing to consider when planning a caravan holiday. View Post