Our First Experience of Airbnb

What is Airbnb?

Airbnb is a website that people can use to find, list and rent somewhere to stay. You can hire the entire place, a room in a shared house or a hotel/hostel room.

Airbnb began in 2008 when two designers who had space to share hosted three travellers looking for a place to stay. Now, millions of hosts and travellers choose to create a free Airbnb account so they can list their space and book unique accommodation anywhere in the world.

Why we chose Airbnb

As a family of five it is considerably hard to find somewhere that will accomodate us all without having to stay in a caravan, hotel suite or book rooms with an adjoining room. We decided to give Airbnb a go.

After setting up our account we were all ready to search for a booking that would suit us. It was simple so far and I couldn’t believe the amount of accommodations available for a family of our size.

I was a little apprehensive on how it would all work out. you hear some horror stories about people booking home s on line and them not turning out to be what they were expecting, but i guess you can get that with anything. I mean how bad could it be? We could always stay in the car if it was that bad..

Searching for a home

We had decided on visiting Snowdonia, Wales for my partners 40th birthday. So we roughly knew of the area that we wanted to stay in. Once we chose the area we then put in how many quests there were going to be and the dates that we wanted to book it for.

You can even refine the accommodation by price and choose the extra facilities that you are looking for.

We found a beautiful little cottage on the edge of Snowdonia National Park – the ideal location for a trip up Mount Snowdon.

A home for the weekend

The Welsh cottage was to be our home for the weekend, we had liaised with the owners about when we would arrive and was given the directions to their home.

Welsh cottage
Our home for the weekend

The cottage had 4 beds which accommodated up to 6 guests – perfect for us! A large kitchen, lounge, log burner, garden and a summerhouse with a moroccan tea room, a pool table and a dart board.

A warm welcome

We arrived late after travelling for 6 hours from London, it was dark and we wasn’t even sure if we were in the correct place. Searching for the pictures on Airbnb app to put our mind at rest before we attempted to enter the cottage.

We were given the code for the keysafe and once inside, we were knocked back by how beautiful this home was, it was full of character and so charming. The boys were elated with the summerhouse and couldn’t believe that there were ample of books and games to use.

Before arriving I had discussed via email with the hosts about putting up some banners for Paul’s birthday. As soon as he opened the door, he was greeted by the banners and balloons that were up in the dining room. They had even left a birthday card for him. The hosts had left a fresh baked loaf on the table and milk in the fridge ready for our arrival.

  • Happy birthday banner in dining room
  • Dining table with a warm greeting
  • Fresh loaf of bread on table

Our first day

As we were hiking up Mount Snowdon, we didn’t really hang around in the cottage that much. We had toast made from the lovely bread that was left for us and the boys had a game of pool whilst us adults were gathering things together for the trip up the Mountain.

Later on in the day when we arrived back, it was time for the boys to explore the surroundings and for me to get to know the kitchen. Everything in their home was there for us to use (apart from the food). It felt rather naughty going through someone’s drawers ( kitchen drawers). You can’t help but be a little nosy. We had a look at all of the decorations around the house, and there really was lots to look at. Hung on the rustic walls were decorated slates from the mines and scattered around the home and garden were painted stones.

Games night

The cottage didn’t have TV reception, although the wifi was good. We made the most of the games that were available and sitting around the log burner we played family games, we laughed and we enjoyed each others company in such charming surroundings. We felt at home.

A home from home

It really was a home from home. The boys didn’t want to come home.

The cottage more than what we had hoped for. A beautiful home in an equally beautiful location. We had a lovely time and was very grateful that the hosts wanted to share there homely home with us. I would not hesitate to go back again. It was a little weird at first being amongst someone else’s belongings, sleeping in their beds and eating from their plates but it soon began to feel warm and comfy.

The place was spacious, cosy, warm and comfortable. It had a special calming feel to it. We all just felt so relaxed.

We are now looking forward to our next adventure with airbnb in Malta and Gozo. I think this will be a totally different experience as they are holiday homes and not someone’s home that we will be staying in but still a new venture.

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Mount Snowdon via Llanberis Path

Hiking up Mount Snowdon

As a family we have hiked up Mount Snowdon a handful of times. The first time we did it was about 9 years ago with our two children. We took the Miners Track back then and have since done the Pyg Track and Llanberis Path.

Hiking up the mountain with three young children, I would definitely recommend doing the Llanberis path.

Llanberis Path

Llanberis path is the longest route to take up to Snowdon’s summit. The distance is 9 miles there and back, with an ascent of 975 mtrs and offers some amazing views of the surrounding mountains. As it is thought to be the easiest path to take it can be popular with families and leisure walkers and can get quite busy at times.

The route

The path climbs along the Llanberis – Snowdon railtrack and is simple to navigate. It starts just behind the Snowdon Mountain railway station, at the end of a road you reach a cattle grid and the information boards.

Llanberis path map/route up Mount Snowdon

As you head along a steep road you reach a cafe and just beyond that you will take a left through a gate, this is where the terrain begins to change and you clearly note that you are at the foot of the mountain.

The track becomes a little more rocky and can be unstable under the foot causing you to trip. It can be quite slippy when wet too.

On route up Llanberis Path

The hike up can be very tiring and you will work up a sweat so I would advise you to carry extra clothing so you can layer up later on when you are closer to the summit.

It was quite a cloudy day, not so cold and the rain stayed away for us. It was ideal hiking conditions but not so great for the camera. We managed to get some clear photos on the ascend to the mountain, but it was too misty up at the summit to see anything clearly.

The Llanberis path leads along the railway and it’s a beautiful sight to see the steam train run along side you

The boys were particularly happy to see that the sheep were all around, not just on the low level ground but also over half way up the mountain you will spot sheep grazing behind the rocks

Sheep on Mount Snowdon

Just before half way the train line runs along to the right of the pathway but you will need to walk under the track. It’s not long after that you see a building far in the distance. This is the halfway house, where you can buy some refreshments. On previous visits, there has always been a toilet here to use but it seems that they may have closed it as it is no longer available for customers to use.

Mount Snowdon Steam train on way descending down the mountain

The path steepens

Once you have had a well earned break at the cafe, the ascend becomes a little more trickier and the path steepens. Is it as this point where you begin to feel the legs become a little tighter and start to ache. It was here when the visibility began to get pretty poor and we just knew it was going to get worse.

Holding hands
Giving me a helping hand up the steep path

The pathway runs under the Snowdon railtrack again and as you come out from under the bridge on the other side, you may well notice a few hikers coming along from the left hand side. These are the braver few that have just walked along the Crib Goch ( I did wonder why someone was asking the way to the summit, i thought that maybe they had gone to find a toilet somewhere but my son corrected me)

The Summit is nigh

You know you are near when you notice a huge rock in the middle of the path. This is where five pathways meet – Pyg Track, Llanberis, Miners Track, Snowdon ranger and Crib Goch.

We didn’t get much of a view at the top as it was so cloudy. I believe we were within a cloud as the air was very wet.

Visibility was poor and it was much colder at the top.

It was also very busy. We decided against battling with the other hikers to the Summit, as you can see from the photos it was too busy to take the children to.

  • Within a cloud on Mount Snowdon
  • Just below the summit of Mount Snowdon
  • A quick pose at the top of the mountain
  • The train on it's way to the Summit of Snowdon

Once we had visited the toilet in the cafe at the top, it was time to get our legs working again and take the path back down.

The Descent

Obviously the descent is much easier than the ascent but you still have to be careful especially when the visibility is poor. The stones under the foot are wet making them slippery. We did notice someone had a fall and was nursing a bloody face and a sore foot.

It took us a total of 5 and a quarter hours from top to bottom, including a few little breaks. Not bad going! That was 3 and a quarter hours up and 2 down.

Before venturing on the Mountain You will need

  • Strong ankle supporting shoes/boots
  • Waterproof clothes
  • Gloves and hat ( sunglasses- the snow can be blinding with the sun)
  • Extra layers of clothing in a rucksack
  • Mobile charger
  • Food and drink
  • Check the weather conditions
  • Maps are available

The more active side of the family

Before we set of the two oldest and Dad had decided that they were going to run up the mountain. We had agreed that they would go ahead and the youngest and I would meet them on our way up. We saw them coming from behind the fog just over half way up, just as the path was steepening.

Dad and the middle boy decided to carry on running down and would wait for as the bottom, the eldest stopped his run and wanted to go to the top again with his brother and me.

I think they suffered a little as they couldn’t wait to get into a hot bath with some salts to soothe their aching legs. In fact, I think we all needed it!

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Fishing For Phonics

Keep Phonics Fun

Learning to read can be tricky. Phonics is recommended as the first strategy that children should be taught in helping them to read and write.
It helps children hear, identify and use different sounds that distinguish one word from another in the English language.

Once a child understands what sound is linked to a letter they can then begin to blend them together in order to read or spell a word.

With a little creativity teaching and learning phonics can be fun, by keeping the whole process fun it will help the child to become engaged more. Phonics can be educational and fun.

There are lots of ways to keep phonics fun and different including

  • Hunting for letters
  • Using magnetic letters to form words
  • Using bricks to make words
  • Bury letters or items in sand or rice
  • Use a paintbrush and water outside on the pavement to write down letters and words
  • Unlocking phonics sounds with a padlock and key
  • Matching the beginning sounds to items
  • Silly soup
  • Sorting baskets – each basket represents a sound. Place objects into the correct basket

What is Fishing for Phonics?

Fishing for phonics can be done in many ways:

You can hide items or letters in a water tray and children can use a net to fish them out.

Print out letters or pictures and place a paperclip on them. The child can use a piece of string with a magnet attached to the end.

Or you can use the Fishing Game

Fishing for Phonics

Place the sounds or words that the child is working on on the underneath of a fish.

Phonics on fish

And just as you would play the game normally, using a rod, catch the fish. When you catch a fish the child has to say the word or sound that they have caught. If they get it wrong, correct them and then place it back in the game to be caught again.

Catching fish to say the sound or word

If they are catching words, then ask the child to put the word into a sentence. This helps them to retain the information of what they have learnt.

This game also teaches children about turn taking and helps to develop their fine motor skills.

This game can be differentiated depending on what the learning objective is. It can also be used to teach number bonds or times tables.

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Top places to visit in Malta

We have visited the beautiful Island of Malta many times, and over the years visited many places. The following places in this list are places that we have visited with our young children and would recommend a visit.

Popeye Village

Popeye Village is a film set that is over 30 years old, it’s the set of the 1980 Musical Production of ‘Popeye’ and it is now one of Malta’s major tourist attraction. Popeye the sailor and his friends are around the village to greet the guests and entertain throughout the day.

Take a walk around Popeyes cabin, explore Olives house, play games in the sawmill, become a part of the film in the main square or relax by the splash pool whilst the children have some fun.

Anchor bay comes alive in the summer with an inflatable adventure course, so whilst you top up your tan the children can have fun in the sea.

PicMonkey Collage

Popeye Village is open all year round.

St Peters Pool

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St Peters Pool is the most beautiful natural swimming pools in Malta, situated South of the Island near the Fishing Village Marsaxlokk (which is where you will find the market where they sell fresh fish, local delicacies and an abundance of souvenirs to take home)

The drive and parking to St Peters Pool isn’t smooth but it is definitely worth it. I would advise anyone who has young children who are not strong swimmers not to leave them alone swimming. There are ladders to help visitors to get down into the water but for those who are feeling a little more adventurous, you can always dive down into the deep pool below.

There are no shop nearby, so take along everything you will need to spend the day there.

st peters pool

The sea water is crystal clear, the flat rocks surrounding the pool are ideal for sunbathing on and perfect for place to get away from the business of the sandy beaches.

The walk down from the parking area is about 5 minutes away

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My boys loved it here and spent ages diving into the deep blue water, they even plucked up the courage to jump down from the highest point (not when Mummy was watching though!)

Mellieha beach

Malta doesn’t have many beaches to boast about the ones that it does have are beautiful. Mellieha beach being one of them. The beach is long and there are plenty of beds to relax on and kiosks to dine from along it. During the summer months it hosts an inflatable playground, costing £6 euros for the hour. The boys enjoyed an hour of fun whilst I managed to grab an hour of peace reading a book. We managed to barter the hire of the sunbeds down from £12 euros down to £8.

melleiha beach

Lots of free parking is available and is easily assessable via bus.

Mdina and Rabat

 Located in centre of the Island, Mdina is the old capital of Malta.

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Mdina is a fascinating place to visit, one of Europe’s finest examples of and ancient walled city, it traces back more than 4000 years. Tradition says that The Apostle St Paul lived here after being shipwrecked on the Island. Just outside the city walls, in Rabat, you can visit St Paul’s Grotto.

Mdina was built high up on top of a plateau. Standing on the edge of Mdinas walls you have some spectacular views of the surrounding fields and villages.

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Mdina and Rabat is full to the brim of cultural heritage and history. Lamp lit by night,the Mdina is also referred to as ‘The Silent City’.

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Take a walk around the cobbled, narrow shady streets and take in all of the historical beauty within.  It is home now to some of Malta’s noble families living in the impressive palaces that line the streets.

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes within the walls for refreshments and Souvenir shops to visit.

It is free the enter the Mdina but it costs to enter into some of the attractions, like the Malta experience and the Dungeons.

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Mdina is a favourite place of my boys, they adore the Norman and baroque architecture in the buildings.

Just outside of the Mdina walls there are beautiful gardens to walk around and also a little play area for the children to enjoy.

Church in Rabat
Church in Rabat

The Splash and Fun park

Malta’s only water park, that’s not in the sea, ideal for all the family.  The Splash & Fun Park has several swimming pools, water slides, Children’s Dinosaur Park & Splash Land, a large wave pool, diving pools, lazy river and deck chairs to relax on. Throughout the day there is entertainment put on in and around the wave pool area. We sat and watched a spanish dance routine, took part in the aqua aerobics and the boys entered a football competition.

PicMonkey Collage PicMonkey Collage water park

My middle boys favourite thing to do was Dive from the high board into the diving pool.

PicMonkey Collage dive

On the way out of the water park we noticed that there was a trampoline enclosure, everyone had a good jump around before leaving

juming around

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Pretty bay Birzebbuga

If you are visiting St Peters Pool then just a little further around the coast you will find Pretty Bay in Birzebbuga. It’s in the southern region of Malta.

The sight looking out from Pretty Bay isn’t spectacular, unless you like looking boats and dock yards, but the beach is pretty and there is a lovely play area and football pitches that runs along the beach. Also its the only beach that we visited where you can sit on the grass, and sit under a tree shielded from the sun.

Blue lagoon Comino

The only way to get over to see the beautiful blue water at blue lagoon, Comino is by boat or ferry. Situated in between Malta and Gozo, the island of Comino is only 3.5  square kilometers, it is car free and only has one hotel. The Blue lagoon is the popular attraction here, with the white sand and clear water, the sea becomes a gorgeous aquamarine. The water is clean and transparent, ideal for snorkelling and swimming, the water is shallow so it is perfect for young children to enjoy.

I would advice to attempt to get there early as in the peak times it can get very busy, and the beach is only small. Many people lay down there towels up on the rocks and walk down the steps to get down to the water.

There are refreshment vans parked up where the boats are, selling fruit, drinks and hot food.

Rinella Bay

This little bay situated just passed Kalkara is not normally a busy attraction to holiday makers, it used more by the locals. It is the beach that I myself attended regularly as a child when we holidayed in Malta as we had family living in Kalkara. Looking out from the beach you can see the Capital of Malta, Valletta. There are refreshment vans parked up and portable toilets to use.

Not only is this beach a little quieter than others it has a slide that goes down into the sea from the walkway.  Beware that the sea is deep here, there are some steps coming out of the water very close to the slide.

Smart City is just around the corner, a new build to Malta, where you can watch the water fountain and have a bite to eat in one of the many restaurants and bars.

Kalkara marina is a pretty little place to stop after a swim, it’s quiet and peaceful. There is also a little park for the children to play in whilst the adults can sit on a bench and look out to the boats

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Kalkara

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Luzzu (maltese boat) and fishing boats

I hope you like reading our top places to visit in Malta. There are many more places to visit like the peaceful island of Gozo, the stunning infrastructure of Mosta, the hustle and bustle of the capital city Valetta, the aqua marine park in Bugibba ( which also has a pretty impressive play area for the children to play in outside) and Marsaxlokk fishing village. I could on, but I think that I may have shared enough already 🙂

Thank you for reading

Looking for flights to Malta check out www.airmalta.com

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