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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Encouraging my Children to be Adventurous

‘Fill your life with adventures and with stories to tell’

Children need adventure, they need to experience risk in order to develop their ability to deal with situations and to build up their self confidence. It encourages them to be more resilient and to think for themselves. Whether the adventure be small or big, indoors or out children should be experiencing adventure to build up their skills and to able to assess the danger around them. Not only do children develop trust, empathy and compassion but they  learn to master their own fears and are able to help others get through them.

As parents we should be teaching our children to assess the danger and how to deal with the risk of being adventurous. As much as I want to wrap my boys up in cotton wool and lock them away from any danger I know that I must allow them to experience adventure to gain knowledge and new skills.

I want my boys to have memories of us being adventurous together and hopefully they will last a lifetime and something that they will then take on with their own families.

I want us to visit new places together.

I want us to try new challenges, like rock climbing and diving.

A couple of years ago I took my boys camping in Lee Valley, we travelled around on our bikes and spent the summer nights out walking along the River Lee. It’s a holiday that they still talk about and are constantly requesting to go back. It didn’t cost much and wasn’t a glamorous holiday but it was something we did together as a unit. We cycled along the river bank with an unknown destination, stopping where it took our fancy. We cycled for miles using only our sense of direction to get back. Searched for geocaches. Played hide and seek in the forests. Climbed trees. And picniced in fields.

Enjoying the scenery

It was the first time I had ever gone out cycling alone so far with the boys, but I am so glad that I did it. As we don’t live too far from there, we travelled there and back on our bikes with just clothes in our rucksacks. We had to deal with getting lost, bee stings and how to deal with punctures. It was amazing, in fact I am too scared to go back as I don’t think we could experience another holiday like it.

Now, we’re not the most adventurous family but we still try new things, even if we are scared.

We have hiked up Mount Snowdon as a family  ,entered Mud races, jumped from a crane, been canoeing, open water swimming; not all that adventurous compared to some but it’s a start 🙂

We spent this summer in Malta. The boys went swimming in the sea everyday. They taught themselves to dive, to snorkel and faced their fears by jumping off of cliffs into the crystal clear water below.

I, myself, am not that confident and would call myself a scaredy cat. As I watched my boys jump in but couldn’t face doing it myself. It took me at least a week to pluck up the courage to jump in from about 2 metres high. I was so glad that I did it, my boys just kept hugging me. I felt that I had achieved something, although it was little in comparison to what my boys had been doing. I felt a sense of adrenaline rush through me.

Here are a few things the boys got up to in the summer

Exploring caves

Exploring under the water

Jumping from cliffs into the sea. They were taught to assess the danger first. To swim around first and to see how deep it was. And to also look out for any jellyfish.

Having a mud wash

In this day and age where children would rather communicate via social media and spend most of their spare time with their face in front of a screen I think that it’s important to encourage our children to venture outside and explore, to learn for themselves and to achieve that sense of adrenaline from adventure. I want my boys to be challenged and to be comfortable in their surroundings.

I want to spend time with my boys outside, it’s something we can do together without the distractions of modern technology. It’s about making memories, enjoying each others company and creating stories to tell for when they grow up.

 

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Christopher Robin: Afternoon Tea with the Voice of Pooh and Tigger – Jim Cummings

Just over a week ago we were invited along, by Disney, to celebrate the upcoming release of Christopher Robin for an afternoon tea with Jim Cummings.

It was truly a magical experience.

If you are anything like me and you grew up watching/reading Winnie the Pooh, then you will understand how excited I was to be able to meet Jim Cummings and listen to him read a short extract from the book of the film. Winnie the Pooh was the first teddy bear that I bought for my eldest boy when he was a baby, you which he still has now.

Christopher Robin is a heartwarming film about a young boy, who on embarked on countless adventures with loveable animals, who has now grown up and lost his way. It is now up to Christopher’s childhood friends to help him remember the loving playful boy that he once was by venturing into our world.

‘Sooner or later your past catches up to you’

The afternoon tea was being held at Claridges. We arrived and was quided to a room that was full of Pooh themed food, tea (obviously, as it’s afternoon tea), face Painting, colouring in tables, old fashioned games, biscuit decorating and a lovely big chair – hmmm, I wonder what that was for!

The boys quickly made themselves at home, grabbing some of the delicious cakes and sitting down in the corner on the cushions to eat them whilst cuddling their Winnie and Tigger teddies.

They designed some balloon shaped cookies with lots of sugary items and ate some ‘beary’ ice cream.

I’m not sure what this design was but he assures me it tasted nice.

As the children enjoyed getting their face painted us adults sat down to tea and cake.

It wasn’t long before we were joined by Jim Cummings, he sat down in the chair and the children gathered around him on the cushions. Clutching on to their Pooh bears, Tiggers, Eeyores and Piglets they say mesmerised as Jim read an extract from the book to them.

The room was silent.

Adults and children around the room were quickly joining Pooh and Christopher on their adventure, getting lost in imagination as Jim brought the characters to life.

I couldn’t help but smile.

I looked around the room, I could see the magic I the children’s eyes as the story was coming alive. It definately was a wonderful thing.

Once Jim finished he kindly waited around for photos and chatted to the children.

We had a wonderful time and are very thankful for the invite. The boys came away with a plush teddy and a memory that they will cherish forever

Christopher Robin opens in the Cinemas on 17th August.

We can’t wait to watch it! How about you?

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My First BIG Concert with the Children

Last year I went along with a friend and her daughter to watch Ed Sheeran at the 02. It was my first real concert; by real I mean big. The first concert I ever went to was when I was 15 years old, my Dad dropped myself and a friend off at Crystal Palace to watch a selection of acts on stage, which included Take That, East 17 and Right Said Fred. I think it was a Capital FM Roadshow at Crystal Palace. I remember the car journey there and being really excited that I was off to watch the bands that I loved to sing along to. I remember screaming along with the rest of the crowd when the acts entered the stage. I remember dancing away to their songs and not being able to sleep for days after with the sheer sense of euphoria.

I wanted my children to have that special memory, I wanted their first concert experience to be a memorable one. I wanted my boys to experience being in an arena filled with thousands of people screaming their heads off while a musician ran around a lit-up stage, belting out hit after hit. But above all, I wanted to be their with them whilst they had this experience.

After watching Ed at the 02 in 2017, I decided that when he next went on tour I would try to get tickets for myself and the boys to go. We all really enjoy listening to his songs, so I thought that it would be a brilliant choice as a first concert to attend for the children. I managed to grab 3 tickets to see him at Wembley, it wasn’t a choice venue as I would have preferred the 02. Not only is the 02 nearer to us but it is also a smaller venue than Wembley, But nevertheless we got tickets and that’s all that matters.

So last week, the boys and I jumped on the train straight from school and headed on over to Wembley Stadium. We were all very excited and the boys couldn’t wait to get into the Stadium. As soon as they saw Wembley Stadium, there mouths dropped agape. It is huge!

We had bought seating tickets as the youngest is only 10 and children have to 12 to be standing in the arena. Unfortunately, our tickets were not amazing ones. We were quite high up but we were to the side of stage so we had a good view. It helped that the stage was massive and Ed and his supporting artists stood at the front which meant you could see them.

We had made our way to our seats and got comfortable ready to see the supporting acts; Jamie Lawson and Anne Marie. I must say they were both great but Anne Marie was brilliant. It helps if you know the songs of the artists to really enjoy the experience. My boys were singing along and really getting into the mood. The artists were warming up the, now very crowded, stadium.

We were having a lovely evening and I wouldn’t have wanted to be there with no one else.

We laughed, we smiled,we danced, we sang, we screamed, we bounced, we held hands and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

I had never seen my younger son dance so much, he jumping about to the music and singing at the top of his lungs.

I will never forget the sheer excitement on my boys faces as Ed Sheeran came onto stage, I didn’t think their smiles could get any bigger

I knew that this night would be a night that they wouldn’t forget, etched in their memories, the night that they went to their first concert with their Mum.

We finished the evening with sore throats and tired feet.

We left before Ed finished his set as I knew just looking at the amount of people in that stadium that there was no way we were going to get out of their in a hurry. It was late already and we were getting very tired. We was very lucky, even though the crowds were gathering at the exits, that we managed to get out without any stalling and actually got a seat on the train.

The boys had a little nap on the train as we had many stops to get home. It was a very late night for them but worth it.

We now all have the concert bug and are looking for our next one to attend. Although, I think we will make sure that its at the 02 next time as Wembley is just too huge a little too far for us to go to.

 

 

 

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Sheep & Wolves DVD: Review and Giveaway

TRL398 2D

From the producers of The Snow Queen 2 comes Sheep And Wolves, a fun, animated adventure featuring the voices of Tom Felton (Harry Potter) Ruby Rose (Pitch Perfect 3) Jim Cummings (Winnie The Pooh) and China Anna Mcclain (Black Lightening).

In a magical faraway land, in a picturesque village nestled among green meadows and rolling hills, lives a flock of carefree sheep. But their idyllic and stress-free solitude is interrupted when a pack of wolves sets up camp in a nearby ravine.

When the wolves’ retiring pack leader Magra (Cummings) announces that his future successor must prove his worth by defeating their rivals, the powerful and blood-thirsty Ragear steps forward. But, the only wolf brave enough to challenge him is Grey (Felton), the pack’s favourite but hopeless goofball. Grey has to prove to everyone, including his Fiance, Bianca (Rose), that he is worthy of becoming a leader. However, Grey faces a slight mishap and ends up taking a magic potion; given to him by a travelling gypsy rabbit, Mami, that turns him into a…Ram! After going back to the den and being chased out, he finds himself within the company of the sheep and quickly befriends Moz, a simple-hearted and kind ram and Lyra (McClain), a good-natured and naive young ewe.

Fusion x64 TIFF File
Fusion x64 TIFF File

Will Grey find his way back to his pack and his girlfriend Bianca?

Grey loves to mess around and be the centre of attention, but after spending time with the sheep, he soon learns what is important and being true to himself. Grey quickly becomes a leader that Magra would be proud of, but not for the wolves…

Fusion x64 TIFF File
Fusion x64 TIFF File

“From here on out, we’re not a flock- we’re a pack! A pack of wild sheep!”

We found the film to be very similar to the plot of The Lion King, although not as serious. Grey is kind and quick-witted. There were parts of the film that had the children laughing and you quickly become a big fan of Grey, wanting him to grow up and take on responsibility.

The film features mixed messages but we saw it about friendship and how to deal with other groups who are different to you. Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes and when it’s not expected.

My children enjoyed the humour and story of the film. It’s a great, feel good, family film.

It was interesting to hear Jim Cummings voice as Magra, I grew up being a big fan of Winnie The Pooh, He is a very talented man.

The DVD is set to be released in the UK  9th April 2018

RRP: £9.99 Cat no: TRL398

We have kindly been given 2 copies of the DVD to give away, enter below via rafflecopter for your chance to win
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