Omaha Beach in Normandy

How to go on holidays with more than two children and not pay a fortune

Omaha Beach in Normandy
Omaha Beach

No one warns people when they have more than two children that suddenly there will be huge problems with holidays.

A couple of years ago we went to Cyrpus in one of those studio apart-hotels.  We met a lovely family with 3 children.  They could easily have fitted into the studio, but that was against the rules, so they had to rent two, live in one, and could only afford one week because of the extra cost.

I know, I know, some of you will be all like ‘well they decided to have 3,4 or 5 kids’.  Yes, I know, but some people are really brave/good at the whole kids thing.  Or they make mistakes.  Whatever reason, they need holidays more than the rest of us less brave 1 or 2 children families!

I know that you can rent a villa, but that doesn’t really work for me as there is no entertainment and my kids want other kids to play with.

I remember trying to google for affordable holidays for families and getting totally mind boggled with all the options that didn’t really seem to make it easy for a family.

But I have a solution if you are looking for one ….

 

A holiday in a luxury mobile home with Siblu in France

These guys are the perfect solution and luckily I can speak from personal experience because they sent my family and I off to review them last year.

Ferries are much easier than planes for a large family to keep their eyes on everyone.

Plus you get all the ‘normal’ facilities like kids clubs, pools, beaches (some are right on the beach, for some there is a drive) and entertainment.

The only difference is that you aren’t in an actual hotel or apartment, but spread out a little more with your own little site and caravan.

You can go for an active holiday in Normandy with a short drive like we did, or drive a few hours further south for a hot holiday.

And they don’t charge you ridiculous amounts because you happen to have an extra child, in fact you just pay for the van which can house up to 6 or 8 people.  (If you can afford it, go for one with a big terrace, I think it really helps with children).

A holiday for 2 weeks, including the ferry trip would have set us back LESS than Butlins or Center Parcs last year, and although it was cheap it wasn’t tacky and horrid at all; which was my big fear.

I think that they are a fabulous option for families in these recession hit times, and once tried they will realise that there is no reason to go back to the more expensive holidays they used to have.

 

Here are all my other posts about Siblu:

An adventure in Normandy: my official review of Domainne De Litteau

What would have happened if Germany had won WW2: a review of the american Omaha cemetery

Which is best going by Ferry or Plane? A review of the ferry trip to Siblu

 

Disclosure: The lovely Siblu people are sending me off to Britmums this year, which I am extremely grateful for.  So they did ask that I write a couple of posts about them in return.  Seems only fair, and luckily not difficult to do as we had such a lovely time there. 

 

 

 

Joe Browns makes great clothes

5 Top Tips For Going To A Blogging Conference

Joe Browns makes great clothes
Willow stole my dessert last year!

I’ve got a sponsor for BritmumsLive Yay *does a very happy dance*.

A huge thank you to Siblu, who are sponsoring me after sending my family and I out to review one of their holiday camps last summer.

 

So now for the important stuff you have to do before going to a blogging conference:

1) Panic about weight:

Tick I’ve got that under control with my new weekly weight loss vlog and plan to launch a google hangout ASAP to help anyone else needing a kick.

2) Panic about what to wear:

Tick, I’m taking the lazy option and wearing the same as last year

3) Check out the schedule and have an idea of what I want to achieve:

Tick, I aim to stalk Kirstie Allsopp as I adore her, can’t wait to hear Katie Piper.

I’m not that worried about connecting with brands,  but like the look of the story telling den and anything about photo’s or blogs.

4) Sort out the family, travel and accommodation:

Luckily Siblu are helping with this as Little Dimples still needs me at night, so the family will be in town too and seeing a few sights.  I’ll be at the Holiday Inn if anyone else is?.  Britmums have tips on their site for getting sponsorship; check them out, it never hurts to offer a company the opportunity to help out and get some great PR.

5) Panic about being Billy No Mates:

This is where you come in: WHO WANTS TO MEET UP?  Go on, someone say you fancy having a mate there?  (BTW they had ‘butterflies’ last year who helped you if you were scared).

 

 

Child at Omaha War Memorial

What Would Have Happened If Germany Had Won WW2

Child at Omaha War MemorialI think the family thought I was being a bit eccentric when I kept saying I wanted to see the cemetery at Omaha Beach for the American Soldiers.

I’m not even sure why I wanted to go?

Something to do with Dad flying in the war?

Perhaps wanting to give Curly Headed Boy who loves computer games some perspective?

Maybe to pay my respects?

I don’t know, but I do know that I would definitely recommend anyone in Normandy visit one of the many sites related to the war.

The atmosphere was lovely, it was quite breathtaking, and the kids seemed relaxed despite the message of the place.

Children at omaha watching war video

First of all you go into a building with great videos and pictures to take you quickly through the history of the war.  It’s amazingly touching to see pictures of real life people and read about their real life stories.

It’s not sad exactly, although I would admit big tears sprung to my eyes.  It was more looking inspired/grateful at the thousands of lives sacrificed for our freedom.

There is also a museum at a different location that Curly Headed Boy and the big hairy northern one went too (I was looking after a sleeping Little Dimples).  He bought a brilliant book done in a cartoon style that explains lots about the war, which he has really enjoyed.

On another day we popped to the British cemetery at Bayeaux, but unfortunately it’s not set out like the American one, so I couldn’t park nearby, and leave the tired kids with the big hairy northern one while it p*ssed it down; so I had to  compromise with just driving past it.  I’ve heard that because it has less pomp and ceremony it is actually even more touching.

 At Courseilles sur Mer (Near Arromanche) you can still see loads of evidence in the sea and on the beach of the D Day landings and when the tide goes out it looks like you can walk out to them (there was an awful storm, so we made a dash back to the car before we got a chance).

Omaha war memorial helmet and gunJust incase you don’t remember the numbers, here are a few for you to digest

 

50-70 million people died in WW2 (2.5% of the worlds population)
40-60 million approx were civilians
20-25 million were soldiers (5 million of whom were prisoners of war)
6 million Jews were killed
9,387 American soldiers are buried at Omaha, most of whom died during the Normandy landings
4,648 British soldiers are buried at the Bayeaux war memorial
22,000 civilians in Normandy died
My uncle died, lost at see and my grand mother never got over it.
My Dad never talked about the war, but you could tell the gravity of what happened when you saw him reunited with his friends.

 

And it got me thinking …

What would life have been like if we’d lost?

From Wikipedia I found the following quotes ..

Nazism favoured private property, freedom of contract, and promoted the creation of national solidarity that would transcend class differences.  The Nazis outlawed strikes by employees and lockouts by employers, because these were regarded a threat to national unity.  Instead, the state controlled and approved wage and salary levels.

It is a variety of fascism that incorporates biological racism and antisemitism.

 

My daughter hugging the graves at OmahaMy history and political understanding isn’t great but just looking at my life I can be pretty sure that it would be unrecognisable …

– Near me is a place called Radlet, which must be 50% Jewish.  That would be empty and none of Curly Headed Boys friends from his old school would have existed.  I find that a shocking thought.

– We wouldn’t have ‘My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding’, because Gypsies wouldn’t exist either.

– Curly Headed Boy wouldn’t be going to street dance and tap dancing classes because we wouldn’t want the risk of him being marked as a potential homosexual.

– My biggest gay best friend crushes wouldn’t exist: Gok Wan and John Barroman

– There would be no paraolympics, either because they were dead or hiding

– I suspect that the power of women and Mums wouldn’t have grown to the extent it has today and we would have very much been stuck in the more traditional role of staying at home.

– He hated the poles almost as much as the Jews, so there would be no Polish builders here; he would have probably been as ruthless there when he ran out of Jews to kill.

– I doubt there would have been any immigration allowed or benefits cheats; which might sound OK in ways, but what about the people who really need and deserve benefits?

– The improvements in racism wouldn’t have happened and the big arrival of West Indians after the war to help rebuild Britain wouldn’t have happened.  Bristol where I was born wouldn’t have had such a big Jamaican community and if I was Nigerian I wouldn’t come over to england, so Curly Headed Boy’s best mate at nursery and reception wouldn’t have been here.

– What about the World Wide Web?  Maybe something underground would have kicked off, but nothing to the extent that we have now and not with the freedom that we enjoy.

– Blogging would be definitely outlawed; especially a pile of opinionated women bloggers stirring up trouble like us Mummy Bloggers.

– No Facebook or Twitter; lots of time saved maybe, but the amount I learn everyday from the sheer speed of information sharing.

– There’d be no recession, because although he encouraged nationalism and industry, the wouldn’t have let the banks have such a free reign and we wouldn’t have been allowed to be so greedy and get ourselves into such a state of wanting more stuff and getting more debt.

 

Would it have lasted?  I doubt it, because the power of the resistance is strong and extended himself too much.

The scariest thought is that the cold war would probably still have existed and Hitler would have had the bomb.  The likelihood of someone with his nature using it would have been very high.

It’s given me a real sense of perspective going to see all those graves.  Although life is tough for most of us at the moment with the recession, the fact that our lives could easily have been so different is humbling.  I’ve always taken note of remembrance day, but from now on I won’t just ‘remember’ the people who died, but I will also remember how lucky we are to have the freedoms to make the mistakes and the great creations that we have today.

 

Here are all my other posts about Siblu:

An adventure in Normandy: my official review of Domainne De Litteau

Which is best going by Ferry or Plane? A review of the ferry trip to Siblu

How to go on holiday with more than 2 children and not pay a fortune: One of the key benefits of Siblu

 

Disclosure: I was on a review trip of a Siblu mobile home site called Domaine De Litteau and received a return ferry trip with Brittany Ferries and a weeks holiday for the family, we bought an extra week ourselves.  It has not affected my review and my opinions are still my own.

 

 

What it's like going on a ferry

Which is best going on holiday by Ferry or Aeroplane?

Travelling with kids is generally considered a nightmare.  The question is, which is less of a night mare; Ferries or Aeroplanes?

I was really nervous of trying a Ferry out considering the disaster of the Costa Concordia and that last time that I went on a school trip and puked the whole way.

I’ve had my share of aeroplane disasters though with an engine blowing up, wheel falling off, dropping a couple of hundred feet, and trying to get off a dangerous plane and past the men with guns.

What it's like going on a ferry

It’s not that which really stresses me though.  It’s memories of being a teenager with two disabled parents who steadfastly refused help, but took a LONG TIME to get through the airport, so I was constantly panicking that we wouldn’t make it to the plane.  (No one told me that once you are booked in they can’t leave without you!).

I basically freak from the moment we set off to the airport and don’t settle until we are on the plane.

Now that I have kids I freak all the way through the plane journey until we land as well.

That’s a lot of freaking!

So the ferry seemed like a really good idea.  But there was hardly any information about it for a control freak like me and I had no idea how it would work.

It’s really easy though: just a pile of different queues.  You arrive and queue in the right place for your trip.  You can even get out and go to the main building, but I don’t recommend it as several people were caught out as the queues moved.  Then you get put in a queue for your car shape and size.  Then you started to queue up to go on the boat, where you park in a queue.

Remember the level and letter of where you are though!!!!!!!

We had a bag ready to take with us, and off you go up to your cabin and the ferry.  Wander around for a few hours.  Then leave your cabin half an hour before the end and head back to the right staircase for your car.  Pop in your car as soon as the automatic door opens, and depending on where your car is, you’re off!

 

Kids on the deck of a ferryPro’s to Plane:

Quicker (the ferry was 6hrs).

Heathrow/Luton/Gatwick are nearer to us.

Can go further away than just France, Spain or Holland.

You don’t get scared shitless by having to walk around the outside of the plane with your two kids!

I have puked on a plane, but less often than on a Ferry.

Quicker to go to nearby places.

 

Pro’s to Ferry:

No need to park the car.

No limit (apart from size of car) on how much stuff you could take: So we had wind break, Boogie board and Radio Flyer!

Less faffing around at the airport.

No waiting for suitcases afterwards.

A cabin has bunk beds that come down from the roof

More shops.

Things to do on board: Cinema, Soft play, Magician, Dinosaur show.

Choice of food (3 different places)

More space: you can even have a cabin with bunk beds that come down from the roof, which was fab.

 

Kind of the same for each:

Price: You can probably find cheaper options of both.

Customs was quick for us, but slow for one of our friends.

Both journeys can take up pretty much a whole day.

 

On the way out I would have said that I’ve come away a lot keener on ferry trips and didn’t puke once (I had some homeopathic pills).

From talking to other people, it’s better to go on the slow ferry than the fast one if you are prone to puking!

HOWEVER, on the way back it wasn’t rough but it was ‘choppy’ apparently.  Well, whichever the way the ‘chop’ was going I was bed ridden for the whole trip and the big hairy northern one tried to brave it out, but because he’d walked around for longer, ended up feeling sick for hours after as well.  You DEFINITELY need a cabin when travelling with kids.

For the sea sickness I tried homeopathic pills, ginger biscuits and in the past have used those pressure bracelet things.  Basically the only thing that helped was keeping my head low and then having some bitter lemon when we left (I had some in my bag, because the bubbles and sugar seem to help me).  When we got home I had a pack of crisps; I might like healthy eating, but crisps work a treat for me when I feel sick!

 

Here are all my other posts about Siblu:

An adventure in Normandy: my official review of Domainne De Litteau

What would have happened if Germany had won WW2: a review of the american Omaha cemetery

How to go on holiday with more than 2 children and not pay a fortune: One of the key benefits of Siblu

 

Disclosure: I was given a return trip from Portsmouth to Caen with Brittany Ferries as part of a review trip I was doing on Siblu Holidays.

Kids love muddy festivals

Don’t Go Thinking I’m More Adventurous Than You!

Kids love muddy festivalsI had a couple of lovely comments from Mums watching the funny stream of muddier and muddier instagram photos appearing during my visit to Penn Festival.  Many suggested how brave I was, or how well I was coping with mud up to the kids knees.

So I thought I’d set the record straight, because I don’t want you all reading my blog and thinking ‘Oooh isn’t she clever – I could never do that!’.

I am definitely NOT more adventurous than you!

Two years ago I’d never been camping and never been to a festival.  Not one tiny festival, even as a teenager or student.  How boring is that!

As part of my mid-life crisis I decided I was going to be more adventurous and do things I’d always wanted to do.  So I literally convinced myself that I was up for it by reminding myself regularly of how adventurous and magical my life was.

Last year, we went off for our first adventure to Just So in a Yurt (proper glamping to start me off slowly).  Finding it a huge success I decided that this year was going to be even more adventurous, and that I also wanted to try out holidays that were maybe simpler and cheaper so that I could review them for my blog.

Luckily for me it’s all been pretty easy.  The gorgeous Romany from FestivalKidz contacted me to review Penn Festival and hence I am now a ‘proper’ festivaller who has experienced a musical mud-fest extraordinaire, plus my first camping trip (check out the video of hubby putting up a tent in 3mins), and found that as long as I can make it look vaguely pretty I can handle anything.  (Especially with a shed load of lists!).

Hopefully I get so see what it’s like to go to a non-muddy festival in a tent later in the year as Just So have invited me back to review their new location and even more fabulous line up.  This time we are going for the full event and not leaving until the monday, so that we can soak up the whole magical environment; the organisers of Just So have the most incredible imagination when it comes to kids, so it’s bound to have LOADS of adventure in it.

In a few days I’m going to be able to let you know what it’s like to be in a mobile home holiday camp in Normandy care of the lovely people at Siblu.  I would always have wanted to try something like this, but I must admit I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to try something so different if they hadn’t contacted me.  So if you would also be nervous of ferries, and caravans in france, perfect, because I can let you know how it all pans out and you’ll know whether it would work for you too!

I’m really excited about seeing what Siblu is like because when we went for our first summer holiday last year I realised how ridiculously expensive it is if you want practical accommodation  for a young family (i.e. inter-connecting hotel rooms or studios).  We found a cheap holiday in Cyrpus in a studio apartment.  But one family I met had to pay for TWO studio apartments, just because they had 3 kids rather than two, literally doubling the price and therefore meaning they could only go for one week.  So although Siblu would be about the same price as that holiday (when you add in Ferries etc), it would be a totally different situation for people with more kids.  Plus if you don’t want to fly with your kids, it’s a perfect idea.

I’m not naturally adventurous.  I’m just 43, and decided that I’m done with thinking that all the adventure is for other people and not trying things out myself. I’m sure some won’t work out, but some will be great.

So when you see all the fab things I tell you about on my blog, rather than think ‘I’m not sure I could do that’, think instead ‘Well, if Lisa can do it, then so can I!’.