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Win a free glamping weekend for a family of four at Caalm Camp in Dorset

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To celebrate the launch of our newest child-friendly holiday collection on Holiday Tots, glamping, we have teamed up with the owners at Caalm Camp in Dorset to offer the chance to win a weekend family holiday for four. To enter; visit the competition on our website. (closing date 3rd April 2015)

Here is a little information about these baby and toddler friendly yurts at Caalm Camp where the owners can even arrange babysitting!

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Beautiful hand-painted Mongolian Yurts

There are six traditional Mongolian yurts in total each furnished with a double bed and two day beds.

 

 

 

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Wood burners to keep you warm and cozy!

 

Each yurt is hand-painted and offers a luxury alternative to camping. There is a wood-burning stove and single ring hob for that first cup of tea or coffee in the morning.

 

 

Private shower rooms with heated floors!

Private shower rooms with heated floors!

Every yurt has its own private shower room and toilet situated in the communal Old Hay Barn with underfloor heating and vanity units so you can leave all your wash items here.

 

 

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Safe secure grounds

 

The grounds are secure for children to explore and run free and get closer to nature by meeting resident goats and sheep.

 

 

 

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Play room and lounge area

 

There is a communal lounge/play area with television and toys for wet days and communal kitchen/dining room if you prefer eating in formal surroundings.

 

 

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Each yurt is positioned to allow your own private outdoor area with miles of unspoiled views. Have a baby to bring along? No worries there are cots, high-chairs, baby monitors, play mats, toys and even babysitting!

To enter just visit the Holiday Tots competition page here Holiday Tots Competition – Competition closes on Friday 3rd April 2015 at midnight UK time.

Good luck!!! x

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News from North Devon

Situated in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty are six beautiful self-catering holiday cottages. They benefit from woodland, streams and three ponds bringing wildlife day and night and are only a short drive away from the North Devon coast.

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Each one is suitable for families with babies, toddlers and young children and can accommodate a couple and baby up to large family gatherings or groups of friends sharing. The facilities are second to none and the location is stunning.

The indoor swimming pool is heated to 30 degrees and if the beautiful rolling hills are not enough there is plenty to keep families happy: indoor play room, games room, play area, pirate ship, two story Wendy house, sand pit and more. Peacocks wander freely and there are plenty of other animals to pet too including ducks, hens, goats, Alpacas and more.

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Life never stops on the estate and so during the winter months the owners have been busy updating, refreshing and adding.

Refurbished swimming pool

Refurbished swimming pool

The indoor swimming pool has had a complete make-over, it is now all one depth making it easier for children and has had a new floor all around which is made of soft material promoting soft landings!

New tractor

New tractor

There is a new wooden tractor for children to climb with slide which is going to appeal to tractor loving toddlers

Newest addition to the family

Newest addition to the family

There are two new additions to the menagerie of guinea pigs. These little furry critters are always happy to see guests and children love to pet them.

If you want to venture further afield there are lots of things to do from the Dinosaur Park, just 2 miles away as is the local beach of Combe Martin, Exmoor Zoo is just 6 miles and there are many other activities and places or interested all within 30 minutes drive. We will add a Top 10 guide to the area soon.

If you are looking for somewhere to unwind and have some quality time with your family and / or friends there is still availability. You can view their properties and contact the owners on the Holiday Tots website here:

https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/319-private-cottage-shared-facilities-in-nr-combe-martin/

 

 

Osea Island sign

Our visit to Osea Island, I think I’m in love…

We visited Osea Island last week for just two and a half hours and left with a sense of contentment and the feeling that we had witnessed something rather special. A little like the feeling you are left with after watching a thought provoking film…

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It’s hard to find the right words to describe Osea as everyone’s idea of perfection is different. If you are looking for perfect lawns and manicured accommodation then it’s probably not for you. If however you are looking for something with a distinctive personality that will disconnect you from everyday life  then you will not be disappointed. With a feeling of easing backwards in time its like no other place this close to London that I have been to.

I actually think I am in love…

So where and what is Osea Island?

Osea Island

Osea Island is a private Island located just off the Essex coast of England: it is so secret even the locals have never heard of it. It is steeped in history (which I will cover in another post) and owned by music producer Nigel Frieda. Here is a little insight on what i think about Osea Island as a short break family holiday destination…

Why I think adults will like Osea Island

The Osea Island Causeway - tide out

The Osea Island Causeway – tides out!

The only way to access Osea by car is when the tide is low via the causeway. When the tide is high the island is closed off from the rest of the UK for eight hours at a time giving you an amazing sense of freedom and pure escapism.

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You will love watching the children explore nature’s natural playground and the whole family will indulge their senses in this quite majestic place.

Osea Island transport

Osea Island transport

The island is safe, no traffic (transport on the island is in the form of foot or pedal power) and only guests are allowed to be here.

Osea Island Gamesroom

Osea Island Games Room

The small games room is kitted out with the usual ping pong table and games but you will also find piles of vinyl (that’s what us oldies used to play music on for those too young to know!) and a selection of old fashioned record players to play them on giving you a little glimpse into the world of Osea’s owner Nigel Frieda. Through the door at the back of the games room is a small cinema room with a few rows of comfy arm chairs. This small club-house is simple and offers an eclectic mixture of entertainment which will delight the senses of both young and old.

Osea Island Gym

Osea Island Gym

If taking in the scenery, fresh sea air and strolling around the 4 ½ mile stretch of beach and gardens is not enough for you don’t worry there is a gym and tennis court for all residents to use.

Osea's swimming pool

Osea’s swimming pool

If you are looking for water activities then why not try Kayaking, boating or fishing and the outdoor swimming pool is open during the summer months.

Why the kids will like Osea Island

Foraging on Osea's beach

Foraging on Osea’s beach

All the above! Mum and dad will be so relaxed the children will be in their element foraging for treasure on the beach, climbing trees, building camps, playing games in the garden, splashing in the pool, playing ping pong in the club house or petting the lovely resident donkeys Salt and Pepper.

Salt and Pepper

Salt and Pepper

We took our five year old when we visited and he still hasn’t stopped talking about the causeway, we let him drive along it too (well steer on daddy’s lap). The excitement of driving where the sea usually sits and going to a private island has been a talking point for him ever since!

Driving on along the Causeway

Driving on along the Causeway

Osea Island is a place like no other, we were transported back in time and taken to a faraway place after just a couple of hours here, I can’t wait to spend a couple of nights! Just imagine…

Sunset on Osea

Sunset on Osea

There are 19 child-friendly holiday homes on Osea Island of varying sizes, accommodating from 2 – 22 people alternatively you can hire the whole island and there is a fab venue licensed for weddings (more on that in my next blog post). If you can’t wait take a look at their holiday cottages and Manor House, Captains House and Beach cottages and apartments here on Holiday Tots:

https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/401-manor-in-osea-island/

Top 10 ideas for your family holiday on Tresco Island

Holiday Tots Tresco

Tresco Island is the second biggest island of the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall, England. It is an idyllic holiday destination of unspoilt beauty, with turquoise sea, sandy beaches and secluded coves. You could quite easily be fooled into thinking you were somewhere far more exotic than the UK. (For child-friendly holiday properties on Tresco Island visit our website).

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The island is located 28 miles south west of Land’s End, Cornwall and benefits from a relatively mild climate (all year round). Your journey begins before you even arrive whether by boat or plane…

Tresco Island is very much an  island for families wishing to holiday but also all the businesses and homes on the island are run by the Dorrien-Smith family who still live in Tresco Abbey today.

There is a real family-friendly vibe on the island with a strong community spirit: there are about 150 island residents (not including the wildlife!) with some families having lived  here for many generations.

There really is something for everyone on Tresco, the island is famed for its beauty and you cannot help but be impressed….

Here’s our top 10 things to do on Tresco Island with the family

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Beaches galore

The beaches offer a mixture of white sand gently shelving into the sea; quiet coves to rugged coast line with rock pools. So it is ideal for sand castle building, paddling or foraging for crabs and sea life.

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Cycling

Bikes are the primary transport on Tresco and are available to hire. There are bicycles to suit all ages and also children’s trailers available. Explore the island on wheels and no need to lock it up either!

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Tresco Abbey Gardens

Tresco’s Abbey Garden is a sub-tropical garden home to thousands of exotic plants. There is an extraordinary diverse selection of plant life within the garden from all over the world. The hotter drier terraces at the top of the garden are ideal for plants from South Africa and Australia where the lower down plants favour flora from South America and New Zealand. Even the most uneducated botanist will be impressed. The amazing thing is that less than 30 miles away on the Cornish mainland many of these plants wouldn’t stand a chance of survival, even at winter solstice more than 300 plants will be in flower! Good news for an out of season break – weather-wise!

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Boat trips

Boat trips on Tresco are a must! There are regular shuttle trips for a little ‘Scilly Island hopping’. Alternatively explore Scilly’s hidden coves, private deserted beaches or try your hand at fishing either by hiring a private boat or joining one of the many guided tours. (Island Sea Safaris also offer rib excursions but these are not suitable for very young children). If sailing is your thing why not hire a dingy for the whole family or take a lazy trip in a Kayak. Whatever you are after the local sail boat club www.sailingscilly.com have an assortment of boats to choose from that are ideal for all ages.

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Tresco and Bryher Rowing Club

Every Friday and Wednesday night (from May to September) you can cheer on the Tresco and Bryher Rowing club in their traditional races from Nut Rock to St Mary’s quay, pick a team and scream as loudly as you like!

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Swimming

The giant pool surrounding Tresco is perfect if you don’t mind a little chill! Alternatively there are plenty of swimming pools to choose from if the sea proves a little too cold. Take your pick from the indoor swimming pools at the Spa and Sea Garden cottages or two three heated outdoor pools dotted around the island.

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Walking

The fresh air here is intoxicating and there is no better way to take it all in other than a good old fashioned family stroll! Tresco Island has a network of footpaths to explore with an abundance of nature to take in and a wealth of historical forts and monuments to discover as well as long deserted beaches. A favourite is the walk along the coastal path to Cromwell’s seventeenth century castle located northwest on the island, a short hike up the hill behind will lead you to some fabulous views of the islands and to King Charles Castle.

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Bird holes

There are two fresh water pools on the island providing a haven for birds so perfect for birdwatching. Tresco also has three bird hides so if you have an avid bird loving toddler who can sit quiet for a while then this is a must. Or maybe just a visit to the fresh water pools and/or feeding the locals might be enough!

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Ruin Beach Café

The Ruin Beach Café offers all day beach dining with fab view and of course wonderful food. It was awarded the Gold Standard by Conde Nast Traveller magazine in 2013. At the heart of the restaurant is the wood-fired oven producing pizzas, roasts and fresh fish as well as baking bread. Open all day, the Ruin Beach Café can offer a buffet breakfast in the morning, lunch, afternoon cakes and dinner.

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The New Inn

The New Inn is Tresco’s local friendly pub offering award winning food and drink. It is filled with locals and guests all year round with regular live music, and plays host to the island’s beer and cider festivals. It really is the heart of the island community. You will also be spoilt by its menu choices from the old favourites such as beer-battered fish and chips, New Inn burger or sausage and mash to the Tresco surf and turf: succulent Bryher lobster and chargrilled Tresco beefsteak. Great for families there are baby-change facilities, high chairs, pencils and colouring sheets and a good children’s menu.

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And a little for the adults

For a little adult time there is plenty on offer: diving, fishing, cricket and plenty of events held throughout the year including the Tresco Triathlon, Beer Festivals, Art festivals, Cider Festival, Food Festival and more plus…

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Leisure Spa

For adult relaxation, although Tresco has an extraordinary natural environment that is a tonic in itself, the spa will deliver. There is an indoor pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, gym, beauty treatment centre and yoga classes. The Spa also manages the astro-turf tennis court bookings if you’re feeling energetic!

Accommodation

There is an assortment of family friendly holiday accommodation on Tresco Island. The New Inn offers bed and breakfast, there are characterful Scillonion cottages available to rent too.

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For self-catering holiday cottages that are perfect for families with pre-school children why not take a look at the beautiful Sea Garden Cottages located on the beach offering accommodation for families looking for one to four bedrooms.

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Or the Flying Boat Cottages, a collection of contemporary New England style beachfront cottages offering up to four bedrooms.

These child-friendly cottages can be found on our Holiday Tots website too and if you enquire via Holiday Tots, not only do you pay the same as going direct but also get spa membership and free entrance to the Tresco Abbey Gardens (usually £12pp). Tresco is also happy to provide complementary bike hire to all Holiday Tot guests. You can view Tresco’s child friendly holiday accommodation on Holiday Tots here.

https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/457-beach-cottage-in-tresco/

How do you celebrate New Year countdown with young children?

2015Over the years we have celebrated New Year’s Eve in many different ways: quiet dinners at home, large house parties, organised parties, fireworks and more but what happens when you become parents. Everything changes, family and friends who might usually babysit are busy and it costs a fortune to hire a babysitter, unless you are really lucky!

Until a couple of years’ ago we were happy watching the Jules Holland Hootenanny, SPOILER COMING UP SKIP TO NEXT PARAGRAPH! Why did we stop? I will set the scene… Baby in bed at 7.30, check, lovely dinner and wine, check, cosy up with fizz and chocolates, pop the telly on to enjoy the festive count down on the Jules Holland Hootenanny. It gives gave us a real sense of celebratory warmness until… we found out it was pre-recorded aghhhhhhhh. We actually found out at 11.30 one night and I was mortified! I always watched believing it was live, a real countdown and how cool to have those big celebs on New Years Eve!

So what do we do now?

Idea 1. Have a house party, let the kids stay up late and deal with the aftermath – tired kids, messy house etc etc the day after.

Idea 2. Pop the kids to bed at the usual time and enjoy your wine, food, a little music or TV.

Idea 3. If you want to involve the kids why not celebrate New Year with a different time zone. If you have family or friends who happen to live in an earlier time zone than you why not celebrate with them? Skype them or just watch their city fireworks on the screen.

Dubai Fireworks

This year we have decided to have our New Year celebrations early with the kids. We start the ball rolling at 4 O’clock with close friends coming over for fizz, food and games and our New Year countdown will be at 8 o’clock in time with probably one of the best firework displays of the year in Dubia. Most countries are live streaming their fireworks via You Tube this year and if you have a smart TV you can play it directly using the You Tube app from your phone. Dubai You Tube New Fire Works link hereht_netflix_king_julien_nye_countdown_jc_141229_16x9_992

If you have Netflix you could also air their Kids New Year’s Eve Countdown with the characters from Madagascar. This three minute film can be played any time and provides an alternative countdown. The internet is rife with stories on how to trick your kids into believing that it is a real countdown and that they have stayed up late until the midnight hour, not sure why anyone would want to do that though as there are plenty of New Year parties happening for more you can piggy back, unless you live in Samoa…

Wishing you a very Happy New Year! xxx

Family trip to Cape Town South Africa – departing & arriving

We are all off to South Africa, immediate family, extended family and friends. Why you ask? Well my oldest son is getting married and South Africa is the venue. He is marrying a lovely South African girl and we are all very excited.

We left London on Thursday evening on an overnight Virgin Atlantic flight.

On our way...

On our way…

While we were in the air the Hertfordshire Business Awards night was taking place and Holiday Tots were in the finals, we would not hear until we arrived in Cape Town if we had won.

The flight was good, although my youngest (5 year old Freddie) kept me awake all night with his fidgeting. I think I drew the short straw sharing a double seat with him as everyone else seemed to sleep!

We arrived at our villa in time for lunch. In the meantime I received congratulations’ messages saying we had WON Online Business Of The Year 2014! Whoop whoop! More on that story in another post…

We are staying in our villa for one week before moving to our hotel for week two. The villa is actually a penthouse villa accessed by a funicular with magnificent sea views. Please note that I would NOT suggest families with young children stay here but for us it is perfect. A full review on the villa will follow but here is a view from our bedroom, I just had to share it!

Camps Bay View

Camps Bay View

For our first lunch we munched through some ‘Soul Food!’ lovely highly recommended restaurant in Camps Bay.

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Followed by a wine tasting choosing the wines for the wedding in the villa. and the winner is…

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Looking forward to a good night’s sleep and waking up to this amazing view!

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Be back with more updates on our family trip to South Africa soon…

Totseat meets Paddington!

One of our favourite travel items has had a new makeover with one of our favourite bears.

 

Paddinton meets Totseat

Paddington Meets Totseat

Totseat creator, Rachel Jones, has had a love affair with Paddington Bear since childhood: this cute little bear arrived in Rachel’s life when she was just 8 years old and became a dependable companion.

Rachel's Old Friend Paddington

Rachel’s Old Friend Paddington

The merging of Rachel’s old and new love is a success, and the three new designs are fun and perfect for any Paddington Bear fan.

Totseat Paddington Ecru

Totseat Paddington Ecru

The Totseat is one of our must-have accessories when out and about with young children. It is a fabulous invention, not only for use in restaurants and cafes but also when visiting friends and relatives for lunch or dinner who do not have provisions for toddlers at the dinner table. We found ours indispensable.

The Totseat has come a long way, the first ever was made using a wedding dress! The new Paddington Bear design will be available from the end of November. There are three variations in colour, Duck Egg and Ecru and are ideal for toddlers from about 8 – 30 months.

Duck Egg Paddington Totseat

Duck Egg Paddington Totseat

Fully washable, squash able and they fit any style of chair!

For more information visit the Totseat website