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Airline regulations when flying with young children 2016

Tots logo new2Flying with young children is a bit of a minefield, here is an overview of what to expect at three of the main UK airlines as of January 2016. Please double check with the airline websites directly for up to date information.

 

British Airways

british airways plane

British Airways fly to most major airports in France, Spain and the Balearics. On British Airways flights, tickets include a snack and drink, plus an item of luggage.

  • Free seating when travelling with an infant: if you are travelling with an infant under 2 they can sit on your lap for free.
  • Sitting together: you need to book in advance to guarantee sitting together. If you are unable to book in advance British Airways say that they will try and seat you all together. If this is not possible they say they will make sure each child is seated with an adult from your group.
  • Child seats and carrycots: you can reserve a seat in advance for carrycot/child seat (long haul only) and the cots and seats are provided free of charge. For short haul flights, you can use an approved car seat with an AMsafe Child Restraint System for infants over six months old if they have a separate seat booked.
  • Hand baggage: children with their own seats have the same allowance as adults. If travelling with an infant under 2 on your lap then you can bring one bag for the items you might require during the flight.
  • Checked baggage: children have the same free checked baggage allowance. You are also able to bring a fully collapsible pushchair and one car seat, plus a bag to check in for the infant

For more detailed information visit the British Airways website family travel section

http://www.britishairways.com/en-gb/information/family-travel/getting-ready-to-fly#freeseatwithinfant

Easyjet

easy jetWith a good coverage of Europe’s airports, Easyjet is one of the best low-cost airlines around. When travelling with young children, you are always guaranteed to be amongst the first to board the plane.

  • Boarding: Easyjet say that if you are travelling with children under 5 they will always board you early.
  • Seats for babies and infants under 2: will not be charged a full fair but will be charged a flat rate of £22 to sit on an adults lap. Booking infants their own seat can be done by contacting their customer service team and you must have an airline approved car seat.
  • How early can a child fly: babies can fly from 14 days.
  • Flying when pregnant: if you are pregnant, your return journey must be completed no later than week 35 for single pregnancies and 32 weeks for multiple.
  • Sitting together: to guarantee being seated together it is advisable to check in online as early as you can. Easyjet say on their website that if you check in late and you cannot find allocated seats together they will try and move passengers when you board the plane.
  • Baggage allowance on board: children over the age of 2 have the same allowance as adults- one piece of luggage max size 56 x 45 x 25 cm inc wheels. Flying with an infant under 2 – you can take an additional small baby changing bag no larger than 45x36x20cm which must be placed under the seat in front of you.
  • Equipment: you can take two pieces of equipment such as pushchair and car seat. Pushchairs can be taken to the boarding gate (and car seats that are suitable for aircraft) or you can check this in with main luggage. Pushchairs will be collected at the arrival airport with your main luggage so if you have a baby sling it might help for long walks.

For more detailed information visit Easy Jet Flying with children http://www.easyjet.com/en/help/preparing-to-fly/flying-with-children

Ryanairryan air

Ryanair often offers the cheapest fares available, especially during their sales. For families, they provide a “Family Extra” service with discounts on checked bags and allocated seating.

  • Separate seats for under 2s: you can book these but you must use an Amsafe CARES child restrain or a car seat with 5 point harness appropriate for use on an airplane. If you choose this options for 12-23 months they are entitled to a free 10kg cabin bag allowance plus a small second bag.
  • Car seats for older children: car seats can be used as long as it has been approved for aircraft use and has a 5 point harness. It must fit between the armrests (42.5cm) and be forward facing.
  • Pushchairs: children’s pushchairs can be taken to aircraft steps and as long as the destination airport has provisions will be available at the aircraft steps after landing. If not the pushchair can be collected at the baggage hall of the arrival airport.
  • Family Extra: Ryanair offer a family value package of 50% discounts off checked bags, allocated seating and Priority Boarding for families with children aged 2-15 when accompanied by an adult in the same booking.
  • Infant equipment: Babes in arms do not get a baggage allowance however an accompanying adult can carry a second bag up to 5kg. You can also take two items of equipment such as pushchair and car seat or booster seat etc.
  • What happens if you don’t buy allocated seating: Ryanair’s website say ‘We do our best to seat families together, however this will not always be possible. If you want to be guaranteed seats together we recommend that you purchase seats in advance’ They have a contact number or online chat if you find that your seats have not been allocated together and they will try to help.

For more detailed information visit the Ryan Air Website

https://www.ryanair.com/gb/en/useful-info/help-centre/faq-overview#9-8

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Our hike along the Southwest Coastal path and a bit of Wild Camping – No Kids!

IMG_8349Sometimes, just sometimes, you need to go on an adventure and sometimes, just sometimes, it’s without the kids! My friend and I decided we needed to get down to nature and away from the everyday life of electrical gadgets, school runs and the fast pace of life. But we wanted to challenge ourselves too.

We walked the South West Coastal Path with our lives on our backs: we took our tents, food, water, cooking utensils, spare clothes and of course a bottle of wine and headed off for our journey.

The South West Coast Path offers 630 miles of beautiful scenery, there are lots of different walks from easy to moderate and some of it can be challenging but every bit is worth it.

IMG_8345Westward Ho to Clovelly, and beyond to the Hartland Peninsular, has easy and challenging stretches and so you can choose to try it all or depending on your level of fitness/ability chop it up a little. There are regular bus services between towns and villages so you can plan your journey back if you do not want to retrace your steps on foot. We parked the car at Clovelly and then took the bus to start our journey.

Some of the terrain was challenging especially with my very large backpack: the hardest thing I found were the manmade steps up some very steep inclines but the view at the end of each challenging point was amazing.

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Sunset was approaching and it was time to find a place to pitch our tents, we found an amazing place with fab views (if you do go wild camping just make sure you set up just before dark, pack away early in the morning and most importantly leave things exactly as you found them. Follow these rules and you should be ok. There are lots of wild camping websites but none really share their actual locations or it wouldn’t be wild would it!).

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Sunrise, cup of tea, sea view, couldn’t be better!

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Then we packed away and began the rest of our trek to Clovelly. This village really is a throwback in time, cobbled streets (very steep), no traffic and an amazing relaxed and quaint atmosphere. We walked past the New Inn Hotel where we could smell breakfast! A friendly lady was sweeping outside and we asked on the off chance if they sold breakfast: to cut a long story short she arranged for us to have a cooked breakfast with the residents, oh my, I think it was the most amazing breakfast I had ever had! It is amazing how quickly we appreciate toast and tea and this was only after one night sleeping rough!

Clovelly itself is amazing but you do have to pay to enter if you arrive by car, if you are following the Southwest Walking path then it takes you through the village without going via the main centre.

Beyond Clovelly you will find the Hartland Peninsular, a dramatic change to the landscape with waterfalls, dolphins, magical scenery and more. We walked for about an hour and our time was up so we retraced our steps to Clovelly. If the first hour is anything to go by The Hartland Peninsular has to be next on my list to discover!

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Watch out for angry pheasants, this is Phil, he wasn’t very happy, at first he was chatting and following me along the track but after about 20 minutes he began pecking at my ankles! Obviously didn’t like my trousers.

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What amazed me the most was how varied the terrain was along this stretch of the South West Coastal Path in such a short area, from woodlands, to fields, to grazing marsh land to waterfalls and rocks……I will definitely return, next time maybe with the kids…

This was just what we needed, we felt reenergised, at one with nature again, and ready to get back to our everyday lives even if I did have massive blisters !!! It’s ok I won’t add that picture…

You can find more about the Southwest Path here: http://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/?lid=DH-080301-01

Or Clovelly: http://www.clovelly.co.uk/

Or the Hartland Peninsular: http://www.hartlandpeninsula.co.uk/what-will-you-see

and here is some great reading that is inspiring my family friends and I for a little more adventure:

For solo adventures maybe with one or two friends try Phoebe Smith – Wilderness Weekends which gave us the inspiration to visit the South West Coastal Path (we thought about sleeping on Peppercombe beach but it was just too loud! (the waves that is!): http://www.phoebe-smith.com/home/books-2/

pheobe smith

For micro adventures with family and friends or solo if you prefer try Alastiar Humophreys, Micro Adventures. The reason I mention family and friends for this one is that he really will get the couch potato out of almost anyone!There is also a section on his website for kids microadventures. http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/microadventures-3/ – this book is going to be my Christmas present to everyone!

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Just as if by magic, while writing this I received and email with news from the National Trust that new research reveals that a walk by the coast will help you sleep an extra 47 minutes a night, well there you go!!! That will be the topic for my next blog post!

A whistle stop tour of the Silver Coast, Portugal

Portugal map

The Silver Coast, Portugal

Portugal is undoubtedly picturesque, with long beautiful beaches, quaint, and picturesque towns and fishing villages and the Silver Coast is one of it’s hidden gems. Lesser-known than other more popular parts of Portugal, such as the Algarve, over the last few years tourists and holiday-home buyers have stumbled upon this previously well-kept secret for a family holiday destination.

Many of the beaches on the Silver Coast are proud to carry the Blue Flag; marking them out for their cleanliness and beauty. There are beautiful coves within the cliffs and the breath-taking clear sea coupled with the soft golden sand. The sheer abundance of beaches means there is always somewhere to escape from the crowds; even in high summer.

Sao Martinho do Porto beach (image Wiki Paulo Juntas)

Sao Martinho do Porto beach (image Wiki Paulo Juntas)

One of the safest beaches for children is . Lying in a bay, sheltered from the sea and cliffs, it has one narrow stretch of water that opens up to the ocean and is a paradise for families. But the Silver Coast has a good selection, if it is busier beaches you are after, Nazare is a huge stretch of sand that gets extremely busy with tourists during the summer. Santa Cruz which lies on the Silver Coast is home to more than 20 beaches that offer something for everyone; whether it is surfers or families. And yes, you’ve guessed it, all with the trademark miles of sounds and magnificent cliffs. For a beautiful child-friendly lagoon try Pbidos Lagoon beach or Foz do Arelho beach.

If the endless choice of beaches isn’t quite enough to keep your brood entertained, there are countless other activities to enjoy on the Silver Coast.

Peniche, one of the beach destinations is somewhat of a surfers’ paradise and has a surf camp that has classes for children of all ages and abilities, so why not grab the wetsuits and see if you and the little ones take like a duck to water? Of course there are other ways to enjoy the water, for example at one of the water parks in the area. If you are in the area of Peniche, try Sportagua, or if you are nearer, Norpark lies just north of Nazare. Both parks have slides and activities for all ages, so really are, fun for all the family.

If you want a break from the water and are equine by nature, there is a range of horse riding tours available along the coast – there are also lessons available for less experienced riders. And of course, the Silver Coast again stays true to the much of the Portuguese coast with its range of golf courses for the gents, ladies or indeed the whole family to attempt to get a hole in one.

The menus often come fresh out the Atlantic Ocean due to the thriving fishing industry, but from the Silver Coast countryside also comes a variety of warming pork, sausage, bean and meat dishes for those who are not of a fishy disposition. In some cases the dishes are mixed; you could find pork served with mussels!

Obidos, Portugal (image via Wik. author Lacobrigo)

Obidos, Portugal (image via Wik. author Lacobrigo)

If you want to soak up some culture as well as sun, you really are spoilt for choice. There is the architecture in Alcobaca, the natural spas and art in Caldas da Rainha, the castle in Leiria or in the old preserved town of Obidos or Fatima, the village where three young children claimed to see ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ and there forth Fatima became a village of pilgrimage.

The Silver Coast in Portugal has something for everyone, beaches and activities for all ages and interests.

For self-catering family-friendly accommodation along the Silver Coast in Portugal take a look at our website. We have a couple of properties at the time of writing this (our list is growing rapidly :)) You can view them here:

View from Master bedroom

View from Master bedroom

For a  family holiday for larger groups try the five bed villa with private pool, gardens, mini golf and wonderful sea and lagoon views https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/540-private-villa-in-silver-coast/

 

 

For something a little smaller try the three bed ground floor villa with enclosed pool  https://www.holidaytots.co.uk/view-property/237-apartment-in-silver-coast/

 

southend

Family day trip to Southend

When I was a child I loved the seaside, its sea breeze, fish and chips, penny arcades and ice cream. It didn’t take a lot to keep me happy, I didn’t need it to be glamorous or warm and sunny- I just loved the atmosphere. I spent the youngest part of my childhood in Hackney in London and, because my mum worked, spent the summer holidays with my Aunty near Southend (in Rayleigh). I have really happy memories of this time: we spent time on the farm harvesting and looking after the pigs, and some days  we visited Southend.

On a trip down memory lane, I decided to pop to Southend for the afternoon with my daughter (25) and son (6). The weather wasn’t great but it didn’t matter, we had so much fun and,before we knew it, it was time to leave…

adventure island

 Adventure Island

We hit the adventure golf here but there really is something for everyone: roller coaster, swings, crooked house, Flying Jumbos, Helter Skelter, Jungle Express, Kiddi-Koasta (roller coaster for the littlies!) and more. Trip Advisor reviews are great too!

After building up an appetite we headed for fish and chips, of course! We went to Clarks Fish and Chip Shop opposite Adventure Island. If I had read the Trip Advisor reviews beforehand I would have avoided it like the plague but actually the lady who served us was lovely, the dining area itself clean and comfortable and the fish and chips went down well for all three of us so we would go back.

chip shop

Then we headed for the arcades, sooooo much fun!

2p slot machine is a must and stick with it you might get lucky and win a prize, we won three!

Freddie beat Tas at the racing car game oops!

I beat Freddie at Mario Kart – double oops!

There is a fab water fountain feature that I think would be fun on a sunny day, was a little too cold today…

fountains

But never too cold for an ice cream!

Southend provided a fun family day out, and the fact we live in landlocked Hertfordshire, it makes a good place to visit to see the sea for a drive in under an hour. We will be back.

http://www.visitsouthend.co.uk/

‘What’s on’ in West Sussex – ideal for a family short break this autumn

West Sussex is located just south of London within a couple of hours drive or train and is ideal for a short family break or if you are near London why not visit for a day out?  It has something to offer every family member with beautiful scenery, amazing food and drink, festivals, beaches, and stunning quaint villages and castles to explore.

There are three child-friendly holiday properties in West Sussex on Holiday Tots close enough to enjoy all the activities below and with availability from 14th September. Prices start at £475 for a short stay Mon – Fri or £525 for a weekend, a week is from £845. The family-friendly activities below are either on the doorstep or less than half an hour drive. Owners Les and Louise also run a Bakehouse with freshly produced cakes, bread and home cooked meals workshops too!

 

So if you fancy taking the family on a little holiday or just a family day out, there are a few ideas on what to do this autumn in West Sussex.

Walk and explore the South Downs National Park.

Now this is vast and I have lots of headings below that are technically within the South Downs National Park but I felt it necessary to add this as a simple excursion too. The South Downs National Park covers 1,600km2 of landscapes, visitor attractions, beautiful villages, country pubs and much more. It is worth taking a look at their website and seeing what is on when you want to visit or just get a map and compass and explore away…

Family-friendly events in West Sussex September/October 2015:

The Ploughing Match

19th September – join the fun and watch the annual ploughing match as horse and tractor-drawn ploughs battle it out, plus a livestock show, farrier display, sheep shearing, tractor/trailer rides food and drink. Fun starts at 9.30 http://www.westgrinsteadploughing.co.uk/index.php/this-years-events

Daylands Farm walk & cream tea plus hedgerow workshop

27th September – Led by Mother Nature join in the walk and cook what you pick. “Pick It Cook it” run special events for all ages at Daylands Farm in West Sussex from 10am – 4pm. They involve a short walk to forage for ingredients and include refreshments and a homemade lunch. You also get to take home what you cook. For more details visit http://www.pickitcookit.com/

Lewes October Feast

September 18th – October 10th

Now in its sixth year the Lewes October feast runs for three weeks in the Autumn and is run by a small charity. With food markets, pop up stalls, apple pressing, beer tasting and more, it might be a lovely introduction to some culinary delights for the kids and adults alike. To see what’s on where, visit their website for more details. http://lewesoctoberfeast.com/

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Arundel Castle – Life in a Medieval Cattle

20th September

Arundel Castle is a fab place to take the family for a fun day out, the castle and gardens are great to explore. There are lots of family-friendly events throughout the year too. Life in a Medieval Castle is set in The Keep and Barbican at Arundel Castle. Characters will be portrayed by members of the Raven Tor Living History Group: with stories and tales and craft displays, there will be lots of opportunity to learn about the Castle’s history. Arundel Castle is open until 1st November 2015 with the last admission at 16.00hrs. For more details visit their website http://www.arundelcastle.org/

Chiddingly Festival

24th September – 4th October 2015

This lovely parish of just 1000 residents stages this amazing festival of the arts every year. This year is no exception with Jo Brand and many other fab artists from jazz bands to bell ringers. Music comedy, drama and workshops all in one place for all ages. Specifically for children there is The Amazing Adventures of Librarian Lil, Circus Skills with Jimmy the Juggler and a Cartoon workshop with Matt Baxter. Intrigued and want to know more? Just visit their website: http://chiddinglyfestival.co.uk/category/children/

Bentley Woodfair

18th ,19th and 20th September

In its 20th year the Bentley Woodfair is a celebration of woodlands, forestry, trees, woodcrafts and more. With exhibits and displays of amazing skills and activities,  it is a fun and different day out for the whole family. There are demonstrations of machinery, tree climbing, children’s activities, local food, beer tent and a great family atmosphere. http://www.bentley.org.uk/woodfair/4575405571

Parham Harvest Fair

26th and 27th September

The house and gardens will be open for this family-friendly fair of the celebration of the abundance of produce that autumn brings. With homemade food, deer walks and cookery demonstrations plus an outdoor arena with a variety of events such as displays from the gun dogs and heavy horses. To bring it all together there will be live jazz playing in the grounds. http://www.parhaminsussex.co.uk/event/parham-harvest-fair/

Apple Day Brighton

27th September

Brighton is located just outside West Sussex in East Sussex. It is a fun place to visit any time of year with lots of attractions and activities for all the family. Apple Day Brighton is one of many events, it is a free event and is located in Stanmer Park, Brighton from 11am to 5pm. There will be lots of children’s activities with traditional fun fair rides and storytelling in the Orchard. Music and Dance is also on offer as well as apple themed workshops and produce. https://brightonpermaculture.org.uk/index.php/courses/appleday

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Beaches galore…

Finally don’t forget there are lots of wonderful child-friendly beaches too!

West Wittering beach

So what are you waiting for?!

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Knebworth House Gardens, what a lovely day out for all the family and here are 10 reasons why…

We visited Knebworth House Gardens for our last day of the school holidays and would highly recommend it. In fact I think we might invest in a season ticket next year. Children under 3 go for free too. Here are our Top 10 reasons why…

  1. Super slides

The three slides at Knebworth are fab for kids of all ages. There is a drop slide for the more adventurous, a tunnel slide for mid range sliders and a large bumpy slide for everyone- basically, whether you are a toddler or grandparent there is a slide for you.

  1. Play area for all ages with Zip wires, climbing frames and more…

The play area has enough to keep even the busiest of children entertained for hours, from zip wires to climbing frames, hills to climb, swings to negotiate and there is even a water play area.

  1. Bouncy Castle

Next to the play area is a bouncy castle for children under 1.2 metres tall. It is free to go on and is monitored well to keep numbers to a minimum

  1. Fort

The fort is so much fun for the children to explore, climb ladders, and crawl through the muddy tunnels, glide down slides, clamber across nets and more.

  1. Maze

The hedge maze is small but lots of fun, we found quite a few dead ends before we made it to the middle!

  1. Fabulous gardens to explore

The gardens at Knebworth House are absolutely wonderful, whether you are a child wanting to run, explore and roll down hills, or a keen plant lover. There really is something very calming and serene about this place.

  1. Trees to climb

Dotted around the gardens from the play area right up to the gardens nearer the main house there are plenty of fab trees to climb.

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  1. Dinosaurs to find

An adventure wouldn’t be complete without the search for dinosaurs! There are 70 life sized dinosaurs to find all grazing around the Dino Trail (each one with an information board so you can learn about these prehistoric creatures too)

  1. Brass rubbing

For those who want to get a little creative there is a craft table in one of the gardens set under the trees with some fab pre-historic brass pictures to rub!

  1. Ice cream to eat

Finally there is a café by the main house serving food and drinks or a kiosk by the play area and fort where you can pick up a snack, drink or/and ice cream.

We had a lovely time at Knebworth House and the children did too. The Park and Gardens are only open weekends now until the end of September so you either have to be quick or wait until next year.

They also have lots of events throughout the year with the open air cinema: in September there is a sing-a-long Frozen showing; in October the Pumpkin Trail, Treats and disco; in November it’s the Knebworth House Christmas Fair ; and Sunday lunch with Father Christmas in December.

Visit the Knebworth House website for more details of opening times and events throughout the year.

http://www.knebworthhouse.com/new-dinosaur-trail-and-adventure-playground

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A Whistle stop guide to the Poitou Charente

poitou charenteThe Poitou Charente is located in South West France and is made up of four departments: Charente, Charente-Maritime, Deux-Sèvres and Vienne. It is one of the sunniest regions in France making it popular for families looking for a holiday any time of the year. If you want a warm sunny child-friendly holiday without the crowds then a visit to the Poitou Charente is a must during the shoulder months of the year.

It is ideal for families with young children any time of year and especially those not yet of school age as September and October are lovely months to visit and the prices drop considerably. There are lots of private family friendly villas and gite complexes to choose from, if you do want to have a family holiday during the summer school holidays it is advisable to book early to get the pick of the crop as they get booked up early.

charenteThe four departments offer something for any type of family holiday: to the South is the Charente which shares its border with the Dordogne. Here there is beautiful countryside, historic towns and lakes and rivers to explore.

 

To the west is the Charente-Maritime, the only department with a sea coast in the region offering sandy white beaches, and is the most populated with the highest number of hours of sunshine a year.

The Deux-Sèvres can be found to the north offering beautiful rivers, and wooded valleys and it borders the Loire Valley, so not surprisingly some good wine on offer.

Finally Vienne, to the east of the Poitou Charente, where you can soak up the beautiful scenery and lots of family friendly activities and days out to choose from without the seaside crowds.

Accessible by air there are plenty of options for airports in the region and neighbouring regions such as La Rochelle and Poitiers, Limoges  and Bordeaux all offering low cost airline flights from the UK such as Easy Jet, Ryanair and British Airways.

map of airports in poitou charente google

  1. La Rochelle, France
  2. Poitiers – Biard Airport
  3. AngoulêmeCognac Airport
  4. Aéroport de Rochefort-Saint-Agnant
  5. Parvaud Airport
  6. Limoges-Bellegarde Airport

 

 

Ports are between 4 and 6 hours depending what part of the Poitou Charente you stay and which port you use.

Coming soon: Family guide offering ideas for days out for the family in each region in the Charente.