Competition time: Win tickets to Standon Calling Festival in Hertfordshire

Standon Calling festival is being held at the end of July in the stunning Lordship grounds of Hertfordshire and this year’s theme is Legends Of The Lost Seas!

There is an extensive family programme this year: from baby multi-sensory raves and street dance classes to crafts, kids-only trapeze and yoga.


If the weather holds, the outdoor swimming pool is heated and the family swim sessions are sure to be a big hit!

Standon Calling opens its doors early this year on Thursday 28th July with ‘The Welcome Feast’ with family games, camp fire sing-songs and specially curated menus from a variety of chefs.

For the kids:

Nik Cope.jpg

Children’s singer – Nick Cope

Readings from children’s authors, music performances, pop up circus, puppet and theatre performances, evening campfire storytelling, street dance, juggling workshops, arts, crafts, dressing up and much more. There is also a dedicated family campsite located away from the main areas for when it is night night time.

And don’t worry the adults have plenty to keep them entertained too with lots going on including performances from: Jess Glynne, Suede, Kelis, The Hives, Everything Everything, Ghostpoet and much much more…

Dogs are welcome at Standon Calling Festival too, so if you want to bring your pooch why not enter him or her into the annual dog show! Always a popular event.

For your chance to win a family set of five tickets (worth over £350!) just visit the Holiday Tots competition page.

For more details about Standon Calling festival, camping options and to book tickets visit the Standon Calling festival website.

Standon Calling Festival – 29th – 31st July, 2016

Competition closes at midnight on 13th July, winner will be notified by email after the closing date. Good Luck!



Family Festival Series part 3 – Henley Festival Family Sunday plus your chance to win tickets…

In the third of our family festival series we look at this year’s Family Sunday at Henley Festival. ‘Not just for grownups’, Family Sunday promises fun for all ages. We also have a family set of five tickets in our competition on the Holiday Tots website.

There are children’s entertainers, musicians, comedians, magicians and street entertainers. Mad scientists will be electrocuting members of the audience and there will be superheroes too!

So if dipping your toe into a festival for a day, rather than camping overnight, appeals to you then Henley Family Sunday just might tick the box, oh and dressing up for day is obligatory!


Confirmed acts for all the family include:

Superhero battle where three of planet Earth’s greatest go head to head for the title of ‘Most Supreme Superhero… Ever!’

The Henley Music School

Jay Foreman and his disgusting songs

Science Mania

Solomo’s Beatbox Adventure for Kids

lighthouseThe Lighthouse Workshop where the lighthouse keeper will be sharing stories of the sea and showing animations of his adventures

Awe inspiring acrobatic feats from Upswing and more

Henley Festival Family Sunday takes place on Sunday 10th July 2016 from 11.30am to 3pm

Visit their website for more details: http://www.henley-festival.co.uk/2016-programme/family-day

Sadly we are camping at Blackberry Wood otherwise we definitely would be visiting this one!

Competition – Your chance to win a family ticket for up to five people

The organisers have kindly offered a family ticket for five for the Family Sunday as a competition prize. Visit the Holiday Tots competition page where you will find all the details. Good Luck! The competition will close on Friday 26th May.



Family Friendly Festival Series – Camp Bestival in Dorset



28th – 31st July 2016

Lulworth Castle, Dorset



Our second post in our family-friendly festival series looks at Camp Bestival in Dorset. If you are looking for a kids festival this year? this one just might tick the box. There are so many children’s activities to choose from you won’t know what to do! This year’s Outer Space theme is sure to inspire a few fab costumes.


A large section of the festival site is totally devoted to small people with the Upper Kids Garden for younger kids offering bouncy castles, bikes,  go karts, circus training and more. Here there is a separate toddlers area and Bestival’s own Breastival Mother and Baby Chill Out.


The Lower Kids Garden is full of entertainment for older children with fairground rides, face painting, Kids Catwalk and also here, for the under 5’s, is a soft play tent and sand pit.


Children’s entertainment is not restricted to the Kids Gardens, there are plenty of fun and games throughout the site and performances by well-known household names from Dick and Dom to Lazy Town and Mr Tumble. Art Town is the place to be if your children love to get a little creative, offering a huge range of drop in activities all weekend from sculpting to sticking, colouring, recycled fashion and more.

For a thrill the Wall of Death return to Camp Bestival, watch the Fox family defy gravity!

This is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s on offer for family festival fun at Camp Bestival. For more details checkout their kids page.



So the kids are entertained but what about the adults? Don’t worry there is plenty to keep you happy too! The live line-up includes, Fatboy Slim, Jess Glynne and a treat for us, err slightly older folk, on Sunday night Tears For Fears take to the stage.


Sasha_6_barchan_sasha_fabric-room-1_21458666817Other acts include, Katy B, Reggie N Bollie, DJ Yoda, Dawn Penn and more. Bestival also offers lots of fun from theatre shows, DJ sets, poets, authors, talks, various attractions and activities such as the Travelling Barn and vintage fun, music and 78’s spinning DJs in Caravanserai.


Camp Bestival is on the same weekend as Standon Calling which we are already going to, I think if it wasn’t we could be tempted here!

All campsites open on Thursday to give you an extra day to settle in: for more details on prices and accommodation options visit the Camp Bestival camping page in their website.




Family-friendly Festival Series – Standon Calling in Hertfordshire

In our family-friendly festival series we will be writing about the best family festivals in the UK for 2016- here at Holiday Tots, we love festivals as much as holidays.


Our first festival is one close to our heart as it is only a few miles from where we live: Standon Calling is held in leafy Hertfordshire and is in its eleventh year. It promises lots of fun for all the family.


This year’s theme is Legend of the Lost Seas. For families looking to get into the true festival spirit there are lots of ideas that spring to mind for costumes for parents and children alike. Most children at tot level and beyond love a bit of “ooh arrgghiing” so expect to see lots of pirates, pearls and mermaids running about. Maybe even a few Octonauts hitting the craft tents! Older children might be able to relate to a little bit of Sponge Bob or Pirates of the Caribbean. Whether you get into the spirit of dressing up or just want to enjoy what promises to be an amazing theme throughout the festival you are sure to have lots of fun!


It is also set to be one of the best years yet for family fun as the Standon Calling organisers are teaming up with Elissa Gold Events for this year’s festival. They are known for providing an amazing mix of creative and education activities for children of all ages at festivals in the UK including Wilderness and Secret Garden Party.


The family camp site is thankfully hidden away from the night time activities but family areas during the day are dotted all around the festival so you can get really involved in the atmosphere. As well as the arts, crafts, games, workshops, kids-only trapeze classes and much more there is even a swimming pool to dip into if the weather is hot.


The festival also includes the annual dog show which can be loads of fun if you are bringing your four-legged friend with you!

And then there is the line-up of music artists …


The first wave of acts have been announced and included: Suede, Jess Glynne, Kelis, The Hives, Everything Everything, Ghostpoet, Anna Calvi, Blossoms, The Thurston Moore Band plus many many more.

Jess Glynne

Jess Glynne is one of the head-line acts

What started as a small birthday party eleven years ago has really come on in bounds!


Fancy just chilling? Indie fans will not be disappointed either with artists offering a cool mix of jazz, funk reggae, futuristic soul and more.

Standon Calling is described as a ‘boutique festival with an ear for talent’ by The Guardian and so you can be sure to find something new to tantalise your ears.

We are so excited that this year we are actually getting to go- previous years have fallen when we have been away but we planned our holidays carefully this year! We are already planning our costumes and tent coverings with eager excitement.

For more details visit the Standon Calling website or connect with them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The first tier tickets sold out quickly and they are now on the second tier so don’t delay in getting yours. Maybe we will see you there!

Standon Calling – 29th to 31st July 2016

book nowTickets to choose from: day, weekend, family camping, camping and you can also book bell tents etc – all subject to availability. They also offer a payment scheme whereby you pay just £60 to reserve your ticket and the balance is paid before 4th July.

Images ©  Standon Calling Festival

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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



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



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.


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!).


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


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!


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.


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!

a h

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/