Manley Mere AirBnB Accomodation Review

Manley Mere is a Sail Sports and Adventure Trail in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. We found it on AirBnB and its location and closeness to Chester Zoo was what made it stand out for us. And boy we weren’t disappointed.Manley Mere Review

Upon arrival we were met by our host Jane who was lovely. She showed us to the accommodation itself, which is a 2 bedroom, ground floor annex attached to the main building of Manley Mere with an open plan living space. The living area had a 2-3 seater sofa and TV with some Freeview channels. There was a very modern dining table and chairs to one side.

The kitchen was adequately equipped with a washing machine and basic cooking equipment. However, there was no microwave nor any ovenproof cookware, which made cooking one of our dinners interesting.

There is a double bedroom and a twin, and one family bathroom. There was just about room to put up a cot bed in the twin between the beds but it was a squeeze.Manley Mere Review

There is private parking behind gates with room for two cars, although you do need to be careful of the roller shutter doors off the main building that back onto the parking area of the annex.

The patio doors on the living room were bifolding doors and were a really nice touch. Overall the accommodation is clean, modern and well decorated.

What we loved about the Manley Mere accommodation:

  • Great location for Chester Zoo, the Blue Planet Aquarium and Cheshire Oaks Retail Park.
  • Nice bifolding patio doors, ideal for summer evenings.
  • Secure private parking.
  • Clean, modern and well decorated.
  • We had the whole place to ourselves after 6pm which is the closing time for the public. This includes the lake and surrounding area. It was very quiet after 6pm. The only time this would change is if they are hosting a wedding at the venue.
  • There is a bar and restaurant on site, open between 9.30am (for breakfast) and 6pm. They serve food, drinks, snacks and food, all at reasonable prices. We opted to use the self-catering facilities and cook for ourselves.

What we didn’t like about the Manley Mere Accommodation:

  • There was a wedding on the Saturday during our stay. This meant some guests were walking through our parking area after 6pm and the music was quite loud until 11pm.
  • There is no WiFi nor 4G data signal. 3G is very patchy. There wasn’t enough strength in our mobile data connection to watch Netflix or even for WhatsApp or Facebook for that matter. Great if you want a weekend free from social media, not so much when you are a blogger.

Manley Mere Review

Overall, despite the lack of mobile signal, we really enjoyed our stay at the Manley Mere accommodation we found via AirBnB and would consider staying there again if we were Chester-bound. It’s location is ideal for everything you need without the hassle of being directly in Chester. The accommodation is really good and the setting is just fabulous. If you have older kids they might just want to try surfing on the lake or exploring the woods.

At the time it cost us £150 per night plus a service charge (as is customary with AirBnB). Our 3 nights stay over the August Bank Holiday cost us £512 in total. Would I recommend it? Absolutely!

Thanks for reading,

Cath x

Manley Mere Review

The Portugal Diaries #1

The Battle Family have a big announcement to make….

No, BattleKid isn’t going to be a big brother. No we haven’t won the lottery. But I have left my job, just over 6 weeks ago and for good reason. We are moving! And not just house. We are packing up lock, stock and barrel and emigrating. I still cannot believe we are doing it. It seems unreal and yet as you read this post we’ll be on our way to a completely new life, in another country we have only visited twice.The Portugal Diaries

We made this monumental decision while on holiday in Tenerife at Christmas. But first a little bit of a back story.

When we moved into our current house we were fortunate enough to be in a position to keep our first house and rent it out. And for three years we had a lovely, quiet couple renting it. We never heard from them apart from once during their time there. The issue was sorted quickly and we carried on as normal.

Then unfortunately, last October, the couple separated and had to give up their tenancy. This in itself wasn’t a problem as we knew we would quickly get more tenants as the rental market in that town is quite buoyant. Rental properties are snapped up quite quickly. And within a week, our letting agency had new tenants for us.

All sorted we thought. That was until a few days later, the night BattleDad arrived back home after 2 weeks in India with work, during which time he’d had some family problems to contend with. We got a call from the letting agent to say the tenants had some problems with the property that we’d have to sort. What problems? The property was in great condition, having had the internal plasterwork redone two years previously, as well as the external render redone to address a damp/condensation problem.

The builder who did the work, via the letting agent, told BattleDad he’d deal with the tenant and let us know what exactly needed to be done and costs too. He soon came back saying the niggles they had were utterly ridiculous and the guy was simply trying to be awkward. He’d had quite an attitude with the builder and he said to us “don’t worry, I’ve seen his type before, leave him to me. I’ll sort this out”. Fair enough we said.

However, it got us thinking. We had been very lucky with our previous tenants who were as good as gold, and we really didn’t want to start dealing with problem, awkward tenants. Fair enough if the house wasn’t up to scratch, but it was. I told BattleDad that he didn’t need the stress with the work and travelling he was doing. We thought then that it might be best to sell the property and think about buying a holiday home.

Now my parents had not long bought their retirement home in Portugal and we thought it might be nice to have something close to them that we and family could use, as well as maybe renting it out during part of the summer to cover costs. Although the area is within the Algarve, it is the East Algarve so a bit quieter and more cultural than your Albufeira or Portimao.

So we made the decision to tell the letting agents to make plans for putting the property on the market. And the decision to buy a holiday home in Portugal had been made.

However, while we were on holidays in Tenerife over Christmas, it went a bit further. We loved seeing BattleKid enjoying himself in the sun, free to play, not being cooped up indoors. Because, let’s face it, our UK kids spend more time indoors than they do outdoors, simply because our weather is so crap and unpredictable. We realised that if we moved to Portugal on a permanent basis, he would have a much better quality of life, spend more time outdoors, with the added bonus of seeing his grandparents on a much more regular basis. He doesn’t get to see them as often as his cousins and it would be nicer to be close to family without having to return to Ireland to do that.

Plus we and my parents would have a support network in each other, particularly me when BattleDad is travelling with work. It gets lonely on my own when he is away, even if it’s only for the week, and despite having BattleKid in the evenings and work during the day, it’s still quite isolating. Don’t get me wrong, I love our house and where we live but I’m too far from Cardiff for colleagues to pop by and I don’t have any friends close by to call on if I need or want company. Plus it’s difficult when you have a young child with a regular bedtime routine.

The more we talked about it on holiday, the more it made sense. BattleDad is lucky in that as long as he has access to an airport with links to London and Europe, he can be based anywhere. And we’re also fortunate enough that I don’t have to work. Whether we are based in the UK or in Portugal, BattleDad being away during the week for work doesn’t depend on us being located anywhere in particular. I could get to spend more time with BattleKid and my folks and still see BattleDad at the weekends as usual, albeit in the sunshine.

BattleDad has been hounding me for years that he wanted to live in a warmer country with guaranteed sunshine in the summer, even if the winter was colder and damp. And now he’s getting his wish. Had my parents not retired to Portugal we wouldn’t be going. Them being based there was what made the decision very easy for me.

I’ve been sort of keeping a diary about our decision and things that have been cropping up along the way, things we’ve had to sort etc. so I’ve decided to share our journey with you guys. I figure it might inspire others to be brave to make big decisions about their own family’s future that they are unsure of. Whether it’s moving house or not, I want to show you all the things we’ve had to consider and the things we’ve had to sort out. It has been stressful and we’re not there yet but soon it’ll be all over and we’ll be settling into a completely new way of life.

I do hope you’ll join us on this journey. I’ve been sharing snippets of our decision on Instagram, so if you follow me there you’ll know about this big change coming our way, but I’ll be going into much more detail here on the blog. Stick with us and see if we’ve made the right decision or if we’ll live to regret giving up our life in the UK. And I’ll have to shave my legs more! Only disadvantage I’ve found so far!

Cath x

5 Things To Do in New York with a Toddler In Tow

st September the Battle Family visited New York for the very first time. BattleKid was 2 years and 8 months old and both BattleDad and I were a bit apprehensive about what we would be able to do with him while there. We also had to be realistic that certain things may be off limits to us due to having a toddler in tow. That said, we never let having a toddler put us off booking New York in the first place. We went and I wrote all about our New York holiday in the New York Holiday Diaries. Today I’d like to share with you our top 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow to show you that you should never be afraid to just do it.5 THINGS TO DO IN NEW YORK WITH A TODDLER IN TOW

The Empire State Building.

We weren’t sure if we were going to have time to visit the Empire State Building but we were up quite early on our last morning so decided to get the subway into New York and headed for the Empire State Building after a fab breakfast at a traditional diner around the corner from it. We got there very early, just after it opened at 8am and to our surprise there were absolutely no queues. I had been worried as we didn’t pre-book our tickets but we bought them, strolled up to the elevator and straight up to the 80th floor, the first stop, in an elevator with plenty of room in it.

After strolling around that floor and “ooh-ing” at the views, we then headed up to the 86th floor. This is the open-air observatory used in all the films and TV and we had been advised not to bother going any further. The views were even better from there. We really enjoyed our visit to the Empire State Building, especially as we seemed to pick a great time to go. We visited just after 8am on a Wednesday morning and there were no queues. We have heard last thing at night (it is open from 8am to 2am) is the best time to visit for no queues and for getting snaps of the New York skyline lit up at night.

We got tickets that included the 80th and 86th floors for $32 each (children cost $26 and under 6’s go free). We didn’t bring BattleKid’s buggy and that was a great idea as you need to fold it before getting into elevators. Tickets to include both the 86th and top deck cost $52 for adults and $46 for children, but as we were advised we didn’t bother doing the top deck and certainly didn’t feel like we’d missed out. The views from the open-air observatory deck on the 86th floor are all you need! There are, however, VIP passes that allow you to skip the queues if you plan visiting at busy times but they come at a premium, so be york day 5

Central Park.

This was one New York attraction that we were not going to miss. Central Park is huge with a zoo, lake and various other areas of interest in it. It is 843 acres or 3.4km2 and we only saw a small fraction of it. Surprisingly it is almost half the size of the Phoenix Park in Dublin! Our main reason for visiting Central Park was to have a photograph taken in Strawberry Fields, to carry on a family tradition. We managed to find the elusive rock with memorial plaque on it and a kind passing tourist took our picture, ensuring the tradition carrys on.

The best part about Central Park is that it’s easy to get to and is free! Attractions inside can cost extra such as the zoo and restaurants but if you are visiting on a sunny summer day, why not take a picnic and enjoy it on one of the many grassy areas. We didn’t get to stop long in Central Park but it will definitely be on our must-return-to list for our future visits to New York. Kids will love it as it’s a great place to run free among a busy bustling city!New york day 4

The World Trade Centre Memorial.

The Twin Towers Memorial park was top of my to-do list and we visited this on our jam-packed second full day in New York (the first being a total washout due to heavy rain). We had breakfast in a traditional diner nearby before heading around to the site. The memorial is both wondrous and humbling and it really hits home what happened on that awful day when you see the two pools and all the names of the people who lost their lives when the two towers fell. Most upsetting for both BattleDad and I was seeing a lady’s name and beside it “And Her Unborn Child”. We both welled up and gave BattleKid’s hand an extra squeeze.

The pools and landscaped gardens around it are stunning and a fitting memorial. There is also a museum at the site but we didn’t visit it as we felt BattleKid would be too bored for us to take our time going around it. We plan to visit it when he is older so that he can understand it more. The memorial park itself is free while the museum costs $24 adults and $15 for children (under 6’s are free) and you can pre-book your tickets up to 6 months in advance. It is advised to allow yourself 2 hours for your visit, particularly if you plan to include the museum in your visit. The memorial is open from 7.30am to 9pm daily and the museum from 9am to 8pm.

The only thing I will advise, especially if you are visiting with a toddler, and you are getting the subway, do not travel during rush hour. We made that mistake and kept trying to get out of the way of commuters and it took us ages to exit the amazing mall and concourse up to street level. So avoid rush hour if you can! But you should definitely put this on your must-see list of places to visit while in New York.New york day 4

Water Ferry.

We did this on the recommendation of my sister-in-law and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a 1 hour boat ride around the tip of Manhattan that takes in Manhattan, Liberty Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, which we would have missed had we not seen it on this trip. We got on the Zephyr, a large ferry type boat, at Pier 16 and headed for the top deck. The weather was lovely and when the sun came out it made our water views of Manhattan very magical. We also managed to get some pictures of the Statue of Liberty without having to step off the boat which we thought was great.

The boat trip is narrated with information from a guide and ours was very funny. There are two cash bars on board, remember cash, and you can buy tickets for this which combine other attractions too. Tickets just for the ferry cost $30 for adults and $19 for children (with under 3’s free) and there are various departure times between 10am and 5pm. This boat trip was thoroughly enjoyed by both us and BattleKid and is definitely one I would recommend you do for a different view of Manhattan.New york day 4

Times Square.

No trip to New York would be complete without a trip to Times Square and having your picture taken with all the lights of the billboards behind you. Times Square was the very first stop during our trip and it is an amazing place to see in the flesh. BattleKid was amazed by all the lights and sounds, although he wasn’t too enamoured with the sirens around us. Times Square is free to visit and there are plenty of shops around if you fancy a bit of shopping or restaurants if you want a bite to eat. We went into the Disney Store and bought BattleKid a t-shirt and Mickey Mouse as it just had to be done.

The only thing I’ll warn you about Times Square and buggies is it gets very, very busy and can be a bit difficult to navigate with a buggy. I’ll be honest and say I took no prisoners on the sidewalk and got through relatively unscathed. For kids on their own two feet, keep a tight grip on their hands and don’t let go as the crowds could easily swallow them york day 2

So there you have it, 5 things to do in New York with a toddler in tow. There are a thing or two to keep in mind with each of them but they can ALL be enjoyed even with a toddler in tow. We had fun at each of them, got plenty of photos and got to tick a few things off our NYC to-do list. There were one or two things we discovered weren’t ideal with BattleKid, such as the National History Museum due to them charging for toddlers, but that won’t put us off visiting when he is older to enjoy them. It will be a few years until we plan our return trip but when we do we already have a to-do list made which includes Madame Tussauds, Grand Central Station and a Helicopter Ride over Manhattan.

Are there any things to do in New York with a toddler in tow that we didn’t do or that you can recommend for my readers?


Note: all prices were correct at the time of writing this post.


things to do in new york with a toddler in tow

Travel Insurance is a must for Families!

I’m assuming that those of us who travel abroad for city-breaks, holidays, visiting families and just all-round getaways have the relevant travel insurance in place before we go. Whether it is an annual policy or one-trip one. I’ve always ensured BattleDad and I have a good but competitively priced travel insurance policy in place every year once the previous was up for renewal.

To date, and thank God, we’ve never had to use it. But you just never know when you will, do you? I guess it’s something we either don’t give much thought to or do automatically as the renewal email/letter lands in our mailbox, digital or physical.

travel insurance

However, I have a question for all you parents out there, particularly those who are relatively new ones. Have you added your little one to that policy?

It was only as our first ever trip abroad as a family was looming last September that I remembered I hadn’t added BattleKid (then 8 months old) to the policy. I quickly rang the insurers and added him, at no extra cost, and will be ensuring he is on all future ones. It’s something new parents can easily miss in the chaos of organising the trip as other things such as formula/food/nappies and what clothes to bring are the things which are more on your mind than travel insurance.

And while you’re at it, and have sorted your little ones passport out, why not sort out their EHIC card online while you are at it. Another thing new parents might miss during the trip-organising sessions but equally important should your little one fall ill while on holiday. These two things should bring a little peace of mind to you so that you can carry on worrying about what toys and distraction methods you will employ to keep them calm, settled and happy on that first flight away!

Hope my first top tip will come in handy for some of you planning your summer getaways!


Cath x