How To Plan a Magical Trip to Ireland

One thing I have been looking forward to since BattleKid came along is taking him to discover Ireland, the country of his heritage. BattleKid was born in Wales but holds an Irish passport. And despite having been to Ireland several times to visit family, we’ve never really shown him much of Ireland. But that’s about to change, and I’m going to share with you how I’ve planned a magical trip to Ireland with him over Easter.How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland

Much of my plan has been to discover parts of Ireland even I haven’t been to. Do you find that, no matter how long you live in a certain country or area, there are parts of it you have never visited because you take for granted that it’s always there to visit? That’s us! We never really travelled around Ireland and visited all the places it has to offer before we left in 2003. Heck, I haven’t even visited The Guinness Brewery, despite living in Dublin for 17 years.

It took BattleDad getting a motorbike for us visit and discover parts of the West of Ireland. And then we finally visited the Cliffs of Moher during our bike honeymoon to Ireland.

There is so much of my home country I haven’t visited, but I am making it my mission to try and visit all the great parts of Ireland with BattleKid. Now, we won’t cover everywhere as, although Ireland is a small island, there is just so much to see and do that it can’t all be covered in a week or 10 days. So, this will be the first of many trips home to Ireland to act like tourists and discover more of the beauty of Ireland.

So, what’s first on the agenda? Well, we’re going to concentrate on the southern half of Ireland, taking in Tipperary, Cork and Limerick, and possibly a little bit of Clare. Why have I chosen these areas you might ask? Because they house some of the best castles to visit in Ireland, all of which I’ve never visited apart from one, and even that was a fleeting visit.

I have nine castles on my list for this trip, and I do hope we manage to visit them all. But if not, it’s always a good excuse to come back. So, how have I planned our magical trip to Ireland over Easter, and what does our Ireland road trip itinerary look like? Let me share those details with you now.

How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland
The beautiful Duckett’s Grove in County Carlow.

Planning our magical trip to Ireland

How to get to Ireland?

As we are now living in Portugal, getting back to Ireland involves a plane journey. And we had two options, Aer Lingus or Ryanair, who both fly from Faro to Dublin. Now, after some strikes involving Ryanair happened last year, there was no way I was going to take a chance and book Ryanair simply to have myself €60. So, I booked return flights with Aer Lingus.

And it seems my choice was the correct one, with more strikes involving Ryanair threatened for this Easter. I’ve booked two bags and pre-booked our seats. I always do this to reduce any possible stress when flying with children, something I discussed in a recent post about flying with babies and toddlers.

If you are travelling to Ireland from another destination, I’d recommend checking your flight options with Skyscanner. Not only will you get an idea of flight times and prices, but it should give you an idea of which airlines fly direct from your departure airport to either Dublin, Cork or Shannon, and which will involve a stop-over.

Your arrival airport will be your choice, depending on whether you want to visit Dublin or not. Many visitors fly to Dublin and start their exploring elsewhere before returning to discover Dublin itself, as we are doing.

For those of you based in Europe, you also have the option of driving to Ireland and using a ferry from either Spain, France or the United Kingdom. We’ve often travelled from Wales to Ireland using either Stena Line or Irish Ferries. This will mean you have your own car for getting around in, something you won’t have worry about in the next point.

How to get around Ireland once you are there?

I am hiring a car from Dublin Airport as I will be driving straight to Tipperary to start our castle visits the next day. We will be covering a lot of Tipperary, Cork and Limerick. And we might pop into County Clare as well. Once we’ve finished in the southern half of the country, we are returning to Dublin to act as tourists in my home town and to also visit family. For this reason, a car is essential.

As you for own visit, firstly, you need to decide if you are concentrating on city exploring, or if you plan to explore the countryside like we are. For city exploring, all major cities have good public transport links within the city. They also have good public transport links between cities. So, if you plan to make the most of Dublin, Galway or Cork, public transport will probably work out cheaper for you.

However, if you plan to move from area to area, and explore towns and sites outside of the major cities, then a car is a must. There are a whole host of car hire companies to choose from within Ireland, and may operate from Dublin, Cork and Shannon airports. At the moment, I cannot recommend one as I haven’t booked a car (at the time of writing this post). I can report back after our trip.

Where to stay in Ireland?

At the time of booking our trip, BattleDad was going to be accompanying us. So, as a family, we always chose AirBnB accommodations. These are the best choice for us as we can usually get two bedrooms, have a kitchen for cooking in and an area to relax after a busy day exploring. We’ve been using AirBnB for a few years now and have only once not stayed in the one we’ve booked (see Day 11 of our USA Holiday Diaries to find out why).

Hotels do not work out well for us and we try to avoid them if we can. Firstly, we find them restricting once our son is in bed and asleep, and secondly, I have nowhere to escape if my husband starts snoring. We also don’t choose B&B’s as we like to save some money by cooking for ourselves in the evenings. And this is often not an option if staying in either a hotel or a B&B.

I have booked two separate AirBnB’s in Tipperary and Cork. BattleKid and I are staying in Tipperary for four nights. The AirBnB I have booked is conveniently located halfway between the castles in Tipperary and those in Limerick/Clare that we plan to visit. We then move onto Cork for two nights where my sister and niece will be joining us now that BattleDad isn’t coming with us, due to work commitments. Then we will be staying with family in Dublin for three nights before we return to Portugal.

For your own trip, your choice of accommodation will very much depend on how many of you are in your party, your budget and also whether you plan to have one based or are moving around. There is an abundance of hotels to choose from, self-catering family cottages, B&B’s, AirBnB’s and even hostels in Ireland. Other things to consider before booking your accommodation include on-site parking for your car or hire car, availability of public transport if you don’t have a car, cooking facilities if you want to save some money, how easy it is to get to and from the airport and even laundry facilities if going for more than a week.

**Get £31 travel credit when you sign up to AirBnB using this link and make your first booking.

How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland
The stunning Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.

Where to eat in Ireland?

We will be having breakfast in our AirBnB and most days, during our time in Tipperary, we will pack a picnic or packed-lunch in case we don’t find anywhere to eat. This will leave us free to explore the castles on our agenda at our own pace and won’t find ourselves with hungry bellies. As for dinners, I plan to cook most evenings in Tipperary. Once my sister joins us in Cork, we will probably venture out to a pub to enjoy some of the lovely Irish dishes I’ve been missing, and of course I will be having at least one fish and chips dinner when we visit family, something I am so looking forward to.

With my sister and niece, we will probably be having lunch out with them, either in a restaurant or more likely a pub, where I’m sure I’ll find at least a Baby Bowl on the menu for BattleKid to enjoy. My mouth is salivating just thinking of some of the dishes I might find on a pub lunch menu!

As for your own trip to Ireland, you will find a huge choice of restaurants, cafes and pubs to choose from in all the major cities if you want to eat out. Each smaller town will have several pubs serving food to choose from and there are also lots of supermarkets and smaller shops to buy groceries and supplies in. For the bigger supermarkets you have the budget options of Lidl and Aldi, next up would be Tesco or Dunnes Stores, and the higher end of the scale would be Marks and Spencer. I’ll use whichever I find closest to the first AirBnB.

What to pack for Ireland?

Having spent nearly half my life in Ireland, I know how unpredictable the weather can be, especially in late March and early April. And given Ireland has just had its biggest snowfall for 36 years, I won’t be taking any chances. So, I’ll be packing warm clothes and waterproofs for both myself and BattleKid. There are a pair of wellington boots for us both in my parent’s house in Dublin which I’ll be picking up on our way to Tipperary.

So, what should you pack? Well, whether you are going in the summer or another time of year, I suggest making sure you have warm clothes with you as well as a good waterproof jacket or coat at the very least. Within the cities there are plenty of pubs, cafes and restaurants to take cover in if you get caught in the rain. And you can always buy an umbrella too. However, if you plan to visit historical sites and the countryside, you’ll need good waterproof walking shoes or boots and that all-important raincoat. You don’t necessarily need wellies but as we are planning on exploring the grounds of castles, I want them with us just in case.

I certainly don’t plan to let the rain dampen our plans, if you’ll pardon the pun. The only thing it might do is make our day in Dublin as a tourist a little different as we probably wouldn’t be able to enjoy the open top bus. But with the right clothes and a little planning when packing for our trip, we should be prepared for all weather. Apart from a foot of snow, but I’m hoping that won’t happen during our trip!

How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland
The amazing Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow.

What to do in Ireland?

The question should really be “how long is a piece of string”. Ireland is full of so many options, it is hard to choose. You could simply enjoy the beauty of Ireland by driving the Wild Atlantic Way, which I think is our next port of call in summer 2019, or the Ring of Kerry which BattleDad and I have done. You might prefer to explore what the cities have to offer including Dublin, Galway and Cork. Your family might want to visit heritage sites, of which there are hundreds to choose from. There is so much choice and there is bound to be something everyone will enjoy.

As for our trip, we are concentrating on castles and animals mostly, with some Dublin tourist attractions as well. The plan is to take BattleKid dragon hunting in several castles in the southern half of the country. We will dragon hunt with my sister and niece in Blarney Castle in Cork as well as visit Fota Wildlife Park. In Dublin we’ll continue seeking out animals at Dublin Zoo and the Airfield Farm, before BattleKid and I will spend a day in Dublin doing all things touristy via the help of a Dublin Pass*. And finally, of course, the obligatory shopping before we fly back home.

A 10-day Magical Trip to Ireland Itinerary

Monday – Arrive Dublin Airport. Drive to Tipperary AirBnB

Tuesday – Visit one or more of Cahir Castle, Lismore Castle and/or the Rock of Cashel

Wednesday – Visit King John’s Castle and/or Adare Castle

Thursday – Visit Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. If time allows we might visit the Cliffs of Moher

Friday – Vacate AirBnB and drive to Cork to visit Blackrock Castle. Pick up my sister and niece and check in to the Cork AirBnB

Saturday – Fota Wildlife Park*

Sunday – Visit Blarney Castle* to kiss the Blarney stone before driving to Dublin

Monday – Visit Dublin Zoo and the Airfield Farm

Tuesday – Spend the day in Dublin as a tourist with the Dublin Pass*

Wednesday – Shopping before flying back to Portugal

Although our time in each destination is set, and our trips to both Fota Wildlife Park* and Blarney Castle* are already arranged, the rest of the itinerary is flexible, depending on how BattleKid and I feel. We do need to fit in some time to see family in Dublin as well, so our Dublin Zoo/Airfield visits might be short, or we’ll do one or the other.

By all means you don’t have to follow my itinerary at all. I’ve included it as a guide to show you want we plan to get up to during our 10 days in Ireland. That said you could always do a shorter road trip in Ireland over a week and still see many of the beautiful sights Ireland has to offer. Or if you only have a long weekend in Ireland why not do a coast-to-coast trip taking in Dublin and Galway.How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland

So, there you have it, how I’ve planned what I hope will be a magical trip to Ireland for BattleKid and me. We’re going to hunt some dragons, see some animals, enjoy Dublin from a kid’s perspective and have a long overdue catch up with family. And I have to say a big thank you to Blarney Castle, Fota Wildlife Park and the Dublin Pass for the opportunity to collaborate with them on our forthcoming trip. I cannot wait to report back to you, my readers, about our trip and each aspect of our time in Ireland.

Have you ever visited Ireland or is it on your bucket list?

Cath x

*We are working with Blarney Castle, Fota Wildlife Park and Dublin Pass during our time in Ireland.

**To remain fully transparent, please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. That means that I receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking the link – this doesn’t cost you anything extra. Thank you.

How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland - In this post I tell you how I've planned a magical trip to Ireland for my son and I. With helpful ideas about how to plan your own trip, you're sure to find this post helpful.

How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland - In this post I tell you how I've planned a magical trip to Ireland for my son and I.
How To Plan A Magical Trip To Ireland - Where do you even start to plan a magical trip to Ireland. Why, here of course!

 Learning a New Language with TeacherBoards: Review

We were recently given the opportunity to receive a product from a company called TeacherBoards for the purpose of a review. At first, I considered something that only BattleKid could play with, but with us all trying to get to grips with Portuguese, I thought something to help us all would be more valuable. Today I’m going to tell how we are learning a new language with TeacherBoards.

Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards

TeacherBoards is a Yorkshire-based company that has been manufacturing and distributing boards to educational facilities for over 30 years. With a huge range of boards and educational tools, all manufactured within the UK to highest quality and specifications, TeacherBoards have something to suit everyone. They say

We aim to offer high quality, innovative products with outstanding customer care from specialist knowledge experts, providing you a simple and reliable service time after time.

As already mentioned I had considered choosing something for BattleKid to play with but I thought better of it. We didn’t start learning Portuguese before moving to Portugal but that hasn’t stopped us starting as soon as we landed.  We’re all at various stages of learning Portuguese, although BattleKid is way ahead of us as he is immersed in the language everyday in school.

But at home we often find ourselves referring to Google Translate or our Collins Portuguese-English dictionary when BattleKid asks us “mummy/daddy, what’s that in Portuguese?”. Once we find the word we are looking for, we find we often forget it and are continually referring back to the dictionary or translator.

BattleKid is very inquisitive and is eager to learn the Portuguese words for things. He accepts that there are two words for everything and never questions why. He surprises us everyday with the things he comes out with but there are still words and phrases he hasn’t learned.

So, in an effort to answer his questions and further our own learning, I asked TeacherBoards if they would be prepared to send us their Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit, as I felt this would be the ideal tool to help us with our learning at home. Not only does it have a large dry wipe workboard and smaller ones too, but it also has a pack of lower case letter and numbers, which would help BattleKid with his alphabet and numbers learning.

I was absolutely thrilled when they agreed to send the kit to us. Learning Portuguese was about to get a whole lot easier at home. We eagerly waited for the kit to arrive and once it did, we got to work straight away.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


The Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit contains the following items:

  • 10 x A4 Magnetic Drywipe boards
  • 1 x A3 Magnetic Drywipe boards
  • 12 x Slim Barrel Medium Tipped Drywipe Markers Black
  • 12 x Magnetic Mini Erasers
  • 1 x Tub 286 Magnetic Lowercase Letters
  • 1 x Tub 286 Magnetic Numbers/Maths Symbols
  • Multi-coloured storage trunk to hold everything.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


How we are learning a new language with TeacherBoards?

We decided to put the A3 board on a cupboard by our fridge so that we could add new words to it as we learned them. The idea is that by having the board in a prominent place, we can read the words we are learning, any time day or night, and absorb the Portuguese for them until we are comfortable enough to replace each word with a new one.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


The first word to go onto that board was the word for flag, bandeira. I asked one of BattleKid’s teachers what it was as he had brought a toy flag into school one day and I realised I didn’t know the word for it. BattleKid’s teachers are so helpful and are always telling us new words when we ask them. I think they appreciate the fact we are trying to learn the language and they hear us using what little Portuguese we have with BattleKid, so they know we are making the effort where so many other expats don’t.

In a short space of time our A3 board was filled with words BattleDad and I want to learn, some for ourselves, others such as monkey, sheep and donkey to use with BattleKid. We will probably keep the words there for a few weeks before replacing them with others.

As for the A4 boards, we’ve used them in two ways. Firstly, we decided to put one in each room to help us learn the words for the items of furniture in that room. For instance, in the kitchen we have one with the word for things like the cooker, the sink, the fridge and the kettle. Beside each word you’ll notice an “M” or an “F”. These denote whether the word is male (um) or female (uma). Portuguese follows the same sort of rules as French with words being either male or female. So far this hasn’t been a problem unless you are referring to two of the item or thing as there are two ways to say “two X’s” depending on whether the singular is male or female. But it makes sense to learn that now rather than later.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


Secondly, I’ve been using the A4 boards with BattleKid to help him learn and recognise the letters of the alphabet. In school he has been learning his vowels and can recognise them and write them too, much to our surprise. I’ve also used the A4 drywipe boards to help BattleKid with his writing. Although he doesn’t start real school until he is six here in Portugal, he has started learning to write in preschool and I’d like to continue that learning and help him improve at home.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


So, we’ve been having fun in the evenings after dinner with letters and writing. And it’s a much better use of that hour before bedtime, rather than him watching TV. It’s also been great seeing BattleKid starting to recognise other letters apart from the vowels, and also to see him writing. It’s a milestone I wasn’t expecting to see so soon for some reason.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


What I love about the Workboard Starter Kit from TeacherBoards

  • A fabulous teaching aid.
  • A3 board is a perfect size for learning several words.
  • A4 boards are great for putting up in various rooms.
  • A4 board is the perfect size for little hands.
  • The drywipe nature of the boards make it easy to change up the words we are learning.
  • The magnetic letters and numbers are a huge help to continuing BattleKid’s learning and education at home.
  • The board, erasers, number and letters are bold, bright colours and will appeal to children.
  • The storage trunk is perfect for keeping everything together when not in use.
  • This kit will be so useful within the classroom situation for any teacher.

What I don’t like about the Workboard Starter Kit from TeacherBoards

  • Nothing.

Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


If there was just one thing I could change about this kit, it would be to have a smaller ‘home’ kit. We really don’t use all 10 of the A4 boards and it’ll take quite a while for us to get through the full box of pens. We also aren’t using all 286 letters at one time either. My suggestion to TeacherBoards would be to create a smaller “at home” kit for parents to use with their children. The kit could be recommended by the teachers who use the full starter kit within their own classrooms.

That said, I love this dry wipe board kit. It has become so helpful and useful around our small home in helping us learn everyday Portuguese words. It has also become a favourite of BattleKid’s for practising his writing and his letters. In the future I think it will help tremendously when he starts Maths as well.


Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards


This kit not only helps us in learning a new language with TeacherBoards but will help with BattleKid’s continuing education at home. The dry wipe workboard starter kit would also be an invaluable piece of kit for anyone embarking on home education. The bright, bold colours will make the boards, erasers, numbers and letters appeal to kids and will help make learning fun.

I can highly recommend the Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit to anyone wanting to learn a new language or home educate their children. TeacherBoards not only have this kit but a full range of whiteboards for teachers, and other teacher boards ideas. So please do check out the TeacherBoards website to have a look at their full range of educational boards and teaching aids.

TeacherBoards are confident that you’ll find what you are looking for. However, if not, they can alter a product to meet your specific needs. You can’t ask for anything better than that.

Are you learning a second language at home or are going down the road of home education? Then TeacherBoards might be able to help you out.

Cath x

*We were very kindly sent a Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit for the purpose of this review, However, as always, these are my own honest thoughts and opinions of the product.

Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards - We've been using the awesome Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit to help us learn a new language.

Learning A New Language with TeacherBoards - This Magnetic Dry Wipe Workboard Starter Kit has been helping us learn a new language. Read more on the blog...

Portugal Diaries January 2018

So, what do you do on New Year’s Day in Portugal when the sun is shining, albeit a little bit cooler. You head to the beach of course, and that’s just what we did. After breakfast, we loaded up the car with BattleKid’s bike and headed to Manta Rota. We had a stroll along the beach, dodging the waves and searching for nice shells. Once we were done, we got BattleKid’s bike out of the car and let him ride around the huge square that sits at the start of the boardwalk to the beach.

Portugal Diaries January 2018
A New Year’s Day walk on the beach.

On January 2nd we started off with a motorbike ride, before popping to our local shopping centre where we had a mini birthday celebration for BattleKid with ice cream, as you do. After the weekend, normal service was resuming. We dropped BattleDad to the airport as he headed to Zurich for his first week in his new job. Then BattleKid was back to school after two weeks off and surprisingly went in without so much as a hint of reluctance.

Portugal Diaries January 2018
A birthday treat of ice-cream

I am hoping that he starts speaking more Portuguese from this term, which runs until Easter. By the summer holidays at the end of the July, he should be switching back and forth if what we’ve been told holds true. Time will tell.

During the second week of January there was a meeting in school about the progress of kids in BattleKid’s kindergarten class. As my Portuguese isn’t advanced enough, I asked if I could bring my Dad, as his is better than mine, just to catch the jist of what the teacher was saying. Armed with him, we attended to learn that BattleKid understands a lot more than he lets on, and that his teacher thinks he is quite intelligent, and that he has settled in very well and made friends.

This was all good news and put any worries I had about him to rest. He is never alone when we arrive to pick him up, and he has been nodding away to the lady who cuts his hair in understanding. So, this just backed up our own perspective of how he is getting on.

We had BattleDad home for a week before he was off again, this time to London. The Friday before he left we picked up BattleKid from school and headed to the square at Manta Rota for BattleKid to practice some more on his motorbike. We had a lovely hour together and even had time to visit the playground as the sun started dipping behind buildings.

Portugal Diaries January 2018
Enjoying some playtime after practising on his motorbike

On that Saturday following this, we had a quiet day before going into Tavira for a guitar concert. There is an Arts and Music Festival going on during the months of January to March and my Dad wanted to catch this particular guitar player. So, we attended it in a church in the centre of town. While the concert was good, the church was freezing and BattleKid started getting bored. The cure for this: let him play with my hair to keep him entertained, followed by an app on silent on my phone.

Portugal Diaries January 2018
Overlooking the Gilão River on our way to a guitar concert

We all decided we need to do more things like this as we quite like discovering more about the Portuguese culture. So, my folks are on look-out duty for something else for us to attend soon.

The next day BattleDad was off on a plane again, and while BattleKid and I were driving home from the airport, I had my Spotify playlist on in the car. The Scatman song came on (anyone remember that?) and ever since BattleKid has loved it. So much so I’ve had to add it to his own playlist! You should hear the giggles and laughs from him in the car when it’s on!

As the end of the month got closer, we finally received a parcel from the UK I had been waiting on. At the start of the month I had tried to order items from GoOutdoors during their sale. Because their system didn’t recognise our Portuguese address, they cancelled my order. I had had a similar issue with another UK company, but they got in touch to clarify and I received my order from them with no problems. To say I wasn’t happy was an understatement. I ended up having to reorder the items, missing out on two items as they were now out of stock, and had to send it to BattleDad’s Forward2Me address. But they arrived and our gear for Lapland has started accumulating. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that we finally booked our flights and AirBnB accommodation both in Lapland and Helsinki for our trip this December. I’m so excited.

No sooner had BattleDad arrived back from London, he was off again on another trip to Zurich. After BattleKid and I dropped him off, we got home and relaxed with a bit of ‘workings’ as BattleKid likes to call it. I work on my laptop, he works on his magnetic easel. We had a pretty uneventful few days before my sister and niece arrived for a long weekend (but that’s a tale for next month).

Portugal Diaries January 2018
Copying the picture on his magnetic eisle

And following on from our meeting with BattleKid’s teacher at the start of the month, he has been coming out with more and more Portuguese words, correcting hubby and I, and also saying things that we can’t decipher whether it’s Portuguese or not. But he keeps surprising us and it’s brilliant. I think we’ll have a bilingual child on our hands very soon.

We’ve also been getting our garden cleaned up a bit. I did a huge amount of weeding around our decking as it was looking disgraceful. I also potted some plants which I was hoping would root. One of our neighbours was pruning in November and gave us some geranium slips. I also potted some succulents which had fallen off two plants I have hanging on the deck. This was a complete punt and to my surprise they rooted, along with three slips of geraniums. So, I planted these around the deck and also in part of our rockery. And in there I got a huge surprise. Last year I had cleared it as it was a mess with dead lavender and a cactus that was swamped. The cactus has flowered and there are brand new shoots of lavender coming through. I’m chuffed. Hopefully the geranium and succulents will grow there too.

Our neighbour had said things grow really easily here and she wasn’t wrong. I’ve now potted more slips of geraniums she said I could take, along with a bougainvillea, another slip from a cactus and some more succulent slips. If they root, I’ll be laughing. But note, I am not a gardener, nor will I ever be, and I am only interested in plants that will essentially look after themselves with our irrigation system watering them for me. Watch this space to see if I’m successful again.

I’ve also started something I’ve been meaning to do since November; start photographing the street art (graffiti to you and I) that dons the walls of many of the uninhabited buildings here in Portugal. One of my favourites is less than 2 minutes from our place. Isn’t it fab.

Portugal Diaries January 2018
Street Art of Portugal

Cath x

Best and Worst Holidays – Travelling With Our Kids

Today, I have the pleasure of welcoming Sam from Travelling With Our Kids to the blog to tell us about their best and worst holidays. Over to you, Sam.

Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

Best Family Holiday

We have had many great family holidays since our boys were born, but if I had to choose one, then our recent cycling holiday along the River Danube would be my choice. Flying into Vienna, we spent one night in Vienna before catching the train to Passau. We then spent our afternoon collecting our rental bikes and looking around Passau. The next day we set off from Passau along cycle paths and quiet roads back towards Vienna. We cycled for 7 days to get to Vienna with the maximum distance being about 25 miles.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

Each day had different things to see and do, which meant we could take our time and stop when needed. Some days we cycled in 30 degree heat which was rather hot. Other days we had rain, but the weather didn’t stop us enjoying the holiday. Places we visited included Melk Abbey, Linz Old Town, and Krems. During the day, if we wanted to cross to the other side of the river, we could either cross by bridge or catch one of the ferry boats. Our boys loved these boats and they varied in size from fitting maybe 20 people to big car boats.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

Our youngest son was in a bike trailer which I pulled along behind me, while my husband had our eldest son on a tag-along. Personally, I think my husband pulled the easy straw, but he wouldn’t agree! Ha!

Our cycling holiday really gave us a different experience to a family holiday. Seeing the country from a bike was really fun. Both our boys loved getting up each morning and heading off on the rental bikes. We made up silly games to keep them entertained, stopped along the way to go to the park. As we had a bike trailer for our youngest son, it meant he could still have his afternoon nap. The cycle path also made it family friendly as you knew the boys were safe.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

We can’t wait to go on another cycling holiday in the future. Hopefully our youngest can go on a tag-along next time and do some cycling for himself!

Worst Family Holiday

Our worst family holiday was probably our first family holiday together. Not so much for it being rubbish but because our lives had been turned upside down not long before. Roughly 4 weeks before we were meant to go on our first holiday, my older brother suddenly passed away from a stroke. In the weeks leading up to the holiday we had to plan his funeral and make changes to our holiday (my older brother and younger brother were meant to fly to America, so all this had to be cancelled etc). I was also suffering from PND which wasn’t helped with the sudden loss of my brother.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

We had decided not to cancel our holiday, as we thought it would be good to escape for a while and try and begin to make sense of what had happened. Both sets of parents and also my younger brother were also with us. Each day was a major struggle emotion wise, and trying to enjoy the sights was rather tough.

About half way through the holiday our eldest son, who was 16 weeks old at the time, became ill. The hotel we were staying in phoned a local doctor who spoke no English to come see us. He gave us a prescription and told us the name of the town that had a 24-hour pharmacy. So, while I looked after a screaming baby, my husband and father drove to the pharmacy to collect the medicine.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

We didn’t really know what it was going to do but put our trust in the doctor. Roughly 20 mins after giving our eldest his medicine his screaming stopped, and he eventually fell asleep. By the morning he was back to his usual self!Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

 Overall, we all really enjoyed the holiday and would love to go back and explore again. It was just the circumstances around the holiday that made it for us the worst holiday we have been on.Best and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids

Thanks to Sam for sharing her best and worst holidays. I had never considered a family cycling holiday but it sounds like fun. I am sorry to hear about the passing of your older brother. You can read all about their cycling trip along the Danube on her blog, as well as their road trip in Austria and Germany.

Sam is a family travel blogger, based in Scotland. They love getting out and exploring new places whether it be at home or abroad. From cycling to hiking, they like to see places from a different viewpoint as they go. Please check out Sam’s blog, Travelling with Our Kids. You can also find Sam on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

And if you would like to feature in my Best and Worst Holidays series on the blog, please send me an email at and Worst Holidays Travelling With Our Kids - In today's guest post, Sam from Travelling With Our Kids shares their best and worst holidays with their kids. The best is a bit of a surprise!

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made: Review and Giveaway

I recently got a lovely email from the lady behind Kent-Made to see if I’d be interested in receiving one of her wooden signs for review. Now, I’ll be honest and say I hadn’t come across Kent-Made before receiving the email but once I’d had a look on the website, I knew I wanted to collaborate with them. So, after some discussions, I waited patiently for our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made to arrive. And to say I was thrilled to receive it would be an understatement.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made

Kent-Made is a company that specialises in

Custom-made wooden gifts that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Kent-Made creates laser cut wood signs and engraved wood signs which can be personalised. I asked the lady behind Kent-Made, Chantel, to tell me a little bit more about her business, why she started it and here’s what she said

I had two young children, aged 2 and 3 at the time I started Kent-Made. I really wanted to spend as much time as possible with them but I also had a real desire to get back to work, even if it was in a small capacity. With the help of my husband we decided to do this by starting up a business from home that I could hopefully grow to something full time by the time the kids were in school. I always had a passion for wood, and so I decided to do custom made gifts that would last forever!

Currently I’m working day and night, as things have picked up tremendously as of late. I’ve had to really work hard to make time for the kids. I make sure I close that workshop door and make time to just play.


It was always going to be risky starting a small business from home with two little kids running around and not going back to work where I had a guaranteed income. I wanted a flexible working environment to still spend time with Emily and Cameron and be able to call the shots as to how I run my own business. So far it’s been a great journey, hopefully Kent-Made will continue to grow!

Chantel offered us one of her custom wooden signs in return for a review. Well, I didn’t know where to start. Her website is beautifully laid out and she has so many custom-made wood signs that I was spoilt for choice. From wooden name signs of every shape and size, to wooden wedding signs that will make a lovely and unique gift, there was so much to choose from.

I eventually decided on a personalised wooden bedroom sign for BattleKid. I thought it might be the ideal item as it’s small enough to not take up too much room and would be something for him. As we live in a very small two-bedroom home, space is at a premium, so little things to make it homely are ideal. 

I searched through the wooden bedroom signs and while I thought the airplane design might be the one, I got back in touch with Chantel, to see if she had a motorbike in her portfolio. I hadn’t found one on the website but thought it was no harm asking her if she could make one for our motorbike-mad son. And to my absolute delight she came back with a picture of one saying she would be happy to make it, if it fit the bill. Of course I said yes.

Chantel worked her magic and our personalised wooden name sign was soon winging its way to us.

When it finally arrived, I opened it and was thrilled with what I discovered. The sign was perfect, just what I had hoped for. It measures 22cm by 13cm and is made from 3mm plywood and was easily recognisable as a motorbike.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made

I waited for BattleKid to get home from school and told him to “close your eyes and hold out your hands” for a surprise. He duly did as he was told, and when he opened his eyes he was thrilled to see a wooden motorbike sign in his hands, even if he wasn’t totally sure what it was for.

He recognised his name and was soon naming the vowels in his name. For some reason his preschool teacher has been doing the vowel letters with them, so he can easily point them out.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made

What do I think of our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made?

I have to say I really like it. Chantel went out of her way to create something unique for us and it wasn’t too much trouble at all. This to me speaks volumes where customer service and satisfaction are concerned. Not many larger companies would add a design to their portfolio because a customer has asked.

Secondly, the sign itself is well made, light and doesn’t feel flimsy. There is some flexibility in the sign but not enough to cause worry should little people attempt to bend it. The letters of BattleKid’s name are well formed and easy to read. And because it is light, it will stick anywhere. I also like the fact it is left unpainted and unvarnished. This means if I am brave enough I might allow BattleKid to customise it even further one day. Watch this space!

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made

What I love about our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made

  • Lightweight.
  • Well-made and feels durable despite the flexibility in the sign.
  • Because plywood has a natural grain, all signs will look slightly different from one another to reflect this fact.
  • Personalised to any name, great if your children have unusual names that high-street bedrooms sign companies don’t cater for.
  • So many designs to choose from for all occasions.
  • If a design is not on the website you can get in touch with Chantel, who will be happy to work with you to create something special. Our motorbike request was no trouble at all.
  • Each sign comes with free shipping within the UK and international shipping is available too.
  • Signs are not painted or varnished meaning your little ones can customise their wooden door signs even further.
  • They are brilliant value-for-money at a cost of just £8.99 each (for bedroom signs).

What I don’t love about our personalised wooden sign by Kent-Made

  • Nothing!

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made
I think someone is happy with his new bedroom sign

I should point out that bedroom door signs aren’t the only personalised wooden gifts you’ll find on the Kent-Made website. There is a lovely range of laser engraved wood signs to choose from with things like personalised postcards (costing just £4.99), to wedding save-the-date cards (starting from £1.99) to Christmas decorations (priced at £4.99) and even beautiful wooden flowers (costing £5.99 each) which would make a lovely gift for anyone. I will be keeping Kent-Made in mind later in the year when I get ready to buy BattleKid’s annual personalised Christmas decoration.

I cannot recommend Kent-Made enough if you are looking for a personalised wooden door sign or a different personalised wooden gift for any occasion. And as mentioned, if what you are looking for isn’t on the website, please get in touch with Chantel via the support page of the website, or email her at to discuss further. She might just be able to help you find the perfect gift.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made

And that’s not all. Chantel is kindly offering one of my readers the chance to win their choice of Kent-Made products up to the value of £20. So if you have two children, you can easily get them a bedroom sign each! Simply follow the instructions in the widget below and good luck!

Win a lovely Kent-Made Wooden Sign

Cath x

*We were kindly sent a personalised wooden bedroom sign from Kent-Made in return for this review. However, as always, these are my own honest thought and opinions about the product.

Competition Terms and Conditions

  • Open to my readers from the UK and Republic of Ireland.
  • Competition ends at 23.59GMT on 28th March 2018.
  • There is no cash alternative.
  • One winner will receive their products of their choice from Kent-Made up to the value of £20.
  • The winner will be picked at random and notified within 5 days.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made - Our review of the motorbike personalised wood sign by Kent-Made we received for BattleKid's bedroom door.

A Personalised Wooden Sign by Kent-Made - Our review of the motorbike personalised wood sign by Kent-Made.