As mentioned last month, I am falling behind big time with getting this post done at the beginning of each month. That said, we were travelling in America so I’ll use that excuse this month. Either way, here is August’s post. And wow, what a month it was. We had a quiet start to the month but ended on a huge high in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve managed a few rather nice captures in front of the camera with BattleKid.
We didn’t do much at in the first half of the month. We took this picture of BattleKid and I for a post Cathryn of Cardiff Mummy Says. She was writing about parents twinning and this was me and BattleKid, rockin our blue tees and awesome Toms shoes.
BattleKid and I also had a fun evening on the couch and I managed this picture of the two of us. He was happy, I was happy (despite the crazy hair) and it even got featured in a roundup of #showyouwerethere by Madeline of This Glorious Life.
August here in Portugal has been hot, hot, hot but we did manage one evening at the beach, which was long overdue. BattleKid loved every minute as he always does and we enjoyed some time together at the shore paddling together. That was before he started jumping waves with BattleDad.
Before we hit America we had 36 hours in London and we decided to have a family day out while we were there. We visited the London Eye, saw the fish of SeaLife and even went dragon hunting at the Tower of London. This picture was taken on Embankment Bridge as we made our way from Southbank to the Tower of London.
After our fun-filled day in London we flew to America to start a wonderful two-week road trip and it started in wonderful Yellowstone National Park. From geysers to bison to waterfalls, we saw so much and enjoyed every minute of our four days in this stunning place. What a way to end August!
If you didn’t catch July’s Be in the Picture post, why not check it out. Our USA trip didn’t end there and some of the pictures in September’s post will come from the rest of our trip. So pop back next month to see those!
Initiated by Kerry of Kerry Louise Norris and Alana of Baby Holiday, Be in the Picture encourages us to get in front of the camera instead of always being behind it. I’m guilty of this and by joining in with Be in the Picture, it ensures BattleKid will have pictures of me as well of himself when he grows up.
So, after finishing his calls by 5pm, we decided to jump into the car and go exploring. And we hit the beach but not Fabrica. We hit a beach called Manta Rota which is a sandy beach that stretches for miles. And even better, you don’t need to get a boat to it. You simply walk out the boardwalk and you’re right on the beach.
It was still quite busy with lots of people still arriving. It seems it is a popular thing to head to the beach after work! And we had a great time. BattleKid got thoroughly soaked and I was glad I had a spare change of clothes as we headed to Xicken Piri Piri for dinner afterwards.
So nice was Manta Rota that on my sister’s last day I picked them up early and we headed there for a few hours to let BattleKid and his cousin play in the sand. They had a ball and it was lovely seeing them enjoying themselves. After showers and lunch, I dropped my parents home before carrying on to Faro airport to drop my sister and niece off. My sister really didn’t want to go home but they’ll be back later in the year.
We had a quiet few days after our visitors but on the first Sunday of July, we decided to get out early and carry on exploring. We had been told of a castle fort at a place called Castro Marim that might be a good place for some dragon hunting, so off we went. I was very surprised that it was only 20 minutes for our home.
Castro Marim has two forts on top of hills. One is open to the public and in we went, on the hunt of our first dragon in Portugal. It was a great place to spend an hour or two and I’ll be writing all about our visit soon. Afterwards we stopped at a café at the bottom of the castle hill and had toasties and a cuppa before setting off for home. I can see us returning to Castro Marim time and time again.
After the weekend, and once BattleDad was finished work on Monday evening, we headed back to Manta Rota but not to the beach this time. We wanted to take BattleKid somewhere flat to practise his cycling and there was no better place we could think of than the big square in front of Manta Rota beach. He had a great time for over half an hour before we stopped for dinner.
Later that week we had a trip inland lined up but it turned out even better than I thought it would. Stay tuned to find out why!
As part of our epic USA road trip this year, we are taking in the wonderful city of Portland. It might seem like an unusual city to some but BattleDad and I have wanted to make a visit to Portland ever since we started watching the TV series Grimm. It always looked very chic and like it could be a cool place to visit. I’ve written about our wish to visit Portland and we’re finally doing it. But planning our visit to Portland has been no meant feat I can tell you.
Oregon is also somewhere I have wanted to visit to see autumn colours. While most people will visit Maine or New England to see autumn colours, Oregon is also somewhere to visit for this time of year. We may or may not see much in the way of autumn colours as we are visiting at the very start of September but you never know.
Our USA road trip starts in Portland but we don’t stop there. Firstly, we head to a place called Richland for an overnight stay before we spend a whole day driving to start part one of our trip: our visit to Yellowstone. After exploring Yellowstone for a few days, we make our way to Missoula for 3 days before heading back to Richland via part of the Dalles Shamrock Route. After another overnight stay, we head to our final destination of our USA road trip, Portland. There we will have 4 days to take in part of Route 101, the Pacific Coast Highway as well as discover and explore Portland and the surrounding areas.
Once again, I turned to the travel Facebook Groups I am a member of and asked for peoples advice on what to see and do in Portland, particularly with a 3 year old in tow. And boy did they come up trumps.
Recommendations for Our Visit to Portland
Portland Children’s Museum – This museum is dedicated to children and is located in Washington Park, near the Oregon Zoo. It is the 6th oldest children’s museum in the world. The Portland Children’s Museum is not a typical museum, opting to spend time investing in familiar materials to craft priceless opportunities for children to learn through play, rather than in precious objects. The exhibitions, workshops and objects on display are designed to be fun and bring about both creative and cooperative play in children. Reading some review on TripAdvisor, it seems it is designed with younger children in mind, which is perfect to us. So, I think a visit to this Children’s Museum is high on our list of things to do during our visit to Portland.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry – This museum is one of America’s leading science centres and is a big attraction in Portland. Their mission is to Inspire curiosity through engaging science learning experiences, foster experimentation and the exchange of ideas, and stimulate informed action. I have a feeling the Orgeon Museum of Science and Industry is going to be a lot like Techniquest, which I’ve brought BattleKid to, and will be enjoyed by both him and us adults. Another one for the to do list during our visit to Portland, particularly since they currently have a Pompeii Exhibition taking place.
Oregon Zoo – Also located in Washington Park near the Children’s Museum, this 64-acre zoo boasts nearly 2000 animals and over 200 species, and is also the oldest North America zoo west of the Mississippi. Exhibits include African Rainforest, African Savannah, Predators of the Serengeti, Amazon Flooded Forest and Condors of Columbia, to name but a few. I think no visit to Portland with a toddler in tow would be complete without adding the Oregon Zoo to your to do list. And it is most definitely on ours. With it being located beside both the Children’s Museum and the Hoyt Arboretum (see below) and with a light rail link to the Portland Japanese Gardens (see below), I think we’ll combine a visit to the zoo with these other attractions too.
Portland Japanese Gardens – Another attraction situated in Washington Park, these traditional Japanese gardens occupy 9 acres and is composed of eight garden spaces and a cultural village. With waterfalls, ponds, bonsai gardens and traditional plants, I think this is going to be a lovely place to visit for some quiet time after a hectic few weeks. As it is located at the opposite end to the Oregon Zoo and Children’s Museum we might make the Portland Japanese Garden our last stop during our visit to Washington Park. And I am secretly hoping some acers have vibrant leaves for me to photograph.
International Rose Test Garden – Another Portland attraction located in Washington Park, this garden is located near the Japanese Gardens. Occupying 4.5 acres, these gardens come into their own between April and October with different species in bloom at different times. The International Rose Test Garden has over 7000 plants of approximately 550 species. Who knew there were that many species of rose plants! If we get time we will pop in for a look after the Japanese Gardens and, if we do, I’ll be sniffing them to my heart’s content.
Hoyt Arboretum – Also located in Washington Park, this 189-acre arboretum hosts approximately 6000 individual trees and over 2000 species of shrub from around the world. Hoyt Arboretum boats 12 miles of trails, two of which are wheelchairs accessible, a visitor’s centre, indoor classroom, a picnic shelter and meadow. Although recommended as somewhere we should go during our visit to Portland, I am not sure if we will manage to squeeze this in.
Parks – As well as Washington Park, two other parks were suggested as somewhere we might like to visit. They were Forest Park and Mount Tabor Park. Forest Park is located in the west of Portland, while Mount Tabor Park, a dormant volcanic vent, is located in Southeast Portland. Again, I am not sure if we’ll have to time to visit these two parks during our visit to Portland.
Multnomah Falls – A waterfall located on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls is one highlight I am not going to miss, come rain or shine. When we started thinking about visiting Portland many years ago, these falls were something I stumbled across and that was it, we had to go. From pictures I’ve seen they look spectacular. They are also located only 35 minutes’ drive from where we are staying in Portland.
Other Recommendations for Our Visit to Portland
Eateries – These have included places for the best donuts which include Voodoo Doughnuts and Blue Star Donuts. For great coffee (BattleDad, not me) we have been recommended a place called Stumptown Coffee Roasters. For BattleKid, the best ice cream place recommended to us was Salt and Straw Ice Cream near to a good shopping area. That’s me sorted! For breakfast, I stumbled across as place called Slappy Cakes, a place where you make your very own pancakes on a griddle at your table. It’s then up to you what you have with it. Only a 20-minute drive from our Portland accommodation, I think we’ll be having breakfast there! And for all-round good food, we’ve been recommended a place called Mother’s Bistro and Bar but have been told to get there early! This is always a good sign so that might be a good place for dinner.
Powell’s City of Books – The world’s largest independent book store, they have a very good children’s section and are located in Downtown Portland. I think we might find a nice book or two in there for BattleKid and plan to combine a trip there with some general shopping.
Resources Recommended for Our Visit to Portland
Two websites were recommended to me for our visit to Portland and I’ve found them both very helpful so far.
Cascadia Kids – A blog dedicated to travel with kids in the British Columbia, Oregon and Washington States of Canada and America, respectively, this has given me some very useful information. One particular post I enjoyed and gave me inspiration was Portland in a Day: 12 hours of fun. Through reading this post I discovered just how much of our Portland wish-list was located in Washington Park and in what order we might want to consider doing them.
Redtri – Another blog dedicated to inspiring parents to do fun things with their kids and they have a section on Portland. They have posts with days out ideas as well as a calendar of events on for families. I haven’t consulted this website too much but may do so closer to the time.
If I thought the Yellowstone leg of our USA road-trip was going to be jam-packed, Portland looks just as bad. As mentioned we want to take one day to drive part of Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway so it only really leaves us two and a half days to do things in and around Portland. I also want to do a bit of shopping and visit the Disney store to see if I can pick up one or two things in preparation for our visit to Disneyland Paris in December, and I might even get a few things exclusive to the states.
So, our visit to Portland is going to be busy. I mentioned all these great things to my mum and she said, “Are you going to have any part of the holiday that is just a holiday?”. I saw her point, and thankfully we haven’t planned anything to do during our few days in Missoula and Lolo, so I think that will be the real holiday part of our USA road-trip.
To summaries, our Portland Bucket List looks a bit like this.
Whether we get it all done remains to be see but we’ll definitely do our best to pack in as much as possible.
Hello everyone and welcome to another guest post here on the blog while we drive miles and miles of the Pacific North West. This time I am bringing you a post from Ruth of It’s Just a Phase. Ruth is a former journalist turned parenting blogger based in Kildare. She is mum to Aidan and Sarah, and started blogging to feed her love for writing after leaving her journalism role to find a happier work/life balance. She writes about all things parenting including family travel, recipes and just the sheer madness of it all. Over to you, Ruth.
Summer 2017: A family holiday to The Netherlands
Did you miss us? We were off swanning around The Netherlands for the last while and now I have a serious case of the post holiday blues.
So when you hear about someone heading off to Holland on their holliers, a lot of people automatically think Amsterdam, tulips, Anne Frank’s gaff, canals, sex shows and stuff you smoke that you’re not allowed smoke here! Well, we saw none of that. I’m here to tell you that The Netherlands is one seriously great destination for a family holiday.
We had an amazing week that was packed with activity for the kids and chilled out evenings for myself and himself. So, let me fill you in.
We flew from Dublin to Eindhoven with Ryanair, which is in the North Brabant province. We booked well in advance and flew from a Tuesday to Tuesday to keep costs down. In fact the flight came in just over €300, which is pretty good for two adults and two children.
We hired a car for the week and stayed in an Airbnb property we rented. The house was actually in Belgium, just two kilometres over the border and it was huge. It had four big bedrooms, a massive living room, kitchen, utility and had things like a tree house, table tennis and a hammock to entertain the kids. Having been holed up in a tiny wooden house for a week in Spain last year, the house was a breath of fresh air. Both kids had their own bedroom, the garden was great and with electric gates, it was totally safe for Aidan (four) and Sarah (two).
The Netherlands, though densely populated, is a small country so you’re not too far away from any of the big cities really. We were less than an hour from Rotterdam and even closer to Antwerp and Brugge. However we stayed ‘local’ and never really ventured anywhere more than 45 minutes from our rental property.
Breda, a stunning city nearby, was our first port of call. Pre-children myself and himself visited this small city for the annual ginger festival and we totally fell in love with the charm of the place. It’s cobbled streets, big squares and beautiful architecture.
First up we visited a reptile house, where himself got to hold a snake, much to Aidan’s delight! We visited the city’s big park and playground, fed the ducks, walked cobbled streets through market stalls and sat out on the big square with a coffee and ice-cream for the kids. I even managed to sneak off and find some bargains in the sales!
One of the highlights of the week was our trip to the Efteling Theme Park, which I can only describe as a Dutch Disneyland. It was amazing. It was huge. It was the stuff of dreams for the kids and the adults had a ball too. Aidan went on a rollercoaster, we watched the most amazing 3D nature short film, went to a land of fairy tales, sat on toadstools, went on boats, ghost trains and were serenaded over our evening dinner. We were there all day and only got to see half of it. It’s massive. The entrance fee is pricey but it’s genuinely worth it. Efteling alone would make me want to return again next summer. It really is that good.
Another super experience was the Beekse Bergen Safari Park. We got to drive our hire car through the park. The kids were amazed to see giraffe, zebra and rhinos just rambling past the car. After the drive though we had access to the park for the rest of the day, it’s essentially like a zoo but the animals have much more space. There were obstacle courses and playgrounds dotted everywhere and we even had our lunch over looking the baboon enclosure. Sarah couldn’t quite believe they had their pink bums on show! My one tip if you are visiting the safari park is, bring your own lunch. The fare on offer inside is poor to say the least. If you’re in to deep fried frozen food you’ll be fine but if not a picnic is your best option.
Back in Belgium and just minutes from our house, we stumbled across a local amenity called De Mosten, run by local government. It was out of this world. There was a man made beach, two huge playgrounds, a restaurant, big Connect Four games all over, slides in the water, benches galore, green space, volleyball courts, tennis courts and basketball courts. It was so relaxing. The kids had so much to do they didn’t know what way to turn, and myself and himself got to do a lot of relaxing too.
In 2013, a Unicef report rated Dutch children the happiest in the world. According to researchers, Dutch kids are ahead of their peers in childhood well-being when compared with 29 of the world’s richest industrialised countries and I can really see why. There’s so much for kids to do. Aidan and Sarah were greeted with a smile and a pat on the head everywhere they went. The locals seem to have the work/life balance down to a tee. People are so friendly and so relaxed. It made for a dream holiday. If I were to pick one negative, I’d say eating out is expensive, the same as Ireland, if not a bit more. But a few drinks are cheap. Leffe, my favourite beer, is only €1 a bottle and wine is dirt cheap too.
I can safely say that I will never again do the package holiday thing with the kids. I just want to explore more of what the Netherlands has to offer. I would highly recommend it as a family holiday destination.
If you’d like to see my full review of our holiday head on over to It’s Just a Phase or feel free to get in touch if you have any queries. I’d be happy to help if I can.
Thank you so much to Ruth for sharing with us her best holiday with her kids so far. I don’t know about you, but after that glowing review the Netherlands has just winged it’s way onto my must-visit list of destinations.
This is my first ever guest post from a fellow blogger on my blog and I am delighted to welcome Kate of Kate Lili to the blog. As we are currently travelling somewhere in the Pacific North West and hoping it’ll be a holiday to remember, Kate has kindly written a post about her best holidays with her kids, both at home and abroad. Without further do, I’ll hand you over to Kate.
When I was pregnant with my first baby I prayed over her that she would have lots of family, that she would be loved and that she would get to travel. I had visions of her taking a gap year in uni and exploring some of the world. Little did I know by age 5 she would be the most well travelled kid in her class! By her 5th birthday she had been abroad 3 times as well as having holidays and trips around the UK.
She is a great little traveller and I relish taking her on exciting adventures. In my view we’ve done 2 of the best holidays you can do with kids; Walt Disney World Florida and Butlin’s Minehead. There is quite a stark difference between the two but both great for their individual reasons. Here’s why:
Minehead Butlin’s was Beg’s first ever holiday. She was 6 months old and I booked it when I was still pregnant. I remember putting her age into the booking form and getting a reality check that she would be here being a real person in a few short months. We’ve been to Butlin’s Minehead as a family more times than I can actually recall, I’d guess around 8 times. Most recently we went when Beg was 7 and her little brother Beb was 1.
It’s suitable for children of all ages. Butlin’s Minehead is like a giant kids playground. Their tag-line is ‘Our greatest pleasure is all for your delight’ and there is just so much for kids to do they will never be bored. The typical British weather doesn’t even matter as most of the entertainment is under the Skyline which is like a giant circus tent.
Things to do
When you arrive you are given a programme of events for your weekend. Every hour slot has been thought of. Have a look in here to plan what you don’t want to miss. The live shows are really Butlin’s forte, they source top acts and the in-house entertainment is A plus too. Live shows we saw on our last trip were:
Sam & Mark
The Skyline Gang
Padded around this are regular sports activities like archery and football to join in with. Kids will also love the giant splash pool with slides, traditional funfair, and beach, just 5 minutes walk away. There is so much to do at Butlin’s you won’t be bored for a minute. That is the main reason I love Butlin’s.
Accommodation is apartments and bungalows with or without kitchenette and diner. They go from standard, to a brand new apartment village at the Minehead Butlin’s. I would recommend booking from Gold up. Book a dining plan before you go and you won’t have to worry about sorting tea every night while you’re away and the food is really good with loads of choices for kids. Minehead is a lovely old seaside type of town and the beach is lovely.
Walt Disney World Florida
We were so lucky to get to take Beg to WDW. Rich won vouchers at work and that was how we managed to go. In short, it’s all the magic you imagine it to be. Disney really knows how to go all out to make your holiday feel special. It really was the holiday of a lifetime.
We went at Easter time, so it was Spring Break for the American schools, and it was busy but that didn’t seem to matter. The parks are so big there is always something you can go to see if one area is jam-packed for something. The Easter decorations were out and we caught the flower festival at Epcot which is well worth a look.
Things To Do
I would be writing for years if I could list all the things there are to do at WDW Florida. The parks are Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and two water parks, Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon. There is also Disney Springs which is like a souped up retail area with themed restaurants. Highlights for me were:
A visit to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique and a princess make-over for Beb
Meeting Cinderella and Rapunzel
The parade at Magic Kingdom
The safari ride at Animal Kingdom
A meal at the Rainforest Cafe at Animal Kingdom
The fireworks at Magic Kingdom
There is so much to do I think you could probably visit every year for 10 years and still find highlights. I’m following loads of Disney vloggers on YouTube and I love watching all their favourite things to do. I’m quietly planning our next trip.
Stay on a Disney resort for shuttle bus travel across the whole WDW area. The parks are quite far apart so this is a definite perk. They run really regularly and until after parks close to make sure everyone gets back to their hotels safely. Book a dining plan before you go otherwise the food bill racks up really quickly, especially if you don’t have a car to drive out of the Disney area to find a food place. Disney resorts go from your average 3* to high luxury resorts. You could choose to hire a villa or stay in a motel on International drive as other options (that’s what we did when I was a kid).
Two great family holidays at either end of the budget scale both child centred. I have wonderful memories from our holidays to both Butlin’s and WDW Florida and we talk about our holiday memories to each other most days. I’m sure there are relaxing Caribbean beaches beckoning me in the future when my kids are older and perhaps have left home, but I know these fast paced non-stop action holidays with the kids are the ones I will look back on most fondly.
Thanks to Kate for sharing with us her two best holidays to date with her kids. WDW is somewhere most parents want to take their children and we can see why.
If you’d like to read more from Kate, please head on over to her blog Kate Lili. She has just rebranded and was formerly The Hippy Christian Mum.
If anyone would like to contribute a guest post about their best and/or worst holidays with their kids to date, please send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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