Life in California

Oh my goodness I am SO behind on all of this! To be honest, I haven’t been taking a lot of photos the past 2 weeks as it’s been raining for 12 days straight. Thankfully that’s over now and it’s back to glorious sunshine and wonderfully warm.

So I’m afraid there isn’t any real structure to this post, it’s basically just a photo-dump of all the nice things we’ve been doing recently. Our weeks have been filled with trips to the park, hiking in the hills and visiting San Francisco zoo.

Our first hike was back when we were still staying in Sonoma. We decided to do the Sonoma Overlook Trail which is a 3-mile round-trip and has stunning views over Sonoma and the valley – and San Francisco – which nobody had told me about so it was a very nice surprise! Huxley was amazing and walked nearly the whole way up. He loved spotting all the different animals we saw along the way. On the way down we even spotted some deer that got really close to us! He fell asleep shortly after that, bless him!

View of Napa Valley from Skyline Wilderness Park

View of Sonoma from Sonoma Overlook Trail

Huxley hiking

Sleepy-sausage

Our favourite park to visit right now is Crane Park in St Helena, it’s so beautiful and always full of kids. We stayed there for 5 whole hours one day! St Helena is a bit further up Napa Valley and it’s just incredible.

St Helena Napa Valley California

Crane Park St Helena Napa Valley California

Napa Valley California

We had dinner at In’n’Out Burger a few weeks ago. I’ll probably get things thrown at me for saying this but I really don’t rate it. The burgers are okay but not that different from McDonalds but the real killer for me are the fries. They taste powdery and dry and are so vile I could barely stomach them. But Huxley had fun with the dinosaur stickers and little hat that they gave him so it was worth it just for that.

In-n-Out burger California

In-n-Out burger Huxley

We visited San Francisco zoo a few weeks ago after Huxley had been going on and on and on about seeing some animals. We all thought it was amazing and were very impressed. The whole place is so green. There are trees everywhere. Huxley loved seeing the lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, zebras and penguins – the only thing missing was an elephant but there’s one at Oakland Zoo which we might visit soon. Huxley could have stayed and watched the hippo all day I think. All he wanted was to see the hippo do a poo and all I can say is that the hippo delivered! I’ve never seen someone so excited about some poop! They also had a little farmyard area where you could buy food to feed the goats and brush their hair.

Feeding goats at San Francisco zoo

Brushing a goat at San Francisco zoo

Zebras at San Francisco Zoo

Chocolate-ice-cream

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

View of Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

 

 

What to wear on holiday in Mallorca

Mallorca is such an ideal holiday destination for so many people and it’s not hard to see why. Beaches, sunshine, culture, good food, the list of reasons to visit is endless. Not to mention that you can fly there from most local airports, without having to lug all your stuff to a major city airport. The lucky people of Mallorca see over 300 days of sunshine a year and the average temperature is 21 degrees – so what are you waiting for? Book Mallorca* today!

With this in mind, I’ve put together some outfits for some of the most popular Mallorca activities.

I thought I’d kick things off with ‘Lunch at the local food market’…

 

Lunch at the food market in Mallorca

Bag: Blank | Dress: Toast | Denim jacket: New Look | Sandals: Billabong (similar) | Necklace: Aurelie Bidermann

There’s a huge food market in Mallorca called Olivar Market (or Mercat de l’Olivar) where you can browse stands for all types of delicious wares and once you start to tire, take a rest and grab a bite to eat at one of the tapas bars. This casual pastel outfit is perfect for perusing fruit and veg and blending in with the locals.

Climbing mountains in Mallorca

 

Sports bra: Nike | Tank top: Nike | Leggings: Adidas Originals | Trainers: Nike | Hat: Roxy | Bottle: Camelbak

In 2011, Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was granted UNESCO World Heritage status for being an area of great physical and cultural significance. The Puig Major is the highest mountain in the Balearic Islands and is well worth checking out. The trails are made up of stone pathways and are well marked so you’re unlikely to get lost and offer spectacular views over the ocean. And while you’re at it, why not do it in style? Check out those Adidas leggings – aren’t they dreamy? Also, I am the proud owner of one of those Camelbak bottles, in fact, Nick & Huxley do too, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

 

Exploring cathedrals in Mallorca

 

Bag: Rag & Bone | Blouse: Mango | Lipstick: Nars | Trousers: Etro | Bow: H&M | Shoes: Gianvito Rossi 

Palma is home to the La Seu cathedral which was built on the site of a former mosque. Construction started in 1230 and continued for a jaw-dropping 400 years. It’s easy to read facts like that and just skim over them thinking ‘hmm that’s interesting’, but seriously, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. That’s insane. And it’s huge. The nave (central part) is 44m tall (Notre Dame in Paris is 33m). As far as I’m concerned, those 400 years were time well spent as it’s totally beautiful and this outfit would be perfect for walking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies.

At the beach in Mallorca

 

Bag: Accessorize | Sandals: M&Co | Suncream: Nivea | Swimsuit: Topshop | Sunglasses: RayBan | Hat: Eugenia Kim | Kaftan: Melissa Odabash

And last but not least, the pinnacle of any Mallorca holiday – the beach outfit! How amazing is that swimsuit! I love when you find great looking high street pieces. And don’t even get me started on that hat! How cute! I spotted Rosie Londoner wearing it in one of her blog posts recently and fell head over heels. It’s a bit pricey for my little purse though!

*This is a collaborative blog post

A day at Lake Tahoe

Our first weekend here was a Bank Holiday, President’s Day to be exact, which celebrates George Washington’s birthday, and we decided to spend our time visiting Lake Tahoe. It’s somewhere we’ve both always wanted to go but on our previous visits to California, Big Sur, Yosemite and Napa had won out.

It’s about a 3 hour drive to Tahoe from Sonoma, which in American terms is considered ‘just down the road’. We had fun pointing out all the big chain restaurants we could spot on the side of the freeway and I was really surprised at how quickly the huge snowy mountains came into view on the horizon. The fun really started when we pulled off the freeway and started up the winding mountain roads. I definitely squealed like an excited child at the first sight of snow.

We’d been tipped off by a friend to take the scenic route past Donner Lake for some spectacular views and I’m so glad we did. Check this out….

Donner Lake California

Donner Lake near Lake Tahoe California

After a quick photo pit-stop we continued on to Lake Tahoe itself, which is about 30 minutes further. We drove past loads of places doing tubing (which is sliding down the snow in a massive inflatable rubber ring) and it looked SO MUCH FUN. I was absolutely desperate to do it with Huxley but we decided to see the lake first and go on the way back (unfortunately we had far too much fun at the lake and Huxley fell asleep in the car so I never got a chance to do it! Boo!)

We decided to drive around the North side of Lake Tahoe on this visit, which I think is a lot quieter than the South end. To be honest, I was totally surprised at how uncommercialised it seemed. I was expecting massive Nike stores and McDonalds all over the place but it all seemed to be independent ski shops and mom-n-pop restaurants which was really nice. We did take a quick dip into the massive resort of Northstar, which is where the Ritz-Carlton is and it was a totally different vibe. It was insane. Everyone looked like they were DRIPPING in money. It was so swanky. Northstar’s slogan is something like ‘the way it should be’ and I have to say I probably agree. We actually didn’t end up venturing in as parking was crazy.

Anyway, our first stop in Lake Tahoe was King’s Beach which was a little dull. We had a quick explore of the beach and then decided to hop back in the car and drive round a bit further. I hadn’t actually realised that Lake Tahoe was split almost down the middle between California and Nevada until we drove over the state line. The difference was clear almost immediately. The Nevada side of the lake was much less built-up. I think the next bit we stopped at was Sand Harbor. It was totally beautiful. The water is crystal clear. Everything was so blue and it was like being in a dream.

Being February, there was snow on the beach which Huxley really enjoyed but it was sunny enough to be pleasantly warm. We threw snowballs at each other, explored all the nooks and crannies of the rocks and built a snowman on the beach (whose head Huxley proceeded to eat!).

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe Nevada

Lake Tahoe Nevada February

Lake Tahoe in February

Huxley at Lake Tahoe

Making a snowman on the beach at Lake Tahoe in February

All in all it was an amazing day and a trip that I would definitely recommend to anyone. We’re desperate to go back and try out some of the fun activities on offer and I know Nick can’t wait to get himself back on a snowboard again. California really does have it all!

How to decorate your house like a pro

It can be difficult in this age of cookie-cutter interiors, where everyone’s home looks like it jumped straight out of the Next catalogue, to put a unique spin on the finishing touches in your home. BUT! I’m about to help you remedy that with the help of a glorious website called Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods recently contacted me to ask if I would put a post together for them and I jumped at the chance after getting lost in their website for several hours. (Seriously though, you have been warned!)

There is WAY TOO MUCH cool stuff for me to showcase all of it here but I hope you’ll check out their website and have browse around for yourselves. And before you start feeling guilty about clicking and shopping, you should probably know that Uncommon Goods have a Robin Hood twist. The lowest-paid worker at Uncommon Goods earns 50% above minimum wage, over a third of their collection contains recycled materials and support four different not-for-profit organisations including Women for Women International and American Forests. So there, now you can shop with purpose and no guilt whatsoever. You can thank me later.

This map was one of the first things that caught my eye when I scrolled through their selection of art work. Then I noticed it was made by the amazing children’s author, Oliver Jeffers, a firm favourite in our household. And of course it’s of America. I’m starting to wonder if there’s too many map and/or America related pieces of art in our house now? (Although saying that, this series of prints by Carolyn Gavin has taken my fancy too…)

oliver jeffers places in america map uncommon goodsERMAHGERD I need this hammock chair in my life immediately. Once we get our back garden sorted out, Nick is planning on building a decking area so there’s more room to sit people, but mainly because he wants to fit his smoker on it. I’m wondering if I can convince him to construct some sort of device so that I can hang this somewhere. It’s literally my life-long dream to have a hammock. Check out the rest of their unique furniture here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/home-garden/furniture

do good hanging chair hammock uncommon goodsI practically squealed with delight when I saw this living wall planter. I know that you can grow plants vertically, and I’ve seen several ‘living walls’ around and about but it had never occurred to me that you could make a teeny weeny version to have in your home. I love love love this idea for the bathroom or even the kitchen, but really, anywhere you can squeeze an extra bit of living green stuff into your house the better! For me, the home decor section is the area that Uncommon Goods really excels at. There’s tons of quirky bits and pieces that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

succulent living wall planter kit uncommon goods

I love the colourful, playful illustrations on these cushions. I was never really into personalised stuff growing up because my name is Emma and there were like 3 other Emma’s in my year at school so it never felt special or exciting to see my name written on stuff. However, now we’ve got a little Huxley and you can’t find his name on ANYTHING, I’ve definitely become more interested in things that can be personalised. Hux would love these cushions but I’d have a hard time deciding whether to get the bear one or the elephant one. There’s tons of great wedding gift ideas on the website too.

personalised story book pillow uncommon goodsSo there you have it. Another website for you to lose yourself in for a few hours. Let me know what you love on the Uncommon Goods website!

 

 

 

My favourite iPhone games

Being so close to the technology capital of the world (San Francisco & Palo Alto) and having got so much use out of my phone recently while trying to combat the boredom of being alone all day every day with Huxley, I wanted to write a post about some of my favourite fun iPhone games for keeping myself entertained.

I’m not really into a specific ‘type’ of game, I’m happy to give most things a try but I have to say that when I find one I like, I’ll stick with it and probably won’t ever get bored of it.

Candy Blast Mania

I know every man and his dog raves about Candy Crush but I actually MUCH prefer Candy Blast Mania. This is the game I’ve probably had on my phone the longest. I think the levels are much more fun and I get stuck a lot less than I did on Candy Crush. The thing that really put the nail in the coffin with Candy Crush for me was that you have to constantly pester your Facebook friends in order to pass levels. It’s been a few years since I’ve played it now so they might have updated that stupid feature but I still get game requests ALL THE TIME on Facebook so I’m guessing maybe they haven’t?

candy blast mania(photo credit)

HayDay

This is an app that I actually had to delete from my phone because my level of addiction was far too real. Like I genuinely thought it might end in divorce for Nick & I if I kept it. Again, everyone raved about Farmville but I just didn’t get on with the gameplay of Farmville and found HayDay much more intuitive and fun to play. I warn you now though, it’s seriously addictive! Ask Brogan!

hay day farming game app(photo credit)

Evil Apples

Evil Apples is basically an app version of Cards Against Humanity. I stumbled across it one evening while discussing the game with some friends and we all quickly got a bit addicted. Even Nick has this game on his phone and he HATES playing games on his phone.

evil apples cards against humanity iphone games app (photo credit)

Blackjack

Yes, I do like to pretend I’m a member of Oceans Eleven. I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing or how it works but it’s pretty good fun anyway. You can play blackjack online using the Betway website if you don’t trust yourself to have it on your mobile!

blackjack game betway app (photo credit)

Covet

This is a proper girly one. It’s basically playing Barbie dolls but even more awesome. You can change hair & make-up styles, skin tone and play the daily challenges to collect money & diamonds to save up to buy more clothes. The clothing collections change from season to season and are all from real-life designers. You can even shop directly from the app. It’s definitely the daily challenges that make this game so addictive for me. You can vote on other people’s outfits too. The aim of the game is to win money by creating the best outfits in the challenges so that you can buy more clothes so that you can unlock different hair and make-up styles as the value of your wardrobe increases.

Covet fashion app

 (photo credit)

Diner Dash

This is an old favourite that I return to again and again. It’s one of those games that is easy to understand, has just the right amount of challenge and excitement and you can easily waste hours and hours completing level after level. Luckily you only get 3 ‘life stars’ at a time and each one takes 20 minutes to regain otherwise I would spend a scary amount of time playing this!

diner dash(photo credit)

 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you, and if anyone is interested in my favourite (& Huxley’s favourite) iPad apps for toddlers then give me a shout and I’ll put one together!

 

Settling in Sonoma

So we’ve survived our first week in Sonoma! Huxley and I have been alone all day every day for an entire week and I haven’t cried yet (although I’ve come close!). I’m not going to lie and paint a picture of sunshine and roses. I’ve had a bit of a tough time this week. Huxley has reverted to not eating or drinking anything other than milk or cheese – and not the normal orange cheese that you get here – it has to be the super expensive pre-sliced, pre-packaged white cheese that looks the same as it does at home. He’s also regressed in the potty training department a little bit too. This has made him very clingy and means he doesn’t want to go out anywhere. I’ll admit that there was a day when I shut myself in the bedroom for 20 minutes just so I could have some peace and quiet. (Is it bad that I’m already Googling relaxing holidays for when we get back?? I’ve got my eye on Mallorca* right now.)

The one shining beacon of hope in all of this is that we’re in California so the weather has been outstanding every single day so far. It’s so nice to be able to make plans and actually be able to stick to them and not have them rained off. That said, it is due to rain 3 days this week so it’ll be interesting to see how well I cope then!

This week I’m going to try harder to make dinners that look like normal food but have tons of hidden veg in them. I saw a great recipe video on Facebook for a ‘hidden veg’ mac’n’cheese that I’m dying to try out. Nick and I have managed to eat fairly well, with plenty of incredible avocados and oranges, I just worry about Huxley not getting enough good stuff but I’m hoping he’ll settle down soon enough and get back into the swing of things (until we have to move house again at the end of February – and we haven’t found anywhere to stay yet!!)

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom and I’ve had some really lovely moments with Huxley this week. We went for lunch at a diner together, got ice-cream at Baskin Robbins, had an amazing time at Sonoma Train Town and have had a blast running around the amazing parks they have here. We’ve also been out to eat as a family at The Fremont Diner and El Molino Central. We’ve just returned from a long weekend in Lake Tahoe too which was incredible (post coming soon! Or you can watch my weekly vlog!)

Palm Tree California

Small club sandwich at Big Bear Diner Sonoma

Hux eating bacon

Pretty house in Sonoma

Huxley in California

Huxley eating Baskin Robbins ice cream

Huxley at Sonoma Square Park

Hux eating a cookie

Mint It's It ice cream sandwich

Traintown Sonoma

Carousel at Sonoma Train Town Railroad February

Feeding goats at Sonoma Train Town

The Style Box at Sonoma Train Town

*This is a collaborative post

Our first week in America!

To quote Adele, hello from the otherside! We’ve been here a week now and are nicely settled into our house in Sonoma so I thought I’d do a bit of an update as to what we got up to over the past week. (You can also watch my weekly vlog if you’d prefer to see it in video form!)

Hux was an absolute angel on the flight. I was a bit worried about taking an active 2-year-old on an 11 hour plane journey but he did really well. He fell asleep literally the second the plane took off and slept for about 2 hours. Once he woke up he was so well behaved (thanks iPad!) and the only time he cried was when we came to land because I think his ears were hurting him. So all in all, it was a win!

We spent the first 3 days in San Francisco which was a bit crazy and busy due to the SuperBowl which happened on Sunday. It was the 50th one and security was nuts in the city. We had to walk through body scanners and everything just to get to the Ferry Building! Our first meal is always at Gotts Roadside. It’s one of my favourite places to eat in the city and one of the best burgers I’ve ever had. The garlic fries are insane.

Ferry Building SuperBowl50 San Francisco

Bay Bridge at dusk San Francisco

Jetlagged Hux

The next morning we woke up at 2am (thanks jet lag!) and lazed around until about 5am when Hux started getting restless so we walked to Bob’s Donuts which is possibly the best place ever. It’s open 24 hours and they make the softest, most incredible doughnuts – and it’s SO CHEAP. It’s not at all fancy and we love it so much.

Bob's Donuts San Francisco

Hux eating Bob's Donuts

After that we did a bit of shopping in downtown and Nick bought me a new North Face down jacket for my birthday. Then we walked to Fisherman’s Wharf (which we hate but we wanted to visit the Patagonia store there) before going to the Exploratorium as it just so happened to be their quarterly free entrance day. The Exploratorium was AMAZING! So much better than I was expecting. It’s a bit like the Science Museum in London but everything is hands-on so it would keep kids entertained for HOURS. Hux was probably a bit little but he had fun running around. If you had kids that are like 8+ they would have a blast. From there we walked to Nick’s happy place, Red’s Java House. We turned up at like 4.02pm and they shut at 4pm in the winter but luckily the guy took pity on us and let us in for a beer and a cup of tea!

San Francisco Exploratorium

Red's Java House San Francisco

On Wednesday we basically spent the whole day at Dolores Park as the weather was beautiful and obviously visited Tartine. I know I say this about everything, but you really can’t miss Tartine if you visit San Francisco. It’s so perfect.

Dolores Park San Francisco

Quiche at Tartine San Francisco

Tartine San Francisco

Hux

The Style Box Dolores Park

On Thursday we went to Outer Sunset to visit Mollusk Surf Shop before hanging out on Ocean Beach and watching the enormous waves crashing onto the beach. Then we drove to the Warming Hut so that Huxley could get a proper look at the Golden Gate Bridge. We also spotted Miss Universe having her photo taken while we were there!

San Francisco Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach San Francisco

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge San Francisco

Hux at GGB

After that we drove to Moraga as we were staying with Nick’s friends for a few nights. It was super beautiful and we had a great time, although I didn’t really take any photos while we were there. On Friday they took us to Tilden Park which is a big mountain with incredible views of San Francisco (seriously though, it’s now my life goal to buy one of the houses on the side of the mountain with that view!). It also has a pretty lake, a farm and rather randomly, a carousel.

View of San Francisco from Tilden Park

Carousel at Tilden Park California

Saturday morning we got up and went to Walnut Creek as my iPhone needed upgrading so that we could use the American sim cards we’d bought. I needed a new one anyway and am due an upgrade in June but it’s nice to have it a bit early! Then we just made our way to Sonoma and got settled in our new house (for the month!) before heading to Safeway to buy lots of yummy food (read: mainly avocados).

On Sunday a friend of ours invited us to his house to watch the Superbowl. He’s really into barbecue, which is how him & Nick met and he made some amazing food. We didn’t watch any football but Hux had a great time running around the pool and throwing a ball in and getting it out with the net!

Now I’m just settling in to life in Sonoma. I’ll admit I haven’t found it easy the past few days. Don’t get me wrong, Sonoma is gorgeous and there’s tons to do here in the way of beautiful hikes and the weather has been incredible but Huxley has been a total pain. He’s probably just missing home and is a bit confused but he’s just been in one of those moods where he won’t listen to what I’m saying, he won’t do anything I ask him to and all he wants to do it sit around watching TV and eating junk food. He fell asleep at 5pm today though (hence how I finally have the time to write a blog post!) so maybe he’s just exhausted. Who knows?!

Some exciting news!

If you watch my weekly vlogs, you’ll probably already know that we’re about to go to California for 10 weeks. It’s all very exciting but has also been quite stressful due to how short-notice it’s all been. We’re leaving in two weeks time and only got our accommodation booked last night! In fact, we’ve only actually found somewhere to stay for February so far! We’ve still got nowhere to stay for the whole of March yet! I can tell from the reactions of most of my family that they think we’re a little nuts. If you’ve known Nick or I for any length of time, you’ll know it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with either of us without San Francisco or California being mentioned at some point. It’s always been a bit of a pipe dream to live out there so it’s nice to almost make that dream a reality!

So, here’s the plan. We’re going to be staying in San Francisco for a couple of days and then we’re going to stay with Nick’s friend in Moraga (just outside of Berkeley) for a few nights before settling down in a 2-bedroom AirBnB apartment in Sonoma for the month of February. After that, who knows?!? We’ll still be staying somewhere in wine country for March but it could be Napa or Santa Rosa or Sonoma again, we’re just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Then, on April 1st, we’ll either be driving North to Portland, Oregon for 10 days or South to Los Angeles before flying home on the 11th. Nick has even talked about driving across Nevada and Idaho to Montana but when I asked him what he wanted to see/do in Montana, he couldn’t really give me an answer so I’m not sure that will happen – but I’ve just typed Montana into Pinterest and I might be easily persuaded! Yellowstone National Park is even closer than Montana and I’d totally be up for that!

I have to admit that I’m a little bit nervous about how I’m going to find day-to-day living there as I’ll be on my own with Huxley a lot of the time, with no nursery to give me a break and no relatives or friends to go and see to break up the day. I’ve spent ages scouring Facebook for local mommy groups and have scouted out where the library is and I’m going to try and make a little map of the local neighbourhood parks I can walk to as I won’t have the car every day. As silly as this sounds, I have to admit that I’m pretty worried about my teeth as everyone out there has a Hollywood smile, if I could afford some major dentist* work beforehand then I would definitely do it! I have a feeling they’ll probably guess that I’m British before I even speak!

I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about leaving England for the whole of February. I really hate February! I’m not good with the cold. But, before you get jealous about the California weather, although it’s about 15 degrees, it’s also been raining for a LONG time so I won’t be sunning myself by the pool or anything like that!

I’m super excited to be able to properly explore such a gorgeous area of Northern California. I’ve been googling all the different hikes and trails you can do and I can’t wait to visit Muir Woods as it’s been on my bucket list for years. We’ll also hopefully visit Yosemite again (see my previous post with 5 month old Huxley!) and make trips to Lake Tahoe and other surrounding areas.

If you’re not sure what wine country looks like, check out Rosie Londoner‘s INCREDIBLE photos from her recent trip, as well as Julia from Gal Meets Glam‘s blog as she lives in San Francisco so goes out to wine country all the time and takes the most beautiful photos.

Napa California

(Photo via The Londoner)

napa valley

(Photo via Gal Meets Glam)

So yeah, my Instagram feed will hopefully be filled with gorgeous sunny shots of vineyards, giant redwoods and lots of milkshakes, pie and burgers! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep updated with my adventures weekly!

*This post contains a paid-for link

Home vs Adventure

adventure quote

These days it feels like you can’t swing a cat without hitting an inspirational quote about travel and adventure. We live in a funny time, where everyone’s Instagram feels like a constant competition to out-exotic each other. If you’re not hiking up a mountain, trekking through a jungle or frolicking in a far-off ocean then the world isn’t interested. At least, that’s how it feels to me.

Although I’m totally for great, big adventures that open your mind and expand your horizons (insert other cliches here), today I’d like to talk in defence for the homebodies among us.

There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with feeling happiest snuggled on the sofa in your pyjamas, clutching a mug of hot chocolate and watching a movie. I feel like if you were to admit this in public these days you’d be met with a few funny looks. We need to all chill out a little bit trying to out-adventure each other and try and find joy in the little everyday adventures that we can have. Whether that’s starting a new job, moving house or even just stomping around the forest, we all adventure in different ways.

I didn’t write a ‘Year in Review’ post this year because I was in a pretty bad place happiness-wise around New Year and I felt like I hadn’t done anything in 2015 and that it had been a bit of a flop. But last night, I was laid awake in bed thinking about all the incredible things we’ve achieved in the past year. We moved out of our flat, into Nick’s parents for 3 months and started a COMPLETE renovation of our house. We’re not talking about a lick of paint here and there, we’re talking about knocking down walls and re-plastering. The whole shebang. The fact that we completed an entire renovation of a 3 bedroom house, while Nick was working full-time for the most part, getting up at 6am to work on the house, doing his writing during his lunch breaks, then leaving work and going straight back to the house to work until 10pm or later, and as a couple, we’ve earned more money than we’ve ever earned in the past year AND we’ve managed to raise a happy, healthy, content, polite, beautiful little boy at the same time is mind-blowing when I look back on it. So although we didn’t go on any exciting holidays, in some ways, we had a much bigger adventure than we realised.

adventure quote

If you’ve been watching my weekly vlogs, you’ll know that we’re on the brink of our own big adventure for this year. We’re potentially moving to America for 2 months (and possibly indefinitely). The first two weeks of January have been a complete panic and a total rollercoaster of emotions as we try to decide what’s best for our little family. The fact that we’d have to leave at the end of January hasn’t given us a lot of time to think about it so it definitely feels very spontaneous and is a little bit scary – everything these adventure quotes have you believe means it’s the right thing to do (do one thing a day that scares you – life begins at the end of your comfort zone etc). But what if it’s not?

One of the things I’ve realised is how at home I feel in our new house. We moved back to the town that I grew up in and at the time I was really anxious that it would make me feel inadequate and that I’d feel like I’d taken a step back in life. But in reality, what I feel is extremely grounded. I hadn’t realised how much comfort I take from being in such familiar surroundings. It definitely helps that where I live is completely beautiful and surrounded by forest but I just feel like I’m in the right place right now.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post or what the end ‘message’ is, but what I’m basically trying to say is that life is an adventure, whether you stay in your home town your whole life or whether you visit all the countries in the world. Ignore the stupid Pinterest quotes if they make you feel inadequate.

 

Things to do in Bournemouth – with kids!

Travelodge recently got in touch and asked if I’d like to put together a bucket list of things to do in Bournemouth for 2016. I thought I’d put a bit of a twist on it and write one for kids. So apologies to my regular blog readers while I go a bit mummy-blogger on you for the day.

2016 is all about the staycation and Travelodge make it a very affordable option – especially if petrol is going to stay at 99p a litre! They’ve got a couple of hotels in the Bournemouth area including one a stone’s throw from the ocean.

So, here’s my top 5 things to do in Bournemouth (& the surrounding area) with kids:

 

1. The beach!

This one is pretty obvious but the beach provides hours of endless, free fun. Building sandcastles, searching for pretty shells, burying family members, splashing in the waves, chasing the ice-cream boat along the shore. If you’d prefer to avoid the crowds and hustle and bustle of Bournemouth’s main beach, try Branksome Chine, Alum Chine or Southbourne beach instead. Mudeford & Highcliffe are also lovely (but a bit further away).

(See some of my beach adventures here, here & here)

Hux at the beach

2. Moors Valley

Moors Valley is a huge country park situated about 20 minutes drive from Bournemouth. It’s basically one massive playground in the middle of the forest and it’s absolutely fantastic. We go all the time, all year round, whatever the weather! There’s a visitor centre with a gift shop and a cafe, toilets, a big play area, a play area for smaller children, a train you can ride around the park on and a play trail around the forest. Trust me when I say that you will all be well and truly worn out by the end of the day!

(Catch my Moors Valley adventures here, herehere & here!)
Moors Valley

3. RockReef climbing centre

This one really is the beating heart of Bournemouth, situated at the end of Bournemouth Pier. It’s quite a new addition, and as quaint and sweet as the old theatre was, I think it’s a big improvement on what was there before! RockReef has several activities inside it including climbing walls, caves and a highline course but most excitingly, it also has a huge zip line that goes from the end of the pier straight on to Bournemouth beach. I was lucky enough to be invited to try out RockReef when it first opened and I had SO MUCH FUN. Unfortunately it was winter so I didn’t get a chance to go on the zip line but it looks pretty cool!

rock_reef_51

(image stolen from Louise)

4. The Quomps splash park

The Quomps splash park is actually in Christchurch which is about a 15 minute drive away from Bournemouth but it’s well worth the drive if it’s a hot, sunny day. The splash park is a fenced-in area with water jets that squirt out of the floor. It’s SO much fun. We usually end up having to drag Huxley away kicking and screaming because he loves it so much that he just won’t leave. (If you’d prefer to stay in central Bournemouth, they actually have something very similar to this by the pier now)

 

Things to do in Bournemouth with kids

 

5. Bournemouth Air Festival

The Bournemouth Air Festival takes place every year in August, the weekend before the Bank Holiday. It’s always a jam-packed affair and the whole town transforms into a busy, bustling metropolis as hundreds and thousands of tourists descend onto the beach and surrounding areas to catch a glimpse of the action. While I usually try and avoid the crowds as much as possible for events like this, the Air Festival is one that I definitely make an exception for. It’s so exciting to find a little patch on the beach to claim as your own and settle down for the day with ever-changing constant entertainment without having to move a muscle! The kids can run off and play in the sea or make friends with kids in the neighbouring camps and build sandcastles and it’s such a joy to see their little faces as the Red Arrows shoot across the sky.

(See a previous post on the Bournemouth Air Festival here)

Airshow

(Image via here)

If you’re planning a staycation to Bournemouth this year and need some help with planning, please give me a shout! I’d be more than happy to help!