The wanderlust wishlist for 2017!

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A couple of years ago, me and the mister decided to have a rethink on holidays. Sick to the back teeth of splashing the cash on overpriced holidays to Spain with the children we decided we needed to start ticking things off the bucket list and the only way we were going to do that, was to start planning and saving.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with two weeks in the Canaries – I’ve done it loads of times and enjoyed it but that was when it was cheaper. Now, to get somewhere decent is £££ and I’ve realised that by foregoing a holiday every other year we can have a much much better experience the next year.

As it’s that time of year, where we all making bucket lists and plans for the future I thought I’d start making a new list of places for our travel bucket list. In 2o17 we’re lucky enough to be ticking off a few bucket list items with our Florida trip. No Disney for us this year, or any theme parks at all – we’re off to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast. Bucket list places include Miami, Key West, the Everglades, Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers….to name but a few!

I haven’t even had this holiday and I’m already thinking about our future trips! So today I thought I’d get it out of my system and share these with you! These are the places that are at the very top of my list and probably where I will plan to go next.

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Alaska, Vancouver, Nashville, Banff National Park, Charleston

Yes I am VERY much focused on the US right now, there are SO any places I want to go to and I’ve not even started with Boston, Cape Cod, Salem, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, San Francisco, Las Vegas…so many places so little time and so little money!

The biggest dream right now is Alaska and Canada. I’d love to do Banff, Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and a cruise to Alaska all in one trip but it depends whether funds will allow. The cruise to Alaska is big bucks so this might have to stay a dream, or we could save it until the children are older and we no longer have to pay for them…but I do want to take them with us.

Then I’d love to do Nashville (especially when the Country Music Festival is on) as well as a trip through the Great Smoky Mountains and also take in Charleston and Savannah and maybe a beach trip to Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach area.

Either one of these options are the most likely for our next trip.

And then of course in 2019 I will be celebrating a special birthday, that happens to fall in the school holidays.  We’ve discussed a trip away for that and I have decided a want a week of luxury and lounging around, we rarely do that – we’re always on the go! Possible destinations are Lake Garda (been before, but LOVE it) or Santorini or Sardinia. Choices, choices!

How are about you? Do you have a wishlist of places you want to go to? or have you been to any of the places mentioned above? I’d love your input!

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Holiday Moan 2016

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Firstly before I start with the whinging – just where on earth did TV holiday programmes disappear to?

As a child, we never travelled abroad so the closest thing I got to it was watching Holiday and Wish You Were Here sat in front of the TV in our brown lounge.   Somehow, it feels like people travel now more than they ever did so I find it really quite odd that there is seemingly no place for these shows in our modern TV schedules. I really do miss them! So much I feel like starting a campaign to bring them back…

I did hear a rumour last year that one of them was being revived, not sure if that is true or not but no doubt if it does make it back onto our screens it will be a complete Z-list celebfest or have some super tacky reality angle that will make me want to throw the remote at the screen.

Sure there are programmes on the telly about travel to far flung destinations but I really don’t want to see a documentary about trekking in Peru or gorilla watching in Borneo. I want to see the best of closer-to-home destinations that are achievable for the majority. Like the Balearics that have a lot to offer, or programmes that show there’s more to Spain than the Costa Del Sol and that perhaps feature hotels that, with a little saving, we could all afford to stay at. That’s what those programmes were about.

Rant over.

Really I started this post to rant about the cost of holidays once again. I did it last year and I am doing it again, so humour me.

Booking a holiday must be one of the largest amounts of money that anybody spends out of their annual family budget but the prices have just gone crazy – I mean, I spend more time pondering over holiday choices and trying to justify costs than I would ever do about a car that I would use every day!

We initially decided not to have a holiday abroad this year – for numerous reasons – we’ve done quite ‘busy’ holidays the past few years, the rising costs, the uncertainty in the world at the moment and so on but now I am madly craving a week in the sun, with a pool and my Kindle and the children haven’t had a week in the sun doing nothing for years. The problem is, I don’t want to pay £4k for the privilege – am I out of touch or is that extortionate in comparison to living costs and wages – and that’s me being mighty conservative.

Okay, so to be honest, I am not looking at the bottom-end of the market but I am not looking at uber luxury either. I’ve stayed bottom-end in Tenerife before and believe me, it’s no picnic, so 4* is the lowest I am willing to go. It’s not even that I am finding that the accommodation is that badly priced. I can find some decent holidays, half-board or all-inclusive for under £2k but when you add in the cost of the flights, and then the luggage, oh and the seat reservations…well the flights for two adults and two children to practically anywhere in Europe in August were coming back at £1,500. That feels ridiculous to me? Two years ago, I got flights for all four of us for £600 to Italy. All the add-on costs that used to be included in your fare really make the bill mount up.

Some of the hotels were coming back at an eye-watering £6k (without flights) bed and breakfast. Who pays that?! Clearly someone does but it’s not me! My husband and I both have good jobs and yes, we could probably afford it and I know this is a First World Problem, but for me my grievance it’s not so much about the cost but the value. Where is the VALUE in these holidays?

So, here I am, back full circle getting the hump with the holiday industry, the airlines and not booking anywhere. I really wish I didn’t even look to start with because all that happens is  I end up feeling frustrated and grumpy!

Would love to hear your thoughts – what are your plans this year? Do you think that prices have gone astronomical? Am I being unreasonably tetchy about this?

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In Bruges (with Mrs M)

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Just before Christmas we took a (child-free) trip to Bruges. It’s somewhere that had been on my list of places to go for a while but we’d just never got around to organising it. We booked it way back last April and were really looking forward to it for months – until the terrorist attacks in Paris and the subsequent lockdown in Brussels occurred. We considered cancelling the trip however a few weeks later by the time we were due to travel, things had got a bit more back to normal. Still a Level 3 threat but that’s the same as the UK so there was no need to be overly cautious. I was glad that we did make the trip – the owner of the B&B we stayed at told me that people had really suffered in places like Bruges because of hundreds of cancelled coach trips. I imagine in a town like Bruges many people rely on tourism so are pretty affected when things like this happen. Bruges is far enough from Brussels (an hourand a half on the train) but we did have to travel via Brussels airport and train station. Have to say, we didn’t notice any extra security but I am sure it was there.

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Anyhow, enough doom and gloom. So Bruges.  I won’t lie, I mainly got the desire to go after seeing that film – which is still up there as one of my favourites.  We flew with Brussels Airlines which was ok and then caught a train from the station at the airport direct to Bruges, which was a nice relaxing journey through the Belgian countryside. Once there, we walked through the cobbled streets to our B&B (The Townhouse – which I cannot recommend enough!) with the help of Google Maps. It couldn’t have been easier.  Our B&B really was lovely, the owner was so welcoming and the breakfast – all three courses of it – was to die for. Fresh fruit to start, followed by yoghurt with a compote and then your choice of smoked salmon & scrambled eggs, omelette or eggs & bacon served with fresh juice, tea/coffee and an assortment of delicious breads and cake. Wow. It really set you up for the day!

We didn’t really have a plan, we just wanted to wander around for a few days and soak it up, whilst eating lots of food and drinking lots of wine. Gluhwein my case. And what a lovely place it was for that. If you’ve never been to Bruges – go. It’s just about the most loveliest place to mooch around, and way bigger than you think. Lots of gorgeous little streets to meander through, something to look at around every corner and of course, there’s the Belfry to climb up.

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Yep, that was pretty much my response. I don’t really do towers. I’m more of a sit-at-the-bottom-and-wait-for-everyone-else kind of girl but this time I gave in as the kids weren’t there to chaperone Mr M. It’s not the climbing up the tower, or the height, it’s the claustrophobic nature of stairwells. If there’s a separate up and down like at Warwick Castle or the Statue of Liberty I am game but if I have to go up a narrow staircase where people are also coming down, well, I’m not loving it.

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I could witter on about the loveliness of Bruges for all eternity, it was even lovelier all decked out for Christmas – I will definitely be returning at some point with the children. It felt so clean and safe. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a city or large town where I have felt so safe wandering around every part of it.  In the interest of not making this post any longer than it needs to be – I’ll leave you with a few more photos of this enchanting place but do book a trip soon!

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I ask you, when did holidays get so expensive?

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As the nights draw in I can’t help my mind wandering off to thoughts of summer holidays. I know it was only summer yesterday but I love a holiday, who doesn’t?  With the way English summer goes, it’s about our only guaranteed chance of some warm sun hitting our skin during August and I do so like to have that to look forward to when I am sitting wrapped in a blanket on a cold, soggy campsite in Dorset.

This week we’ve come to the tough decision to not go abroad next year and this makes me sad.

I really enjoy holidays – including all the planning – and my children get super excited about going, packing their bags themselves etc It’s something we all look forward to as  a family. I enjoy the heat, the food, the culture – they enjoy getting in the sea or pool.

However things have changed.

When did holidays get SO expensive? I’ve blinked and they’ve increased by about £3k!

Last summer we went to Italy. I love Italy. It’s still your best chance I think of reasonable flights, good food and culture however Northern Italy, which is our choice destination, is not really a pool holiday type of place – and if they have them, they come at a premium. After a few years of hectic holidays, we’re all craving a total relaxation break but alas it appears not to be.

Now, I know we have to pay a premium to go in the school holidays and as a parent of two school age children, I’ve always accepted that but your average 2 week holiday in Spain, self-catering, is about £3k now. That’s outrageous. And I’m sorry, but I am just not paying that for two of us to sleep on a sofa bed, sitting around a pool with only British people  to talk to (where you will have had to leg it at 6am to even get a  hope of a sun lounger…forget about a brolly!) eating overpriced egg and chips and watered down beer.

Who is paying that? Honestly? Clearly lots of people are but I’ve got to the point now where I’d just rather not go on holiday than waste that much cash.

We’ve made the decision to not be tempted into a Brits abroad  holiday and save our money for a better holiday, so in 2016 we will skip the holiday and save for a trip to America or Canada in 2017. I costed up two weeks all-inclusive at a good 4* resort in Spain and it came back about £1k cheaper than two weeks at Disneyworld Florida with meals and park tickets – I know what I’d rather do?!  We’d book for 2016 but again, flight prices are so ridiculously extortionate that we’ll save for a year – I won’t put holidays on credit cards.

I’m sorry for the rant, but is it just me? How is everyone affording these holidays? We’re not poor by any means but it just seems like such a criminal rip-off and waste of money.  So this year will stay at home and I don’t mind that really, I love England, there’s nowhere like it in the sunshine but you know, the only thing we’re guaranteed is that it will rain 6 days out of 7, which is slightly depressing.

Would love to know your thoughts and what your holiday plans for 2016 are – inspire me!

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PS Can someone please remind me of this rant when I am bemoaning the English weather and whinging about going camping yet again next year?

Can’t Ski, Won’t Ski…

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Actually the above post title isn’t factually correct. Maybe I CAN ski, I’ve just never tried it…perhaps really I am a budding * cough * Eddie the Eagle and I just haven’t discovered the depths of my hidden talents. Maybe, just maybe, I should be in training for the winter Olympics!

Okay, I am getting a teeny tiny bit ahead of myself but I was recently contacted by Crystal Holidays to see if I wanted to be in with a chance of becoming one of their ambassadors and become a Crystal #SkiExplorer.

My first thought was BRR. Sno-way.

My second thought was OOH. Glühwein.

My third thought was HELL to the YEAH!

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As I said, I’ve never been skiing, or on holiday to any snowy destination as a matter of fact. I’m more of a fair-weather kind of holidaymaker…you know, sun, sea and sangria. Mr M on the otherhand has been skiing a few times and we’ve often talked about talking the family on a skiing jaunt but we’ve never quite made it…yet. I’ll be honest, lying face down in the snow for five days has never really quite appealed to me (and lets face it, as a complete novice, that’s EXACTLY where I would be) but the idea of being somewhere snowy, with a roaring fire, and a hot chocolate – now that side appeals!

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Crystal Holidays have come up with some very individual Ski characters – Après Animal, Mile Muncher, Gadget Guru, The Unstoppables and Piste Princess. If I had to pick a category that I slot into then I think The Unstoppables would be the most relevant.

For me, life. NEVER. STOPS.

And that includes on our holidays.

You want to know what my average day on a typical holiday would look like?  It would go a little something like this…

  • Mr M will have got the children ready whilst I have a nice long lie in
  • I’ll then get out of bed to a lavish breakfast all laid out
  • Before retreating to pool/spa/hot tub where I will relax for the rest of the day with a book in hand and wine on tap…

JOKE.

Obviously.

That’s the dream scenario, not the real life scenario.

In reality what happens is I get the clothes organised for everyone, sort out the days itinerary, organise breakfast, find the suncream, apply the suncream, clean up the suncream that has dripped all over the floor. Find the camera, recharge the camera, making sure we have cash. Find hats, matching pairs of gloves, shoes that aren’t wet or don’t blister after approximately 3 minutes of wearing.  Pack the bag to take out, make sure everyone has had a wee.

Have you got the key? Who has got the key?

Usher everyone out of the door and onwards to the days destination. Run back to the room because have forgotten camera/money/favourite cuddly toy/shoes are hurting.

Arrive at room to discover nobody did in fact have the door key. By which time it’s about 12pm and everyone is asking whats for lunch.

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Ah we’re not that bad.

But family life does feel a little like that sometimes, even when on holiday, and I won’t lie – the thought of that lovely glass of wine in peace at elevenses, lunchtime, afternoon tea and dinner time the end of the day is what keeps me going.

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We don’t really do much to help ourselves either – I’m not entirely sure we know how to relax. Our last holidays have been to Florida (not sure that actually counts as a relaxing vacation – if you’ve ever been you’ll know what I mean) and also sightseeing in 40 degree heat in Northern Italy for 10 days. I like to use a fitness app and one day we walked 21km in that heat. Twenty-one-whole-kilometres. That’s 13 miles in 40-degree heat. No wonder we didn’t wee all day (was a handy timesaver though, definitely cut down all those annoying toilet trips!).

So you see, a skiing holiday really is up our street. Even if I can’t ski. And I’m not keen on the cold. And I have a morbid fear of chair lifts. I’ve told you about that before right? YES. A Disney waterpark designed as a melting ski resort is actually the closest I’ve got to skiing, complete with unfortunate leg injury on the Chair Lift of Doom. I said I didn’t want to go on it, but does anyone listen to me? Of course not.

So yes, a skiing holding, sounds amazing…then again, on second thoughts…

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Who will of course look like this is she gets picked to be a #SkiExplorer

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