#Win! Getting Festival Ready With Beam Shoes For Kids + #Giveaway

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We are busy planning our festival accessories as we get ready to head to Camp Bestival next month.  The theme is Pop Stars and Rock Stars so we were delighted when Beam Shoes got in touch and asked if we would take a pair of their light up kids trainers to the party.

charging-beam-shoes- #Win! Getting Festival Ready With Beam Shoes For Kids + #Giveaway

Beam Shoes are such fun and make for the perfect festival accessory.  What is not to love about a pair of rechargeable light up shoes?  When the Beam Shoes arrived I plugged the double USB charger into the computer and left them to do their thing until the light turned green.  The charger socket is just inside the top of the shoe, so it’s in a pretty discrete but accessible place. I loved that I was able to charge both shoes at the same time and they were ready to use in less than an hour.

charging-beam-shoes- #Win! Getting Festival Ready With Beam Shoes For Kids + #Giveaway

There’s a little button on the charge socket that turns the lights on in the soul of the shoe.  They look great when they are turned on as the trainer has a very on trend platform feel about it, and when the lights start it’s like a disco has kicked off on your feet.  So many festival vibes just in your shoes!

When my daughter figured out how they worked, she loved them.  There are a few different light sequences on the Beam Shoes including fast, pulse etc.  They also flash through different colours to give you maximum festival effect on your feet.

We really love our Beam Shoes and can’t wait to take them on tour to Camp Bestival in July.  I strongly suspect we will see a few pairs of Beam Shoes on show as they will finish any Pop Star or Rock Star outfit off a treat.

charging-beam-shoes- #Win! Getting Festival Ready With Beam Shoes For Kids + #Giveaway

Beam Shoes Giveaway

I know a lot of you are starting to get ready to visit your favourite festival this year, and Beam Shoes have kindly given me a pair of kids light up shoes to giveaway on the blog.  Wouldn’t they make the perfect addition to whatever festival outfit they might be planning this year?

All you have to do to get your hands on a pair of these fun flashing shoes is enter the giveaway via the rafflecopter below.  You can also unlock bonus entries and increase your chance of winning!  Competition ends 11/7/17.  Other T & C’s apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Feeling lucky?  Check out these other awesome giveaways.

Gorgeous Minnie Mouse Backpacks From Samsonite

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Some trips lend themselves so well to accessorising.  When we found out we were going to Disneyland Paris, I really felt the need to have some fun with the clothes and the bags we were taking with us.  If you’ve read about our trip to the 25th Anniversary already, you’ll know that my daughters didn’t know they were going to be visiting Disneyland Paris until the morning that they went.  That was one hell of a secret to keep I can tell you!

For every trip, the girls have their own backpack, filled with pens, notepads, a toy, snacks and some more practical things like wipes and a spare change of clothes.  Having their own bag is great for giving them some independence while travelling and helps make the most of that baggage allowance.

Gorgeous-Minnie-Mouse-Backpacks-From-Samsonite Gorgeous Minnie Mouse Backpacks From Samsonite

When their gorgeous new Minnie Mouse backpacks from Samsonite arrived I decided to stick with the Disney theme and pack the bags with Princess themed goodies for the trip.  I have to admit I really enjoyed that shopping trip!

We received two Minnie Mouse rucksacks from Samsonite, and they are both brilliant.  My 5 year old really took to her Disney Ultimate Minnie Mouse Iconic backpack from the moment she saw it.  As soon as it came back from Disneyland Paris is was graduated to new school bag status as well because she loves wearing it so much.

Gorgeous-Minnie-Mouse-Backpacks-From-Samsonite Gorgeous Minnie Mouse Backpacks From Samsonite

The style is a little more grown up with the Minnie Mouse patent design pattern on the face of it.  She has started to talk about things being ‘babyish’, so this design worked well for her.  The other thing I noticed was it was clearly very comfortable for her to wear.  She was happy to wear it throughout the trip and the design of the padded shoulder straps and the sternum clip that helped keep them fixed securely on her shoulders made a big difference to her.

The details on the bag are super cute too.  The zips are finished with a pair of Minnie Mouse’s iconic yellow shoes, and red and polka dots also feature but in a more grown up design.

My 3 year old daughter got to travel with a very different Minnie Mouse rucksack, which she loved just as much.  The Disney Ultimate Minnie Classic is a fun and cute design which lends itself really well to the younger travelling child.  This backpack features Minnie Mouse’s face with great details using the ears and red polka dot bow.  We also loved the frill detail which really helped to personify the bag for our younger daughter.

Gorgeous-Minnie-Mouse-Backpacks-From-Samsonite Gorgeous Minnie Mouse Backpacks From Samsonite

The Minnie Mouse Classic rucksack also features side pockets, ideal for drinks and other items, and an internal ID tag.  The shoulder straps are fully adjustable, padded and clip together making it so much easier and comfortable for a child to wear.  The bag also features reflective strips which is helpful when travelling with a child in busy areas and crossing roads.

Overall we love our Minnie Mouse Backpacks from Samsonite.  They are incredibly well made, have lots of child friendly travel features and are really fun too.  If you are visiting any Disney themed park this summer I think these backpacks will be a welcome addition to your trip.  For more Disney Minnie Mouse luggage ideas click here.

We were provided with the Minnie Mouse Backpacks From Samsonite for the purposes of this review, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

5 AMAZING Reasons To Make Your Next Holiday Self Catering

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Self catering accommodation is a great option for families looking to book a relaxing holiday together.  Hundredrooms is an excellent resource for finding self catering holidays around the world to suit your needs.  Not only does it compare prices so that you get the best deals but you can also specify your family’s specific requirements.  So if you can’t live without wifi or want use of a pool it’s a great place to start your holiday search.

view-over-ocean- 5 AMAZING Reasons To Make Your Next Holiday Self Catering

As you already know from my recent holiday to France, I love the flexibility that a self catering holiday offers to families.  I decided to ask some of my family travel blogger friends to talk to me about their experiences of self catering holidays and I found there experiences really inspiring.  I’ve literally found 5 amazing holidays I could book tomorrow and all for very different reasons.

You Can Stay In Gorgeous Houses

If I was going on holiday to Florida I would totally want to live the dream, and it looks like Cathy from Mummy Travels did just that on her trip to Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast.  The decor alone in this gorgeous five bedroomed villa located about an hour away from Tampa Airport took my breath away.

The villa is far superior to anything I’ve seen before and there is so much attention to detail.  I love the whole look and feel of the house, and I agree with Cathy when she talks about it being a major part of the holiday experience.  I think I would struggle to leave here!

Enjoy Eating At Home On Your Own Terms

Self catering accommodation often provides excellent facilities to enjoy some great home cooking.  When Gretta from Mums Do Travel took her family on holiday to Portugal they found they ate at home far more than at the local restaurants.

view-over-ocean- 5 AMAZING Reasons To Make Your Next Holiday Self Catering

Being able to enjoy a family meal together inspired my local produce and accompanied by the wines you have discovered from the region is a wonderful way to spend an evening.  You can dine when you want to, take your time over your food and move out onto the balcony to enjoy the rest of your evening at your leisure.  If you have young children who need to be in bed early, this is a perfect option for you.

Add Unique Experiences To Your Self Catering Holiday

When I read about Maria’s from One Tiny Leaps’s experience at Wildflower Flower Farm in Massachusetts it took me right back to my childhood and one of my favourite TV shows, Little House On The Prairie.  I know, I’m completely showing my age aren’t I.

I would love to go to America and experience life on a traditional farm, where the children can run free and meet the animals.  Being able to stay with local people and gleam their knowledge of the area to plan your holiday too is just invaluable.

Celebrate Special Occasions

Self catering holidays are the perfect setting for the multi-generational holiday and the perfect place to celebrate a special birthday or anniversary.  Laura from Side Street Style talks about sharing her 30th birthday with her family, as well as her mother and brother, on the French Riveria in this wonderfully traditional French villa. 

view-over-ocean- 5 AMAZING Reasons To Make Your Next Holiday Self Catering

Self catering accommodation is perfect for bring families together for holidays as you can enjoy each other’s company but still retreat to your own room if you need a little space.  You can enjoy time together at home or on day trips, or you have the flexibility to plan different activities also.

Take Your Travels Off The Beaten Track

Self catering holidays give you real flexibility when it comes to choosing your location.  You don’t have to feel tidied to a holiday resort and you can find locations that really inspire you and let you immerse yourself in the local culture and beauty of an area.

Charly from Pod Travels shares her tourist free experience in the stunning location of Trillayo in the Bedoya Valley.  Their holiday cottage was brimming with rustic charm and was the perfect location to explore this remarkable location.

What do you love about self catering accommodation?

view-over-ocean- 5 AMAZING Reasons To Make Your Next Holiday Self Catering

This is a collaborative post 

Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

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What do you look for in a family holiday? Is quality accommodation at the top of your list? Do you like to be surrounded by natural beauty? Does the family insist on visiting a resort with an excellent swimming pool? Perhaps your holiday isn’t perfect without a beautiful beach to build sandcastles on? If all of these things are important to you then I think you are going to love this post about our family holiday with Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

During May half term we flew to Bordeaux in France before making the journey to Lacanau Ocean where you can find Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins. If you were following us on Instagram you might have noticed that we took a little detour. This was entirely my fault for not putting the correct details into Google Maps when setting off in our hire car from the airport. Just for your information, it’s really important to tell Google Maps you want to go to Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins, as you might end up at another camp site. Fortunately we were only an hour out of our way, so it wasn’t a complete disaster, but we were definitely relieved when we reached Yelloh! Village.

Check in was really quick and we received a super friendly welcome from guest services who even escorted us to our holiday cottage by golf buggy so that we didn’t get lost. I think they might have been trying to tell me something! We were actually staying in a ‘no car zone’ but we were allowed to unpack our car, and if we went shopping, we could also take it up to our accommodation. It’s nice that they have rules to restrict cars, but are also sensible with it. Lots of holiday providers have rules that are meant to be helpful, but enforce them to the point that they actually become annoying, which can be quite frustrating especially for families.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

Once we had unloaded the car, we were finally able to appreciate our new surroundings. It was lovely to have the privacy of our own four walls for the week, in a detached holiday cottage with it’s own decking and outdoor space. We had neighbours close by, but we were able to enjoy our own self contained space to relax in. We were surrounded my the biggest pine trees I have ever seen, so the resort most definitely lives up to it’s name. The cottage was made of wood so it blended in with the natural environment but inside it was modern and well presented. It was also well insulated and very well sound proofed, which was great as we can be quite a noisy family.

Swimming Pool

The part of the holiday that made the biggest impact on us was the swimming pool, and it was clear to us that all the families really enjoyed this facility. Now, I can’t swim as you may have heard me confess on the blog before, but I enjoyed the pool and all it’s features as much as anyone else who was there. First of all, it’s heated and the average temperature was 30C, which was perfect. There was a ‘water tree’ and paddling pool for younger children to enjoy, and they could even play here independently as long as you were sat nearby keeping an eye on them.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

The main pool had so many features. There was a lagoon, or lazy river if you like, that you could swim around. The kids loved going piggy back with us and chasing each other round until we reached the undercover pool. This area of the pool was, to all intents and purposes, indoors and even had a separate jacuzzi which we all loved.

If that wasn’t enough there were also several water slides which were an endless source of entertainment for us all. They were very family friendly and our five year old was quite happy to fly down each one of them without an adult. Our 3 year old preferred to sit on someone’s knee, but she loved them just as much. I lost count of how many times we went up and down those slides, but one things for sure it was brilliant family fun and we all enjoyed every minute of it.


Another favourite feature of ours for the duration of our holiday at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins
was the beach. The resort is perfectly situated for direct access to the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. You walk through a forest of beautiful pine trees before it opens out onto protected sand dunes. Walk a little further and you are looking at miles of glorious sand covered beach and lapping waves.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

I would take the girls down to the beach everyday to build sand castles and jump the waves. If it was a morning visit we would watch the students at surf school take on the waves that day. Sadly, all we could do was watch as children have to be 8 years old to join, but that didn’t stop my daughter asking over and over again if she could have a surf board. I would definitely consider taking her back here when she was old enough to have a go at surfing as the kids in the school were making great progress.

While we were playing on the beach, Daddy would take the opportunity to pop down to the Zen pool, which was a more tranquil setting for over 18’s who wanted to swim and relax without children. He’s not a fan of sand, so this worked well for him.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

Eating at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins

A holiday at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins is the perfect place to enjoy several types of catering arrangements that work well for families. We did self catering for some meals, we enjoyed eating out both at the “Les Fils à Maman” restaurant and in the nearby town and we also had take away during our stay.

The great thing about this resort is the number of family friendly eating options it provides. There is a supermarket onsite where you can pick up all of your essential daily items. There is also a boulangerie that opens every morning selling fresh bread, croissants and other gorgeous French pastries. A holiday in France just isn’t French until you’ve had a fresh baguette or two!

There is a snack bar where you can get sandwiches and ice-cream throughout the day, but in the evening you can also get freshly made pizzas to order and cooked chicken from the Rotisserie to take away. We became huge fans of the pizzas very quickly as they were reasonably priced and also made with good quality ingredients. We would pick them up after an afternoon trip to the pool and sit on our decking enjoying the rest of the sunshine the day had to offer. It was a great way to end the day together before the kids bedtime.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

We also popped to “Les Fils à Maman” restaurant for lunch are were totally impressed with their burgers, again at a very reasonable price. There was a choice of beef, chicken or vegetarian burgers which you were able to customise too. We were all very impressed with not only the burgers but also the french fries! The restaurant over looks one of the children’s play areas which is great for families. The lighthouse was a great pitstop for the kids when they had finished eating and gave us a moment to relax whilst still keeping a watchful eye on them.

Other Facilities at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins

The focus of our holiday was to relax and enjoy some downtime with the children in what was a stunningly beautiful setting, but the truth is you can have any kind of holiday you want at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins. They provide lots of facilities that allow you to make the most of your family break and here’s a few things you might like to choose from

Bike Hire
Surf equipment hire
Surf lessons
Kids clubs
Indoor play area
Outdoor play areas
Games room
Wellness and spa centre
Outdoor gymnasium
Sports pitches
Skateboard park
Evening entertainment program

During the course of the week we enjoyed using the majority of the family friendly facilities at Yelloh! Villages and were very impressed with what was included in our holiday for us to enjoy.

We had a fun and active holiday during our stay at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins. The kids had such a great holiday and we were genuinely impressed with all the facilities especially the pool and the wonderful beach that was right on our doorstep. We would have no problem recommending a family holiday to Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins and would happily return ourselves one day either to this site or one of the other Yelloh! Village resorts across Europe.

Yelloh-Village-Cottage- Our Family Holiday With Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins – Review

We were provided with a complimentary stay at Yelloh! Village Les Grands Pins in exchange for this post but all thoughts and opinions are our own. We were also compensated for our time.

Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

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Do you need a quality gift for dad this Father’s Day? From sports dads to outdoors dads, you can get great gift inspiration from online home and garden retailer BuyDirect4U.co.uk, which has a fun and thoughtful collection of gifts for every type of dad.

Why not pick this geeky gift for quirky dads, this bright blue police box bird feeder in the design of Dr Who’s iconic TARDIS promises to bring a smile to Dad’s face. Crafted from high quality polywood, this TARDIS bird feeder is hand painted and suitable for outdoor use.  Priced at £39.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

Perfect for the dad who has green fingers, this Charles Bentley and Son gift set, created in partnership with the National Trust, features a pair of hard wearing rigger gloves, a hand fork and a hand trowel. The rigger gloves have a double stitched palm and fingertip panels that protect the hand and a soft fleece palm lining for increased wearer comfort, while the tools are made from the finest quality FSC wood and stainless steel. A thoughtful gift that is built to last. Priced at £27.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

The kids can spend quality time with dad this Father’s Day thanks to this travel fishing set for two. Featuring two 1.65 metre telescopic rods with reels with 2lb lines and all the essentials you need for a day of fishing, it is a gift that dad can enjoy again and again. The barbless hook ensures less damage to the fish when released and the spinner attracts prey fish, while the equipment is stored in a hard-wearing tackle box with handle for easy carrying. Priced at £19.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

Great for the fitness mad dad, these Charles Bentley cast iron red kettle bells make it easier to workout at home. These kettle bells come as a single unit in both 6kg and 8kg which are wrapped in neoprene rubber for comfort, durability and safety. Kettle bells are designed to allow the user to have a firm and comfortable grip while performing activities. Suitable for use to exercise arms, shoulders, chest, back, abs and legs. Available in 6kg and 8kg. Priced at £13.99 – £16.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

If you need to find a useful gift for the outdoors dad, then this Bentley Explorer portable camping light and power bank ticks all the right boxes. Ideal for camping or fishing, this small, lightweight lantern also acts as a power bank once charged, allowing you to charge other devices, including mobile phones. Priced at £24.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

This Rastar Quadcopter Drone with built-in camera is perfect for the dad who is just a big kid at heart. Designed to capture great aerial shots, this drone can be flown in any direction and can be rotated 360 degrees. Features front and back flashing lights and has a flying time of five to six minutes. Priced at £49.99.

GLWDBIRDHOUSE03-Charles-Bentley-Police-Box-Feeder-1 Father’s Day Gifts You Can Buy Online From BuyDirect4U + #Giveaway

For a Father’s Day gift that really packs a punch, pick up this punch bag set. Suitable for boxing, kick boxing and generally keeping fit, this 3ft punch bag is perfect for the home, garage or home gym.  The set includes a pair of 10 ounce matching boxing gloves, while the bag itself has a soft inner filling which allows for punches to be absorbed to protect hands and wrists. Priced at £49.99.

For more gift inspiration, please visit www.buydirect4u.co.uk

Rastar Quadcopter Drone Giveaway

I also have a little competition for you to give you the chance to win a techy Father’s Day for the geeky Dad out there.  BuyDirect4U have also given me one of the Rastar Quadcopter Drone’s to giveaway to a luck Zena’s Suitcase reader.  Please note this model does not come with a camera but is a great gift for someone who wants to start experiencing the fun you can have with drones.  All you need to do is enter via the rafflecopter below.  Competition ends 18/6/17. Other T & C’s apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Are you feeling lucky?  Enter another giveaway here

This post contains PR samples 

5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

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The summer isn’t just about going on holiday and spending time on the beach.  It’s also about making the most of the sunshine at home.  Follow these simple ideas to add a little luxury into your life this summer and enjoy that holiday feeling the whole season.

Book A Spa Day

Why not treat yourself to an indulgent spa day plus a relaxing treatment.  It’s the perfect way to unwind and there’s nothing more decadent than spending the day moving from hot tub to sauna and chilling out in your robe.

back-massage- 5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

Try Fentimans Pre-Mixed Alcoholic Drinks

After a busy week, why not enjoy a sophisticated tipple from Fentimans pre mixed alcoholic drinks range.  Wile away a summers evening over a refreshing Bloom Gin & Tonic or, if you fancy something a little different, try the Rose Lemonade and Bloom Gin. These sophisticated drinks will add a luxurious finish to an otherwise mundane week.

back-massage- 5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

Treat Yourself To Some Gorgeous Sandals

Don’t we all look forward to being able to put on a cute pair of sandals when the weather gets warmer?  I know I do, and they have to have a bit of sparkle about them too.  Having a cute pair of sandals to wear can brighten your day as well as your outfit.

back-massage- 5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

Start Alfresco Dining

The best way to make the most of the sunshine is to eat outside whenever possible.  All meals work well outdoors, whether it’s smoked salmon and scrabbled eggs for breakfast or an evening buffet.  Taking your food and your coffee outside always feels a little bit special.

back-massage- 5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

Go For Afternoon Tea with a Friend

There’s nothing quite like a good catch up with a friend especially when afternoon tea is involved.  You can cover a lot of ground over delicate sandwiches and a selection of cakes.  To take your luxury treat to the next level, why not add a glass of bubbly too.

back-massage- 5 Ways To Add A Little Luxury To Your Summer #WorldGinDay #Fentimans

We were sent samples of Fentimans pre-mixed alcoholic drinks & mixers to be included in this post. 

Here’s Why We LOVE The AA Car Genie @TheAA_UK ‏#CarGenie #spon

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From the moment our AA Car Genie arrived I genuinely thought ‘this is a great concept, and it’s going to make a big difference to how we feel about driving as a family’.  As you might already have guessed we rely heavily on our car for lots of reasons.  We use our car from day to day for getting to work, taking the kids to their different activities or for family days out.  We also rely on our car for travelling further a field, whether it’s to get us to the airport at 4am or to go on one of our road trips in the UK.  Our car plays a huge part in our lifestyle and feeling confident that it will get us around all the time is really important to us.

Car-genie-The-AA Here’s Why We LOVE The AA Car Genie @TheAA_UK ‏#CarGenie #spon

We’ve had the Car Genie from The AA for a few weeks know and it’s really helped improve our peace of mind for driving as a family.  The last thing you want when you have young children is to be on the side of the road with a broken car.  The Car Genie is great because it can prevent up to a 1/3 of breakdowns by alerting you that your car has an issue that needs to be fixed.

Car-genie-The-AA Here’s Why We LOVE The AA Car Genie @TheAA_UK ‏#CarGenie #spon

The Car Genie took literally a few seconds to install into the car.  I popped the app on my phone and added our AA Membership and car details. The dongle in the car started talking to my phone immediately letting me know the battery was in good health and that there were no immediate faults.  This was so reassuring as we were just about to travel to Birmingham Airport for our recent holiday to France.

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The other feature I love about the Car Genie is the ‘Eco-Score’ which helps you to reduce your fuel consumption and ultimately save money.  It looks at your driving technique and measures things like braking, acceleration and cornering.  It gives you a score across each area to show you how you are doing.  It’s really easy to understand and you can quickly see if there is an area of your driving that can be modified to help you reduce fuel consumption.  The app also contains some great driving tips that will help you save money.  It gets you a little competitive too as you always want to beat your last score!

Car-genie-The-AA Here’s Why We LOVE The AA Car Genie @TheAA_UK ‏#CarGenie #spon

Features of the AA Car Genie

  • Gives control and peace of mind to drivers
  • Prevents up to 1/3 breakdowns
  • Notifies AA Members of car faults
  • Updates the Car Genie app in real time
  • Crash detection feature that notifies The AA incase you require assistance
  • Assesses driving style and provides ‘eco-score’ and tips to improve fuel efficiency
  • Records drivers routes
  • Easy to use

The Car Genie is available to Members of The AA for £29 per year and is available from The AA Shop: https://shop.theaa.com/

We were provided with the AA Car Genie and  AA Membership in exchange for this post.  We were also compensated for our time but all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Our Children’s Hearing Test and Glue Ear Diagnosis

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Sometimes it’s just impossible for me to write about anything else until I get something off my chest and this is definitely one of those times.  I took my 3 year old daughter for a children’s hearing test the other day and it confirmed that she does have some low level deafness caused by a condition called glue ear.  You might recall I talked on the blog about my concerns around my daughter’s speech and hearing a few weeks ago.  As she recently turned 3 years old we are keen to support her with the issue that she has probably been struggling with for sometime.

girl-dressed-as-Ana- Our Children’s Hearing Test and Glue Ear Diagnosis

We went to play group as we normally do, more to take my mind off the fact we had the children’s hearing test later that afternoon.  We popped into the Morrison’s Cafe for lunch, as it’s my daughter’s favourite place to eat, and I talked to her about where we were going next.  I said we were going to check if her hearing was working OK and that she would be playing some listening games with the people there.  I also made a point of mentioning there would be toys to play with while we waited.

On the way, we popped into the school as it was being used as a polling station that day.  I should have realised that outcome wasn’t going to be great as it was raining cats and dogs when we arrived.  What a debacle all that was, but I digress.

We found the Children’s Hearing Centre and waited to be called.  A lovely lady came to meet us and just took a moment to watch my daughter play.  Because she is only 3 years old she was put down for 2 hearing tests.  She explained that having watched her play she felt that she would only need the hearing test they used for older children.

What Happens At A Child’s Hearing Test

girl-dressed-as-Ana- Our Children’s Hearing Test and Glue Ear Diagnosis

I answered a few questions first and talked about how congested and snotty my daughter had been for a good few years and how persistent the problem was.  She asked my daughter to go and sit on a chair so she could take a picture of her ears.  I think this was a tympanogram, and only took a few moments to perform.  It wasn’t uncomfortable from what I could tell and my daughter was quite happy to let the lady do it.

She then performed a couple of hearing tests which were listening games for all intents and purposes.  My daughter was given some headphones to wear and as soon as she heard a noise she needed to put a little man in a boat. She was shown how to do it, then she had a go herself.  She did the same kind of thing with putting pegs in a board.

There was also a little box that made different pitched sounds.  My daughter was asked to hold the peg next to the box and when she heard the noise she had to pop the peg on the board.  The tests were just games from my daughter’s perspective and she had fun playing them.  The only thing she was not so happy about was wearing the headphones.  She did for a while but when asked if she would put them on again she shook her head.

What is Glue Ear?

Once all the hearing tests had been completed the lady explained that my daughter was experiencing some low level deafness that was caused by glue ear.  Glue ear is very common in young children as the tubes connecting the middle ear to the throat are not as developed as they are in older children and adults.  This tube, the eustachian tube, can become blocked and air cannot get to the middle ear.  If this happens the cells lining the middle ear can start to produce fluid and if it doesn’t clear it can make your child’s hearing muffled.

girl-dressed-as-Ana- Our Children’s Hearing Test and Glue Ear Diagnosis

When some children are diagnosed with glue ear, the situation is monitored for a few months to see if the condition clears up on it’s own.  Because my daughter has experienced a lot of congestion and her speech development is being affected by the glue ear a monitoring period was quickly dismissed and a referral is being made to the Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic at the hospital.  This might take upto 6 weeks to come through and my daughter’s hearing could be tested again to see if there has been any change.

Treatment for Glue Ear

I was given a leaflet from the ncds called ‘a guide for parents – glue ear’, and it talks about the different treatments available.  I think we have probably all heard of having grommets inserted into the ear.  The child has an operation under general anaesthetic to clear the middle ear of fluid and then insert the grommets to keep them clear so the ear can continue to function properly.  As the child grows the grommets are pushed out.  I’ve heard many people talk about the effectiveness of grommets and how quickly a child’s speech can improve once they have been inserted.

The other option is to use hearing aids to improve the hearing until the condition has cleared.  Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a practical option for us due to my daughter’s age.  I think she would become annoyed with them and pull them out if I’m honest, but we will discuss all the options and concerns when we go to ENT Clinic.

I was feeling a bit teary when the diagnosis was given, and even as I type this post.  I managed to hold it together though, as it’s better to know what it is and it’s positive that it’s something that can be fixed fairly quickly.  I was also told that her hearing is fine, it’s just the glue ear that is causing the problem so that was also a huge relief.  I just wish I’d have trusted my instincts a year ago and had this investigated sooner, as I feel terrible about how this may have held her back.  She is a bright child though, and I’m sure she’ll catch up with everyone once we have treated the glue ear.

#Win! A Holiday Cash Giveaway For Summer #Competition

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I’m delighted to bring you another superb giveaway in collaboration with my friends Mel from The Diary of a Jewellery Lover and Kaz from Ickle Pickles Life and Travels.  It’s an honour to work with such lovely bloggers who are as passionate as me about giving back to our readers and followers.

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kids-throwing-stones-in-sea- #Win! A Holiday Cash Giveaway For Summer #Competition

We are all parents so we understand the challenges of managing the family budget and keeping the family entertained over the summer so we hope this will relieve the pressure a little for the lucky winner.  It would make us all so happy to know we had helped your family to enjoy the school holidays a little bit more, as we are all so completely grateful that you continue to support us and our blogs.

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Good luck to all of you who take the time to enter and thanks so much for all your support for Zena’s Suitcase.  We truly hope you will continue to follow us and enjoy reading our posts about family travel, parenting, positive lifestyle choices and all the other fab ideas we put out there on the internet.

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5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East

Spending a week exploring Ireland’s Ancient East once again reaffirmed to me that Ireland is one of the best countries in the world for a road trip. From narrow rural roads to the many stops where I explored and learned, it was all interesting and certainly a fun experience. I have a lot to say and write about the trip which is sponsored by Tourism Ireland, but I thought I would start by highlighting a few moments along the way that meant the most to me. For one reason or another, these experiences stand out, defining for me what it’s like to explore Ireland’s Ancient East.

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I’m a dyed-in-the-wool history buff and that’s especially true when it comes to ancient sites. My imagination starts racing whenever I visit important places built thousands of years ago by a people we know so little about. That was my experience visiting Newgrange, the famous neolithic tomb site near Drogheda. More than 5,000 years old, this passage tomb, along with others nearby, sat undisturbed under pastureland for centuries until they were finally rediscovered and presented to the public. Walking into the tomb itself, I couldn’t help but be amazed as I scanned the ornate circular design work carved into the rock, still there after all of these years. Newgrange, along with others nearby, are the best known tombs of this kind in Europe and to stand there in that spot was honestly humbling for me.

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East

All of Kilkenny

Sometimes we just click with certain cities for reasons unknown to us. It could be our moods, the weather or what there is to see and do, but whatever it was I quickly fell in love with the colorful medieval city of Kilkenny. Straddling the banks of the River Nore, the city was bustling with visitors when I stopped for the night, everyone was out and about to enjoy the unusually warm weather. Walking around though I found myself getting lost in the colorful homes and business as well as the fantastic river views found throughout the downtown. There’s a lot to see and do as well, and I tried to do as much as I could in just one short day. Climbing to the top of the Round Tower at St. Canice’s Cathedral, I discovered a new appreciation for the size and scale of Kilkenny, while of course enjoying the views. If you like beer then this is the town for you – Smithwick’s began here and their interactive Experience tour is one of the best food or drink related tours I’ve been on. Add in a massive castle, great food and friendly people and this is one city in Ireland not to miss.

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East

Irish National Stud

Turns out that The Irish National Stud isn’t a guy, but rather it’s the nation’s official home of the thoroughbred horse. It’s also one of Ireland’s most popular tourist sites and I discovered why almost immediately. The sun was out and it was a very warm afternoon as I walked around the paths and paddocks, the weather ideal for a visit to the horse farm. Some of Ireland’s most famous horses were quietly walking around their paddocks and I even saw a few younger horses still with their moms. Regardless of your interest in horses this really is one of those must visit stops for the raw beauty of the farm and surrounding gardens, made all the better by some welcome summer weather. Also on-site are an elaborate set of gardens, leftovers from when the property was a grand estate and carefully maintained and expanded today.

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East

Dinner at Strawberry Tree

I normally don’t consider myself a fine-dining kind of guy and yet, whenever I experience a great restaurant, I almost always walk away impressed. That was definitely the case after an incredible 11-course tasting menu at the organic Strawberry Tree Restaurant at Macreddin Village. The BrookLodge and attached restaurant are a relaxing country retreat where pastoral luxury reigns supreme. I love great properties like the BrookLodge, tucked away deep in the rolling hills and a place where people go to do little more than relax. But it’s also home to Ireland’s only entirely organic restaurant, the Strawberry Tree. Led by a chef with a fierce obsession with seasonality, they even have a full-time forager on staff who treks every day to find the freshest ingredients in the pastures and paths surrounding Macreddin. The results speak for themselves; after a leisurely dinner I was as impressed as I’ve ever been by a food experience. Each course was more surprising than the last and when combined with great service and hospitality, it was the perfect evening.

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East


Meaning the “Valley of the two lakes” in Irish, Glendalough is a popular getaway for a few reasons, namely a certain St. Kevin. A 6th century hermit who actually lived in the caves above the Upper Lake pictured here, a large pilgrimage site popped up nearby in his name a couple of hundred years after his death. Today the chapels and towers are largely in ruin, but make for a fantastic visit. Glendalough also lies within the massive Wicklow Mountains National Park and there are bunches of walking and hiking paths for all levels, even if you just have an hour to spend meandering along the green paths. Spending a couple of hours exploring, this lake was one of the highlights of the walk – I think I was just so surprised to see it that I immediately loved it. But the entire site, from the monastic ruins to the hikes are worth a visit to see and experience a more natural side to Ireland’s Ancient East.

The post 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East appeared first on LandLopers.

34548155380_c9082e3255_k-856x642 5 Favorite Moments Exploring Ireland’s Ancient East