Our wonderful week in Woolacombe

It’s been almost three months since I last updated this blog and it’s safe to say time is flying! Life with two kids and a three-day working week is always going to be busy. Throw in some much-needed house decorating, planning for the festive season and several bouts of family illness, and keeping up to date online had to drop off the to-do list for a while.

But in that time there have been many memories, magic moments and milestones that I don’t want to forget so I’m hoping to catch up on some of those now.

Our wonderful week in Woolacombe

Back at the start of September we set off on our first family holiday as a foursome, a week in lovely Woolacombe.

It’s a place that holds a special place in my husband’s heart. The last four generations of his family have been regular visitors to this seaside gem in north Devon. I’ve seen old black and white footage of his granny, great granny and my mother-in-law when she was a child enjoying the beach back in the late 1950s. And he spent many a happy summer holiday there with his brothers when he was young.

I, on the other hand, had never been before. This is a bit odd really, given that I spent the first seven years of my life living in Devon! How could my parents have neglected to take me?!

Road tripAnyway, Woolacombe it was for our first family road trip. And it really was quite a road trip, with a travel time of around four-and-a-half hours solid driving on a good day. We had a gnarly day with traffic and once we’d factored in toddler-friendly stop gaps along the way, this translated into an eight-and-a-half hour door-to-door journey. With Little Mister being sick just five minutes before we reached our final destination! Thankfully the car seat was largely spared – if you’ve ever had to properly clean one, you’ll appreciate our sense of relief.

Once we’d arrive the little man was back on top form and both children loved exploring our new home for the week – number 6 Sandy Lane Apartments, just minutes from the beach (booked through Woolacombe Cottages).

It was a great base for our week. And, apart from the disappointing shower, had everything we needed, including handy carport parking. There were quite a few steps to negotiate but we managed fine with this, especially since we could leave bulky things like the buggy and beach stuff in the accompanying garage to lessen the load. As you can see from the picture below, the location and view from our windows were pretty impressive.

Woolacombe views

What I loved about Woolacombe…

It’s all about the beach. A beautiful, three-mile long stretch of sand. It was the winner of the 2015 Trip Advisor Traveller’s Choice award for best UK beach. It was also an impressive 4th in the best beaches in Europe category and 13th in the best beaches in the world category. Safe to say, it is a very decent beach!

As well as being very long, it’s also very wide – especially when the tide’s out – and there’s just such a feeling of space. Lots and lots of natural, unspoilt space. We went at the end of the summer season when it was quieter but it would take a huge amount of people to fill this epic stretch of sand.

It’s perfect for little ones. As well as great sand for digging holes and making sandcastles, there are dunes to explore and, my favourite, lots of rock pools to discover. Importantly, it’s also very clean. It is clearly well looked after and dogs are not allowed on the main family area of the beach. They are welcome on the quieter parts a little further along, though. It’s a sensible approach, I think.

Woolacombe Beach Collage

You can see above how lovely it is, even on the less sunny days. And that’s only the main beach. To the north of this are two smaller beaches: Barricane (my mother-in-law’s favourite!) and the more secluded Combesgate, which we didn’t see this time.

Also known as Shell Beach, Barricane is quite a small, narrow, bay, surrounded by rocks. It’s also home to a popular beach cafe that in the summer months serves evening curries. It comes highly recommended by my in-laws and we would have loved to have sampled one while watching the sun set. Hopefully next time!

Aside from the beaches, the other thing I really loved about Woolacombe was the feel of the place. Seaside resorts these days all too often have a bit of a tacky, dated feel to them. Not so here. It isn’t overrun with gaudy amusement arcades, shops and general tat. Yes there was the usual colourful array of buckets, spades and other plastic souvenirs on offer but within reason. The place has retained a quaint, village feel. The pace felt slower, quieter and the beach retains its rightful place as the star attraction.

There was a small amusement park a few minutes walk from our flat. It had crazy golf, bumper boats and a few other ride-on things. Just right for our little ones, especially Little Miss.  And if you do want more in the way of activities and entertainment – perhaps if you have older children than ours – there are several holiday parks in the area offering more. But, as someone told me on Twitter before we went, “all you really need is the beach my friend”.

Obviously beaches are much better when the weather is half decent and the elements were extremely kind to us. It was wet the week before we left. Wet the week after. Sunny and warm while we were there. Jammy! I even braved a dip in the sea, which was chilly but strangely pleasant, calming (once the initial shock wore off!) and very invigorating (because of the shock!).

We did quickly learn that holidays with two kids are different. Our visions of quality adult time and evenings spent chilling out with a bottle of wine once the kids were asleep were generally replaced with passing out after a single glass of wine once the kids were asleep.

And we became quite acquainted with the medical services of north Devon – having never before needing to see a doctor while away on our own! On the second morning in Little Miss hurt her foot and wouldn’t put any weight on it, meaning a trip to Ilfracombe Hospital’s walk in centre. And poor Little Mister ended the week with a temperature nearing 40 degrees after his cold turned into a sinus infection needing antibiotics and two visits to a lovely lady doctor, a second detour to Ilfracombe (this time the medical centre), who even called us as we were driving home to check he was ok.

But despite the hick-ups, we did have a lovely time. Lots of ice cream was consumed – much to Little Miss’s delight and a first for the little man. Sandcastles were built. Holes were dug. Shells were collected.  Crabs were caught (in the rockpools, behave! And put back again). We paddled. Little Miss played on the slot machines! And we enjoyed an epic cream tea in Croyde.

I’ll write a bit more about what we did in and some day trips in a second post (which hopefully won’t take three months to write!).

But Woolacombe, we will be back!

PS: You can check out the other 24 Top UK Beaches here at Trip Advisor.

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Categories: Mummy memories, Out and about | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Motherhood is bad for your barnet!

In the shower this morning my mind, as usual, started to wonder. Some days I could put the world to rights while standing alone (yes alone!) under that wonderful, warm running water. On this particular occasion, though, my thoughts turned to hair…

Motherhood is bad for your hair

Today was a no-wash day. I’d have quite liked to but, as is so often the case now, there wasn’t enough time. Back in the days when I was young and childless my locks were washed every day without fail. Sometimes twice if I was going out on the town that night or had been to the gym (ha!).

In those days I only had a very vague idea of what dry shampoo was. My mum had mentioned it once. I’d certainly never used it.

Back then I also thought nothing of regularly spending a hundred quid in a hairdressing salon. Full head of foil high and low lights, cut and blow dry? Yes please. And of course I’ll blow an extra twenty quid on a fancy shampoo and styling product combo that I don’t really need! And I’d do this every 3 months or so.

Fast forward to now? My hair gets chopped once every six months at best, if I’m lucky and/or remember. Basically, once it gets long enough to become really annoying. High

And it is just a cut – a dry cut for twenty quid at a salon in town where I know I can pretty much walk in off the street at a moment’s notice, ie when the stars align, I’m getting desperate and Little Mister decides to nap or the husband can take the kids for half an hour.

Yes, my hair has definitely been a casualty of children. And incidentally, I was also one of those who missed out on the promised so-called pregnancy boost to hair – my maternal locks were more limp and greasy than thick and glossy and once the babies were here I then spent weeks molting like an overgrown household pet!

So it seems, for me at least, that motherhood isn’t great for your hair.

Lady at hair dressers

Living the dream! (Not me, in case anyone was seriously wondering!)

Pic credits: freedigitalphotos.net/StuartMiles and Marin

Twinkly Tuesday
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Categories: Motherhood, musings, Things I've learnt... | Tags: , | 9 Comments

A super-flattering new swimsuit

After almost two years of stubbornly sticking to dry land, I’ve recently been brave and got back in the pool. As a youngster I always loved swimming but as an adult it started to feel like too much of a faff. I was always too nervous to swim while pregnant or with the children as newborns. Added to that was the fact I’ve always felt really self-conscious in swimwear. But I’m hoping all that will change now.

I really want my kids to develop their water confidence; I think it’s an important skill to have. So we’re starting to nurture a little weekend family swimming routine. No way am I brave enough to go on my own with two small charges just yet, especially given one of them can’t walk properly! But our trips as a foursome are going well and a key thing for me – hopefully without sounding hideously vain – has been the super-flattering new swimsuit I found, which has helped me feel that little bit more svelte as opposed to small beached whale!

Have I finally found The One of the swimsuit world?

F&F Magic Illusion swimsuitI think so. And here it is.

I spent a good few nights online agonising over researching the all-important swimwear decision and I’ve been very pleasantly surprised with the end result – a £17.00 bargain from Tesco’s F&F range. It’s called the Magic Illusion swimsuit and it really does live up to its name.

I ordered a very similar looking cossie from Next at the same time, but costing £8 more, and I definitely preferred the Tesco one.

Why is it so good?

I’m a seriously picky customer when it comes to swimwear and the shape of this is so, so flattering. I’m a curvy size 12 – smallish waist, biggish hips, a mum tum and an ample bosom!

The cut is perfect on my cleavage – a lovely sweetheart shape. It has lightly padded cups with elastic underneath, making it feel nicely supportive, and it has adjustable shoulder straps so you can organise your jiggly bits just so! So far, everything has stayed in place and it shows off my assets at their best (if I do say so myself) – which, hopefully, stops people paying any attention to my wobbly, white thighs.

While I’m on the subject of thighs, I’ve also been really pleased with the cut of the suit on the leg. It’s just right, not too high – I hate the feeling that my bum cheek could cut loose at any moment, urgh! – but not so low that it feels frumpy.

Moving on to the other all-important area, the dreaded tummy. It features ruching at the front, which does a fab job of hiding lumps and bumps, while the ‘powermesh’, as they call it, underneath sucks you in for an improved silhouette. It’s nicely taut without being at all uncomfortable.

Fabric wise, it looks and feels nice and has washed well so far. That’s the simple explanation. The website description sounds much more impressive. Apparently, it’s made with Xtra Life Lycra®, meaning it’s durable and should maintain its shape for longer. It also uses ‘CL RESIST technology by Lycra®’ which should give it long-term resistance to sunscreen, chlorine and skin oils. All sounds great and so far, so good in my experience (three swims!).

My only real complaint is that it currently appears to only be available in black and I would definitely buy another one had there been a choice of colours or patterns. There is another Magic Illusion style in magenta but looking at the picture it doesn’t look as flattering to me. So my one comment to the big designer bosses at Tesco (who, of course, I am certain are reading this blog, waiting for my words of wisdom) would be more please!

It does, however, already come in tall and plus-size versions, which may well be useful.

All in all, I have been delighted with this bargain buy. It’s so comfortable, I’ve been able to forget my body hang-ups and get on with enjoying our family time in the water without constantly fiddling with or pulling at my cossie every few minutes. I just wish I’d found it sooner!

You can buy it online here.

NB: I purchased this swimsuit myself. There is no PR jiggery pokery going on here, just my own thoughts.

Family Fever
The Girl Behind The Camera
Categories: Reviews, Style | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

Penny for his thoughts?

I feel a tad guilty that my son has been the subject of (polite) Wicked Wednesday ridicule for two for weeks in a row now but the boy has unwittingly become the star of some perfectly-timed shots of late. This one is from his birthday picnic (the second one! You can read all about it here) and as you can see, he seems somewhat puzzled. Maybe he’s perturbed that all the cake is gone – food is always a big priority. Or, as his father suggested, he was concerned about the Greek banking crisis!

Either way, happy Wicked Wednesday everybody!

Penny for his thoughts

Yay! We’re delighted that Little Mister’s quizzical look was chosen as one of Brummy Mummy of 2’s favourite Wicked Wednesday photos this week.

Categories: Mummy memories | Tags: , | 24 Comments

Five things my kids are (or were) scared of

Babies are funny little creatures, aren’t they? There are plenty of things in their world that they really ought to be a bit more apprehensive about. Creating your own new ‘pond dipping’ game in the toilet your big sister just peed in could result in injury a tummy ache, for example (Yes, my son did this at the weekend). Attempting to scramble upstairs every time you spot the gate open when you can barely walk may well turn out to be a bad idea. Trying to poke your chubby little fingers into a plug socket could give you a nasty surprise. And putting small pebbles from the beach straight into your mouth is never going to make you popular with Mummy.

Yes, right now my 13-month-old son is just a bit of a liability. So it makes me chuckle to think of some of the things he actually perceives as a genuine threat and to remember some of those Little Miss struggled with too.

1. Men with beards – both my two have struggled with this one and to an extent I do agree – I’m not a beard-lover myself (sorry to all those I’ve just alienated!). That said, I’ve yet to burst into tears at the sight of one! Our best beard-related wobbly was when the vicar, a youngish, friendly and very non-scary man of God, came to visit us ahead of Little Mister’s Baptism. Baby boy took one look at him and screamed. He then clung onto me for the entire visit while continuing to glare suspiciously at our hirsute houseguest.

George Pig armbands

These bad boys are clearly terrifying!

2. A pair of George Pig armbands – we’re trying to get into a regular family swimming routine and bought these for Little Mister a couple of weeks ago. When I first took them out of the box and started to blow them up, his bottom lip started to tremble. When I cheerfully tried to show them to him he moved away and started to cry! This was repeated for a good half hour every time the offending inflatable came anywhere near him! He has now grudgingly accepted them. All very random.

3. Hand driers – Probably a more common baby phobia than the previous one. Little Miss used to be terrified of them, especially the Xlerator ones. I can recall being at a family gathering at a posh golf club when she was five months old. We’d taken her off to sort out a ‘special’ nappy and I forgot about The Fear. I returned back into a room full of seldom-seen, well-wishing relatives with a screaming, traumatised baby. Parenting fail.

Henry Hoover

Help, it’s looking at me Mummy!

4. The hoover – Little Miss used to panic when it came out at the end of the day at nursery. She was concerned by Henry Hoovers. Maybe it was the face. I can remember her seeing one in a shopping centre and quizzing me about where it was going and having to give it a ridiculously wide berth. Even now, if I’m hoovering at home she hops up on the bed out of the way – although she has softened somewhat now and does like to have a go at pushing it herself (teach them young I say!).

5. Andy at nursery – Linked to the above, for Little Miss at least. Our kids go to a lovely nursery and at the end of the day the owner’s husband, Andy, who looks after all the maintenance, comes round to do the cleaning. When Little Miss was smaller it became a running joke that she didn’t like Andy. He tried not to take offence, it was the hoover! Well, now it seems that her younger brother also takes exception to the appearance of Andy too. We’re not even sure it’s because of the hoover as he’s always seemed fascinated by that at home. Andy tells us he’s trying not to get a complex. And he doesn’t even have a beard!

Five things my kids are scared ofImage credit: freedigitalimages.net/Phaitoon

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Categories: Baby days, Funny, Mummy memories | Tags: , | 20 Comments

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