Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Planning a Dream Family Holiday in Italy

Italy is a place I have been dreaming of visiting since I was a child, and after meeting my husband, the first place we planned to travel to together was the romantic city of Venice.

After trawling through stunning images of gondolas and beautiful sunsets reflecting on the peaceful waterways, we booked our dream break in a hotel overlooking the canals and spent five unforgettable days and nights exploring the Queen of the Adriatic.

In the words of Truman Capote, "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go.” We drank Bellinis at Harry's Bar, enjoyed Gelato while walking through Piazza San Marco, shopped for traditional Italian lace on the island of Burano and immersed ourselves in fascinating history at The Correr and The Doge's Palace.



Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash


As fate would have it, just after returning from this trip, we learnt the amazing news that we were expecting our first child, so this was our last holiday before we became parents.

Over a decade later, Italy still has a special place in my heart, and it's somewhere I would love to take my children. However, when planning my family trip to Italy, I've been researching villas in Tuscany with a pool instead of an extravagant Gothic construction on stilts.

Photo by SUTTIPONG SURAK on Unsplash

Our two children are currently 7 and 10 and they often tell us that their dream holiday would involve a delicate balance between adrenaline fuelled adventures and sunny days spent in amazing pools just kicking back and relaxing on a giant inflatable unicorn with a mocktail and a huge Gelato in hand.

Myself and my husband are happy with this of course, especially if it's accompanied by delicious Italian food and wine, so where better to experience all this and more, than Tuscany?

We always like to add in a little history and one city that would be a must on any Tuscan dream trip would be Florence, especially after reading Flying with a Baby's tips for making getting the most out of Florence with kids, I know my daughter would particularly love taking part in the Florence food tour and Gelato making class, I mean who wouldn't?! Another perfect addition for kids of this age would be the Uffizi Treasure Hunt Family Tour as experienced by Dais Like These on their recent vacation.

Photo by Puk Khantho on Unsplash

As well as spending time in such a awe inspiring city, a family trip to Tuscany would not be complete without exploring the picturesque countryside and the smaller towns hidden away in the Italian hills. I recently read about the visit Otis and Us made to the smaller town and hidden gem that is Volterra. It's incredible views, winding cobbled streets, and fascinating history which is still preserved in the remaining stretches of its Etruscan walls, built in the 4th century B.C, all make me dream of seeing it myself.

Photo by Chris Barbalis on Unsplash

There is just so much of Tuscany, and in fact of Italy as a whole, that I would like to experience, that I think I would find it difficult to stay in just one place. My dream family holiday to Tuscany would be jam packed full of days exploring everything the region had to offer.

After all these escapades, we would certainly be in need of some relaxation, and chill out time, so where better to spend some downtime, than the spa town of Bagno Vignoni, where we could take a dip in the various sulphurous thermal baths that I leaned about from That British Betty.

Top Tips for Italian Travel with Kids

If you've never travelled to Italy with your family, I've pulled together some top tips for Italian travel with kids, I hope you find them helpful!
  • Plan your mealtimes - Italians eat late and restaurants open later in the evening than we are accustomed to in the UK, so plan accordingly with snacks to hand for hungry little mouths and a later lunch, or maybe even cook yourself some evenings to avoid later nights.
  • Hire a car - (and make sure you have the right documents to do so!) If you want to get the most out of a trip to Italy and experience the countryside, you will want to explore as much of it as possible so being mobile is a must! Be aware that many of the Italian system of motorways (Autostrada) are tollways so ensure that you have cash or a card to hand to pay for theses when needed. Make sure you check out the local driving laws too.
  • Choose the right time of year - Italy is a popular destination and can get really busy in peak season, especially the top tourist destinations, and these crowds can get a bit much for young children so consider booking your travel at quieter times such as Easter or half term rather than the main summer school holidays.
  • Educate yourself (and your children) - Why not brush up on a little Italian history before you go? This way you can get even more out of those visits to museums and landmark places.
Have you visited Italy with children? What was you're favourite place to go? Were there any surprises? I'd love to read your top tips so please do leave them in the comments!


This is a collaborative post.


Sunday, 5 August 2018

Emily's Paint A Pot - Manchester Arndale

Last week, my seven year old daughter and I enjoyed a girly mother and daughter afternoon with a visit to Emily's Paint A Pot  in Next, Manchester Arndale. We first visited Emily's Paint A Pot  in their previous location in Prestwich, however the new studio is perfectly located in Manchester City centre, ideal for shopping trips or to combine with lunch out and so handy to get to on public transport.

Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


Found on the ground floor of the shiny new flagship Next store in Manchester city centre, the fabulous studio offers a great selection of pottery figurines to paint as well as a variety of other crafty options including slime making and clay impressions.

Girl in Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


You can just turn up at the studio when you have a hankering for some pottery painting fun, however it is recommended to reserve a spot during busy periods such as the summer holidays. You can do this online for just £2 deposit.

pastel coloured pottery paints


When we arrived, we were greeted with a friendly smile and taken through the options available, the staff member was sweet with Elizabeth, even when she took (what felt like!) half an hour to decide on what to decorate and what paints to use!

With a decision (finally!) made, we were given aprons and seated then it was now down to Elizabeth to decide what to paint on her mug. It came to no surprise to me that unicorns and rainbows featured heavily in her mug design!


Painting a mug at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


We had a pretty lilac wooden box of water based paints on the table with us and each bottle had a number on the lid which corresponded with a painted flag on the wall. This showed us what the colour would be like once dry and finished.

Painted rainbow flags at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


Another addition to the table was the drinks menu, and after a few minutes our hostess came over to take our drinks order, the prices were very reasonable with a milkshake just £1.50 and a fruit tea less than £2.

Milkshake at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


Once Elizabeth had added the final touches to her masterpiece, it was taken away to dry and we were given a ticket to collect it a week later. As well as this option, Emily's Paint a pot also allows you to choose different types of paint so your masterpieces can be taken home on the same day, however if these were selected for a mug it would be a decoration only piece and could not be used to drink from.

child painting mug at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale

child painting mug at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale

Unicorn mug painted by child at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale



We had a lovely time pottery painting together, it was really nice to have some quality one on one time with my youngest child. We chatted about our plans for the summer holidays and Elizabeth talked about her hopes and fears for starting year 3 in September. I'm certainly planning some more mum and daughter dates in the future and would thoroughly recommend Emily's Paint A Pot as the perfect location! The service was super friendly and the prices are great value, starting from just £8.

party room at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale


You don't need to be a child to join the crafty fun at Emily's Paint a Pot as they also offer Pottery and Proscecco evenings too! Check out the website and social media pages, Facebook and Instagram) for more details!

finished mug at Emily's Paint a Pot in Next, Manchester Arndale



We were invited to experience our visit in exchange for this review, all opinions are our own.

Monday, 30 July 2018

KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker - Review and Giveaway

The KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker is set to be one of the must have toys for tween girls for 2018. Ideal for kids who love to craft and create, the KumiKreator from Cool Create comes with everything your child needs to make ten bright and colourful bracelets. Replacement threads can also be purchased to make even more!

kumikreator friendship bracelet maker from cool create

Making Friendship Bracelets


Some things seems to stand the test of time so well and making friendship bracelets is certainly one of those activities. Twenty five years ago I would spend hours sitting there plaiting and twisting threads to make pretty bracelets for my friends and family and now a quarter of a century may well have passed (in what feels like the blink of an eye!) but my daughter also enjoys the same pastime.

She was super excited when she was sent the brand new KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker - from Cool Create to try out and couldn't wait to get started!

Kumi comes from the Japanese word Kumihimo meaning “gathered threads.” It is the traditional Japanese technique of braiding cords and beads. The KumiKreator makes creating beautiful and intricate Kumi fashion bracelets fun and easy to do in just minutes!


What's in the box - kumikreator friendship bracelet maker from cool create


What's in the box with the KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker?


When she opened up the box (which incidentally comes with a useful carry handle and is also sturdy enough to keep the machine and all the bits so they don't get lost all around the house) we found the KumiKreator machine, 88 spools of good quality, brightly coloured thread, 10 clasps, 20 caps, 26 stickers, a wrist measuring guide, a design booklet and an instruction booklet.

Elizabeth was eager to get started but firstly we had to set up the KumiKreator, the instructions were easy to follow however we found this great youtube video really useful too.

colourful threads kumikreator friendship bracelet maker from cool create


How did we get on with the KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker?


To make her first bracelet, Elizabeth chose the Dazzle Design and carefully selected the required colours then attached them on to the wheel in the correct places, some of these were a little stiff to start off with so she needed my assistance to click them into place. I then helped her pull the thread through the tip of each plastic tube and then held them in place with the clip on the machine. Once we were ready to go Elizabeth took over completely and enjoyed watched her colourful creation come to life as she turned the handle. I again helped her with the stickers and measuring before cutting the end of the threads off on her first bracelet as well as attaching the end cap and the clasp. She was delighted with how her bracelet turned out and couldn't wait to get stuck in a make some more!

making friendship bracelets with kumikreator from cool create


After the first design Elizabeth decided she wanted to let her creative juices flow and instead of following the patterns provided, made up her own colour patterns that turned out beautifully.

Elizabeth has so far made four bracelets all of which went smoothly, however like any machine of this sort, it is possible to get jams in the thread or spool so do check out these troubleshooting guides to fix any problems you encounter. Common issues could be the threads coming loose or getting tangled and our top tip for preventing this would be to ensure that each thread is threaded through the top of the spool and that they are all tightly tucked into the clip with the end of this clicked down to hold then in securely!






What age is the KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker suitable for?


The recommended age for the KumiKreator is 8+, but my daughter is seven and with a little assistance in reading the instructions and setting it up the first time soon got the hang of how it worked and was able to create her third and fourth bracelets completely on her own. I would say that in my opinion, with a grown up present for some help, the KumiKreator would be suitable for creative girls from the age of six.






Where can you buy the KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker?


The KumiKreator would make an ideal gift for a crafty child ( dare I say for Christmas or birthday ) and gives another dimension to the simple activity of friendship bracelet making. Once all of the threads in the starter pack have been used up, additional kumi fashion packs can be purchased for an RRP of £9.99, each of which will make up to 12 bracelets and include some exclusive colours not available in the starter pack. It is available from a variety of retailers both in store and online and has an RRP of £29.99 but I'm sure we'll see it on some fantastic offers on the run up to the festive season!


Win a KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker from Cool Create


Today (July 30th ) is International Friendship Day so to celebrate, I have a KumiCreator to give away to one of my lovely readers!

Simply follow the instructions below to enter:

Mymummyspennies Kumikreator bracelet maker giveaway




We were sent the Cool Maker KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Summer Football Camp at Hotel Football

Hotel Football, Old Trafford, Manchester


Yesterday, we were invited down to Hotel Football at Old Trafford for a special preview of their summer football camp which runs from Monday 30th June – Friday 3rd August, on the special football pitch on the top floor of the hotel, otherwise known as 'Heaven'!
Phil Neville teaching kids football

Both children had a fantastic hour getting a taster of the summer camp sessions and practising football skills with one of the FA qualified coaches from Shooting Stars. They also had an extra special treat of being joined by the England Women's Football Manager and former Everton and Manchester United player Phil Neville, who is also one of the co-owners of the hotel.
Playing Football with Phil Neville

As well as providing full day childcare for working parents, Hotel Football’s Summer Football Camp offers youngsters between 7 and 12, the chance to develop their skills and learn new techniques from FA qualified coaches in a safe, fun environment in a ‘one of a kind’ setting of the rooftop football pitch. Each day is carefully structured so children can learn new techniques, develop and enjoy themselves while meeting new friends with engaging activities.

Breakfast and lunch is provided each day and is included in the price and every child will go home with a Cafe Football sticker album and sticker starter pack.

To reward the children for their efforts, they will receive an award certificate per day and all five day attendees will go home with a medal at the end of the week.

Girl in Manchester United kit playing football


Further Details


What: Hotel Football Summer Football Camp
Where: Heaven, Hotel Football Old Trafford, 99 Sir Matt Busby Way, M16 0SZ
When: Monday 30th June Friday 3rd August, 08:30 17:00 each day
Price: Day pass: £40.00
5-day pass: £150.00 (25% discount per day)
Discount code: Get an extra 20% off with discount code: BLOG218
How to book: Click here

If you have any questions, you can contact Hotel Football Old Trafford: 0161 751 0430 info@hotelfootball.com



boy and girl in manchester united kit outside Hotel Football


girl Eating oranges at half time

Gary Neville and kids in football kids