Tuesday, 29 October 2019

TRAVEL // Center Parcs {A Perfect Winter Break}

Center Parcs Family Holidays

Every January my family take the time to spend five days at Center Parcs. As my family own a florist shop the rest of the year is pretty full with weddings, but January is always a time when the shop is quite quiet. We started going the year after Etta was born and I’ve made sure to book it into my diary every year since. I never knew a January holiday would be so needed. In fact sometimes I think we look forward to Center parcs more than we do Christmas. It is just the most easy break for us all.

I always think the Center Parcs adverts on TV really capture what it’s all about; getting away from reality and finding peace in nature. There is just something about being able to walk through the trees to an activity that brings such satisfaction. And in January the coldest and greyest month of the year, it is nice to find peace and prettiness in the outside world.

I don’t know if Center Parcs is great value for money as it is very cheap in term time and very expensive in the holidays but like all holidays you just have to decide how much you need a break. Depending on the size of family if you get different size chalets and depending on how much a luxury you want you can go from basic to almost penthouse style living. The thing is as always with travel and holidays that you make your own fun, you make your own experience and you make the holiday what you want it to be.

For us, we are swimmers, our children are water babies and all they are really interested in is the time at the pool. And for Rob and I it's pretty much the same; we could be at the pool from opening till closing every day if you wanted to enjoy the warm atmosphere, the fun rides and just playing together. With food available, and this spring, a whole new children’s area, Tropical pool is the best venue for us to spend our time. This year we went to the sports centre and played tennis with loads of other options of activities available but for us it was extra expense when our kids didn’t really require the additional entertainment. However it all looks fun and all looks like you could spend days trying out new activities and developing your skills.

Usually my entire family goes on this trip. It’s hard for my sister-in-law who is a teacher and simply can’t leave school in term time. When there are eight of you though there’s always going to be one sibling that can’t make it to everything; it’s not very often we are a full unit but it doesn’t stop us all having fun when we see each other. Now with seven children between us it changes how the holiday works and it changes how we eat and socialise with each other. We have three chalets due to the number of us and we play between all of them sharing drinks and food when we can. There’s always one night when the boys head off to the sports bar for pool and chicken wings and to be honest I think by the time the evening comes round us girls are exhausted and usually end up in bed first.

We often find taking plenty of board games is a good idea and Mexican train seemed to be the winner this year. If you haven’t played it, it is a great domino game totally worth getting to entertain for hours.

Most of my photos from the trip are based in the swimming pool because that is where we spend most of our time and we are happy with that arrangement. What’s nicer than being in warm air and having water that you can just run into and splash about for hours. Especially when you can hear the rain pouring down outside. Nothing is more satisfying than that!

I know that Center Parcs has just opened a new park in Northern Ireland and has about five or six up-and-down the country. Center parcs also has parks in France, Germany and Denmark which I would love to try out as I hear that they are amazing! At least we would know what we were heading for and if it’s just a case of catching a ferry across the waters to spend a week in the German forests I will be there in a flash. It’s definitely worth looking into though.

A break in January is honestly perfect to get away and spend some time just with family living life simply; it really focuses me for the coming winter months. I find that I’m in a much better mood and that January is not as dull as some other people find it. In fact there is nothing nicer than having something after Christmas to look forward to.


Monday, 28 October 2019

Fashion // Second Hand Gold: Ebay Saved Search

Using eBay to find pure fashion gold!

For years I wanted my Grandma to give me her Vintage Jaeger Caramel coat. She often gave me vintage pieces that she didn't really wear any more, but this one item was at the top of my list. Unfortunately my grandma was quite sure that there was no way she was giving me this coat, she loved it too much herself which was just fine; a good reason to hang onto it and something that I just knew I would have to work towards purchasing myself.

I don't know what it was about this coat that was such a big deal. Honestly, it was very classic shaped, a bit 90s with it's dropped shoulder but really, it was just a classic coat that is available to most. There was definitely something about the way my grandma wore it though that made it more desirable. She had a sapphire broach on the lapel, a traditional one only worn by the kind of women who would have enjoyed buying such jewellery as broaches aren't all that fashionable anymore, in fact you can pick them up easily in charity shops now, but this broach was something special. She also often wore this coat with layers of cashmere, in the coldest parts of winter with leather riding boots (she gave me those) and long skirts. The thought of the coat always conjures up those images of her coming into the house at Christmas time, laden with food bags and wine after a journey down from Yorkshire to Lincoln. That coat just really was grandma, and only ever being the only girl interested she had said that when the time comes I could have it.

Having written about my long journey to find the perfect caramel coat before I had always reverted back to waiting for this dream one as nothing satisfied quite like it. However, my Grandma, who has recently been in a care home, I actually for more sentimental reasons, I have been struggling with the thought of having it. I decided that I would buy one myself and leave my mum to have my grandma's.
I was OK with that; I had been on the Jaeger website and seen the near £400 price tag and decided that I was going to save for it because this coat would mean so much more to me than any other coat I would own. This would be just like grandma's vintage Jaeger, in the dark caramel colour, the coat that will forever remind me of her and that made it priceless.

On my saving journey I decided one night to start looking on eBay for the exact coat instead. My grandma's had this vintage drop shoulder and the new one was a modern cut fitted one. After a few attempts I found a match but in a size that was too big for me. Knowing that this meant their were coats available I just kept going back and on the week that I was going to purchase a new one a size 12 dark caramel vintage Jaeger popped up on eBay for £40. now for a perfect fit I would have gone with an 8. The wrap style and already oversized fit would have been big already but I was happy that once layered up with a jumper this size 12 would be perfect. Purchase made. I was so excited. I told my mum straight away that I had found a replica and that we eventually would have matching coats.
When it arrived it was like I had been handed my grandmas. I just need to buy some Chanel No. 5 to spray all over it and it would be hers.
I have been holding onto this since the middle of the summer, desperately waiting for the weather to change so I can get it out to wear. I just love the way it hangs, its colour and of course the wrap belt. The way it fits is perfect for my style and really, more than anything, it is so nice to have something with such a strong nostalgic value. It makes wearing it seem important in some way, like I am preserving her in a youthful way somewhere in my mind which is totally opposite to the situation she has been in recently.
eBay is a great place for finding those vintage gems. I cannot tell you how good the saved search function is which allows you to store key searches of items. You get an email as soon as an item with description to your search becomes available. Thank you "Vintage Jaeger caramel coat" search for finding me this absolute gem!

*I just wanted to put on here that I wrote this post a few weeks ago before my Grandma passed away. It seems really apt to still post it. It brings a smile to my face!

Saturday, 12 October 2019

TRAVEL // The Lake District {A Holiday with my Family}

A Photo Album Of Our Time In The Lake District 

It’s not like us to go away in half term. We often spend a week recuperating from the six weeks prior and avoiding any journeys because I’m quite frankly sick of driving. However this year's February half term, my parents treated Rob and I to 4 days away in the Lake District. My mum gave Rob this present for his birthday a couple of years ago and it has taken us until now to actually get there but I’m really glad we actually set a date and made an excuse to go.

Our Time in The Lake District

I haven’t been to the Lake District in years, in fact the last holiday we went on when I was a teenager we were camping and I can honestly say it was the worst holiday I’ve ever had. It was October half term, it was cold and very rainy and my mum fell and twisted her ankle so badly she needed to be in a wheelchair. This changed everything. In reality my parents should’ve just said we were going home because it probably would’ve been easier even though we would’ve all been disappointed but we stayed and had a thoroughly cold and miserable time. We were with some friends which did help and we went off rock climbing and tried to entertain ourselves with activities but still with my mum in a wheelchair in a lot of pain it made life very difficult and with 8 children who all wanted entertaining and feeding and keeping warm I’m sure she struggled the most out of all of us. As teenagers we were good at complaining, and to this day I still remember this as the worst holiday I’ve ever been on. I didn’t even mention yet that we were camping and that is why we all became so cold and miserable; something I will never do again in October!
Anyway, my last experience of the Lake District wasn’t as good as I would’ve liked to have been and, to be honest, I know it’s a beautiful place but I’ve just never really been up there since. It is about a three hour drive which isn’t that long and there is something very familiar about the whole area. I think that’s because I lived in North Yorkshire so was quite used to the hills, the twisty roads and bleakness that it has to offer. But like anywhere on a sunny day the whole of the Lake District is transformed into this paradise when nature overtakes consumerism and you find that there are more hills full of trees and houses than shops.

The Lakeside Hotel And Spa

My parents have been returning to the same hotel for about four years now and took us to The Lakeside hotel and spa which sits on Lake Windermere. It’s a gorgeous place with a gorgeous view in a gorgeous setting.

The Lakeside hotel is quite old-fashioned in its Decor and style. It does however have a beautiful conservatory spanning the length of half of the hotel looking right out onto the lake which is where we spent most of our time sitting and relaxing. It has a bistro style restaurant and fine dining restaurant which made it easy for us to choose what suited our needs as a family. It also has a beautiful spa and swimming pool which entertained the children on a morning and afternoon.

The Lake District is one of those places where you have to drive to get anywhere, but you could easily just head off and walk straight up into the hills as there really there are plenty of beautiful walks by the National Trust or Forestry Commission who provide a beautiful experience in a beautiful setting. 

Walking In Ambleside

We walked each day in a new place and just enjoyed small adventures that the kids could manage. Ambleside is beautiful. We walked to the waterfalls and back again to the pub which was just enough walking for the children to do. We also visited the Beatrix Potter museum and spent time reliving childhood memories through the books of Peter Rabbit. We went off piste on a few walks which had wonderful conversations with the kids and lead to more time being spent with my parents just walking and chatting and enjoying each other’s company.

Photos From Ambleside:

Being one of eight, it’s not very often that we holiday with just my parents, in fact it’s very rare indeed and even this holiday had my youngest 16-year-old brother in tow, but that is fine because Gabriel is Raph's best friend and he actually helps us out more than he realises in entertaining the children. One afternoon he took them off to the hotel gym and for a swim meaning that we could sit eating nuts, drinking beer and just enjoying adult time; he was like our very own nanny.

The World Of Beatrix Potter

 Just next to our hotel there was also an aquarium which seems quite random when you think about it, but I think it’s just a little tourist spot that you can catch a little boat ride to or steam train and have a bit of entertainment. We stayed next to it so on the only afternoon when it really rained we had something to do that wasn’t far from the hotel. Etta had been desperate to get in there once she had realised that it was an aquarium and she was so pleased to spend an hour or so wondering around looking at the fish. It’s not very big but if you’re in the Windermere area it is probably worth a visit as something to do.

We Also went to the BEATRIX POTTER WORLD which I went to as a child. I have very little recollection but my parents claimed it hadn't changed much. 

Photos from Beatrix Potter World:

The lakes offer so much more than the small amount we did. We did what suited us, with small children especially you just want to spend your days doing an activity and then resting really. 

I could go back up here every holiday. Leaving was sad and I miss that the views and walks aren't on your doorstep. Heading outdoors in The Lakes is at the top of everyone's agenda and I can really see  why: it is a great area of our country to visit so pop it on your list. 

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