Thursday 30 June 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XV (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Here we go on my Reasons to be Cheerful this week:

1) I won the lottery!

Unfortunately only £50 and not £100 million but it paid for my much needed hair cut and leaves some for a salon colour instead of my normal home effort! I am so used to not winning anything on my irregular tickets that I was pretty surprised to get something back. As its still a mega lottery prize this Friday I've had another go too.. watch this space...

2) I won a dress

You know those Retweet Twitter competitions that fill your timeline? Well I actually won one this week. A pleasant surprise to get an e-mail from Tesco telling me I was the winner and asking me my size choice for their new Freya dress. No idea whether it will suit me but hopefully it will!

3) Getting sorted

I have done a couple of sorting sessions in the "office" and the kids can now use their PC again for the first time in months! Just need to acquire the right number of kettle leads to keep everything powered up. We all enjoyed a session on the Bagging The Dragon maths game. I was very impressed with my 4 year old's maths and computer skills! He ended up the winner and I came a lowly 3rd as I've obviously forgotten everything I learnt to get my B at O level...

4) Family

My cousin Harriet had her baby boy safely this week. This was her 5th child but the first with her boyfriend. I wish them all the best for the future.

Please look at the other blogs taking part in this blog hop:

#LoveABook Reading Group: Water For Elephants.

The delightful Cara started a reading group on Good Reads and this was our first book. I was lucky and received a copy for free thanks to Appliances Online. I had heard about the film but hadn't seen the book so I was keen to get stuck in as soon as it arrived:

The story had me hooked really quickly with it's switching between the main character's present and past. It's a very dark story which the author says she based upon historical accounts of life in 1930s American circuses. As a young man Jacob is a very naive runaway escaping the tragic death of his parents when he accidentally jumps onto a circus train.

Luckily for him there are some caring people in the circus as its a dangerous place to work. Anyone not contributing to the circus profits runs the risk of being redlighted - thrown from the moving train in the middle of the night. At best many find themselves being excluded on pay day despite working for weeks or not being given a meal ticket. This really goes against modern sensibilities and its not for the squeamish.

The cast of characters drew me in. Jacob falls in love with the female equestrian star of the show Marlena, but she is married to August the animal trainer who is a Jekyll and Hyde character. The owner of the circus only cares about money which is why he acquires the elephant Rosie from a bankrupt circus. It is the interplay between these and the other circus workers that kept me so hooked that I read the book in 2 days. 

A lot of research went into the details of circus life behind the glitter and grease paint. Cruelty to both animals and people was just part of the normal routine. No wonder many of the crew were alcoholics.

I love the twist at the end and I'd love to know what happened after that.  I gave the book 5 stars on Good Reads as part of my 100 books challenge. For more reviews please go to the host of my reading group Cara and see her links.

Wednesday 29 June 2011

#TheGallery: My Weekend

The lovely Tara reckons she has set us an easy challenge this week with My Weekend. Mine wasn't as exciting as all of those lucky bloggers going to Cybermummy11 but here's what we got up to:

1) Selling books

We spent most of Saturday at Dean Gibson school sheltering from the rain selling Usborne Books:

part of my display

2) Post box chasing

I finally added the Victorian post box to my collection:

how many times can I get this on my blog!

3) Had a PJ day on Sunday being silly

mask she painted day before

4) Ate popcorn and watched lots of movies:

they didn't leave much for me...
If you click on the camera logo at the top you can see what everyone else got up to this last weekend - probably a lot more exciting than mine ;-)

Tuesday 28 June 2011

Victorian Post Box

Time for a bit of an explanation about my Silent Sunday post this week:

This a Victorian post box located behind St George's Church in Kendal. Regular followers of my bilpfoto account or my Flickr photostream will know that I've been trying to find and photograph as many variants of the traditional British red post boxes from my local area as I can find! Yes I am a bit of a geek but I just love this iconic bit of street furniture... 

Capturing this Victorian one actually made me think about the stories it could tell in well over a century of use. Not only would locals have sent mail to others but how many tourist postcards have passed through that slit? One of my subscribers on blipfoto was also thinking along the same lines:

I love postboxes and it's awesome finding an old one like this and, as you say, imagining all the items of post it must have carried over the years - call-up papers, birthday cards, embroidered postcards from The Front, lots of envelopes with penny blacks and penny reds, six different royal heads on stamps (including the uncrowned king) - if I've totted up correctly. Maybe even packages containing Kendal mintcake. (Preferably addressed to moi!) ;-)


It seems I am not the only one who is a big fan of their red shininess:

  1. The institution that is the red letter box! How Fab!


  2. These are wonderful pieces of street furniture. We're demolishing whole buildings and tower blocks built postwar and yet these things can still be found. Great shot.


Monday 27 June 2011

Money saving Monday: hair cuts

Like many people trying to balance the budget I've found that getting my hair cut hasn't happened for months as the money has been spent on other things! After 6 months and with my hair now looking very shabby and needing tying back, I was tempted by this sign that I saw whilst I was walking down Finkle Street in Kendal:

I nipped in quick to the David Graham salon and made an appointment before I spent the money again! I was warned that the cut would take up to 3 times longer than with a normal stylist due to interruptions and consultation with the senior hairdressers. Not a problem when I got an appointment on a day that my kids were both in school and I wasn't working.

I went in today and was well looked after by Amy the trainee. Yes the cut took longer than normal but it was a nice relaxing experience and it was reassuring that she double checked with the senior stylists at various points in the cut. I should have taken a pic in the salon because my the time I walked home in the heat the finished look isn't as good as it was when I left!

There are plenty of hair salons in Kendal also offering a similar service and also Kendal College offers cuts from trainee hairdressers. I'm sure that in most towns and cities you can find a similar offer. So if you've been putting off getting your hair cut because of the cost then keep your eyes peeled whilst walking around to see where you can get a bargain haircut.

Friday 24 June 2011

Sport's Day

Yesterday was my daughter's first sports day at her new school. After experiencing my first one at her old school I was pleased that her new school also went for a very traditional set of competitive events with the individual results adding up into a team total. A good crowd of parents, siblings, grandparents and others were there to cheer on the races along with most of next year's reception intake who had been invited along.

Due to the potential for inclement weather the proceedings were conducted with alacrity with the children for the next event ready to go once the previous event had finished. A team of year 6 pupils were on hand to reset the equipment to reduce delays. The afternoon kicked off with the obstacle race which raised plenty of laughs especially when the year 6 children couldn't crawl under the chairs as they were too big... At the end of each event the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place child were handed a token to hand over to the scorers.

Other events included skipping, tangerine & spoon race, flat racing and the spud race. It was great to see such enthusiasm from so many children and some of them were really fast. My daughter had 2 events and in the first (tangerine and spoon) she finished in 3rd place. Her second event was the flat race where despite doing her best she was last across the line:

Her little brother had his own race alongside a bunch of other 4 and 3 year olds. It was such a mix of heights and sizes on the start line and they all gave it their utmost as they ran towards the line. My son was in the lead group across the line and they were all awarded a sticker for taking part.

The last children's events were the fell races for the eldest children. A traditional Cumbrian sport that many of the youngsters showed promise for in the future as they raced up the school hill and back down again. The afternoon rounded off with a parents' bean bag race - during which I'm sorry to report there was plenty of cheating!

Lots of hoarse voices and sore hands in the audience at the end of the day but lots of happy children and grown ups. I am pleased to report that my daughter's team won the overall competition so I'm glad she did her bit with her 3rd place. 

With the Olympics next year its great to see a school encouraging competitive sports with all the children involved. No-one seemed upset by not being placed in their race and they all made a great effort to try and do their best.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XIV (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Here we go on my Reasons to be Cheerful this week:

1) Race for Life

It may have been cool and damp but along with 800 plus people my daughter and I did it! For the full details read here. It is an amazing event to take part in and not just because its raising money for a great cause.

@Vickyhun and myself at the finish
2) London 2012

I'm one of the lucky ones who got an event in the Olympics 2012 draw. This may be the only chance my children and I ever get to go to an Olympics so it was a relief that we managed to get tickets for one event at the cheapest rates. It turned out today that it's for an early athletics round actually in the stadium and at least one friend is going to be at the same even with her grandchildren. Being the cheap seats I guess we'll be right at the top of the stadium but it should be an awesome experience even if we need binoculars to see the action! The thought of being on my won with an 8 and 5 year old in an 80,000 seater stadium is quite scary but I'm sure I'll be fine on the day... Only 14 months to wait now until the actual event  - just need to blag some beds down south to make it a lovely weekend away...

3) Secret Post Club

It's been a another lovely secret post club month. Getting a mystery parcel delivered is such a thrill. This month I was sent something from Heather at Notes From Lapland:

A lovely mug which arrived beautifully gift wrapped from the Literary Gift Company, you can tell Heather did her research to choose the right present for me! It was also great to hear from Michelle that she loved the crafty bits and pieces I sent her. Roll on next month's exchange!

Wednesday 22 June 2011

#TheGallery: 3 words: Nature is beautiful

An interesting challenge from Tara this week to choose 3 words to interpret in a photograph. Mine is nice and simple as I found this amazing spider's web covered in raindrops on a fern coated wall. Nature is beautiful

Click on the camera to see more entries!

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Kendal Race for Life 2011

On Sunday my 7 year old daughter and I gathered with over 800 ladies and girls of various ages at a cold and damp Westmorland Showground for the Kendal Race for Life. I have to admit that on arrival neither of us was feeling particularly enthusiastic but after a little while the atmosphere and the sea of pink and sparkly things really got us fired up. The team of Dan and Yakkers from Lakeland Radio were doing a great job at getting everyone motivated and very soon my daughter was like a little pink Duracell bunny jumping up and down and getting lots of people laughing:

Before we started it was down to my Rosemary Conley instructor Caytie to warm us all up with music We are family and Sisters are doing it for themselves. This certainly not only stretched out the muscles but got us inspired for what was to come and a laugh with Yakkers joining in:

Then it was time to decide whether you were a runner or a walker and choose which flag to line up behind. We went for the back of the runners as we thought jogging was a good option. My daughter's classmate set off the starting hooter and it was off on a 5 km route around the Crooklands countryside. My daughter shot off and I didn't see much of her for the next 2 km:

It was quite a hilly route but reading the messages on the backs of people's tops were and inspiration to keep going. When I caught up with my daughter we managed to combine walking and jogging to get us through the rest of the route. I have to admit it was a relief to see the finish line ahead as we hadn't done any proper training for the event and it was hard work! On the last leg with people cheering us on and Yakkers giving us a name check it inspired us to make a sprint finish to cross the line 45 minutes after we started (20 minutes faster than 2 years ago!). 

Two tired but happy bunnies at the end! It looks like we raised £150 for our efforts so we are very pleased with ourselves and if you would like to add to our total please click on the link at the top right of the blog. We want to do it again next year but with a bigger group so if you'ld like to join us please leave a message below!

Saturday 18 June 2011


It has been a horrendous couple of days which has been extremely stressful and tiring for me. First of all it was the after school recreation ground shenanigans (for more about that see here) which has to be a parenting low point.

Then on Thursday night the intermittent niggling toothache I've had for a while set up home with a vengeance. A maximum dose of painkillers had little effect so I had to check out the local emergency dental clinic at the Westmorland General. Luckily by calling first thing in the morning I got an appointment for the same evening. So straight after my son's football class we headed up to the hospital (my daughter had fortunately been kidnapped by other relatives). Probably not surprisingly there was a delay going in but the waiting room had toys for my son and magazines for me. 

Once in the very nice dentist quizzed me about my symptoms and gave me a thorough check (due to moving and waiting list I hadn't seen a dentists for 2 years. He gave me 2 bits of bad news:

  1. Due to me compensating for a tooth being removed on my right side 2 years ago I had overworked the muscles on the left. In order to fix this I have to avoid eating large pieces of food such as whole apples or raw carrots. Hopefully this will eventually stop being a problem.
  2. One of my wisdom teeth was rotten and needed to be extracted straight away!
So they arranged for my son to have the main waiting room to himself so he didn't have to watch, gave me a couple of anaesthetic injections and then the nurse needed to hold my head whilst the dentist persuaded my tooth to leave my jaw. Typically my son popped his head in the door just as it came out! A lot less painful than my previous extraction thank goodness.

Eventually we all got home and I zapped the car lock with relief and got us all to bed. This morning we all were amazingly up and ready in time for my daughter's school coffee morning. When I unlocked the car I thought the car looked messier than normal but thought one of the kids had thrown some stuff in the front as they got out. Then I saw that the contents of my car door pocket were in the footwell. The final clue was the open glove box and I realised that someone had been rummaging in my car overnight! The sat nav was still in the glovebox but my hidden books' money box with small change in it had gone. They had also tipped out the kids' activity and spare clothes bags whilst hunting for the money box key and they seem to have taken the keys to my roof bars and roof box.

When I reported to the police station I was told that there had been a spate of cars being broken into for the little bits of money most people keep there. All the emergency car park and supermarket bits and pieces we stash in the nooks and crannies! The sat navs and mobile phones aren't being taken so they are obviously after quick cash. Luckily for me the money box only had my small change left in for book sales as I'd taken out the last of the pound coins and notes earlier this week!

I have to say I now feel less safe in my little cul de sac than I did before this morning and I'm contemplating getting a security light put up to stop it being such a dark and secluded little drive. I am sure that I locked the car last night but I will now double check each time. There is a potential mark on the door where they may have broken in but I will never know whether  I did lock it! Of course the stuff taken was well below my insurance levels even with getting new keys for the roof box so I'll just have to lump it and hope they catch the thieves... but I'm not holding my breathe.

Friday 17 June 2011

Sugar and Spice and all things nice

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Slugs and snails
And puppy-dogs' tails,
That's what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice,
That's what little girls are made of

The author of this classic nursery rhyme obviously hasn't been watching my daughter and her peers at play in the village playground after school this week! I don't know if its something in the water or tiredness or what but its been quite nasty out there when they are supposed to be having fun.

There has been name calling, teasing and from my daughter even spitting going on. It's involving various girls aged from 6-8 who seem in pairs or individually to being nasty to others. Normally it is a pleasant place to spend some time after school (weather permitting) as the parents/grandparents can sit and chat safe in the knowledge that their children are safely playing around them. Now some parents are avoiding the place and I'm thinking about not taking my 2 for a bit (especially as my daughter seems to be in the middle of most of the argy bargy...). 

The question is "is just a short phase" and the girls will naturally stop soon? Or are we going to have to develop coping strategies and preventative measures to nip it in the bud? My daughter is generally a lovely girl but sometimes she loses the plot and I have to remove her or find ways to punish her behaviour. The spitting thing is something of a recent development and one that definitely needs to be stopped now as its not only disgusting but distressing to lots of people. 

I'm not saying that the boys are perfect but they seem to have a minor spat and then are friends again very quickly! They seem to vent with with a short burst of physical violence but not the names and hurtful words the girls use. 

This is definitely a very stressful parenting time and I hope for my sanity its short lived! What sort of strategies have been successful for you as parents?

Thursday 16 June 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XIII (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

My 13th entry in this lovely linky! Good job I'm not superstitious and that I love the number 13 being born on the 13th of October ;-) So here we go on my Reasons to be Cheerful this week:

1) Party in the Park

Well the weather didn't hold (in fact it started raining the moment the vicar declared it open!), but over 7,000 people came to enjoy the free events and the entertainers carried on regardless. My dad and children had a lovely afternoon with face painting, hot dogs, cakes, bouncy castles and my son even won a coconut. We now have just under a year to wait for the next one!

2) Blooming lovely

One of the benefits of all this rain is that my garden is looking great (in places!), I inherited some lovely rose bushes from the owner and they have been blooming in rotation. The little apple tree is also looking good for some juicy apples this autumn:

3) Space

I have such fab bunch of mummy friends that meet every Wednesday at our church for coffee, tea, cake, a chat and bible study. It's a valuable place for us to share our worries and joys without being judged and to feel supported. Some lovely older ladies run a creche so that most of us get some child free time which can be invaluable. So glad I have this time once a week as it gives me a breathing space and time to gain strength from other mums.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

#TheGallery: Dads

In honour of Father's Day Tara has picked the topic of Dads for this week's gallery theme. My dad is very close to my heart as was his dad my granddad. So in honour of the theme I bring you photographs of my granddad and the other men from his side of the family that make my paternal line doing what dads do best:

My great grandfather Owen Evan Jones paddling with 4 of his children in the 1920s

My Great Grandpa Charles Band cuddling his eldest grandson Owen in the 1940s

My grandfather Walter cuddling my son in 2007

My dad having cuddles with my son last year

When Tara gets the linky up you can check out all the other fab dad photographs that are doing the rounds this week!

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Getting ready for school

Last night was the new parents' evening for all of the families whose children are starting at primary school with my son in September. It doesn't seem that long since my son was born and hard to believe that in less than 3 months time he will be taking the first step into formal schooling.

aged 1 day!
We were handed a folder containing lots of information on how the school works and how we can help our child get ready for starting in September. Plenty of tips on helping them with numeracy and writing. I will be revisiting the joy of phonics with accompanying actions that I remember doing with my daughter 3 years ago. We were also advised to make sure that our children are able to dress and undress themselves, do their own shoes (velcro being preferred option!), go to the toilet on own etc. Luckily for me I've been encouraging my son to do this but I can now use the "Mrs Greenup says" phrase to get him to do things he'd like me to do for him.

They are getting the children used to the new school and staff in various ways in this term before they actually start in September. The teacher is visiting them at nursery this month and the children will be invited to take part in the school sports day next week with their own race. There will also be a couple of hours of taster sessions and a story time session in July. When they start they are phased in a little bit with 3 afternoons followed by 5 mornings before hopefully going full time. We've been advised that if our children can't cope with 5 full days then the school will be flexible as to their hours to make it easier for the child.

As his big sister is already at the school and he sees it every day I think this should be quite an easy transition for my son (ask me in September if it was!). His best friend from nursery will be one of the 20 in the class and he knows most of the others by sight. I think its more of a milestone for me as this is my little baby moving away from being at home with me 2.5 days a week! His big sister is going up to the junior school part of the school in September as well so she will find it very different. The autumn will be a whole new world for all of us and I may even be able to find work to fit in around the kids' when I only have 1 drop off and pick up to arrange. Watch this space....

Monday 13 June 2011

Nivea: Feel Closer - Family

Sponsored Post

I have entered this photo on Nivea's Facebook competition Feel Closer to try and win a £100 prize to celebrate their 100th anniversary. Have a look at this video to hear more about the celebrations:

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History: Clothes

This week the 52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy and History prompt from Geneabloggers is clothes:

What types of clothes did you wear as a child? What was “in fashion” and did your style compare?. What types of clothes did you wear as a child? What was “in fashion” and did your style compare?

As I was born in 1970 I grew up in an era of flares and big patterns. My mum was a thrifty housewife at the time and she often made our clothes from Clothkits kits. She would run them up on her trusty Jones sewing machine (which still works now!). UnFortunately I don't have any photographs of me in any of these creations but its one of those projects for cold winters' nights to get scanning on the old family album. The only survivor of this era was the minature copy of the dress and cloak I had for my aunt and uncle's wedding in 1975 that my mum made for my dolly using leftovers. I wish I had the same talent as my mum but I nearly failed needlework at school as I was so useless!

My brother and I in late 1970s fashion

In the 1980s by friends and I made our fashion statements with ra-ra skirts, neon, leg warmers etc. I have to say that this had to be one of the worst ever decades for fashion and I'm not sure that I want to scan any of those photographs into my computer...

I am actually quite glad that the 1990s and 2000s so far haven't seen me following any weird fashion trends. I have been much more comfortable in the very middle of the road jeans, chinos and classic lines that are pretty timeless. Hopefully as well when my children look back at photographs of them in the clothes I chose for them they won't be embarrassed! Though as my 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son have forceful opinions already as to what they wear then I doubt they'll be able to point the finger at me..

Saturday 11 June 2011

Out of the mouths of babes....

I had one of those conversations with my 4 year old son this morning:

My son: Mummy can I do a wee before I get dressed?

Me: I'd never stop you doing a wee or you'll end up with a kidney like your sister (she has one kidney smaller than the other due to urine infections)

My son: But mummy I don't have a kidney I have a willy!


This will now go down in family folklore along with previous comments from his older half siblings:

Me: it's a bit draughty in here

7 year old Step-daughter: I can't see any giraffes


Grown up: It's all down to the genes you've got and you haven't got those particular genes

Child: But I am wearing jeans!

I'm sure I've said silly things as I've been growing up and that all of us can think of similar moments that have the grown ups laughing and the children looking puzzled. What can you remember?

Friday 10 June 2011

#FlashbackFriday: Toddler Video

Time to try something different this week as I realised I'd never put any video up on here! I was trawling through my old files and I came across some videos taken when my son hadn't been walking very long. I'm not actually sure of the date but it may have been February 2008 when my son was 16 months old. Apologies for the fact my voice is rather high on this (why do we do that when talking to small children?). It was a time when he was starting to show his character and being mobile was making my life much more interesting...

The rugby shirt he's wearing was the smallest one available! This was taken on Hastings beach and he still loves throwing pebbles... It's great to see video as well as looking at still photographs of the time as it captures more of a feel of the time. Here is an accompanying photograph of his sister on the same day:

Even then she was quite happy to play in a little space of her own and make up her own adventures (though back then it wasn't Dr Who!). This was 7 months before she started at primary school and she was maturing rapidly. Quite strange comparing her then with her brother now who is 3 months away from starting at primary school...

For more stories please click on the logo up the top.

Nivea: Feel Closer

Sponsored post

Amazingly Nivea are celebrating their centenary this year! That's 100 years of making us feel fabulous. I'm sure most of us have at least one of their products at home. This is a video they have made to celebrate the occasion:

Thursday 9 June 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XII (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I've got plenty of reasons to be cheerful this week!

1) My Holiday

As you may have seen I spent a chunk of last week on my prize holiday in Mallorca with my mum and my kids. It was great taking my kids abroad for the first time ever and even though it rained every day it was a real treat and experience for the grown ups too.

2) My Future

Whilst I was away my decree absolute came through so I'm now free to really start my life over and no longer live in a weird limbo of separated. It doesn't make that much of a difference to my day to day life but its taken so long to get this far I'm happy its finally at an end.

3) Work

The kids and I had a lovely day at the Station Inn in Oxenholme during the Companion Dog Show and Family Fun day last weekend. We may not have sold a lot of books, but I got the tan I didn't get on holiday and the kids had lots of fun. Next to us were the lovely Sean and Gill from Treasure Trails Cumbria so it was a very sociable day.

4) Party in the Park

This Sunday I'll be helping out at my first ever Party in the Park in Kendal. Its a completely free event for the residents of Kendal organised by my church St Thomas' Kendal. There will be bouncy castles, face painting, brass bands, ice creams, cakes and tea (and more!) and its all completely free. Lots of us are busy baking cakes for the tea tent and we're all praying for a sunny day from 1-5 in Maude's Meadow in Kendal. 

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Top That Publishing Yummy Mummy Review I

I was delighted to be picked as one of the "Yummy Mummy" book reviewers forTop That Publishing last month:

Just in time for going on holiday we received our first two books to review: 

When I dream of ABC is a finalist in this year's The People's Book Prize and after reading the book it is well deserved (and yes I have voted for it!). It is a quirky look at the alphabet with amusing and nonsensical definitions of the entries which had me giggling as well as the children. The illustrations are beautiful and there are plenty of opportunities for interacting with your child by looking at the details on each page. My 4 year old son loved listening to the book and my 7 year old daughter enjoyed reading it with me. A book that was definitely a hit with all the family as it was amusing as well as educational.

The second book Hullabaloo was a much louder book and as my mum found not great for winding down at bedtime! On each page a new animal with its actions are added to the tale and my 7 year old enjoyed the challenge of trying to remember them all as we went through. Once again the illustrations are really well done with plenty to talk about on each page and my 4 year old had fun counting the animals and spotting where they had moved to as the story evolved. 

Both these books would make great additions to children's bookshelves so I hope more people can enjoy them too. I am really looking forward to seeing which books we get sent next...

Monday 6 June 2011

Our prize holiday

Thanks to a competition on the Ready For Ten parenting website in conjunction with Disney and Starwood Hotels my children and I plus my mum have just enjoyed a luxurious 3 night break at the Castillo Hotel Son Vida in Palma Mallorca. 

This was an amazing opportunity for us as my children had never left the UK or been on an aeroplane and I hadn't been abroad for nearly 9 years! This excitement made the 4:45 wake up call on day one to get to Leeds Bradford Airport for our Jet2 flight to Palma that little bit easier. It was great to be able to final make the most of the kids' Trunkies too as we travelled hand luggage only for speed:

The look on my 4 year old's face when we were airborne was classic (shame I couldn't capture it on camera!). Co-incidentally I had my first flight from the same airport back in 1977 though that was only to Scotland! This was my first experience of budget airlines (gone are the days of flying business class for work...) and it was simple but all we needed to get to our destination. Palma airport is quite a bit bigger than Leeds/Bradford but it was very straight forward to find our way to the taxi office for our hotel transfer. We were impressed that our driver went to get a booster seat for my son before taking us out to his car.

The hotel was on the far side of the city from the airport but it was a smooth transition to the golfers' paradise of Son Vida (never seen so many golf courses close together!). We knew were in for a special time when you drive up past an entrance like the one at the top of the article. It was an experience being met by porters who took our bags through the marbled entrance foyer to the reception desk. The fact that there was a full sized knight on horseback in the corridor really appealed to my son:

We were given 2 double rooms with an interconnecting door which made it a mini suite. The kids were impressed with the en-suite bathroom and the TV. It took us all some time to work out what the many light switches did but the night light under the bedside cabinets were very useful.

Unfortunately by the time we had checked in and changed it was raining so we had to swim in the indoor pool and not any of the 3 outdoor ones. It was lovely and warm in there though with enough space for kids to jump in and out. That night we ate in the restaurant at the tail end of the lunch menu (which finishes at 6!) but the prices were rather out of our league so we weren't able to repeat the experience.

The next morning we were up early to catch our included island tour and tucked into the wonderful breakfast buffet. There was a section of continental offerings and another adjacent for cooked breakfast:

Then we caught a taxi to our coach rendezvous for the tour. The children couldn't believe that the tour guide did his spiel in Spanish, English, French and Italian (hope this inspires them to do languages). The trip took us into the centre of the island with a first stop in the leather town of Inca for a chance to buy some lovely leather goods. Then it was on up through the Tramontana mountains on some incredible roads including Sa Calobra which has a one way system for tourist coaches as there is no where for them to pass on the route. The scariness of the route was worth it for the walk at the end to the Torrents of Pareis through man made tunnels (just shame the boat trip element was cancelled due to rough seas).

After surviving the return journey up the road it was on to the Port de Soller for a trip on a tram to the wooden railway at Soller. Ironically the tram was made in England! The train went through 13 tunnels including one that was over 2 km long to get back to just outside Palma and a reunion with our coach. We ended the day with a meal at McDonalds (cheapest option!) and a bus ride back to our hotel.

The next day it was again to damp to lounge around by the pool so after breakfast on the veranda (whilst admiring the hotel falcon performing pest scaring duties over us!) we took the bus into Palma and explored some of the wonderful buildings. We went in the Royal Palace museum to see where the Kings and Queens used to reside.

It was interesting to read about the re-Christianisation of Mallorca after the Moors were chased out. The castle must have been an amazing place to see when the monarchs actually used it. Then we crossed the plaza to the adjacent cathedral. This is an amazing place on the inside (I was one of the few obeying the no photos rule so I can't show you!) and I am jealous of the people that were being married there last Saturday!

We found a pizzeria somewhere in the maze of Palma's old town for a belated lunch which we all really enjoyed (and it gave us a chance to hide from the rain). Then we wandered along the sea front so that the kids could have a play in one of the many play parks that dotted the city. There is plenty of city to walk through if you have the time and inclination.

On our last day we were determined to go in the outside pool even though it was rather chilly, in fact only British guests seemed to have taken the opportunity for a dip due to the temperature! After checking out we took up residence in the hotel's kids' club cabana and took advantage of the colouring and games provided. Towards the end the sun came out so the kids headed straight for the children's pool for a paddle. Then it was time to head back to the airport for the return journey home.

A wonderful experience for all of us so we would like to thank Ready for Ten, Disney, Starwood Hotels, Jet2 and Niels at NDL who organised our trip. Wonder if I can win any more holidays as I've got the travel bug now!