We’ve teamed up with the fabulous travel site i-escape which offers a well curated selection of stylish travel destinations along with an easy-to-use booking service. They’ve kindly agreed to scour their collection of chic family friendly hotels, villas & apartments to narrow down 10 of their favourite stylish seaside escapes. Perfect for summer holiday planning! Both Esther and I have previously booked holidays with i-escape and they were some of our favourite family vacations, so we are especially excited to discover their suggestions. Take a look at these ten great seaside escapes all hand-picked from their dedicated Kids Collection:
1.) Almyra, Paphos, Cyprus
Stressed-out parents can fully recharge their batteries on the beach, by the pool or in the spa, safe in the knowledge that the little ones are having the time of their life! This unpretentious design hotel’s superb kids’ club caters for all ages up to 17, with activities ranging from t-shirt painting, treasure hunts and tennis lessons, to banana-boating excursions and snorkelling for teens. Added to that, the staff are super-friendly and the sun shines here over 300 days a year!
2.) Fiskardo Cottages, Kefalonia, Greece
Set in a gloriously peaceful location, within walking distance of 2 unspoilt beaches, these charming whitewashed cottages (sleeping 2-6) are the perfect rural retreat and great for older kids. Head for the hills and hike through dramatic scenery, sail, snorkel, scuba dive or just play in the shared pool. The slick modern kitchens mean self-catering is a pleasure or you can walk to the nearby village tavernas for delicious local dishes and fresh seafood.
3.) The Rosevine, Cornwall, UK
This chic apartment-hotel has a wonderfully casual vibe making it a haven for families. Designed with kids in mind, they have heaps of baby paraphernalia to borrow (less to pack!) and kids will be kept well-entertained by a toy-laden playroom, indoor pool and playground in the garden. The restaurant has a kids’ menu, and at night its candlelit – pack your baby monitor and ‘dine out’. But the best bit? It’s a just a short stroll from wide, sandy Porthcurnick beach and the hotel has buckets, spades and fishing nets to borrow for rock-pooling.
4.) Txai, Bahia, Brazil
Rustic simplicity meets style and luxury at this eco-friendly estate on Bahia’s undeveloped Cacoa Coast. With an emphasis on nature, tranquility and beauty, make the most of vast unspoilt white-sand beaches and hill-top Shamash spa, take surfing lessons or go horse riding or hiking along one of the stunning trails. There are plenty of grassy areas for children to play on and our reviewer found it near-impossible to extract his young daughter from the fab kids’ pool.
5.) Azur, near Antalya, Turkey
If you’re after beachside bliss on a budget, Azur Hotel’s simple wooden cabins are the ones for you. Despite having no formal crèche, it’s a great place for kids with safe lawned gardens and hidden hammocks, a child-friendly pool, lovely staff who know each child by name and boat and jeep trips for adventurous day trips. Nearby Cirali beach, one of Europe’s loveliest, has wonderfully clear blue waters for swimming and snorkelling.
6.) Hell Bay, Bryher, Isles of Scilly, UK
Set on Bryher – the smallest inhabited island of Scilly and many people’s favourite – this 25-room hotel allows you to stay in style and comfort and its restaurant is billed as the best on these isles. Owned by Tresco’s Dorrien-Smith family you can expect solid and dependable service and rooms with a distinct New England style. Couples will revel in being somewhere so unique, so far out. But it also has special appeal for families thanks to sandy beaches, a heated pool, games room and local farm chickens which little ones can feed.
7.) Jashita, near Tulum, Mexico
Laid-back beach sophistication and a dreamy Zen style are the order of the day at Jashita. Uniquely secluded, it’s the only hotel on this pristine beach with shallow aquamarine waters that’s sheltered by its own coral reef. Families will love Villa Jasmine, a beach house for 10 that offers independence and the opportunity to self-cater, along with the use of the hotel’s facilities and restaurant. Kids will love the beach and boat trips and there are adventure parks nearby.
8.) Onar, Andros, Greece
Walking through the river from this collection of simple stone cottages (sleeping 2-7) to the beach is the sort of thing fantastic family memories are made of. The atmosphere here is secluded but the communal meals and effervescent host ensure that you’ll never feel lonely. Kids will love the natural swimming pool nearby and the small playground, while sun, sea, delicious fresh food and stylishly simple décor will reinvigorate even the most jaded workaholics.
9.) Esplendido, Puerto Soller, Mallorca
One of our most popular hotels for families in Spain, there will be lots of new friends for your kids to play with at this hip hotel in picturesque Puerto Soller. Occupying the top position in the middle of the bay, the proximity of the beach is a godsend with energetic youngsters, and means you can hear the waves lapping below from the sea view terraces. And don’t underestimate the excitement provided by the many ice-cream shops and the tram to Soller!
10.) Marari Villas, Kerala, India
Within a whisper of the sea on a white-sand beach, these boutique villas (sleeping 2-6) are great for families as they combine the privacy of a villa with room service and a private chef. Each villa offers a secluded haven (your own living space, your own garden, some with a pool) with all the luxuries of a larger resort, but they are closer to nature, more intimate and better value. There’s plenty of kit for kids (toys, books, inflatable toys, cricket kits) and babies (pushchair, backpack, car seat, sunshades), so you can pack light(er!).
We have teamed up with i-escape and Sunuva to give-away a whopping £500 summer prize! The prize includes a £200 gift certificate to use towards a stay at one of i-escapes family escapes as well as a £300 gift voucher at Sunuva to stock up on adorable and UV-protective beachwear! Click here to enter to win!
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My friend Lindsey from the London-based Urban Mums blog had the ingenious idea of creating a business to help families get settled when moving to London. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve received from other mums who are planning a move to London. These mums have so many questions (as I’m sure I would if I were moving our family to a new city!). Questions about neighbourhoods, schools, renting a home/flat, finding childcare, learning about healthcare, shopping, dining, etc. I have always answered those questions as best as I can… but I’m not an expert. And here is where Lindsey comes in handy.
She has created Urban Living, a relocation service to help ex-pats navigate life in London. Whether you’re visiting London to explore the idea of moving here, or whether you’ve moved here and would love a local’s tips and expertise, she has created tailored services for individual needs. Plus, she is such a sweet, hip, energetic woman (and mama to three!), that even I am thinking about booking her services just to get to the spend the day with her. : )
If you, or anyone you know, are moving or have recently moved to London, definitely get in touch with Lindsey!
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Last weekend Esther and co were in town, which was a serious amount of fun! It was so great catching up, though at the end of the weekend we did start wondering what we should do, as it was literally pouring with rain the whole time. That being said, finding things to do in Paris is not very hard…. We all wrapped up and headed over to the Pompidou Centre, specifically the Children’s Gallery, which is hosting a brilliant, interactive exhibition: Ta-Da!
The artist Navid Nuur wants kids to learn again about how to play and create with everyday objects and see the beauty in them. It is really well done — I think everyone’s favourite was the 3 columns filled with play dough or the machine that made medals out of a 5 cent piece.
The Centre Pompidou is, by the way, one of my favourite places to take visitors. It has such a great view over Paris, the permanent exhibition is amazing, as are more of the temporary ones, and, not to forget, the gift and book shop are full of beautiful bits and pieces. (I do love a good museum shop!)
The photo is of little Ava arriving into the Centre, complete with rain coat and umbrella.
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Last weekend I had the amazing experience of attending an Alvaro Sanz photography workshop in a lovely town by the sea in Asturias, where I live. He is a very talented Spanish photographer, and travels all over Spain and abroad with his incredible workshops. Alvaro is also Nanook’s father, so he had this idea: when he travels, he takes photos of a little karibu toy which he later shows to his son when he gets back home. That way there is always a connection between the travels, the father and the son. Isn’t it a lovely idea?
So that little Karibu has already been to Morocco, France, Sweden, all over Spain and more… and always comes back home with a picture!
I love the idea. Thanks Alvaro for being so inspiring, always.
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Coco and her friend overlooking the sea and the coast of Marocco on Paloma beach
I have just been away on an amazing break with the kids, and I would love to tell you about it. (To put it into context, we Europeans have been having one of the worst winters I can remember and all we wanted to to was to shed the jumpers and socks and shoes and put on the flip flops and skirts.)
Tarifa is a beautiful little town on the most southern tip of Spain — it is so close to Africa you can see the Maroccan coast most days, a mere 20 km away. The town itself is lovely — it is an old walled city. But it is the surrounding beaches around Tarifa that make this place amazing — the beaches are empty, clean and beautiful, the food is incredible and cheap and everyone loves kids. It is super relaxed and the whole area has a bit of a hippy, surfer vibe to it, just what you need to let go and have a good time. I could have stayed on and on, and a week felt like 2 days, so here is just a little list of the few places I discovered (if anyone has any other tips, please do share!):
We actually rented a house, as I went with a friend and her two children which was lovely and had everything we needed. But we did also discover some hotels, which looked really nice.
The Hurricane Hotel is a great little boutique hotel with a chilled out vibe. It has an amazing pool, a great restaurant and is right on the beach. Basically the perfect combination. It is about a 6 km drive out of Tarifa town.
Hotel Dos Mares is close to the Hurricane Hotel and maybe even a bit more child-friendly. For example, the pool has a nice, shallow paddling area. You can rent little bugalows that line up along the beach.
Camping Torres de la Pena is a nice budget option and if you don’t fancy camping, they also rent out some bungalows. The beach bar is super relaxed and literally on the beach, so kids can play while parents drink a good café con leche.
The kids hanging out at the Hurricane Hotel pool.
Tarifa is a seriously sport location, all day long you can see wind- and kit- surfers sitting on top of their VW buses watching the wind for the perfect moment to take off. The place we were recommended was the Club Mistral,which gives lessons to older kids. They also rent out boards for windsurfing, kitesurfing and plain old normal surfing. You can pick up cheap body boards for kids pretty much anywhere and they are a serious amount of fun as there are little, non scary waves most of the time.
Hurrican Hipica: Horses are everywhere and there is nothing more peaceful than going for a ride on the beach. We loved the Hurricane Hipica, run by a group of super efficient girls, one of the best maintained stables I have ever seen. Violette, who has just turned 5, had her first riding lesson there and it was possibly the most exciting thing ever.
Firmm Dolphin and Whale Watching: One of our big, major highlights was a boat trip out into the straights of Gibraltar to see dolphins. We thought it was going to be a tourist trap, but it was the opposite. We were surrounded by dolphins doing summersaults all around us. It put the biggest smiles on all of our faces. It is also not unusual to see whales. The Firmm boat trips are great as they are part of a research organisation, which uses the trip to collect data and makes sure that the trips are respectful to the animals.
Since coming back and doing a bit of research for this post, I have found out that there is a lot of rock climbing to be done in and around Tarifa. There are even little rocks which could be a lot of fun to explore with older kids. I didn’t really find a website, just different blogs talking about it!
It is also very easy to jump on a boat and go on a day trip to Marocco which is a mere 20 boat ride away. It is something we sadly ran out of time to do…
Not the best photos of the kids on horses on the beach. Note the surfers in the water behind them.
Beaches, beaches, beaches, what more can one want? We stayed close to Bolonia Beach and it is very easy to understand why the Romans decided to build a town on this beach. It is so beautiful. The beach is incredibly clean and has a massive sand dune at one end that is a huge amount of fun to climb and run down.
We also visited Zahara Beach on a recommendation of an Instagram friend and did not regret it, we spend a whole morning body boarding on little waves and then had some tapas in the town itself.
Another beach between Tarifa and Bolonia is called Paloma Beach and one of the most amazing things to see is the wind picking up and the kite from the kite surfs flying up in the air - Actually really beautiful, though I suspect I would be ripped of my surf board and fly off into the air with the kite, it looks like such a hard thing to hold on to.
Little orange tree on a square in Tarifa town.
Anyway, a lovely holiday and so close and yet a world away from the rest of Europe.
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Last week was May break here in the Netherlands, and very last minute my husband and I decided to book tickets for an 8 day trip to Portugal — we just had to escape the dreary weather here in Amsterdam for a bit! The evening before we left we booked a car and a hotel for the first 4 nights, about 100 km north of Lisbon. Leaving the planning of the trip to the absolute last minute in the end worked out perfectly well, we had an amazing time! Maybe you would like to hear a little bit about our adventures? (more…)
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La Coqueta is a new London-based boutique with a gorgeous collection of clothing and shoes from Spain. I stopped into the boutique last week and was blown away by all the lovely details of the shop (see the clever window display below!) and of course the beautiful, timeless pieces in the collection. From the sweet cotton knitwear collection for babies to the adorable smock dresses for girls, and the smart shirts for boys to the colourful range of shoes.
I picked up the most gorgeous little outfit for Marlow (see below) as well as this sweet dress for Ivy. What struck me most was the price point – quite reasonable considering how elegant everything is. I suppose, in that regard, it’s in keeping with traditional Spanish clothing: it is affordable, timeless clothing kids can wear to a party as well as to the playground. Because, from what I know from my travels to Spain, there is no distinction between playground and party wear. Spanish children are always well dressed.
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I called this post a Week Away Travel Guide as opposed to a Weekend Away Guide, as Nosara, Costa Rica is not the kind of place most of us can pop over for the weekend. But I can pretty much say with confidence that if I could pop over there quickly for a weekend, I would probably be there all the time! It looks so amazing and sounds like such a great place to take children on a wonderful adventure.
Now imagine after growing up in California, then living in Australia, you decided to call Costa Rica your home! How incredible does that sound? Shelly, the author of this post, did just that: She now lives in Nosara, Costa Rica and it sounds like the perfect place to travel to!
In her 40-something years of life, Shelly has been a world traveler, waitress, writer, magazine editor, non-profit founder, entrepreneur and artist. By sheer luck and twists of fate, these paths have led to and helped define her latest, greatest and most challenging role as wife and homemaker; mother and teacher to Pixel, Robert and Beckett; and hostess extraordinaire. Shelly is the author of The Book of Questions for New Parents and the blog Kitchen Ranch. Here is her guide to Nosara, Costa Rica:
Nosara, located on the Pacific side of Costa Rica, has recently enjoyed some very favorable press. National Geographic named Nosara as one of the top surf towns on the planet, a BBC Travel Segment included Nosara as the best beach in Costa Rica, and the New York Times raved about the world class waves in their travel section.
It is not surprising to me that this small and dusty jungle town is getting attention; Nosara is perfect. I know that is a bold statement, but after living here I feel confident in making it. The beaches, the ocean and the jungle backdrop are awe-inspiring. (more…)
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When we were in NYC earlier this month we met up with the talented photographer, Lindsey Belle, and spent a sunny afternoon hanging out on the streets of the Meatpacking District. We talked babies and motherhood (Lindsey has an 11 month old and we bonded over sleepless nights & nursing babies!) and she snapped some quick photos of us as we walked along the cobbled streets. The babies were asleep in their buggies at first, so we got a few rare photos of just the two of us. Then both babies woke at the same time, and so we strapped them into the slings and Lindsey took a few photos of the four of us (two jet-lagged mamas with their sleepy babes!).
Lindsey has just published her photos and an interview with us on her blog. Take a peek at her blog to read our interview answers, and while you’re there you should check out her portfolio of other great photos. Thank you Lindsey for the fun photo shoot!
xx Esther & Courtney
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Today I would love to share a very charming shop in Madrid: Babydeli. Well, it is not only a shop, but a place with lots of things going on. They have food, toys, books, you can celebrate your birthday, and there are also very interesting workshops taking place every week. Located in the very heart of Barrio de Salamanca in Madrid, we always go if we are visiting.
Definitely, Babydeli is a place to find what you are looking for and also having a healthy snack!
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We recently visited Esther and Family in Amsterdam, and it was a such a great trip! So great, that the whole train carriage on the way home had to listen to my kids’ lamentations about how Amsterdam is so great and Paris is not!
I know what they mean– it is so nice discovering a new city and, as a tourist, you have the luck to only see the good sides of a city and Amsterdam has many, many good sides. It is beautiful and small, and super accessible with kids. You can rent bicycles all over the city and the choice of different bicycle types is incredible.
We stayed for four days during which time Esther and I put the world to rights, crafted and dreamt up some serious crafting projects for sometime in the future, the children got on famously and we visited some of Amsterdam’s sites. We visited the Artis Zoo and saw some lions, giraffes, wallabes, zebras and seals basking in the spring sunlight. We took a boat ride around the canals and learned all about the history of Amsterdam. We went to play in the Vondel Park which has some great play structures. We ate little pancakes and waffles fresh from a market stall. We did not even make it to the Nemo Science Museum, but check out Esther’s Amsterdam tips as she has some great ideas.
Above, the Vondel Park. And below, the giraffes at the zoo, which we stayed looking at for ages! I don’t think I have ever seen a giraffe as up close before.
Such a great trip and if you ask my daughters,(and 20 other people on our train), it’s the only place to be!
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We hope we haven’t overdone it with all our talk about NYC! And hope you won’t mind if we share a few more photos from our quick trip. It was such a busy weekend, running around the city (with the babies!) trying to squeeze everything in, but it was super fun, and actually easier than we had anticipated.
We stayed in a room with a big king-sized bed which the two of us (plus babies!) shared. You should have seen the four of us, all snuggled up in bed, waking from jet-lag at odd hours in the night, nursing babies on demand, etc. Funny! But of course it meant that Casper and Marlow could enjoy morning snuggles together! So sweet.
We met up with the darling Lindsey Belle who took some photos of us on the streets of the meatpacking district. We felt like movie stars having our photos taken! Fun!! (We can’t wait to share the photos with you.)
We headed over to the Misha and Puff sample sale to see her gorgeous new collection and pick up some past season goodies. Here we also met Kristen Lombardi from Manimal and Jennifer Murphy from Polka Dot Club. It was such a fun afternoon with those ladies! And the babies looked so cute in their new Misha and Puff pieces (see photo above and below).
These two travelling babies are so cute together! Here they are having one last snuggle before we left our hotel and headed back to London and Amsterdam. What a fun weekend that was!
xx Courtney & Esther
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The Playtime trade show is always such an inspiring event. So much talent, creativity, and entrepreneurialism all in one place. You would think that after visiting Playtime Paris just two months ago we would have seen it all… but the New York show offered up a whole new vibe, new designers and of course an excuse to catch up with some of our favourite brands. Here’s a recap in photos…
1. In addition to the cool neon reversible crowns we already know and love, Noe & Zoe are making Indian headdresses now! OMG! 2. Cute, colourful hairclips & accessories by Everbloom. 3. Drum roll please… Herschel is coming out with children’s backpacks and they are cool!! 4. Belle&Beanzer is a new baby brand with super soft Pima cotton baby basics and sweet little stripes.
1. Beautiful block-printed Indian fabrics make the dresses at Ode always so special. 2. We wanted to take home every single one of the adorable Hazel Village stuffed animals! 3. We loved meeting Alexis from Little Name and seeing all her great products in one place. 4. Of course this big green balloon was our favourite balloon at the show! : )
1. We loved discovering Radish Moon and their beautiful watercolour creations. We especially loved the round porcelain children’s dishes which remind us of our childhood! 2. Misha Lulu offers up something really fun and unique! 3. A cool collection from the Spanish brand Little Creative Factory. 4. Esther admires the sustainable kidswear brand KaLLio which creates cool children’s pieces from pre-loved men’s shirts.
1. The Oeuf NYC stand was really fun. It’s hard to not fall in love with everything they do! 2. We love the new pillows and all the prints at Mini & Maximus. 3. The highlight of the show was meeting these women: Celina Bailey from Petit à Petit and Family blog, Lindsey from Darling Clementine and Amanda from Coos & Ahhs blog. It’s really such a pity we don’t all live in the same city because I think we would all have a lot of fun together! 4. The lovely Celina Bailey snapping photos of the gorgeous Jess Brown dolls.
1. That Tootsa MacGinty bear jumper!!!! One of our favourite things we saw at the show! 2. Art installation which caught our eye. 3. At the entrance to the show with Celina Bailey. 4. Meeting the lovely Maria from Shop Belle!
1. The adorable little Lief, the inspiration behind the Little Lief brand keeping busy at the show. 2. Loved the organic colour-block pieces at Noch Mini. Keep your eye out for the hooded jacket. Very cool. 3. Another great Boy + Girl collection. 4. Pretty pieces and a fun time had at the Little Lief stand.
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This past weekend the three of us (plus babies!) met up in Paris to spend a day at Playtime, the international children’s trade show. We should have learned our lesson from last year because one day was simply not enough to browse the many, many wonderful brands. We spent the day rushing around from stand to stand, and still didn’t see everything we wanted to see…
We managed to squeeze in visits to some of our favourite brands:
- Bobo Choses – Another beautiful collection featuring musical instruments in a sweet ‘Lullaby’ theme
- Gray Label – We love the additions of the mustard yellow and the soft green colours. Emily Gray is one clever woman!
- Waddler – Cute new cotton pieces in addition to their fabulous alpaca wool collection.
- Aravore – We especially loved the new Fair Isle pieces. Adorable!
- Elfie – Thank goodness they’re still making that little Mouse Jumper – it’s a favourite in our house!
- Lalé – Perfection! We especially loved their new bed quilts.
- Nico Nico – There are some new little wool capes in the collection that we already have our sights set on!!
- Hucklebones – As always, a gorgeous and timeless collection. (They had a swan at their stand made of 800 sheets of paper – wow!)
- Bieq – So many handknitted baby hats. We’ll take them all please! : )
- Le Petit Lucas – The sweet designs on the bedding, the adorable decorations, and we just adore the new gnome featured on the jumpers and clothing. So cute!
- Apünktchen – Our favourite hats for babies, kids and even grown-ups.
- Tapete – Cute graphics as always.
- Macarons – They designed their own fabric! It doesn’t get more innovative than that.
- Very French Gangsters – We love the colourful new glasses straps to hold glasses on. (We want them for ourselves!)
- Collégien – A fun and colourful collection of slippers — such fun new designs.
- Miller – A perfectly on-trend collection. There was a pretty yellow dress which especially caught our eye.
We also made some wonderful new discoveries:
- Wool Fabrique – Gorgeous wool goodies! (We’ll write more about this later.)
- LEOCA Paris – We were really impressed with the warm colours, the innovative shapes, the playful but still classic designs of this great collection.
- 10is – Leather trainers in lovely muted tones. Cool!
- Bemini – Little knitted hats, scarves, mittens, jumpers, blankets and a clever, hooded nid d’ange blanket/sac.
- Emma Levine – We were especially impressed with the jackets and dresses – such beautiful, hand-dyed fabrics from Bali, offering a slightly vintage-like ethnic vibe.
- Boy + Girl – A brand out of LA, offering an eclectic collection, mixing fabrics and colours to offer something fresh and hip.
- Boob – A great maternity and nursing collection run by some awesome mamas (can we be friends, please?!).
- Titlee – A fabulous collection of jewellery (more to come later about it!).
- Tocoto Vintage – Maria has reviewed this beautiful collection here before, but it was so nice to see it in the flesh.
- Inspirations By La Giraffe – We’ve seen this sweet jewellery at Elias & Grace before, but it was lovely to see it in full, and their stand was really beautifully decorated.
Phew! It was a busy, busy day! We really had so much fun talking to all the designers and seeing all the great new collections. What a wonderful business we’re in — so many friendly faces, so many inspiring people, so much creativity! We consider ourselves lucky to be a part of it all.
xx Courtney, Esther & Emilie
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Today, I would like to share the pictures I have made for Panasonic, in a challengue about changing photography. I was one of the 10 bloguers chosen to do this. I had to choose a subject I dont usually deal with, so I chose “fishing”. The photos are taken in my adored Asturias, where I live.
I made Nico a bamboo fishing rod, matching the wooden piers. And some felt fishes…
We had a lovely day and we enjoyed our beloved Asturias, the sea, the views, and even the weather!.
Hope you like it.
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A very special place, full of lovely things and lovely atmosphere. And really nice to visit with your kids!
After Madrid in Love, we went to a very nice place in Madrid. If you are looking for something sweet and tasty, Mama Framboise is the place. Amazing and super nice desserts.
If you happen to be in Madrid, I think they are a couple of lovely places to visit.
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I often get asked for tips about Paris. But living in a city is so different to visiting, that I often have trouble answering. So I wanted to put together a little list of places and services you might find helpful if you are planning a trip to Paris, especially with the whole family.
Complete Paris a fabulous concierge service which will organise as much as you need. Ali, the lovely owner, has children herself so she is very aware of the needs of families travelling to Paris. She can organise trustworthy English speaking babysitters, pick-ups in cars with car seats, recommend shows — basically take a lot of the stress out of the trip, so you can enjoy Paris.
Chic Shopping Paris – Rebecca is a dear friend of mine, who has been running some of the best shopping tours around Paris for years. (Rebecca also was a correspondent for Babyccino many moons ago, when she lived in Washington for a brief period). She has excellent taste and is super personable, so it is a great experience. You will definitely discover some of the hidden shopping treasures of Paris.
The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris – This is an excellent App in English specialising in anything to do with food in Paris. It lists some fabulous restaurants, markets and shops and it very easy to navigate. It is great if you want to find great French food in your area and don’t know where to start.
Paris Velo C’est Sympa – Paris is getting much more accessible for bicycles, especially on Sundays, when the quais along the Seine are closed of for cars. Sometimes it is nice, especially when the sun is shining, to discover Paris overground, rather than travelling everywhere by metro. This place rents bicycles by the day and also rents out kids seats for the bicycles, and tandem bikes.
Paris Taxi – I’ve used this company a few times as they are some of the few taxi companies to provide child seats. They were mainly good for airplane pick up and drop off, rather than travelling within Paris.
Velib’ – The Velib’ almost doesn’t need an introduction: these bicycles dotted around the city are now so part of Parisians everyday life, one hardly notices them. Velib’ is now the largest bike-sharing network in the world. Since the Velib’ scheme started, cycling around Paris has become much easier and the crazy drivers and cyclists are starting to co-exist in fragile harmony. The Velib’s are a great way for getting around Paris, which, when you actually get onto a bicycle, is a relatively small city.
I would love to hear if you have any other tips to add onto my list!
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Here in Northern Europe we have one big problem: the weather! Even though we should be used to it by now, we all crave a bit of sunshine, especially since our summer are not quite the same as they use to be. Everyone dreams of escaping the grey European winters…. The closest destination we have to bask in the sunshine are probably the Canary Islands, which are part of Spain, though they are located off the coast of Africa.
Mitali, one of our lovely readers, who chronicles her life on her blog, Life with my Lovelies, went on holiday to Lanzarote recently and kindly wrote down her tips on where to go on the island. Her holiday sounds a million miles away from the touristy, beer drinking, football watching experience I always imagined the Canaries to be.
Finca Arrieta The eco retreat (with wind and solar power) is the most beautiful and special place. The atmosphere is very laid back and the owners and manger are lovely people. There is a range of different accommodations available: beautiful yurts and little stone houses. We picked the garden cottage and loved it. Every accommodation has its own outdoor space and most have kitchen facilities and barbeques. There is a shared pool and kitchen area and toys and books for everyone to enjoy. You can even borrow surfboards for free.
Our kids, age 7 and 17 months, enjoyed the playground with its great trampoline at the Finca very much. And collecting fresh eggs from the hens which live at the eco retreat was a special adventure. So was feeding Molly, the donkey and if kids want, they can even ride her.
I recommend hiring a car in Lanzarote, so you can explore this extraordinary island.
Our son enjoyed visiting the Cueva de Los Verdes the most (people used to hide there from pirates, which he found especially exciting). This spectacular cave is only a short drive from Finca Arrieta and the guided tour (in Spanish and English) takes about 45 minutes. Take a carrier with you for smaller children since they won’t be able to walk through the cave.
In Tahiche is the artists Cesar Manriques house, the Fundacion Cesar Manrique. It is a magical place built into volcanic bubbles and there is a lot to explore.
The Mirador del Rio, also created by Manrique is a viewpoint high on top of a hill, only a short drive from Finca de Arrieta. Hidden in the rocks, the artist created a cafe with giant glass fronts from which you can enjoy the breath taking views around Lanzarote. You can also take a walk outside around the café and take great pictures of La Graciosa, a small island close to Lanzarote (the owner of Finca Arrieta offers tours to La Graciosa which are great fun).
Since our son is fascinated by volcanos we took the somewhat long drive (make sure you ask Sally at the finca for specific directions since there aren’t many signs on the way) to the Montagna del Fuego. Once you get there you can take a bus tour through the volcanic landscape, look into a crater and watch a branch catch fire when thrown into a whole into the ground.
La Garita Beach is a ten minute walk from the retreat. It is a pleasant, small beach with sandy and rocky parts . There are way more locals than tourists and especially on the weekends it can get quite busy. It is a popular surf spot and known for its peer where people jump off into the ocean.
Also try Famara beach. It is a beautiful, wide beach with soft, white sand – perfect for building sand castles and splashing about in the waves. Don´t go if it is too windy though or you will get sandblasted.
Another great beach is located between Arrieta and Orzola. Keep driving past the Cueva de Los Verdes and turned into a gravel road to your right at a small stop sign. This beach is great for smaller children since it offers easy access into the shallow water. We explored it during low tide and we were the only ones there. You can walk miles towards the sea, find little lagunes to bath and watch fish in and just enjoy this beautiful spot all to yourself.
Since we had our own kitchen at the Finca we self catered the whole time, but the staff at the retreat can recommend various restaurants.
We were all really sad when we had to leave Finca Arrieta and will surely return to this magical place as soon as we can!
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Today I would like to share a beautiful place in Madrid, that I have always hearted. Grey Elephant is a very special place in the center of Madrid, where many things happen, and with one objective: to nurture and stimulate creativity in children and parents through art projects, interactive workshops and activities in a relaxed, tranquil and home-like environment.
One place where the parents can accompany their children and the children can enjoy the company of others of their age and they can all create, experiment, invent, and let their imagination fly. During the weekdays they have a nursery and lots of workshops, all of them in english. And in the weekends the fun continue with theatre, music, dancing, arts… and so on! It is also a place to celebrate your birthday in a very creative way.
The owner, Laura, has told us the reason why she opened a place like this in Madrid: “I realised I kept complaining about spaces for kids and parents or kids and grandparents/caretakers etc. At the time people where allowed to smoke almost everywhere and it was not easy to find a place to meet other parents, do stuff and get involved where you could find music, dance, painting, fun … So I decided to open my own!!!”
Such a good reason, and such a treat for the people of Madrid! Hope you like it!!