Thursday, 26 March 2015

What To Take On A Budget Caravan Holiday

In a week we are going to be visiting Haven Holidays for a break away. I had been looking for a cheap break away for a while and in the end I found a great deal that we managed to book last minute. In total we have payed just £85 for a 4 night holiday at Devon Cliffs in a superior caravan. With any holiday I like to make a plan of what to take with me, especially when we are traveling with Maxwell. Here are my tips of what to take when you are going on a budget holiday.

Normally I tend to pack well for any sort of holiday however with budget caravan holidays I always find I need to take little extras which often you get whilst on other holidays such as holidays abroad. Items which we are taking on our Devon Cliffs holiday include:  Tea towels, washing up liquid/cloths, towels - 2 sets for each person, one for the swimming pool and one to use when having a shower, matches, baking trays, knifes, plastic plates/cutlery for Maxwell, kitchen roll, toilet roll, lunch boxes - perfect to store dry food items in or perfect to take along to the beach. We are also taking blankets as we are not expecting hot weather and there is only 1 heater in the caravan which is situated in the lounge. Normally we do take our own bed linen however on this occasion it is included.

Next up I like to sort our clothing out. For Maxwell we pack 4 pairs of P'J's as well as a thick onsie, 4 vest's incase the weather gets cold, swimming clothes, 6 pairs of socks - 2 spare incase they get wet, nappies/pull ups/pants, 7-8 t shirts, 6 pairs of trousers, 5 jumpers/hoodies, 1 rain jacket and a warm coat. I also tend to pack welly boots for Maxwell incase the weather is dull and he want's to go and jump in muddy puddles. I also always pack Maxwell a pair of slippers incase the caravan is cold at night on his little feet. This occasion I will also be taking him a hat/glove set as we are right on the coast and we often enjoy going for walks.

For Ben and I, clothing is much easier and we tend to need less. I pack 5 sets of underwear for each of us, 5 lots of trousers, swimming gear, 5 lots of t'shirts, 5 jumpers/cardigans, welly boots for myself and a smart pair of shoes for the evening. I also tend to pack 2 going out outfits for the evenings.

As always in our clothing bag, we place any toiletries that we may need. We tend to pack: Deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, body gel, shampoo, wipes, tissues, hairbrushes, hairdryer, a flannel for Maxwell to cover his eyes with when showering, hair products and any sort of make up that I may need.

Maxwell often needs entertaining whilst on holiday and although the caravan comes equipped with a TV and there are activities for Maxwell to do on site, I often need to bring him toys to keep him happy. This time around we are taking Maxwell's DVD player with a few DVD's, arm bands and a swimming float for when he goes swimming, Small toys which are easy to play with in the caravan - trains, cars, small jigsaws, colouring in books, sticker books and a bucket and spade for the beach.

We do not take any food with us as I often enjoy going to hunt for a supermarket when we get there. Buying food instead of eating out saves us a shed load of money, we can still eat well on holiday! I have found that Devon Cliffs is actually only a short car ride away from a town, if we forget anything then we can always go and purchase it!

The night before we go away on holiday, we tend to fill up our car with our holiday bits and create a box full of goodies to eat on the car journey. I hate paying outrageous prices at the services and taking our own means we do not have to stop for any food on our journey. A last few minute bits that I tend to pack on the morning of our holiday is our booking confirmation, money/cards/ID, Mobile phone's and chargers laptops and chargers.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Celebrating Thomas The Tank Engines 70th Birthday

Growing up I loved Thomas The Tank Engine. I collected many of the trains and I used to love driving them around a small track and along the carpet. Maxwell is now 3 years old and equally shares my love for Thomas. This year Thomas is celebrating his 70th birthday, for the past 70 years he has managed to make lots of friends.

Thomas The Tank Engine  is based on stories of the railways, Thomas & Friends invites children to enter a world of imagination on the island of Sodor . It’s an idealised world created by the Reverend W. Awdry, where trains are powered by steam… and they talk! With a strong community ethos typified by a universal willingness to help, practice good manners and hard work, Thomas and his friends continue to inspire, excite and entertain children for 70 years and beyond.

Friendship remains at the heart of the brand with more engaging storytelling, more dynamic and compelling content and a whole host of new adventures for Thomas & Friends this year. As well as the launch of series 19 which features the No.1 Blue engine and his familiar friends James, Percy, Emily, Edward, Henry, Gordon, and the Fat Controller, this exciting milestone year sees the release of the mini-series Dinos & Discoveries as well as the new movie Sodor’s Legend of the Lost Treasure.

As children embark on fun and exciting journeys with their engine friends, adventures unfold that lead to timeless fun and discovery.

To celebrate Thomas's 70th Birthday, Maxwell has recently been sent a Thomas & Friends Motorized Playset to review. Along with the motorized play set, Maxwell was also sent a Samson motorized train to accompany Thomas on his adventures. The Samson motorized train included 2 trailers which both had colourful dinosaurs on the back.

The Thomas & Friends Motorized Playset comes in a small box, the box has a limited amount of track inside which makes building easy for a child. The toy is aimed at children aged 3 and above and I think that is the perfect age to aim the playset at.

Once we had opened the box we built the track. There are clear instructions in the box to tell you how to build the track however we did not have to use these due to the fact the track was easy enough to build without. The track is thick, easy to slot together and very durable for small hands.

Unfortunately Thomas, who was included in the Thomas & Friends Motorized Playset box came without batteries which meant we had to go to the shop to get batteries so he would work. Maxwell did find this a little disappointing as he hates waiting to play with new toys.

Once the track was set up Thomas moved around the track easily and freely however there is a little twist to the track, there is a crumbling bridge! After Thomas speed around the sharp corner on the track, he was left to balance on a single rail as half his wheels come off the track! At first I was worried that Thomas may crash and leave Maxwell a little upset however Thomas easily moved around the track and managed to complete the whole trip around the track without any problems.

Once Maxwell had played with Thomas, we decided to get Samson out for Maxwell to play with. We placed Samson with his 2 trailers, along with the dinosaurs to roll around the track. Straight away I noticed that Samson was not rolling around the track freely and I think this was because the trailers kept sticking on the crumbly bridge. When Samson is not pulling his trailers along, he runs like a dream however when he is pulling the trailers he can fall off or get stuck. We have now decided that the trailers are better off not rolling around the track with the engines, this said they work great when we allow the engines to run on the floor.

Maxwell adores playing and watching Thomas and Samson roll around the track. Maxwell gets very excited by the trains and he loves the fact that they chase each other down. He likes to shout encouragement to Thomas and loves to shout at Samson to tell him he must stop trying to catch Thomas!

The Thomas & Friends Motorized Playset is a whole load of fun and Maxwell has so far spent hours playing with it. At the present moment the playset is priced at just £14.99 on Amazon which  I think is a very fair price for the toy that you get.

I did not receive any financial reward for writing this post
However I did receive the product for the purpose of this review. All opinions in this post are my own.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Bagging A Freebie Using Freecycle, Gumtree And Groups

Freecycle, Freegle, Gumtree and Facebook groups allow you to recycle stuff you don’t need by advertising it to people in your local area. You are able to advertise goods for free. All you have to do is add your item to a site and wait for someone to message you asking if they can have the item. This is a easy way to de-clutter and a lot of people use free sites meaning items are normally snapped up within the same day. A few years back I advertised a bed along with a mattress on our local freecycle and it was collected within just 2 hours.  We also advertised free drawers and they were collected by someone who lived just a few streets away!

Free sites are perfect if you are budget conscious and would rather re-use than buy new. The free sites are perfect for families, couples or even singles. People list small things on the sites such as clothes to large things such as furniture. Often furniture is advertised and although it may have seen better days, you can get creative and make something out of "nothing". Clothes can often have holes in however the material can be reused to make something more useful for your family such as a patchwork blanket. 

When using any free sites, always be conscience to ask what type of condition the advertised item is in, there is nothing worse than thinking you are getting a perfect leather sofa but instead it is scratched, ripped and is not repairable. If a item is repairable, I often try to find out if the item can be repaired and if so, how much it will cost me to repair it. Sometimes furniture items need a simple sand down and a paint however sometimes items need to be totally renovated which can cost hundreds. Before travelling to get the item I always try and work out how far away the item is and how much it will cost me to get it. Fuel is expensive these days and miles can often add up.

Some groups ask for you to give stuff away for free before you are allowed to ask for other items. A good thing to start off with is old cups and plates. I often list the mugs you find in Easter eggs as they never get used. I often sort out old toys of Maxwell's, any clothes which may not fit any more  and any other bric and brac items which I may find around the house.

If there is a lot of interest in a item that someone has listed, the person getting rid of the item may ask why you need the item. After getting many replies they will then go ahead and let the person who they think is more "needy" have it. Sometimes this can be a little unfair however I always find items come along like buses and there are plenty more items to come. The worst thing you can do is get disheartened.

Please remember to stay safe at all times when using free sites. If you are off to collect an item make sure someone knows where you are going. Please also remember you shouldn't ask for items because you want any old free stuff or you are wanting to make money out of peoples stuff they are giving away for free. There are needy people around that may need these items more than you.

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