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5 Ways to protect your home and your pocket

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A house is the building we create our home inside of, and sometimes a house can disrupt our home. Small accidents and home emergencies can have big financial repercussions for any family, as well as coming with inconveniences like no hot water or electricity. There are steps we can take to protect our home from these disasters, and make sure they don’t leave a hole in our pocket. Here are five ideas you can use to save yourself money and worry.

Get the Right Home Insurance Cover

Many people don’t have the right home insurance cover or no cover at all. Some insurance may be included with a mortgage or rental agreement, but this will often not have enough cover for your contents or valuables, or for unpredictable but inevitable problems like boiler repairs and burst pipes. It is worth checking any cover you have and seeing if it offers you enough protection.

Get Some Boiler Cover

Getting separate boiler cover for boiler repairs is becoming increasingly popular. It gives great peace of mind to know that in an emergency, the details of the boiler repair become someone else’s problem and you can concentrate on keeping warm and tending to family members. If you want to ensure you’re covered against multiple home emergencies, the company Certi offer packages that also insure your pipes and drains and all kinds of home emergencies as well as boiler maintenance. This type of package is highly recommended as you know your home will e fully protected.

Consider Insuring Specific Valuables

Some general home and contents insurance will not be enough to cover some of your most precious valuables. It is worth looking for specific insurance for these kinds of items. There are policies that are aimed at high-tech equipment, for example, that you can use to protect your computers and smartphones from theft or damage. Claiming for these on your standard home insurance can push your premiums up or come at a higher excess charge than is reasonable.

Install Home Security

Having your own CCTV system or home alarm is easier and cheaper than you may at first think. Thanks to advancements in technology and home wireless networks, it is possible to install a high-quality system yourself without wires covering the house. Modern systems even integrate your smartphone with an app allowing you to check on your home from anywhere in the world. This feature is very popular with the parents of teenagers.

Take Some Precautions for Emergencies

Having a box or bag with some emergency supplies kept in a handy spot may seem like you’re being overly cautious, but you won’t think that when you need it. It doesn’t have to contain emergency rations and bottles of water unless you want it to, but having a first aid kit and some candles or torches for home emergencies isn’t a bad idea. You could even add a USB power pack to charge phones.

Taking some precautions to protect you from home emergencies and the cost of boiler maintenance can save you money and stress at difficult times, so don’t let a natural disaster become a financial one.

Which 8 man family tent?

Last year after a single holiday, the decision was made to sell it on. It was a fabulous tent, loads of living space, but the sleeping pods were small. It just didn’t work for us. We have taken our tents camping in Europe for several years, so our tent is an investment!

I had chatted to various camping friends about their recommendations, and there were varying opinions on air-beam tents. They always came up as part of the conversation, but people seemed to have differing opinions on whether you could buy a reasonably priced air-beam tent.

The benefit of an air-beam is quite clear – no poles to fight with, and in theory therefore easier to put the tent up – especially if you’re a lone adult trying to put up a family tent. The main problem with air-beam, in my view is the weight of the tent bag! The air beams are weighty!

I’m looking for an 8 man tent to ensure we have plenty of space, but I want room in the sleeping pods to be able to stand up. This may sound silly, but many of the cheaper tents have low ceilings in the sleeping pods and I’m tall. So, bluntly I fear I may put my head straight through the pod in the middle of the night.

Decathlon offers two 8 man tents, thankfully it is the cheaper one which has more height in the sleeping pods (160cm). The 8 man Arpenaz 8.4XL is a traditional tent, but most reviews suggest it is quick to pitch. Priced at £399.99 it appears to offer good value.

I’ve always been a fan of Vango, and the Longleat Air 800XL is a serious contender. It boasts a 10 minute pitch – so even if I’m slow surely that means 20 minutes and it’ll be ready? The height in the sleeping pods is 190cm. The price – it’s on offer at £599.99. But it is an air-beam – so no fighting with poles!

I’ve also looked at an Outwell Middleton 8A, this has a RRP of £1439.99. It doesn’t work for me as the sleeping pods are too low (150cm tall). This does have the benefit of extra living space – ideal if we’re camping in the UK.

Currently I think it’s a choice between the Decathlon tent which offers great value, and the Vango which offers ease. £200 between the price makes it a tough choice as that could pay for a weeks pitch fees!

A Parent’s Guide to Summer Holidays at Disneyland Paris in 2019

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The kids have been begging to go on holiday to Disneyland Paris for what seems like years now. This year you finally have decided on a summer holiday in Paris with Disneyland being the main focus. Of course, as parents, you want a bit of adult time as well. Here is a brief guide on how to give everyone a little of something they all want when visiting Disneyland Paris in 2019.

Travel Arrangements Are First

Once you have decided to take that trip to Disneyland Paris just across the channel, you’ve decided that leaving the car behind is a much easier and quicker option. You know when your holiday leave has been approved so you start making air travel arrangements from the UK to Charles de Gaulle to Disneyland Paris. It makes the most sense to arrange not only for air travel but also for a private transfer to and from the airport Paris as well as for transport to and from the hotel you reserve for the holiday. Because you can book all of that in one service with companies like Easy Go Shuttle, you can narrow down your itinerary almost by the hour. Easy Go Shuttle have a 5* rating on Trip Advisor and are the recommended choice amongst many parents, as they provide complimentary child seats and will assist you with all of your luggage – no matter how much you have with you!

But first, even though you know that the chauffeur driven taxi can pick you up and take you all around Paris for other attractions, you need to know where to have them pick you up! It’s time to choose a hotel!

Booking Accommodation Comes Next

Before going any further, it’s best to get those accommodations reserved. Most parents find that staying as close as possible to Disneyland makes the most sense. Transport times to and from the theme park can take time away from enjoying all the attractions the kids love most.

Did you know that Easy Go Shuttle not only offers transfer from Charles de Gaulle to Disneyland Paris but can also pick you up for travelling to other attractions around the capital as well? This is something else to consider when choosing a hotel once you know those dates of travel and have made the flight arrangements to Paris from your nearest airport in the UK.

Parents’ Night Out in Paris – From Dream to Reality

Of course, you want to give the kids a holiday to remember always, but you also want a bit of much needed alone time with the love of your life, your spouse. Don’t forget to check out hotels at Disneyland Paris with babysitting services! With professional childminders, you can plan one or more nights out and about together as a couple. What better way is there to keep the romance alive than an evening or two of dinner and dancing with the wife?

If you know when you are going and where you are staying, Disneyland Paris airport transfers are easy to book. You only need to know the dates of arrival and departure as well as things to do on holiday in Paris 2019. Just think. There is nothing to worry about on holiday because you’ve planned for everything from transport to tickets to accommodation, all at the very same time. All you’ve left to do is pack, go and enjoy. Now, that’s something to be excited about!

Cottage Pie topped with sweet potato

This is an entry to #MeatMatters Challenge Sponsored by Simply Beef & Lamb. Learn more about the benefits of eating beef and lamb along with recipe ideas and inspiration here.

When I first accepted this challenge, I had intended to make a macaroni pie. But I’m trying to eat healthy, and I’ve yet to find a recipe which is low fat high flavour for Macaroni Pie!

Instead I went for a healthy cottage pie. I say healthy as I used lean steak mince. Beef is naturally high in protein, and contains 8 essential vitamins and minerals* that support health and well-being. It’s a really easy recipe and you can pack it with vegetables – perfect for the reluctant veggie eater.

Dice an onion and a garlic clove and fry them until they are lightly browned, then add the mince – I usually use 250g to feed 6 (2 adults 4 children). Add a teaspoon of marmite, teaspoon of Bovril and let the mince brown. Add one grated carrot. Add a tin of tomatoes – I like plum tomatoes but any will work! Add 100ml of water and cook until the liquid is mostly gone.

Cook 500g of sweet potatoes – they seem to take around 15minutes to boil. Once they’re cooked mash them well!

Add the cooked mince to an oven proof dish and top with the sweet potato mash. Pop into a pre-heated oven (180c) for 20 – 30minutes or until the top has browned. You could add grated cheese before you put it into the oven, but if you’re trying to watch your calories don’t!

Serve with boiled vegetables.

*Niacin, vitamins B6 and B12, riboflavin, plus iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus

The cost of being a Single Parent

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Being a parent is expensive! A day out or trip to the cinema quickly add up. Tickets, drinks, snacks and that’s not including the cost of travelling to get there! With the Easter holidays coming up, many parents may be beginning to make plans on how to spend the holidays.

There are some offers available for family tickets, which offer a discount. Some of these you do need to book in advance, so it is worth checking online in advance of visiting. But, many family tickets are aimed at two parent families. So, if you’re a single parent family, you miss out on a discounted ticket. Which doesn’t seem very fair! Payplan have created an info-graphic which shows some of the financial pitfalls of being a single parent;

It shouldn’t be so difficult to participate in family deals just because you’re a single parent family. While some savings on family tickets may seem small, it is still the cost of a loaf of bread – and this may make the difference between a day out being viable or not.

Happy Skin with Bepanthen #AD

This post is my entry into #BepanthenProtects Challenge sponsored by Bepanthen. Learn more about how to protect babies sensitive skin on https://www.bepanthen.co.uk/

As the mother of a very busy 14 month old, I am used to doing things on the move! Nothing frustrates my son more than having to sit still while he wants to play or explore. So if super fast nappy changes were an Olympic sport, I’m fairly sure I’d be in a medal position!

If you’re a parent of a small child, you will have probably experienced nappy rash at some point or another. Baby skin is super delicate. My son suffers with nappy rash every time he’s teething. Apparently that’s something to do with the extra saliva he produces when there’s teeth coming through. He already has 8 teeth and there are more on the way, so I’m keen to do anything I can to avoid any sore skin!

Bepanthen Skin Protection ointment is an easily absorbed cream which can be applied at every nappy change. It isn’t for nappy rash, it is to help protect babies skin. We’ve been using it for a while, and it is easy to apply – even to a wriggling toddler. It absorbs into skin and keeps skin in nice condition.

Happy skin, happy toddler! Adding applying Bepanthen to our nappy change routine may have added seconds to our nappy changes, but if i means happy skin we’ll keep on applying it!

Things you might not know about baby skin;

  • A newborn baby’s skin is 40% thinner and also softer than adults, which makes it more sensitive to irritants, like those in wee and poo which can cause nappy rash when in contact with the skin. This is made worse by a tight nappy which both rubs and stops the air circulating.
  • Bepanthen has a kind-to-skin formulation: No fragrances; No colours; No preservatives; No parabens; No antiseptics)
  • Contains Provitamin B5 to help skin to repair its natural protective barrier
  • Bepanthen is clinically proven: It forms a transparent, breathable layer, helping to protect your baby’s skin from the irritants and rubbing that can cause nappy rash
  • Nappy rash affects 1 in 3 babies at some point , so protecting your baby’s bottom from getting red makes perfect sense, instead of waiting for your little one to suffer from a sore bottom.

Eco-Friendly Gift Wrapping?

What do you do with wrapping paper once you have unwrapped the gift? A couple of years ago I would have proudly answered that I put it in the recycling bin. But, then I learnt that much wrapping paper cannot actually be recycled. As a family we try to recycle as much of our waste as we can, so that’s why I’ve put a ban on traditional wrapping paper.

How can you tell if your wrapping paper can be recycled?

The scrunch test! If it scrunches and stays scrunched, you can probably recycle it. Remember to remove the sticky tape!

What are the alternatives to wrapping paper?

When it comes to wrapping gifts, I try to avoid wrapping paper altogether. Instead I like wrapping gifts in pretty scarves I buy from charity shops. I also love to give a gift packaged in a box. A cardboard box can easily be recycled, and decorating it can be lots of fun – especially for the children!

My 4 year old daughter decorated this box to wrap a present for her friend’s birthday party. I got a quiet hour while she sat decorating the box, and I think it added a lovely personal touch to the gift.

I confess, I keep bits of ribbon which come on gifts or packaging and re-purpose them. They always make a gift look special, and then the ribbons are never wasted!

Wrapping Gifts in Fabric

I really love wrapping gifts in scarves! Fabric scarves – not the wool ones you might wear in winter! I buy them at charity shops throughout the year, and so I’ve always got a small supply in the cupboard. Japanese Fabric Wrapping or Furoshiki is such a stylish way to wrap. It takes a little practice, but once I had worked out how to do it I wondered why I had wrapped in any other way! It also has the added benefit that the scarf can be re-used by the recipient.

Best Beach Holidays in Europe for Families

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White sand. Wave sounds. Fresh sea air. Ah, beaches. There’s a reason why many of us choose to holiday near them – they can help us to unwind.

And they may even benefit our health. Experts confirm that natural water sites could improve our emotional wellbeing. Even better, trips to the seaside often help families to bond.

So, where in Europe is best for a healthy and happy beach vacation?

Look no further than our guide to find out.

Algarve, Portugal

Beaches? Check. Culture? Check. Activities for the whole family? Check. Yes, the Algarve region in Southern Portugal boasts an array of delights.

Even better, its coastal areas are usually very clean. And many provide water sports facilities. So, you can unwind by the sea while the kids safely have fun.

With a specialist like Villa Plus, you won’t be far from your lodgings, either. It could take just a matter of minutes to walk back from the beach.

Its rich history and sites also make it a fascinating – as well as attractive – destination for adults, teenagers and children alike.

Here, everybody in the family stands to enjoy their holiday.

Split, Croatia

Within the past few years, Croatia has become a popular holiday spot. It’s easy to see why.

Aside from its beauty, it’s one of the sunniest places in Europe. And its beaches are superb. Especially those in Split, on the Dalmatian coast. From ancient archaeology to the national theatre, it brims with culture, as well.

In addition, it provides a cheap option for UK travellers. Since having become an EU member, it has retained its currency (the Kuna).

While the pound has suffered a decline in value against the dollar and the euro, its exchange rate remains fairly strong against Croatian currency.

For large groups and families, a trip to Split can offer affordability, intrigue and some of the best views imaginable.

Sicily, Italy

Greek temples. Baroque buildings. Norman churches. Sicily is a tapestry of European history. But let’s not forget its beaches, many of which stay quiet throughout the year. 

If you seek a more private family holiday, why not venture here?  If you do, you’ll be able to explore its cultural gems and enjoy beach relaxation in relative solitude.

Fancy team games on a secluded beach? The island could provide just that. What’s more, you’ll be holidaying against a dramatic backdrop: the one and only Mount Etna.

On the Italian island, you whole family can simultaneously enjoy the sun and culture. And you’ll be able to unwind by the Mediterranean Sea, of course.

Holidays can free our minds. They can also bring us closer to the people that we love. So, it’s only fitting that the destination should appeal to everyone. Particularly if you plan to travel as a family. Once you know how a vacation could benefit each member, all that’s left to do is book it. And then you can start looking forward to it

Re-usable Nappies

One of the best things we have done to reduce our single use plastic waste was switching to reusable nappies. I have to be brutally honest, I don’t use them at every nappy change. Over night we still tend to opt for a disposable nappy, but that’s just as I like to put the nappy wash on over night. I know I am still creating waste, but I have minimised my waste!

Are re-usable nappies easy to use?

YES! I find once you get used to putting the nappies on your baby, they are easy to use! I found I had to try a few brands before I liked one in particular which I then bought several of! I find the nappies with Velcro fastening work best for us, they’re so simple. My favourite is Bambino Mio, you can even buy them in some supermarkets. I use a disposable nappy liner, this means they catch the worst bits, and make washing the nappies easier.

Washing?!

Ok, so re-usable diapers do create washing! I have a wet bag which I stash soiled nappies in, and then I stick the nappy wash on as soon as the children are in bed. I have my own little routine for rinsing and washing nappies. I love to line dry nappies, but in the UK that’s not always possible – although when I want to strip wash nappies I don’t think anything beats leaving the rain to clean them thoroughly on the washing line!

Re-usable nappies are expensive

Are re-usable nappies worth the cost? One of the things which made me reluctant to try re-usable nappies was the initial cost to buy them. One reusable nappy can cost more than a packet of nappies. But, that one nappy can be re-used time and time again. Which rapidly makes them quite cost-effective. Ok, so there’s the cost of washing the nappies, but I think it still works out cheaper than buying disposables in the long run. Especially if you re-use them with your subsequent children!

I didn’t use any re-usable nappies with my first child, as bluntly I didn’t know where to begin! But with each of my subsequent children I have added nappies to our “nappy stash” and now I wonder why I didn’t brave them with my first child. They look much nicer than a disposable – especially in summer!

DreamWorks Dragons Dawn of New Riders – XBOX One Game Review

The boys are both avid gamers, and have been fans of How to Train Your Dragon for longer than I can remember. Dragons Dawn on New Riders game has released to tie in with the new film. We were sent a copy of the new game to review, and so I decided to let my 10 year old let you know his thoughts on the game.

Review by B aged 10;

The game is played initially as Scribbler, a new character who hatches and develops a dragon a Chimeragon, called Patch. Later in the game you actually play as Patch – which was amazing as you could stand back in battles but still have force (and who doesn’t want to be a dragon anyway!).

As you go through the game you gain powers. To gain powers you need to complete a temple.The temples are places with puzzles to complete, which unlock doors which eventually lead you to a battle. If you win, your Dragon may evolve which will give it a new power. You can have up to three powers at one time, however you can only use one at a time. You need to select which one is best to use for each challenge.

I like the mix of characters between new and old familiar faces. Especially the new character Scribbler as he’s strong and determined. It’s great that the new dragon Patch evolves. At the end of the game we thought he was going to die, but he has another surprise in store! I’d give it 4 out of 5 stars, it was great fun to play.

Parent View

Graphically I was quite impressed with the game, and I think the boys were too. The puzzles were easy to understand and solving them was fun and straightforward. My 8 year old especially enjoyed the game, as he didn’t find himself getting frustrated! I really liked the fact the game encouraged them to read – as they needed to in order to move on through the game. (My 8 year old is a reluctant reader – so anything to help him is a bonus!) The only thing I would have preferred would have been to add in the option for 2 player so they could play together.