Travel guide for an active holiday in Italy

Written in collaboration with Emily Jones

Italy is a unique country home to some of the most beautiful landscapes. While you can spend a simple holiday here focused on relaxing at the seaside or eat and drink your way through the country, it is a great place to enjoy an active holiday. The country is full of scenic views and places to hike, and you’re rewarded with unforgettable experiences when you get out and really explore Italy.

When planning an active holiday in Italy, here are a few things to keep in mind:


Accommodation

Where you stay can make all the difference while on holiday. So book your accommodation ahead of time so that you know you have a nice place to rest at the end of your busy exploration days. If you are in Sicily for example private villas are very affordable and there are websites like Wishsicily for example that specialize in showcasing the rental villas available in Sicily. This kind of accommodation is very common all around Italy and also highly recommended because and you can have your own schedule and independence in general.

Planning ahead

Before you depart for your holiday, check out where you would like to visit by scouring the Internet, checking out helpful websites and asking recommendations from people you trust. This way, you can check out any details about where you would like to, such as whether or not you need to pay or whether or not a specific hike or route is in fact open. It is fun to decide things spur of the moment, too but you don’t want to spend precious time on holiday looking for places to go and things to do.

Destinations for an Italian active holiday

Dolomites

The Dolomites, located in the north of Italy, is a destination of astounding beauty. The mountain range is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and provides the perfect backdrop for an active holiday. For a gorgeous hike that is moderately easy, The Tre Cime di Lavaredo is a wonderful day hike. A famous hike in the Dolomites is Alta Via, a 150km high-level trail.

Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre is a well-known and well-loved destination, where you can go swimming in the gorgeous blue Ligurian Sea and hike the Sentiero Azzurro, which leads you through all five colorful villages.

Sicily

Sicily is a wonderful destination, especially for water-based activities. Here you can dive among sea grottoes along the volcanic Aeolian Islands, go snorkeling at Isola Bella Marine Park, go sea kayaking, go body-rafting in the Alcantara Gorges, etc. For something on land, be sure to trek your way up Mount Etna for stunning views.

Tuscany

Does cycling through rolling hills with vineyards, olive trees and cypress-lined driveways in the distance sound like your style of an active holiday? Bike tours that lead you through Tuscany are rather popular in this region. There are even some that stop off at wineries! If you prefer being in the water (or want to do both), a great diving spot is the Parco Nazionale Arcipelago Toscano.

Como

At Lake, Como, you can make your way around the beautiful surrounding towns. There is Bellagio, Tremezzo and Varenna, all worth visiting and taking the time to explore.

Amafli Coast

On the Amalfi Coast, you can of course do water-based activities. There is also the Sentiero degli Dei, Path of the Gods, in Campania where you get gorgeous views of the backdrop mountains, sea and Capri Island.

Rome

Though not what you may imagine for a traditional active holiday, if you really ‘do’ Rome, you will be walking miles and miles and climbing many stairs. A classic Food Tour will even get you out and about exploring all parts of the city, and before you know it your step count will be higher than anticipated.

Do you like going on active holidays? Any suggestions on where to go for one?

5 Things to Do With An Old Smartphone

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What do you do with your old mobile phone that’s been gathering dust in your drawer, storage box or garage?

Good question. Truth is, you can still use old smartphones that are way past their prime. Here are 5 of the best ways to get started.

1. Put Your Phone Up For Sale

Turn your smartphone into quick cash by listing it up for sale on the internet.

Test the device first and see if it works. Hold the “on” button and see if it powers up. Then, plug in the charger and any accessory. Your old cell phone can still fetch a tidy sum if you have the box, manual and cables along with the unit.

Post your old tech up for sale on Facebook, Craigslist or eBay. Upload a clear photo so interested individuals can take a closer look. Include a helpful description regarding its condition and hardware specifications, for example. Wait for the perfect offer to come up and you’ll have your device exchanged for money.

Recycling sites such as Plunc can give you a reasonable quote for used tech. Fill up a form online, then send the gadget in. Once they receive the item, you’re immediately given the payment.

2. For Backup Purposes

Smart phones are usable as long as they can still make a call, download an app or browse the internet. If your phone can do any of these, then you can use it as a sort of backup when your primary device fails.

Power up your phone, give it a full charge and activate its network. Keep it within easy reach, such as your locker, glove compartment or bag and charge it up once or twice a week. You’ll rest easier knowing that you have a backup phone that can call, send a text or give you directions when your main smartphone’s battery is dead.

Do you have a son or daughter that doesn’t have a phone yet? Give them your old cell and you’ll have a line between you at all times. If it’s an old model, teach them how to initiate a call or how to send an SMS.

3. Turn It Into A Cool New Gadget

The beauty of mobile phones is that they can be made into a specific device, for example a radio, a remote control, a dedicated music player, eBook reader and others.

Music Player. Slot in an expansion storage, add your favorite playlist and you can have a music player. Download your preferred streaming app or music subscription service and connect the phone to a speaker system. Plug it to a static charging dock or a 2-in-1 Bluetooth speaker and dock and turn it on for a wonderful acoustic experience.

eBook Reader. Access the Play Store or App Store and download a suitable e-Reader app. Sideload some books and open it up when you’re in the mood for some reading. For added value, you can also download podcasts or audiobooks and listen to them on the go.

VoIP Device. Do you do a lot of Facetime or video calling for work? A dedicated VoIP device will keep you from seeing a “low battery” phone at the end of the day. Get your old smartphone and affix it to a nearby Wi-Fi area and a charger, and your primary phone will never run out of power again.

Remote Control. TV and set-top box manufacturers have apps that turn any smartphone into an extra remote. You can go on Play Store or the App Store and get these for free (or for a nominal price) so you won’t have to spend a long time searching for the remote.

4. Donate Your Old Phone

Donating your old tech for a good cause is a great option if you have more than one old device. Visit the local hospital, charity organization, school, library or goodwill centers and hand your item as a gift. You can be sure they’ll put it to good use.

5. Recycle And Help Reduce E-Waste  

Recycling your old gadgets is the most responsible thing you can do to save mother earth. Don’t just throw it in the bin or it will end up in a landfill and pollute the environment. Give it to recycling centers and they’ll be able to extract valuable materials and dispose of it in a proper manner.

Remember, you can always sell your phone for cash, donate it to charity or re-purpose it into a new device. Be responsible and you’ll save the environment in your own special way.

Destination; Liverpool One

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With the long summer holidays looming, if you’re anything like us you’ll no doubt be planning things to do to keep the family happy. Day trips, weekend breaks or the big summer holiday, none of which are quite as spontaneous as they used to be! Instead I do like to plan things to make sure we all have a great day out.

With a busy family, days out need to provide us with a variety of activities to suit everyone in the family. I don’t want to be driving from here to there just to keep everyone busy. It uses up valuable family time, and adds to the stress every time we have to battle with car seats and collapsing the buggy! I want a destination which has lots to offer for all the family.

So, a family destination like Liverpool One is ideal. Offering more than just shops and restaurants, it really is a hub of activity. Boasting 170 stores, perfect for picking up the a cinema, Roxy Ball Room (think pool or ping pong, not dancing!) and even over 5 acres of gardens – perfect to relax in. There’s lots for everyone, but that’s not all!

Liverpool One also has an extensive events programme, covering everything from Sports events to favourite kids tv character appearances! They even host their own Comic Con – as a self-confessed Star Wars geek I think this is really exciting! There really does seem to be something to keep everyone busy, check out the guide below showing you what’s on!

It’s been a while since I visited Liverpool, the last time I was there I remember vividly thinking I needed more time to spend exploring. There’s so much to see in the city, and I especially loved the Cathedral and seeing the Eleanor Rigby Statue. But I think Liverpool One was still under construction – I said it was a long time ago I visited!

Sudio Ear Buds – Review

Shakespeare famously wrote;

If Music Be The Food of Love, Play on!

Music is a vital part of my day to day. I am a musician, and I always will be. Sudio sent me some ear buds to review, so I took the opportunity to have an indulgent time creating some new play lists – to really try them out!

I’ve an eclectic taste in music. I am happy listening to everything from Shostakovich, Imagine Dragons, Rizzle Kicks to Papa Roach… I struggled to narrow that list down! So, my head phones sound quality is vital!

The Sudio Earbuds come neatly packaged, and with different ear pieces to ensure a good fit with the earbuds.

Charging Sudio Ear buds…

The ear buds charge in the handy storage case. I really like that it’s easy to see how much charge is in the case – the blue lights indicate the level of charge in the case. It’s great that they are easy to charge on the go – especially when travelling.

Sound quality

So, down to the nitty gritty! What is the sound quality like? Well, I was actually very impressed with how good the sound quality is. They coped well with my variety of music. Unphased by bass or the subtleties of orchestral music. The only complaint I could make is that they appear to not have the best Bluetooth range, but that may be my handset rather than the earbuds.

Would I recommend them? Yes 100% whether you want them for the gym or to listen to a violin concerto for critical analysis I think they’re great!

Want to save money on your own pair of sudio? Get 15% off Use Code; DANCINGINMYWELLIES at www.sudio.com

BBQ Essentials…

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It’s BBQ season – yes even if the forecast is for rain over the next week, I still anticipate a BBQ in between the showers! I have to confess that until recently we were stuck in a rut with our BBQ offerings. But, we have made some simple changes to our barbecue essentials, meaning we’re looking forwards to BBQ’s once again!

Meat?

One thing we’ve looked at when BBQ’ing is meat. Do we need meat to BBQ? What meat, and what alternatives? There are so many alternatives to meat, from Fish to Beetroot burgers and Halloumi. Personally, I love grilled Halloumi and it is now always on our BBQ menu.

Sides

I always used to go out of my way to make lots of salad, which invariably got wasted. Instead I will offer up a homemade slaw and a variety of crudites rather than a traditional salad. This mix and match approach appears to leave less wastage! Oh, and home made potato wedges are a must – so easy to make and cheap too!

Sauce

Sauces, we’ve discovered Real Good Ketchup which contains 100% natural ingredients, naturally-occurring sugars and 78% less salt than regular ketchups!
Flavour wise it tastes much more of a rich tomato sauce and less acidic than other brands. It is great as a dip or with your BBQ food. They also do a barbecue sauce flavour, but I think it is still very much a tomato sauce with a hint of smokey. Great for all the family!

Desert

Well, you can’t have a barbecue without marshmallows in my house! Smores are a popular choice, as are toasting marshmallows on over the flames! If you don’t like marshmallows, I love barbecued pineapple! Yes it’s actually a fabulous desert and looks amazing when served, I like to serve it with ice-cream! You can leave out the rum if you’d prefer too.

So, that’s how our barbecues are looking this season!

Summer Outdoor Family Swims

Here comes summer! With May Half-term over I know many of us are already thinking about how to entertain our children (and us!) over the summer holidays! I love swimming, and will take every opportunity to get in the water. So I’m looking into open air swimming pools ready for summer adventures.

Stony beach with bright blue sea

I often find that swimming pools are a stressful experience with the family! It always feels so hot while trying to get everyone changed. Oh, and who wants to be stuck swimming indoors when it’s a glorious sunny day? So, I’m hoping for a few warm days this summer, where I can try out some outdoor pools with my family!

Holiday!

Bude, Cornwall is on my list of places to visit this summer, I can’t believe I have not been yet! It’s on my list of places to visit for a camping weekend, and they have the Bude Sea Pool! It’s essentially the sea, but not and it’s one place I’ll definitely be visiting this summer.

Fancy a day trip?

Head to Lymington, there’s a good rail service from London, though you need to change at Brockenhurst. Head to the Seawater Baths Lymington this is a great way to spend a day by the pool for very little cost! The pool is unheated, so prepare for it to be bracing, or perhaps buy a wetsuit to wear. 2019 prices are; All day adult £3.00 Child (U14) £2.00 – which I think is quite reasonable as you can stay as long all day. There’s also the option to pay more to enjoy the inflatables course, oh and you can hire a paddle board for £5 for 30 minutes – which I think is great value. It seems like a great option for entertaining the whole family.

In London?

There’s the Serpentine Lido in Hyde Park – every year I’ve thought I should visit but as yet it remains on my to do list – perhaps this will be the year I make it? They offer a family ticket for £12 (2 adults and 2 children) tickets also sold individually. They also hire out sun loungers.

The Traditional Lido

The traditional Lido, Saltdean Lido re-opened in 2017 after refurbishment! It’s a Grade II listed building, and has many art deco features to be admired! They are a cash-less site, and I never carry cash so I’ll need to remember to stop off at a cash-point before hand!

16 months old

I had forgotten how busy a 16 month old toddler can be!

N is constantly on the go, chasing the cat is undoubtedly his favourite activity – poor cat. He is fascinated by the cat, and I think this fuels his desire to climb. I am finding myself constantly saying “don’t stand on the table!” or “ah no, not the curtains!” as he attempts to use them to climb up onto the windowsill. It is just possible that one day he will be a great explorer scaling mountains instead of windowsills, and I will look back fondly and sigh. But for now, I find myself having many heart in mouth moments as I grab for him before he brings my curtain rails down.

Toddler Mealtime

Mealtimes are fun, N enjoys his food, but still hasn’t really mastered the idea of using cutlery – preferring instead to use his hands. This means that eating yogurt is a messy process for him, and it’s one of those things I avoid unless we’re at home in the kitchen where at least it will mop up relatively easily. Strangely he really does not like rice, in any form. I think it must be the texture he finds strange. It means that chilli is now being served with wedges while I continue the battle in small amounts.

Sleep is for the weak…

Sleep…he is still waking once a night, but I am hoping that is partly due to teething. He has so many teeth, and is growing up so quickly. I can barely believe that this time last year he was teeny tiny!

Talk to me…

Words… words are coming slowly. So far we have Daddy, Mummy, Cat, Door, RoRo (his biggest brother) and one or two others. I worry whether he has enough words for his age. But I also know he has a lot of understanding – I can ask him to e.g. put the ball into the bag and he will.

Toddler fun

I’m constantly reminded that the best toys are strange things like wooden spoons and a saucepan. He does love playing with cars, but I also feel less is best at this stage, otherwise there are toys everywhere, but he isn’t actually playing with any of them! I wonder with excitement what the next months will bring.

Simple Ways for busy Moms to Take it Easy

When is the last time you just relaxed? If you’re a mom, you probably have to think about the answer. As much as you love your family, the role of a mother is a stressful one. Being responsible for the lives of your children and providing requires every bit of who you are. It often leaves very little time for you to catch your breath.

Being a parent was never designed to be easy. If you overwork yourself, however, you have nothing left to give your family. That’s why it’s important for moms to take it easy. Despite the busy schedules and a laundry list of responsibilities, you can find small amounts of time throughout your day to relax.

Dig Into a Good Book

You can escape reality even for a few minutes by digging into a good book. Pencil in time throughout the day to read. Whether it be a steamy romance novel, self-help book, or thrilling sci-fi, it takes your mind off of everything and allows you to immerse yourself in another world. You can read before you wake the kids in the morning, during your lunch break, or even after you’ve put everyone to bed.

Sip on a Cup of Tea

Coffee may be the preferred morning beverage, but tea has some very therapeutic benefits. Try drinking one cup of herbal tea in the morning and again before bed. There are many types and each has its own healing properties. For example, peppermint tea is ideal for tummy aches while chamomile can help you get some rest.

Get a Massage

Massage therapy has been long regarded as a luxury designed to help relax the mind and body. Once a month, schedule yourself a massage session. The healing properties from various techniques can improve your mood, relieve tension, lower your blood pressure, and soothe the pain. If your schedule is really tight, however, you can always look for a mobile massage therapist. They have supplies like portable massage tables, essential oils, and candles and can bring the spa experience to your home when it’s most convenient.

Take a Long Hot Bath

Showers are great but every now and then switch things up with a bath. Soaking in a warm bath with your favorite salts, oils, or soap helps to calm the mind and body. You may not be able to do it every day, but try taking a long hot bath at least once a week after you’ve put the kids to bed.

Write in a Journal

As a mom, your mind is always going a mile a minute. It sometimes seems as if the thoughts never stop coming. You can relax your mind by writing things down. Start a journal and write about what’s going on inside your head. Venting is therapeutic and can help to slow those thoughts and improve your mental well-being.

Take a Nap

On the weekends when you put the kids down for a nap, instead of trying to catch up on chores why not rest? Getting good sleep tends to go out the window when you become a parent, so any time you get to shut those eyes for a few minutes – take it. Whether it’s 15 minutes or an hour, you’ll feel much more at ease when you wake up.

Sweet Treat

What calms the mind more than sweets? Whatever your craving is, don’t be afraid to indulge every once in a while. Bake some cookies with the kids and nibble on a few after they’ve gone to bed. Go to an ice cream parlor on your lunch break and buy your favorite flavor. Allow yourself at least 10-15 minutes to just enjoy your treat.
Moms are the superheroes of the world. Which means moms are often on the go helping their families to thrive. You love your job, but even superheroes need a break on occasion. The good news is that even with a hectic schedule and tons of responsibilities, you can find a few minutes throughout your day to just – take it easy. 

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3 Reasons Why Maternity Dresses Win Every Time

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I am always looking for ways to make the most of the pieces in my closet and maternity clothes can be tricky items of clothing to work into a wardrobe rotation. Obviously, there comes a point in time when you need to purchase them because regular pants and plus size clothing don’t fit anymore! But what kinds of clothes can you buy so that you spend your money well on the pieces that count the most? You will not wear these clothes forever, but they need to be versatile enough to wear them throughout the postpartum period and while breast-feeding.

There are so many maternity clothes options available to women who are pregnant! How do you choose which clothes to purchase in order to maximize your wardrobe? Maternity dresses are a favorite staple in every expectant mum’s wardrobe. Here’s why:

1)      They are comfortable! Have you ever tried to squeeze your cute 7-months-pregnant bump into those paneled shorts or pants? The panel in maternity pants can be quite itchy and uncomfortable. A maternity dress is always breezy and comfortably covers your bump without making you itchy.

2)      They are versatile! How many ways can a maternity dress be styled? A more versatile piece you will not find. With a cute pair of heels? Perfect. Boots for autumn? So chic. A cardigan? Cozy! Sandals? Perfect for warmer weather. The ways a maternity dress can be styled is seemingly endless.

3)      They show off that sweet bump! This time is a beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime, 9-month period where your sweet baby is on display on the inside of your body, meaning you are on display too!

Even though you might not want strangers coming up to touch your bump the pregnant mum’s form is beautiful and should be appreciated!

Tell me – what was your must-have, favorite, go-to item of clothing when you were pregnant?    

Nailing Your Family Camping Holiday Experience

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Camping is an amazing activity if you’ve got children (or if you haven’t!). Select a site that’s close to the sea or enveloped in woodland, and you’ll wake up every morning surrounded by natural beauty. It’s the perfect antidote to your stressful daily life back home.

However, it’s important to be prepared when you go camping. Failing to plan can put a dampener on the experience. Here’s a handy guide to help you.

Camping with the family – the basics

Firstly, when you’re choosing a campsite, think carefully about what sort of holiday you want. Popular ‘holiday parks’ have lots of amenities (useful for keeping the children amused), but can be noisy. Remote campsites are likely to be situated amidst stunning scenery, but the facilities might be basic. Consider your specific needs before you book.

Look at what’s around the campsite too. Are there scenic walks you can go on? What about activities for the children? What’s available if the weather takes a turn for the worse? You don’t want to be stranded on a campsite in the middle of nowhere in the pouring rain.

What sort of pitch?

Usually, there are two types of pitch – electric and non-electric. The advantage of having an electric pitch is that you can charge your phones in the tent, or plug in a portable heater if the evenings are cold. However, some people feel that this takes away from the experience of being ‘immersed in nature’. It’s a matter of personal preference, and you should select what works for your family.

What budget?

Some campsites are more expensive than others. The most expensive tend to be the holiday parks, particularly in popular locations like Cornwall or Devon. At the other end of the scale are farmer’s fields, which in terms of facilities, might offer a couple of portaloos and that’s it. If you’re feeling really daring, there are areas where you can legally go wild camping, but this can be tricky with kids.

Remember that you’ll be spending money on eating, going out, and keeping the kids entertained too. Factor the costs in before booking your site.

What you’ll need:

It’s useful to know what basics to buy. Here are few useful suggestions.

  • Cooking / eating paraphernalia. If you’re staying away for an extended period of time, it’s wise to take a portable stove with you, as eating out every day can get expensive. Remember to pack plates, mugs, cutlery, and preferably a cloth or drying rack to leave them to drain after you’ve washed them up.
  • ‘Entertainment’ items. Think about what you’ll be doing each day. If you’re planning on hitting the beach, you’ll need sunscreen, towels, buckets and spades, and possibly body-boards and wetsuits too. For the evenings on the campsite, you might want to bring a few easy-to-pack board-games or some playing cards.
  • Sleeping arrangements. If you haven’t got a sleeping bag yet, choose wisely. A good all-rounder will keep you warm in colder nights. As for what to sleep on? Cot-style beds have the advantage of being raised off the floor, but they take up a lot of room. Blow-up beds are a good option, or well-padded roll-up mats.
  • ‘Going out’ items. Camping is generally a casual affair, but there might be times that you want to dress up and hit the nearest town. Remember to take at least one nice outfit, and if needs be, some make-up, jewellery or the latest top men’s perfume. In short, whatever you feel you need; but don’t go overboard. You’ve only got limited space in the car.