Book review: Spot A Lot – Vehicles

Planes, trains, automobiles, buses, boats, even a tractor… We haven’t quite managed to test out every form of transport featured in Spot A Lot: Vehicles, but we’re not far off. Submarines and hot air balloons might have to wait, admittedly.

We were sent the book and jigsaw kit to review and I’m seriously thinking of adding it to our plane entertainment essentials.

Spot A Lot VehiclesThe simple plot might be superficially simple – delivery truck breaks down, parcel urgently has to get delivered, diggers and fire engines are among the vehicles to help it on its way – but it turned out to have a lot more for young readers. Not least the suggestion that there’s nothing like a bit of initiative and determination.

Continue reading

Manatees at South Florida museum, Bradenton

I’m not sure how old I was when I first came across manatees. At least my twenties, I’m sure. After all, it’s not as if you find them everywhere in the UK (cat, dog, cow, sheep, manatee. Er).

But thanks to the faintly surreal Sarah & Duck on Cbeebies, one of my daughter’s favourite shows, she’s known about and been fascinated by ‘sea cows’ for ages. Who says kids’ TV isn’t educational.

Snooty the manatee at South Florida Museum, Bradenton on Florida's Gulf CoastSo I’d guessed one of the highlights of our trip to Florida’s Gulf coast would be seeing manatees at South Florida museum in Bradenton city. Not any old manatees either, this was a chance to meet Snooty – the oldest manatee living in captivity. Continue reading

Bradenton, Florida: Day 1 – Anna Maria Island

Despite being only seven miles long (and half a mile wide), Anna Maria Island in Bradenton, on Florida’s Gulf Coast, somehow fits in three different cities.

Holmes Beach is the busiest part, Bradenton Beach in the south has some of the oldest sections, plus a pier and nature reserve. But Anna Maria City in the north, where we were staying, is perfect for capturing the chilled-out atmosphere.

florida-bradenton-gulf-sea-pierAnd the heart of the area is Pine Avenue, which runs to the city pier with a scattering of boutiques and places to eat, Old Florida charm and brightly painted buildings.

Continue reading

Florida in photos – visiting the Gulf Coast

This time one week ago, I was sitting in the airport at Tampa trying to persuade my daughter to eat before we boarded our night flight back to the UK.

florida-bradenton-gulf-beach-sea2We’d been staying on Anna Maria Island in family-friendly Bradenton on the Sunshine State’s west coast – soaking up the laid-back atmosphere, eating doughnuts, spotting dolphins and manatees and relaxing on the beach.

It’s the kind of place which is just a dream with kids. Powdery soft white sand, a huge private pool in our holiday house, incredibly child-friendly welcome and loads to do if you didn’t just want to chill out by the water. Continue reading

Reviewed: Lumie Zest SAD light for jetlag

Jetlag is a weird thing. Even when you understand the reasons (unlike my three-year-old), finding yourself relentlessly awake when you know you ought to be sleeping or that spaced out, mildly drugged feeling is one of the least fun bits of travel.

I’ve managed with a few personal rules – change my watch on boarding the plane, don’t even sit on the bed before 9pm, pack melatonin – but even so, plenty of days have started early or more tiredly as a result.

Go to sleep!

Go to sleep!

Waking up early(ish) isn’t quite so bad after three years of motherhood, but flying east, I find it incredibly hard to drag myself out of bed. So could a SAD lamp help? Continue reading