Luxury family-friendly farm stays

If all those verses of Old MacDonald have paid off and your kids are obsessed with farms, it’s a great way to inspire a holiday. Not least to help younger ones realise that cows, pigs, sheep etc are actually animals and not just animations.

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So the lovely Baby Friendly Boltholes has come up with its list of the top five luxury farm stays, where children can help with feeding, and you can relax.

Tansy Cottage, Clydey Cottages, Pembrokeshire
In the 20 acres of grounds, there’s a hot tub and indoor heated swimming pool, as well as a kids’ club and crèche that will look after all ages, from newborns up. Or they can collect eggs as well as joining in with feeding.

There’s even an honesty larder, including gourmet ready meals, while you can pre-book hampers of organic local breakfast food. Sleeps four plus cot.

The Stables, Bradbury Farm North, Devon
Self-catering flexibility and some hotel luxury on a ‘proper’ farm – the farmhouse dining room is linked up to baby monitors in the cottages opposite, so you can still go out (sort of) for dinner. There’s also an evening meal service on request.

Along with a heated outdoor pool, there’s pont and cart rides plus plenty of toddler toys including a trampoline, wendy houses, slides, swings and ride-on toys. Sleeps six.

Dairy Cottage, Tredethick Farm Cottages, Cornwall
One of nine cottages within two minutes’ walk of the family-friendly indoor pool, soft play zone (with wifi and coffee), games room with sandpit and a new play park.

This coastal farm is great for mixing sea and countryside, and there’s egg collecting and pony rides, plus a relaxation pod in the garden and a ready meal pantry to raid. Sleeps four.

Court Farm Standerwick, Somerset
Stylish interiors and baskets of toys make it perfect for all the family, plus there are plenty of luxury touches including gourmet deli hampers and the option to book hot stone massages.

And if feeding farm animals has got your kids excited about all things great and small, Longleat Safari Park is not far away. Sleeps four plus cots.

Apartment 2, Country Kids, Languedoc-Rousillion, France
Venture further afield to these self-catering apartments, which pride themselves on being boutique hotel standard… and find a petting farm attached, including donkeys, llamas, rabbits and horses.

There’s also a crèche and babysitting for those too young to take up the tractor rides, zip lining, sailing and vineyard tours, along with communal meals and a pool on site. Sleeps seven.

 

Image: David Smith/Flickr

 

Travel checklist: Your essential child first aid kit

In an ideal world, no-one would ever get ill on holiday. Unfortunately germs are always with us, whether it’s colds caught on the plane or the slightly dodgy beach snack.

Throw in teething and babies’ ability to go from happy to high temperature almost instantly, and I never travel without a first aid kit.

first-aid-kit-travel-healthBecause when you don’t recognise the various brands of medicine and do have a sick child, a pharmacy in a foreign country is not my preferred place to improve my language skills if I can avoid it.

So along with travel insurance and an EHIC if you’re travelling in Europe, here’s my list of essentials for babies, children and parents to download - ESSENTIAL CHILD FIRST AID KIT

Disclaimer: I have taken first aid kits around the world with me but am not a trained medical professional – for any extra advice, speak to your own GP or pharmacist.

 

Image: ydhsu/Flickr

The chocoholic’s travel guide

If you’re regretting that Easter bunnies only arrive once a year, it’s the perfect time to consider some chocolate-themed travel (before egg overload puts you off).

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I’ve actually managed to line mine up already with a trip to St Lucia planned next month, and May’s part of the Take12Trips challenge. Yes, that’s right, the Caribbean island is home to chocolate plantations, Hotel Chocolat’s Boucan hotel and even a chocolate trail.

And of course, there’s always Belgium a short Eurostar trip away. But you needn’t even venture that far afield…

Bournemouth
If you haven’t spent a weekend break in a chocolate-themed hotel, you can’t call yourself a true chocolate lover. The Chocolate Hotel in Bournemouth has 15 chocolate-themed rooms that can even come with chocolate fountains, plus they can arrange kids’ chocolate parties.

Brighton
There’s chocolateries and then there’s Choccywoccydoodah, with locations in central London and its new Brighton site. The stores’ bar du chocolat is basically sugar-coated heaven for chocolate lovers. From the fantastical cakes to truffles, hot chocolate and chocolate figurines, it’s grown-up indulgence that’s just as good for kids.

London
Take a Chocolate Ecstasy walking tour with ‘certified chocoholic’ expert guides as they point out the capital’s best chocolate stores and experiences as you wander the city’s side streets and alleys. Although they’re aimed at adults, the company says accompanied children are welcome and there’s no more than 15 minutes’ walking between stops. Oh, and there’s discounts if you’re not full at the end.

Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Never be short of chocolate again – learn how to make your own. Artisan chocolatier Jane Williams, who’s created chocolates for the Queen, runs masterclasses at her studios so expect expert tips and creations including strawberry and Champagne truffles or decorated heart-shaped chocolate lollipops. Best for adults, but for other chocolate courses check out suggestions on Chocolate Tourism.

Birmingham
If you’ve grown up (or are growing up) in the UK, Cadbury is likely to be part of your heritage and childhood memories. The Cadbury World tour traces chocolate’s history and arrival to Europe, plus seeing liquid chocolate, watching chocolatiers at work and chasing a giant Crème Egg… There’s also the Bourneville Experience, where you can design your own packaging.
Or if you’re in Wales, go behind the scenes on a tour of Michton Chocolate Factory in Swansea – no under-threes.

And if it’s the bunnies you prefer, there’s always Japan’s rabbit cafes

 

Image: Jonathan Reyes/Flickr

The top 10 child seat checks

You wait ages for a car seat post to come along, then there’s suddenly two in two days… After yesterday’s news of the inflatable car seat, Which? has released a new guide for parents to help make sure your existing model is fitted safely.

Because however high-tech or award-winning your seat might be, it won’t be effective if it’s not fitted correctly – they even mark down designs that are difficult to fit as they’ve got a higher risk of parents making a mistake.

Which-10-CAR-SEAT-checks

The consumer expertshave identified 10 common problems to watch out for, with a downloadable guide as well as videos on how to fit them properly if you do discover a problem.

So whether you’re planning a long Easter journey or a last-minute trip to stock up on Easter eggs, it’s worth running through these checks first.

1. Is the seatbelt secure and untwisted?
2. If the seat is rearward facing, is the handlebar in the position shown in the instructions?
3. Is the car seat sitting squarely on the seat of the car and is the headrest in the correct position as shown in your instructions?
4. Is the seatbelt following the correct red or blue route guides?
5. Is the seatbelt buckle in the right place?
6. For Isofix seats, do the visual indicators show it is fitted correctly?
7. Is your Isofix drop down foot securely on the floor, and/is the top tether firmly attached?
8. Have you removed any thick clothes?
9. For younger children, are the shoulder pads level with your child’s shoulders and is the harness not too tight or loose?
10. For older children, is the seatbelt across their shoulder and hips?

 

Image courtesy of Which?

The inflatable car seat

There are some truly weird baby products out there – and at first glance, an inflatable car seat seems to be one of them.

No, it’s not a belated April Fool, it’s a new idea from Volvo, currently in development. And after coming across it on the Mother & Baby magazine website, I started thinking that this is actually a very clever solution if you’re travelling with young children.

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I’ve found myself attempting to wrestle with an unfamiliar model through a haze of jetlag, watched by unhelpful car hire staff and to the soundtrack of an exhausted baby.

I’ve also found myself paying over the odds to get around Miami as no taxi would pick us up without our own car seat, and inevitably none of them had their own.

And most parents have tales to tell of dragging bulky car seats through an airport, then putting them at the mercy of baggage handlers, rather than risking the often dirty and dilapidated seats offered in rental cars… and their extortionate fees.

So an alternative that weighs under 5kg, can go into your luggage, inflates in less than 40 seconds and can even be inflated by Bluetooth is something I’d check out.

The key, of course, is safety. As it’s not on the market yet, there’s no details of safety certification (or what sizes the seat might come in) but as a rear-facing model, it’s already off to a good start.

And given that Volvo developed the first child seat prototype, the first rearward-facing child seat, the booster cushion and the first rearward-facing seat with ISOFIX fittings, they know what they’re talking about.

I bet a few people mocked most of those when they were announced too…

 

Image and video courtesy of Volvo