Hello!

My name is Lily-Sue, but my mummy calls me Munchkin (or 'Munch' for short!) I am 7 years old, and this is where my mummy will help me write all about all the fun things we do together. I hope you enjoy reading about the adventures of my mummy and me, Munchkin, with the occasional appearance from the siblings - Beastie and Plumlet.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Appreciating Art with a FREE 2013 Calendar download!

Print your free Wall Calendar for 2013!


If you're anything like me, you will have acquired your family calendar for the coming new year by Boxing Day. Whether it comes as a stocking filler on Christmas Day or as a "better get myself organised" kind of after thought whilst traipsing the January Sales, you'll have sorted it. However, if you are like me, you'll get to the beginning of February and say, "I must fill the new calendar in!!" I'm terrible for forgetting. So if you are a friend or family member and your birthday is in January, please don't take it personally if your card gets 'overlooked' each year ... My calendar doesn't begin until February!

Nevertheless, I always have a calendar. Sometimes I'll have more than one! This year, I have a very special calendar to tell you about. It is special for a number of reasons. The calendar has been put together by a selection of artists through SurveyCompare. If you have little or no knowledge of the site, here is a little information to give you an idea of what it is all about ...

“The SurveyCompare community is full of artists, writers and makers, who come to us to make a little extra money."

Agnese Geka (Commissioned the Calendar)

The calendar features twelve artists from around the UK, each at different stages in their careers. Some take private commissions, others make art with children, and a few work with prestigious design houses. Each illustration reflects the time of year it represents, from a plump bunny lying among Easter eggs, to a snoozing man on a park bench in July, to a festive Christmas scene with Father Christmas sleighing among the stars.

Looking through the calendar, I was excited to stumble across some very familiar names too!


The Calendar gives a small amount of information about each artist, including details of their websites, enabling you to delve deeper into their work.

"It’s easy to forget you have creative skills; the calendar is supposed to be a gentle, inspiring reminder for our community to keep making art. Each month they can turn over a new leaf and see an artwork made not by a celebrity, but by a regular person with creative talent."

Agnes Geka

Now let me move on to the next wonderful thing about this calendar. Ok, it looks fantastic, it has been put together by 'regular' people ...

Oh, did I mention that it is free?!

"We encourage people to print and share the calendar with their friends."

Agnes Geka

To get your own copy of this lovely 2013 calendar and to play your part in sharing the appreciation of the work of these artists, just visit the Download Page where you will be able to print off your own A4 size copy.


So what are you waiting for? 

“The calendar is special because it allows us to commission and create opportunities for our community to follow their own ambitions, in this case illustration. We hope this leads them to bigger and better things.”

Agnes Geka

... We hope so too!


Saturday, 19 January 2013

Mini MEND - Week One

Welcome to Mini MEND!


So Wednesday, 16th January, 2013 brought our first Mini MEND session. Munchkin was very excited, especially as she kind of knew what to expect! Those of you that read our previous post, Mini MEND - What's it all about ...? will know that she has previously completed the course. Just before her 2nd birthday, we were enrolled and attended every class for the 10 week duration. Munchkin had so much fun and we noticed a real positive difference in her food habits. Before going to Mini MEND, she would only really eat pasta! Ok, so she would occasionally 'sample' other foods, but we were never able to give her the choice or involve her in the food planning as we would all have to survive on a bland variety of pasta dominated meals! This free service provided by the NHS made an enormous difference to the way Munchkin viewed food and to her attitudes towards healthy lifestyles. However, a few months ago we noticed that she appeared to be regressing again, and the situation seemed to grow into something that we were having difficulty controlling. This is when we decided to give the Mini MEND team a call again. They enrolled us onto the next available course. I am hoping that as we progress through the sessions, the positive habits taught through the curriculum used by Mini MEND will start coming back to her, and that they may establish themselves more permanently in her mind now that she is that much older.

So Week One was very much an Introduction session. We met the team, consisting of 4 wonderfully enthusiastic and encouraging ladies, one of whom Munchkin remembered from 18 months ago! They talked briefly about the structure of the programme and what we should expect each week and invited us all to sit down and sing the 'Welcome Song' together.

This was followed by some light exercise focused games, making use of some simple equipment including rubber 'floor spots', small beanbags and balls. Here, the children (and parents!) are encouraged to get active and participate in these fun activities, all of which can be easily replicated at home. The games are also good for motor skills, teaching throwing and catching and basic aiming techniques. The children also learn to take turns and to encourage each other. It is really lovely how every child is treated as an individual and how the course leaders make a special effort to immediately learn every child's name, a little personal touch. 

After the physical activity, everyone has a 'cool down' before going to wash their hands ready for snack time. 

At snack time, a large floor mat is put down with a place set out for every child and their parent. Each place has 2 brightly coloured plastic beakers of water (one for child and one for parent) and a plastic bowl. Then, once everyone is sat comfortably, one of the course leaders started telling the children a story. It was a story about a little green man who lives on the moon, and his name is Sammy Ray! The story of Sammy Ray's sadness on the moon is told using colourful A3 posters, each showing a different point of the story. Sammy Ray is sad because on the moon, he only has 'Moon Munch' to eat, as that is all that is available on the moon. The children are then encouraged to call him down from the moon so that he can come and sample some of the lovely foods we have here on Earth. Once he has travelled to our planet on his Moon Trike, Sammy Ray suddenly evolves into a friendly looking hand puppet who comes to visit the children. At this point, it was revealed that every week, they would introduce one fruit and one vegetable. This week's snack was ...


The children will observe the fruit or vegetable first and suggest words that relate to its colour, shape, size, and anything else they notice. Each child is then encouraged to take 2 pieces of the chosen vegetable (again, one for child and one for parent) which has already been sliced and laid out onto a plate. They talk about what it feels like, then what it smells like. Then the children are asked to 'kiss' the piece of veg they are holding and then lick their lips. All this before the final step, eating! The children are encouraged to remember the sequence, 

"Touch it, 
Smell it, 
Kiss it, 
Eat it!"

The same steps are also followed for the fruit. Whilst the children are sampling the food, Sammy Ray will travel around the group, enjoying the food with each child individually. This is particularly good for the ones that are not very confident about the chosen food. The nervous child is invited to 'feed' Sammy Ray and to follow the above steps again on their own with him. There is no pressure at this point of the session at all. Firstly, as the less confident children are having their 'one-to-one' time with Sammy Ray, this is not happening in front of a quiet group who are all watching. Everyone is instead encouraged to continue chatting about the foods with their children, allowing the gentle encouragement from Sammy Ray to be a very private moment. 

Once the children have finished eating, we return to the posters of Sammy Ray as we wave goodbye to him and he (now happily!) travels back to the moon on his Moon Trike until he visits again. Each child is rewarded with a Sammy Ray sticker and they can then help tidy up the cups and bowls from snack time.

Following snack time, the children then go to the crèche (the adjoining room) with all course leaders but one for play and craft activities. In the meantime, the parents/guardians sit together for a theory session with one of the MEND reps. Each week, these theory classes will have a different focus and will encourage us to learn facts, share ideas and ask as many questions as we have. This week, however, we were asked to complete some very thorough forms regarding our current lifestyles and eating habits and what we would like to take from the course. Whilst this was going on, children and their parents were taken through to the adjoining room to have their height and weight measured and recorded. Each of us also received a Mini MEND bag with a ring binder (which we would gradually fill during the course of the theory sessions), a MEND t-shirt for the kids (for them to wear each week) and a small beanbag to encourage us as families to repeat the physical activities we learn when we go home. 

We are really looking forward to next week's session. Fingers crossed the positive effects will last with Munchkin this time ...! 

Friday, 18 January 2013

Mini MEND - What's it all about?

For a fitter, healthier and happier life!


Towards the end of 2011, me and mummy started a course of sessions at our local Children's Centre called Mini MEND. I loved every session that we went to, and was sad when the course finished after 10 weeks. When mummy has mentioned to people in the past that we attended the course, many have said to us with a confused tone:

"Isn't Mini MEND for kids that are overweight ...?"

The simple answer to this question is, "Absolutely not!"

There is so much more to this programme, and mummy felt that not enough parents were aware of its benefits or even of its existence, which is why we have decided to write a series of posts together to try and express how useful Mini MEND could be to so many families!

When we enrolled on the programme before, I had just turned 2 years old. Mini MEND is designed for children between 2-4 years old, and although mummy and daddy saw a positive change in me after the sessions were complete, they feel that I was possibly a little young for these changes to be permanent and that maybe the messages that are conveyed by the programme leaders didn't really stick. My eating habits and attitude towards foods have slipped drastically over the last 9 months or so. Therefore, as a last resort, mummy picked up the phone and called the lovely ladies over at Mini MEND HQ and explained our situation. That was it, we were registered to do the course all over again, this time in the hope that the positive influence provided by the classes will stick this time!

Our Mini MEND course will run for the duration of 10 weeks, and we have decided that we will keep a diary on the blog explaining what we did and what we learnt in the sessions, and hope that we can change some views about what the programme is all about!

All about Mini MEND

Who are we?

We’re MEND – Mind, Exercise, Nutrition… Do it!

Our vision is a world where we all live fitter, healthier and happier lives.

MEND empowers children and adults to become fitter, healthier and happier and to reach or maintain a healthier weight.
How do we make a difference?
  • We design programmes and services, offering long-term solutions that help people improve their health, fitness, and self-esteem.
  • We provide the information and support people need to choose healthier foods and spend more time being active.
We believe in innovation, partnership and social action.
What do we do?

Working closely with public, private, not-for-profit and academic organisations, we:
  • are a leading provider of healthy lifestyle programmes for children and families in local communities  
  • offer weight management programmes for adults in leisure settings
  • provide the knowledge, skills, resources and training that professionals, community champions and organisations need to:
  • prevent people from becoming unhealthy as a result of inactivity or poor food choices
  • treat people who are above a healthy weight (and therefore more at risk of developing chronic diseases including cardio-vascular disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers)
  • develop innovative ways to improve public health and encourage healthier lifestyles, using our extensive research.
    How do we work?
    Since being founded in 2004, MEND has helped more than 55,000 children and adults across the world to live fitter, healthier and happier lives.
    Tailored yet scalable
    Our programmes, training and resources are designed to be tailored to the communities where they are delivered.

    Developed by experts
    They are developed by our teams of dieticians, nutritionists, physical activity experts and behaviour change specialists using detailed research and evidence.
    Delivered by local people and organisations
    We train, equip and support teams employed by local organisations to deliver our world-class programmes.
    Research and evidence-based
    We have a 20-year research partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust and University College London Institute of Child Health.

    We also have research partnerships with the University of Texas School of Public Health (USA), Baylor College of Medicine (USA), University of Nebraska Medical Center (USA), Simon Fraser University (Canada) and Deakin University (Australia). We’re proud to also work alongside the MEND International Research Group.
    We currently have the largest database of child weight management data in the world.
    Where do we work?
    Our early work was focussed in the UK, but we’re now working in local communities in different countries.
    UK and Europe
    MEND is currently running in more than 200 locations across England, and Wales. MEND has been adapted for use in Denmark in partnership with the Oxford Health Alliance.

    Australia and New Zealand 
    MEND is currently being delivered by: 

    • State Government Departments of Health and others in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania in Australia
    • District Health Boards and Primary Health organisations in New Zealand.
    United States and Canada
    Low-income families living in the USA can now access MEND thanks to the recently founded MEND Foundation. In Canada, MEND programmes have been commissioned in Alberta.

    The Middle East 
    We are currently looking for partners to make MEND available in the Middle East, focusing initially on the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states. 

    We hope that we have shed a little light on what Mini MEND is all about, and hope that you will join us on our 10 week journey as I hope to become a 'better eater'!


To study or not to study ...?!

Training for Dreams!


Back in the day, in the days before there were huge responsibilities, before long term relationships and definitely before the mere thought of Munchkin came about, there was another priority in my life. I went through Junior school wanting to be a teacher, and as I continued my education at secondary school, sat my GCSE's and opted to progress my qualifications through A'Levels, my ambition to teach continued to strengthen and flourish. 

I took a huge amount of inspiration from my Great Aunt, Auntie Pat, who was a Primary School Teacher throughout my childhood. I remember knowing from a very young age, as my brother and I spent many school holidays staying with her, that I wanted to be a teacher, just like her! Although, I will admit to still believing to this day that no amount of training could turn me into a teacher and role model as fantastic as she was!

As a result of spending entire evenings with my nose in a text book and head immersed in some Fictional or Classical setting, I achieved the grades that I needed to officially enrol at my chosen University to pursue my dream! 


September 1997, and my days as a London undergraduate began in Surrey, London. And in 2002, after some years full of memorable events (some good and some not so good) I finally graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Education Studies and English. It was a proud day for me and my family, and one that was the outcome of a great deal of hard work and perseverance. Every single bit of it well worth it!


Graduating from University allowed me to fulfil my goals and I went on to develop my dream of teaching. After some years of working within education and teaching some of the most amazing children I could ever hope to encounter, I can honestly say that there has not been a single day when I haven't been thankful that I had the opportunity to study towards my chosen vocation, and that I was lucky enough to complete my degree in London.


I lived in Halls of Residence for the first year of my course, which was the best decision I made. This was one of the best years of my life and I will always hold the fondest of memories from living in Old House Halls of Residence. A bonus for me was that I was close enough to travel back to my family home via public transport at weekends and holidays. It was the perfect set up. I was within a short train journey to Central London, which worked wonders for my social life! We were never short of something to do or somewhere to go, and by the end of my first year, I was a professional 'window shopper' from wondering up and down the busy streets of London, mentally spending money I never had! Living and studying this close to London was fantastic. Always full of adventure!
Now, I went to University straight from Sixth Form. I sat my A'Level exams at the school I had attended since Year 7, and therefore was lucky enough to have unlimited support during the application process into further education. They helped with choosing the right course, the right institution and with the entire application, as well as with our available options should our plans not work out as we'd hoped. Today, with more and more people entering further education later in life, after taking time out between school and University (for whatever reason), some would not have this solid framework of support and would need to seek help elsewhere. Thankfully, this help is available online, with various reviews, search sites and other forms of popular media which offer advice, information and tips on finding the right route for the individual. Choosing and applying to go to college in London needn't be a daunting or confusing experience at all, and for me, was one of the best choices I made in life.


Ok, so I may not be teaching in a professional capacity right now, although being mummy to Munchkin feels as though I am at the front of a classroom every day, but my BA (hons) Education Studies & English is something I will never lose and is something I have always intended to go back to. I am so pleased I had the chance and the support to select this route. The season for teenagers all over the country to sit examinations and eagerly await results is just around the corner, and many will decide after taking some time out from studying that they would like to enrol later on. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' decision for everyone, as further education is such a personal choice. But there is the support available for anyone needing advice on which path to take.



One day, I will be advising Munchkin on the path she would choose to take. Even then, it will be a decision she will have to make for herself. All I can hope to do is to share my own experiences with her and hope that she is as happy with her options as I was. My days as a 'Simmarian' at St Mary's University College in London will stay with me forever, as will the qualification I left there with. Maybe one day I will choose to further the education that I already have, and colleges in London will be at the very top of my list of institutions.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Kiddicare - Caring for your babies on a BIG scale!


Just before Christmas, we were invited to the opening of a brand new store in our local area. Kiddicare were launching their latest superstore at Lakeside, Thurrock, and we had the opportunity to spend part of the day there learning about and experiencing all of the wonderful features they have to offer to their customers. We were really looking forward to seeing the store inside, as living so close to it, we had driven past the store a number of times during the building stages, and it just looked huge! It really was starting to look like something Thurrock had never had before!


The store has its own car park at the front of the store, unlike other stores around Lakeside who share car parking. However, Kiddicare does essentially occupy its own retail park area, and stands alone rather than sharing one of the other parks. This may give a small indication as to its size! With its glass exterior displaying attractive and eye catching designs, no one can say the new superstore looks anything less than impressive at first sight!

Kiddicare Lakeside is the third of ten new superstores to open – it’s taken the mantle of Europe’s biggest baby store, boasting a whopping 50,000 square feet, away from their flagship store in Peterborough, which is quite a claim to fame! This immense space is home to 3,800 products, including more than 150 car seats and around 350 prams, buggies and pushchairs! One thing this new Kiddicare store offers, which is obvious the minute you walk through the doors, is everything for parents and families under one roof as the company claims to be all about offering great range, incredible value and brilliant service. This aim is achieved ... ten-fold! 

We were looking forward to meeting up with some fellow Mummy Bloggers and their families at the store. We were met at the front desk and shown to our reserved area in the Kiddicafé where we were really given the VIP treatment for the entirety of our stay. We chatted over refreshments whilst the kids enjoyed themselves in the Play Area. After catching up with everyone, we were given the tour of the store.


 To make the shopping experience easy, happy and above all fun, Kiddicare Lakeside offers a whole host of family-friendly features, including:

“Walk in the Park” buggy test track

Making 'Buggy Buying' really fun ... A dedicated track to race test all the wonderful models available! (and of course, Munchkin needed to try it out!)

A FREE dedicated Event Room for customers and the community


Kiddicare planned a lovely session for the little ones to have fun and games with Jo Jingles!

There were musical instruments and rhymes (and even Beastie Boo could join in!) ...



... And pom poms and dancing!!


Children’s play area


A safe, secure and fun area for the little ones to let go of some steam! Well ... shopping is a tough, intense experience you know!!

Free and fast customer WiFi

Touch-screen 'Browse & Order' points

These points allow you to browse the huge range of products available at Kiddicare and to order products that are out of stock, as well as ordering products for Home Delivery. They seem to make your whole shopping experience less stressful! Another brilliant idea!

Nursing Nest - a relaxed environment for quiet feeding and privacy

Kiddicare offer a private, peaceful area within the Kiddicafé allowing parents to feed their babies in a safe and quiet environment. As well as this, there are also facilities to prepare your baby's feed, whether you're little ones are going for a liquid or a solid lunch!

Spacious and healthy Kiddicafé


With a tasty, varied menu available, Kiddicare offers both hot and cold food, including a 'Pick & Mix' style lunchbox option for the kiddies which is designed to present a vast number of possible combinations - all of which contain 2 of the recommended '5-a-Day'. The café is bright and spacious and is the perfect place to relax and meet with friends. Best of all, they have incorporated Starbucks into their eatery! Ideal for that necessary caffeine reload during your shopping trip!

Baby Gift List, complimentary gift registry service


Expecting ...? Set up your 'Baby Gift List' in three easy steps:
1) Register in store or online
2) Choose the items you need and want for your new arrival
3) Share your list with friends and family

Simple!

V.I.B. (Very Important Baby) Free personal shopping service


Help and advice available from some of the most friendly staff ever! They are willing to help in any way they can, every step of the way with your decisions and purchases! And notice the Kiddi Cinema? Yet another little addition to avoid the moans of "can we go now, mummy?!"

Free car seat fitting and safety checking for all

Kiddicare offer a free car seat fitting service to all of their customers, as well as dedicated parking bays in the car park, close to the store entrance. At times, the store is expected to get very busy, as I can imagine it did over the Christmas period. However, instead of staff allowing a queue of customers to form at the desk in store, they have introduced a fantastic feature ...


Need your new car seat fitted? Simply enter your name and mobile telephone number into the touch-screen device at the desk and continue shopping. A member of staff will then call you as soon as a Kiddicare representative is available to assist you.

Pushchair Servicing

When you select and pay for your chosen pushchair at Kiddicare, the service and customer care does not end as you leave the store. Kiddicare have an on site 'Buggy Workshop' where they will service and repair your pushchair related faults*. Wonky wheels ...? No problem! (*Terms & conditions apply)

Mummy-and-Me toilet facilities (and Daddy-and-Me in the gents’ too)!


... including 'child height' sinks and hand dryers too ... speaks for itself really! They really have thought of everything!

From kiddy-size shopping trolleys, miniature doorways for miniature people and a 'try before you buy' area full of toys, as long as we shop at Kiddicare, I don't think Munchkin will ever call shopping 'boring' again! She and Emmy (Emmysmummy) had a wonderful time whizzing around the store with their trolleys. The store is so spacious though, they had plenty of space to do so without the worry of them knocking other shoppers flying!


Since our special Blogger Day at Kiddicare, Lakeside, I have visited the store again with Nanna Munchkin. We had to show her what the fuss was all about, and I think she was suitably impressed! All year round, Kiddicare advertises their "Lowest Prices Guaranteed!" and promise that they will not be beaten in price. Looking around at their prices before Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised at how much cheaper their prices were from those I had seen elsewhere. And we're talking cheaper prices for big brands too! Then, when I visited the store again this week, I was aware that they were running their Big Sale, with hundreds of items up to 80% off! Needless to say, we were browsing for some time! Another innovative feature that I feel I should mention here is their 'Price Tag System'. Instead of the conventional paper price tickets on the shelf edge, Kiddicare have implemented these ...


Every item has one of these either fixed to the shelf edge or hanging in a plastic pouch attached to the product itself. These digital displays show the item name / description, the price, the former price (if applicable) and the number of that item that are currently in stock. Fortunately, these are all controlled through Kiddicare HQ, meaning that the prices are always correct and up-to-date, prices can be altered centrally at the click of a button, staff working hours are not wasted on price checking and changing and, of course, there are not hundreds of wasted paper price tickets being lost, placed by the incorrect item or thrown away every time a price changes. Also, they are changed at the same time as the website, so if you see a price on the website, that is the price you will see in store. These seem to work really well.

An example of the bargains that are up for grabs right now at Kiddicare is the purchase I made for Beastie Boo ...

Kiddicouture Jump 'n' View - Pink Activity Centre

Currently reduced from £74.99 to £45.00!!

The staff were amazingly helpful and friendly and were all happy to help us out with our purchase. Most importantly, they were mainly interested in recommending the best product to suit our needs rather than the most expensive products in stock which made a lovely change! They even carried our new Activity Centre out to the car for us to make sure it fit in the boot ok. They had already told us if it didn't fit comfortably, they would arrange for it to be delivered to my home the next day, free of charge!

All in all, we are delighted that Kiddicare has brought their largest superstore to our doorstep! I know we will be visiting quite often, as we get great value, outstanding customer service and everything in one place. What more could you want?!



Why not take a look at Kiddicare's Big Sale for yourself on their website and search for your local Kiddicare store.
Also, be sure to keep up-to-date with all of their latest offers, promotions and competitions as well as news of upcoming products by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Swapping Foreign Flights for Beloved Britain!

As a child, the concept of travelling abroad in our Summer holidays was completely alien to me and my younger brother. The inside of an Airport Departure Lounge was something we would only see on the television and stories of faraway locations were told by school friends and often envied by us! However, I have to say that I don't remember a single School Summer Break that passed without a family holiday. The difference was, our holidays all took place in the UK. Escapes to Exmouth, drives to Dersingham and breaks on The Broads, all destinations that hold some of the best childhood memories that I have!


Therefore I am a huge believer in the idea that you do not need to travel thousands of miles across the globe to experience a remarkably lasting holiday. The British Holiday season is rapidly approaching, and many families are scouring the internet and getaway brochures in the search for the perfect family vacation resort. 


The tranquility of Scotland


Years ago, the mere thought of spending a fortnight in a small caravan with young children would be enough to force many parents to choose to stay home for the holidays. However, in recent years, we have seen the sizes and standards of caravans improve greatly, allowing them to comfortably accommodate families of all tastes and requirements. And what better way could there be to explore and enjoy the open road and the breathtaking scenery of the United Kingdom than taking advantage of the freedom of travelling at your chosen pace, to your chosen location in one of a huge variety of touring caravans that are widely available. Not to mention the beautifully scenic Caravan Sites that can be found around the country.


Family fun in Pembrokeshire

With family friendly facilities, packages to suit most and the flexibility to take your little 'holiday haven' around with you, I can understand why so many people are starting to substitute hotel resorts for caravan sites. You have the choice of a quiet relaxing break with peaceful scenery and tranquil surroundings or, if you would prefer, an action packed getaway with a variety of activities available in and around the extensive site choices throughout the country. And with 12,600 signed cycle routes around the UK, many of which are situated very close to these caravan parks, I know this is the kind of holiday I would have loved as a child. 

Caravan design has developed greatly over time!

For years, I have wanted to own a caravan or campervan of my own. The thought of being able to take off to a choice of locations around the country has always appealed to me greatly. And looking at how the design of the vans have developed over the years makes me realise exactly why! And now, being a mum with children of my own, I know how much I would love to experience this kind of holiday with my little growing family! 

Yes, foreign climates are still appealing and the apparent ease and convenience of booking into a hotel, with meals and excursions arranged can seem quite welcoming. However, the thought of enjoying an equally satisfying holiday without the stress of delayed flights, lost luggage and jet lag would encourage me to seriously consider owning and escaping in a touring caravan as an alternative!