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Top 5 Things To Do In Menorca With Kids

Today I have a guest post from the lovely Marie from Tummy 2 Mummy  Marie writes about honest mothering, lifestyle and family travel.

Menorca is a great choice when travelling with families - short flight times, a great selection of food and lots of entertainment for young children. Everyone we met was so friendly – and their English was a thousand times better than my limited Spanish. I wanted to put together a list of places to visit, especially with children.

Son Bou Beach 

One of the reasons I chose to stay in Son Bou was the fantastic things I had heard about the beach there. It didn’t disappoint - It really is a lovely relaxing beach. It’s much quieter than some of the busier beaches in Menorca and the turquoise sea is crystal clear. There are ramps leading all the way down to the beach which makes it really accessible. The sand is white and the water is crystal clear. There are some family friendly bars and restaurants if you want a break from the scorching sunshine, not to mention the quarry next to the beach with a lake and hundreds of ducks – yes ducks! I’m so glad I followed the recommendations I did, as I really enjoyed it.

Menorca Zoo

The only zoo in Menorca where you can find a wide range of native species from the island and exotic animals all over the world. They are committed to different environmental conservation and enrichment programmes in order to guarantee a better quality of life for the animals. The animals that live there have been saved from European rescue centres. This is a great day out with family and the facilities have been built and improved day after day in order to bring you as close as possible to the animals without interfering with their lifestyle and keeping their habitats as natural as possible. You can go into the lemurs' forest (and shade from the sunshine). You can also feed the goats and wander through the kangaroos. There’s also a picnic area and a playground, which is great when travelling with children. It also makes a nice change if you have spent lots of time around the pool or on the beach.

Mahon Port 

Mahon is the capital city of Menorca, and the Port is where all the boats come in and out of. Visually it is stunning – The pictures almost don’t do it justice as it’s so scenic. With the huge houses in the hills and the beautiful boats glistening on the water, it really is a must see. A short (but fairly steep) walk up the hill took us to the old town. This was full of quaint streets, museums, dainty shops and lots of little restaurants. Jasmine decided to take a sleep during this point so we had some food and wine in the square. We took a stroll around the market and she woke up right by the play park.

Jeep Safari Menorca

If you think that Menorca is just a small island in the Mediterranean with astonishing beaches, surrounded by breath-taking transparent blue sea you will be impressed by this excursion. An experienced guide will take you to some of the most stunning and exclusive locations via private rural tracks. You will be able to enjoy so outstanding scenery and learn about the history and culture of the island. You will have the chance to pet Menorcan horses and enjoy the landscapes. You spend the day travelling on board a 4x4 vehicle which will take you on a trip to discover some of Menorca's hidden treasures. This is best for older children/teenagers.

Fort Malborough 

The fort stands on the southern side of the entrance to Maó harbour, in the cove Cala de Sant Esteve, and was built by the British between 1720 and 1726. It owes its name to Sir John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough, the most prominent British General of the time. Together with Sant Felip Castle and the Stuart Tower, or En Penjat Tower, its role was to protect the entrance to the port of Maó. In 1782 the fort was partially destroyed by the Spanish and had to be rebuilt, with a few modifications, during the last period of British rule (1798-1802). This is steeped in history and has an area to wander around. You can explore here in all weathers due to all the buildings if you need to shelter from the sun (or rain). It's definitely a hidden gem.

So as you can see there are lots of things to do in Menorca for families. Let me know - have you been to Menorca?

7 Things You Need To Know About Travel To The USA

We love visiting the USA but although the culture is very similar in lots of ways to the UK, there are also differences that you need to be prepared for. So here are 7 things you need to know about travel to the USA so you can be best prepared for your trip.

Travel insurance is essential 
The USA is a vast country

Travel insurance is so important and especially so in the USA. Unlike the UK they do not have a free public medical system like the NHS. Medical bills are very high in the USA so getting insurance with medical cover is super important. Don't skimp on this or you could be hit with a bill running into thousands of pounds for something simple. It's recommended that you get a minimum of 10 million dollars worth of medical coverage per person. So buy the best travel insurance you can afford.

You need an ESTA or a VISA

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. You can apply for the ESTA yourself through the official website above, which we have done a number of times, however, if you are unsure about the process and how to do it, you can apply for your ESTA application here. This company e-visa.co.uk will help you complete it for a fee and will double check your application.  If you fill out your ESTA wrongly you could be denied entry and have to get a VISA which is a lengthier process. 

It's expected to tip everywhere

Don't forget to tip your waitress 

Tipping is part of American culture. In the USA a 15 to 20% tip is expected in restaurants. Waiting staff are paid a very low wage, typically under $3 an hour so you should always tip unless the service was bad. If this is the case then make a point of talking to the manager if you are not going to tip. Tipping is worked out on the pre-tax price of the meal. Other people to tip include maids, (2-$5 a night) taxi drivers (15 to 20%) and bartenders (1-2$ a drink).

Taxes are added onto the price you see

The price you see is never the price you pay. Local and state taxes are added on often bumping the price up by another 10% in stores and hotels. Resort fees are also something to consider in bigger hotels and resorts in places such as Las Vegas and Florida. These can be as much as 50 dollars per room per day. There is usually no way of getting out of these fees which the hotels say are for phone calls, Wi-Fi, bottled water and use of the pool, for example.  However if you do have any issues in the hotel, be sure to complain and you may have these fees waived

Gas is super cheap
Vintage Gas Station on Route 66

We like road trips. In fact, we've just completed a Route 66 road trip, driving over 2400 miles from Chicago Illinois to Los Angeles California and one thing we realised is that gas or petrol as we call it in the UK is super cheap. In fact, I would say it's half of the cost. This makes the USA perfect to explore on a road trip. So why not plan a trip on the Pacific Coast Highway or another USA road trip? A tip with getting gas is that most petrol station pumps don't accept UK credit or debit cards, so you may have to go into the gas station, present your credit card and get a prepay amount first, say $30 before you can fill up. If you don't use this amount they will refund the difference.

Public transport isn't always the best

In cities, you will have access to the public transport system such as trains, buses and subways. In fact, public transport in major cities like New York,  Chicago and Washington DC is excellent, however, in the smaller towns and cities, public transport isn't so good. People also do not seem to walk anywhere in the US due to the vast distances involved.  We have found, outside of the major cities there are few sidewalks, and the car is king, so remember that if you are planning a trip to the USA. A hire car is highly recommended if you are going anywhere out of a city.

Drinking and gun laws are weird 
Gun laws are weird

You need to be 21 to drink but in many states, there is no minimum official age to shoot a gun in a gun range. Go figure! Some gun ranges will, however, impose a minimum age such as 13, and will always ask you to supervise your child. Regarding alcohol. if you look under the age of 40, yes 40, you may be asked for ID when buying alcohol. Generally drinking in the street is not allowed by law, with some exceptions, such as in New Orleans and Key West, and there are even counties in certain states that are official 'dry', where alcohol is prohibited or restricted. I always remember going to the Jack Daniels Distillery in Tennesse and not being allowed to drink alcohol, although this has now changed.

So these are 7 things you need to know about travel to the USA. For up to date information on travel to the USA always check out the foreign travel advice from your local government website.

Let me know, have you been to the USA? What do you think about these essential tips?

3 Top Tourist Attractions To See Outside Of London

London is fun and exciting, but it certainly isn’t home to everything that the south of England has to offer. After all, last year visitor numbers dropped at the capital’s top tourist attractions, as people turn their attention elsewhere. With the extortionate cost of parking, the price of the congestion charge and the high cost of accommodation, London can be a pricey place to spend a few days, so why not explore further afield? There are great rail connections throughout the south of England, leading to other interesting towns and cities that have a wealth of exciting tourist attractions. So here’re the top tourist attractions to see outside of London, in the south of England.

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier is easily accessible, with the impressive Thameslink railway line providing speedy transport from Gatwick airport to Brighton in good time. Sun, sea and a range of fun rides are the order of the day here, as well as plenty of fresh air that’s free of urban pollution. Brighton Pier attracts many visitors simply because there are so many different things to get up to and most are family friendly.

If you are not afraid to be scared, it also has the infamous Horror Hotel. Here visitors can explore eerie hotel rooms and shadowy hallways, all culminating in a series of scares and thrills. Whether you’re looking for laughs or screams, Brighton Pier is more than capable of meeting the challenge head-on. When you are finished with the fun of the pier, go shopping in Brighton's many independent shops, or visit the magnificent Brighton Pavilion. Brighton makes a great day out for all.

University of Cambridge

You don’t need to be super smart and enrol to visit one of Britain’s best and famous universities. Fortunately, Cambridge is also accessible on the Thameslink line, and once you’ve arrived you can tour the institution where the likes of Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, and Stephen Hawking all refined their intellectual brilliance.

There’re numerous opportunities to appreciate the history and architecture of the place too and be mesmerised by all the things that have transpired at the university. Additionally, you can even tour around with current graduates, who’ll give some insight into what it’s like to study there. It’s not an obvious choice, but still, it’s not every day that you can snoop around one of the world’s most prestigious universities! Don't forget to explore this university town too. Perhaps go punting on one of the canals, visit the first rate Fitzwilliam Museum or stroll around the botanic gardens.

Windsor Castle

London is admittedly great for the tourist who wants to see all the royal-related landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, and the Tower of London, but go further afield and you will find another place full of Royal history.

Windsor Castle is located a short train ride outside of London, and it’s the largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century, it's worth going on a guided tour of the luxury state apartments here as well as visiting St. George’s Chapel, which is located inside its walls. Check out the extravagant art collections, see the moat room and experience the Changing Of The Guard, all without visiting London. Windsor Castle is a world-class attraction and one of the south of England's best.

So here are three top tourist attractions to see outside of London. Let me know have you been to any of these?


10 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Hacks

I think we are all becoming more environmentally conscious, I know I am as I get older. So if you want to get away from the beach and embrace a cleaning regime that is better for the environment then check out these eco-friendly cleaning hacks brought to you in conjunction with Pattersons, a company that offers household and commercial eco-cleaning products.

1. In a microwave put a cupful of cold water and half a lemon. Microwave for two minutes until the water heats up. Leave in the microwave for five minutes, remove the cup and then wipe the inside with a damp cloth. The steam will loosen any grime and the lemon will make it smell nice.

2. Lemon can also work wonders on your cutting board too. To remove stains cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the surface. Leave to stand for 20 minutes and then rinse. The result is a stain free board that smells fresh and should eradicate any garlic or onion smells.

3. To remove coffee stains in china cups, make up a mixture of half salt and half vinegar. Use this with a soft cloth to scrub the inside of the cups to remove all the stains in no time.

4. To clean your oven, firstly wipe over when cool with a cloth to get rid of any loose particles, then sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda all over the burnt on grime. Next, get some white vinegar and sprinkle all over the baking soda. The vinegar will react with a baking soda like magic, and fizz up to clean off the burnt on food. Wipe off with a clean cloth.

5. To freshen up a carpet, sprinkle liberally with bicarbonate of soda and leave overnight. The next morning vacuum up and your carpet should smell fresher and look much cleaner.

6. To clean blinds, make a mixture of half vinegar and half water. Wrap a clean sock around your hand and dip in the mixture, then wipe over the blinds to clean.

7. To clean a showerhead, fill a plastic bag with white vinegar. Then immerse the shower head in the bag so it is covered. Leave overnight, then rinse. Any hard water marks and mould should be removed.

8. Clean drains by pouring vinegar down them, leaving for 30 minutes then rinse with water.

9. To remove crayon marks from white walls, make a mixture of bicarbonate of soda paste with equals parts of baking soda and water then apply to the walls with a soft cloth gently. The marks should come off easily, just be careful if your walls are not painted white as this is gently abrasive.

10. To clean your metal taps, work in a small amount of toothpaste, then get a soft cloth and buff dry. The taps should sparkle.

So these are my top 10 natural cleaning tips. With a handful of natural substances like lemons, bicarbonate of soda, vinegar and toothpaste you can have a cleaner and healthier home.

Check out this infographic below for more eco-friendly cleaning hacks.

*Collaborative post

How To Use Tech Positively

Today, whether you walk down the streets, get on a train or glance around a restaurant you see people engrossed in their screens. It's true to say, we are using mobile phones and tablets on the go more than ever and they are getting a pretty bad reputation. Nearly all of us have a smartphone and we automatically pay our mobile phone bill every month, but do we value what it does for us? Is technology really that bad? In truth, we need to cut tech some slack, because technology is more amazing than people make out. Here are a few reasons why we should embrace not hate modern technology.

Music And Technology Soothes Your Soul

Poor mental health is such a huge talking point at the moment and technology is often said to be hindering not helping people. However, technology can provide you with a number of mood-lifting benefits that aren’t often acknowledged. For example, you should never underestimate the power of turning on your laptop and blasting out some feel-good music.  
You can learn meditation online or via an app, learn relaxation techniques or simple yoga via YouTube, listen to relaxation rainfall or waves to help you sleep or find out the best ways to deal with anxiety from mental health sites. If you find using social media and comparing yourself to others is not helping your mental health, however, be sure to have a break from it, go out for a walk and take yourself away from the situation.

Solving Your Problems

The power of the internet is that it can also solve your problems too.  If you search for Mac sound not working you can find an easy fix and if your iPhone is being glitchy, a quick Google will usually solve the problem. If you want to know how to change the oil in your car, make the best birthday cake at the fraction of the price of a bought one or find the cheapest city break from your local airport flying next week, the internet is your friend.

Dear Diary

You can use technology to start a blog and use this as a platform to express your emotions. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a public blog either. Many people invest in a private domain name and use this platform to store memories, perhaps travel diaries, and note down their feelings on a regular basis as this can be cathartic.

Never Lose Touch

It would be much more difficult to stay in touch with your distant friends and family if you didn’t have social media and technology. Admittedly, most of us take it for granted that you can pick up a phone and FaceTime a friend in another country, or connect with them on Facebook or Skype. Without technology, this kind of connectivity would be impossible.

Keep Learning

The internet is home to a whole wealth of knowledge that almost anybody can access. If you have a question, Google will always be there to enhance your knowledge and give you an additional learning platform. Of course, it is important to filter out the nonsense that is put out on the internet, but it is still a valuable tool that many of us take for granted. The rise of online courses can also mean that the internet can open a whole new area of education for some, with a qualification at the end of it too, all completed from the comfort of your home.

Capture Memories

Technology gives us the ability to remember those special events in our lives. There are so many amazing apps out there that can help you take your photography skills to the next level. Without our iPhones and digital cameras, it wouldn’t be as easy to snap those cute and candid moments with our friends and family.

The possibilities of technology are truly endless, from uplifting your mood to keeping in touch with distant friends. Although the scope of technology is pretty overwhelming, we need to remember the amazing things it can do for us in our everyday lives. Just be sure to take a break from it on a regular basis, and don't let it rule you. Technology is amazing, use it positively and it can really enhance your life

*Collaborative post

Ways The Groom Can Help Out With The Wedding Planning

Planning a wedding can be very stressful and although there are many would be grooms that help out, often the majority of planning is done by the bride. This, however, need not be the case. Maybe your partner doesn't know what you want him to do. Maybe he is overwhelmed too. So sit down, make a plan and discuss how you can both take responsibility for the best wedding ever. If you can coordinate from the word go, support each other and be each other’s strength then the stress will be halved and you will have a more relaxed and fun wedding.

1. Let him deal with the ushers

You have enough on your plate dealing with the bridesmaids and your family so let him deal with the best man and the ushers or groomsmen. Talk to your partner about colour schemes and suit designs and let him organise the suit fitting for the groomsmen. He also needs to speak to the ushers and organise them so they know what their role is. Another thing a groom has to do is pick the best man.  A best man traditionally organises the stag do, so pick someone who means a lot but is also a good organiser. 

2. Allow him to coordinate his family

Let him deal with his side of the family. He should be in a position to advise you on what his mother’s style and tastes are and give you an insight into the style and colour of the mother of the groom dresses that she is choosing from. Gone are the days where both mothers had to wear matching clothes, however, there are some simple guidelines that should be followed like not wearing white. Sites such as JJ’s House have a range of wedding fashions for both the mother of the groom and the bride's mother. Encourage both mothers to speak to each other so they don't pick the same design and that the colours of their outfits do not clash with the bridesmaids.

3. Get him involved with the budget

If you are splitting the cost of the wedding then it's only fair that he should be involved with the budget too. You can both keep an eye on the costs then. Weddings are expensive and small things can add up. If he realises the cost of things then he (hopefully) won't go mad on the stag do! Maybe there are some areas that he feels strongly about, like having a classic car so if it's in your budget make sure he has a say too. After all, marriages are all about compromise and planning a wedding is all about compromise too.

4. Let him plan the honeymoon

If you want a surprise why not let him plan the honeymoon. It will take the pressure off you trying to plan another aspect of the wedding. Traditionally, the honeymoon destination was entirely the choice of the groom, but things have changed. Tell him your honeymoon destination desires as well as your wishes; you can even tell him of the exact destination you intend to visit. After that, you can pass the mantle to him where he will deal with the logistics and all the payments for your honeymoon. It will be one less thing to worry about in the wedding planning.