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How to survive travelling with children

As the summer season approaches, we’ve started planning our holidays. We love to travel and explore new places. Our trips have not always been without incident though. I thought I’d share what we have learned (often the hard way) about travelling with children, so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes as us.

Travelling with children at the airport
  • Pack more spare clothes, nappies, wipes, etc in your hand luggage than you think you will need. Seriously. It just isn’t worth having to take your child off a plane dressed only in their pants, or worse.
  • If you’ve got a long connection between flights, check out the airport’s website beforehand for facilities. For a long stopover in Frankfurt, we researched beforehand and found there was a large play area. This kept the boys entertained for a good long while.
  • Take snacks with you, bagged up in batches – some for the airport, some for the flight, some for trains, buses, taxis etc after you arrive.
  • If you’re travelling with very little ones and need to take milk or formula with you, check the security rules for the airport(s). These can differ. Some airports they will want you to test the milk/formula. In these cases it’s a good idea to take a spare container so that you can pour the liquid over to that to taste it and avoid contaminating the bottle you’ll be giving to your little one.
  • Explain to your children beforehand that you might need to queue a lot at the airport. Although sometimes a wailing toddler can get you and your family moved to the front of the queue pronto – thanks E!

An English Mamma in Stockholm: travelling with children asleep in car airport travel trunkis

 

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Insta moments

See those blue skies? The weather did slowly get better for us, brightening up our Instagram moments. And luckily, it was on the day that we visited Bourton-on-the-Water, which has to be one of the prettiest villages you could imagine.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water lanes cotswolds

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water house cotswolds

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water lanes cotswolds cottages

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water cotswolds sweet candy shop

It also calls itself the Venice of the Cotswolds, which made us laugh as Stockholm is often referred to as the Venice of the North. “Now we’ve been to these two, do we need to bother with the real Venice…?”

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water cotswolds bridges

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water cotswolds secret garden

After a cream tea and just when the boys we were antsy, we discovered this Mini outside the Cotswold Motoring Museum.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water cotswolds hedge mini

And Brum. The boys have never seen the programme but were quite happy to pose next to him. And also again inside the museum, which was small and charming and had fun activities for children. If you have car-obsessed children, it is a super way to while away an hour or so.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bourton on the water cotswolds motoring museum brum

We had arrived in Bourton early at around 10am on Sunday. By the time we left the museum at lunch time, the village was packed, swarming with tourists. If you’re go to visit, I recommend going early before the hordes descend from their tourist buses.

After Bourton, we visited Cheltenham. We found some parking that seemed pretty reasonably priced, which surprised us. But the town also did too. All we could find was the standard high street fare and all we wanted was a good lunch spot. Just when we were going to give up, we turned a corner and found the main part of the town.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cheltenham cotswolds white house

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cheltenham georgian terrace cotswolds

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cheltenham cotswolds exterior design architecture mosaic tiles

The next day I took a total of zero pictures since we stopped at Bicester Village for a spot of shopping on our way home. We finished off with food at Farmshop, a restaurant from Soho House. My all day egg dish was superb and the boys enjoyed their kids’ dishes (with massive servings of the best chips – sadly, they could only eat a few and we had to finish those off).

I accidentally managed to buy a Michael Kors bag, but the leather was so soft and smelled so good and light grey is a good neutral colour to match with and it was perfect for our trip to London and… and…

So, next stop, London.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos

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Insta moments

We have been away in the UK (as you might have seen on Instagram and Twitter) for a couple of weeks, first at a family wedding in Wales and then in the Cotswolds, Sussex and Surrey, with a quick visit to London. Apparently, we believe in packing in as much as we can on our holidays.

There were many, many Instagram moments though.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: little boys at a wedding

This photo, that I took during the wedding dinner, just about sums E up – all dressed up but running around and insisting on doing so while holding a cuddly toy. Sometimes we find that he has climbed out of bed and collected more from the shelf, so that his bed is full of them when he go in to wake him.

He told us a few weeks ago that his favourite colours are “Pink and orange and glitter”.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: little boy climbing

And this photo sums up O perfectly. He climbs everything. All the time. (And as you can imagine, there was an incident later on in the evening when climbing this pole. Ouch.)

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments st donats atlantic college wales boy

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments st donats atlantic college wales

The day after the wedding we walked along the coast and visited Atlantic College at St Donat’s, my step-dad’s alma mater. I’d visited St Donat’s before as a child but had clearly forgotten just how beautiful it is.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments st fagans shop packaging

Another spot that I had visited in my childhood was St Fagans museum. But this was one that I had remembered. It’s a brilliant open air museum (along much the same lines as Stockholm’s Skansen) with houses and shops to wander around in. The shop with all the shelves of products from the period was among my favourites, as well as the terrace of six houses, depicting daily life from 1805 to 1985.

In the middle of our Wales trip, I had to leave the rest of the family behind to take the train up to North Yorkshire. While the circumstances were sad, it did mean that on this holiday I was able to see all of my cousins from both sides of the family – to look for the silver lining.

That side of my family are based in Harrogate. And Harrogate is famous for Betty’s Tea Room. And no trip to Betty’s is complete without picking up a cake or two (or three, or four…).

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bettys tea room harrogate cakes biscuits macaroons

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bettys tea room harrogate cakes biscuits

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments bettys tea room harrogate exterior

Back in Wales, we celebrated my birthday with a pub lunch (hello, Ploughman’s) and a beach walk.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments glamorgan wales nash point beach family

It was a little breezy, as you can see.

After Wales, it was time to travel on to the Cotswolds. We were based at Cotswold Water Park in a holiday rental there. The lakes are close to Cirencester, so we pottered around the town one afternoon.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cirencester lanes cotswolds

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cirencester church ceiling stone carving cotswolds

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments cirencester green studded door cotswolds

I can also highly recommend Chedworth Roman Villa, close by. The boy enjoyed the gladiator enactment on the day we visited and O was particularly keen on being able to battle Husband with a sword (aka a shortened pool noodle). We also learned fascinating new facts about gladiators and making crayon rubbings of reconstructed mosaic floors.

You can see that we didn’t exactly have the best of British weather for the first week of our trip. In fact, I’d say we had pretty typical British summer weather: cold, wet, windy days of grey skies. However, the weather did start to improve after that. I’ll leave you in anticipation of that.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos

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Oasis reversible shopper: double the fun

You know that adage “If you love something, buy it twice”? That is an actual motto, isn’t it? Well, it should be, and especially when it applies to this Oasis reversible shopper.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: oasis reversible shopper

I bought this shopper a month or so ago in this beige/bright yellowy-green and have been getting my money’s worth from it. It’s bright and spring-like and is perfect for perking up both an outfit and my mood (the weather has been terrible, with the country recording the wettest May in 200 years).

The Oasis reversible shopper includes an inner bag, in the bright yellowy-green in this case, as well as a small purse on a strap that can be clipped on either to the shopper or the inner bag.

At the time I had umm-ed and ahh-ed over whether to buy this colour or the beige/bright pink version. In the end, I think I made the better choice. But the idea of a pink one lingered on.

Roll on a month or so, to last week, and I popped into the Oasis store here in the city on my lunch break and what did I find? A beige/light dusky pink version. And add a 20% off discount for everything in store that day: perfect.

I know that I am going to get so much use out of this shopper on summer holidays too. You can throw so much in it, and by using the inner bag can keep purses, phones, keys etc away from swimming costumes, towels and all of the other summer paraphernalia that you tend to throw into your bag on a day out. I think too that this could make a good nappy/diaper bag if you don’t need too many different compartments and pockets.

Verdict: the Oasis reversible shopper is an all-round brilliant summer bag. So good that I had to buy it twice.

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Creative Market

My recent discovery of Creative Market has actually coincided with the site reaching its 1,000,000th member, although I cannot claim any credit for this success, other than telling people about the site. The site is a brilliant one-stop-shop for photos, website templates, fonts and blog themes. I’ve used it for both fonts and photos for this blog and I’ve also downloaded a fantastic CV template to use.

An added bonus with Creative Market is that you can download six items for free each week. And there are some brilliant things among those six and some fantastic ones that cost very little. All in all, I’m so impressed with the site and just a bit sad that I have not discovered it before. What a resource.

As part of the celebration of their millionth member, you can get 15% off your next purchase by sharing about the site – just like I’m doing here.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: creative market million users

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Insta moments

Instagram certainly has a knack for making things look that little bit better than they are. I love that it can even make people running in the rain look like peaceful and calming as I learned this week.

Instagram moments this week

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments stockholm marathon rye bread den building

We spent the weekend hanging out at home, watching the Stockholm Marathon in the rain (and feeling so sorry for the runners in that weather) and building dens – a pretty productive time, really. A trip into the city centre also coincided with a vintage car rally. E was fascinated by each and every car that drove past and could have spent hours watching them.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments vintage car rally stockholm

If you’d like to see more of what we’ve been up, hop on over to Instagram and take a look. See you there!

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos

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Training Tuesday

You know those weeks when you know that you should train, but life just gets in the way? Well, that was why there was no Training Tuesday last week. I don’t really have any excuses why I didn’t train; but suddenly, it was Monday again and time for my hour with D, my trainer, and I had done nothing, nowt, nada for a week.

Incredibly, despite that, I managed a good session: five separate pull-ups between rounds of thrusters, which was a record. And I even managed to get up to 33kg with my barbell thrusters – a personal best. I had been so worried that I would struggle after a week without training, but it turned out fine. But I was determined not to let the same thing happen this past week. These Training Tuesday posts are where I hold myself accountable, so I need to actually have something to wrote about…

Sunday: I managed a shortened Bikini Body Guide session. I would have liked to do more but the boys were getting twitchy and I was struggling hard with the exercises. I think this is where the lack of training for a week hit me.

Monday: I didn’t have my weekly PT session, so instead I popped to the work gym and did a round of five pull-ups with rests of 15-20 secs in between, ran for a while (3x 5 mins at 12kph and 1x 3 mins at 12kph) and then another round with five pull-ups. I couldn’t believe that I managed a total of ten pull-ups. And I realised that when I train with D on Mondays, I’m at CrossFit Nordic and everyone else there can easily rock the pull-ups. At the work gym, I’m in the minority. And that’s the kind of push that I need. A terrible kind of competitiveness, but if it means I push myself more, then I guess you can say that it works. I’ve also signed up for a 30-day ab challenge on Facebook. So when I got home, I did day 1 of that, even though my glutes were so sore from the running and the BBG the day before. I upped the plank from 10 secs to 20 secs, as I often do a plank during training session.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday quantum online personal urban physique 30 day ab challenge

Tuesday: Day 2 of the ab challenge. Again I upped the plank, from 12 secs to 20 secs again.

Training Tuesday goals

My plan for the next seven days is to go training early tomorrow morning before work and do a bit of weight training. I have my PT session on Thursday this week instead, so I’ll take Wednesday as my rest day. At the weekend, I want to get in one home session – probably BBG again. Then on Monday next week I have my regular PT session with D again. I’ll be interested to see, if we do barbell thrusters, what weight I can do. Thanks to all those pull-ups and the running, I am feeling pretty strong at the moment.

What are your fitness goals for the week?

An English Mamma in Stockholm: training tuesday fitness workouts gym exercise

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Save the Children’s Den Day

When you think about it, £5 isn’t really much, is it? And neither is £20 when it comes down to it. With £5, Save the Children can give five books to refugee children, and with £20, they can provide a month’s worth of healthy, nutritious food for a child. And a donation of just £33 could give a family five sheets of tarpaulin to build a shelter. Even now, in the 21st century, millions of children around the world don’t have proper homes to live or shelter to protect them.

Save the Children’s Den Day aims to highlight this. The idea is that over the next few days (until 6 June), you can raise money by building a den. The site features some great fundraising ideas.

We decided to use O’s bed to build our den. He’s just graduated from the toddler bed of the Rocky, to the normal bed, without a guard rail. And the brilliant part is that there is now a cubby hole under the bed. Perfect for building a den.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day

We furnished the den with a foam mat as a “carpet” and then used a blanket to make a bed/sofa and finished off with an old Ikea floor mat, tucked in, to make a door.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day bed

O even let his brother have a turn inside the den.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: save the children's den day inside

After we had built the den, we talked a bit about how some children don’t have homes to live in and what we could do to help them. Clearly, giving money isn’t a concept that they are aware of just yet, but they did think that maybe other children would like the toys that they no longer play with. We would usually sneak these out to Myrorna under cover of darkness but it might now be time for the boys to be involved with this.

If you would like to build a den and raise some money for Save the Children, you can sign up here or simply donate here. You can share your dens using the #denday hashtag. I’d love to see what you come up with.

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Insta moments

This has been the year that Instagram has taken off and, coincidentally, also the year that I’ve been much better at recording our comings and goings there. More and more people I know are now on Instagram and it’s a friendly community of beautiful shots (even if artificially so). I like the simplicity and look of the app so much, especially with all the new filters recently (seriously, I barely scroll much past the first seven or eight now, I love them so much). So I’ve managed to create some good Instagram moments for us to look back on.

Instagram moments this week

This past week we’ve been struggling a bit with the boys’ sleep. The evenings are so light these days that they simply don’t want to sleep, but since it’s light early in the morning, they wake early too. And some days it is just too much to stay awake…

An English Mamma in Stockholm: sleepy sleeping boy crafting plusplus bricks flowers dancing boys

O has discovered crafting and creating, which is wonderful. A few weeks ago he made a volcano from coloured paper, complete with spurting lava. And the other day, he sat with PlusPlus bricks for about half an hour before producing this flower. He was so proud of it.

The weekend was busy: during the day on Saturday, the boys and I headed into the city to see the cars ahead of the start of Gumball3000 the next day. They entertained me greatly by dancing to an old 1990s’ dance classic that I used to love.

The evening was even better as Husband and I headed out to dinner to celebrate our sixth wedding anniversary. We rolled home a little bit tipsy at midnight and then stayed up to watch the Eurovision Song Contest. Heja Måns!

An English Mamma in Stockholm: sixth wedding anniversary shoes date night restaurant dinner

The following day, between football sessions, we headed back into the city and took a walk along the waterfront of Gamla Stan. I love everything about Gamla Stan (if you avoid the main street), so much so that I created a Steller story about it. And this time we saw a three-masted Russian sailing ship docked there.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: insta moments ship boat ferry bunny ears instagram collage

And the past few days have been filled with sunshine and a garden party at the preschool and, most importantly, the promise of summer.

An English Mamma in Stockholm: instagram moments insta photos