Another great holiday at Levante Beach Resort – Mark Warner

I never thought I’d be the type of person to return to the exact same holiday destination year on year, but I can honestly say I hope with all my heart that we have many more family holidays at Levante Beach Resort.

The resort itself is spotlessly clean and beautifully laid out with  great restaurants, wonderful staff and all the facilities you could hope for. We fully intended to spend a day off the resort this year and visit Rhodes Town and Lindos, but just couldn’t fit it in, there was just too much we wanted to experience on site.

The journey to Rhodes was very smooth and stress free, which isn’t something I often say when travelling with three children. I think it was easier for all of us knowing what to expect this time. As soon as we arrived the children burned off some energy in the pool while I unpacked. It was almost like returning home, the resort felt so familiar and a very natural place for us to be.

Mark Warner Levante

One of my main concerns this year was Sydney moving up to Junior Club, after being in Mini Club last year. She is quite young and little for her age as well as being very pale skinned so I was worried how she’d cope with the extra activities and concerned about keeping her safe in the hot sun. She was also a little nervous about the move and being away from her sister who was still in Mini Club. I explained my worries to the lovely Sophie who was in charge of Juniors that week, who reassured me and promised to be extra vigilant with sun cream and hats ( The Mark Warner Staff in my experience are all very careful anyway ). I needn’t have worried, Sydney left the first session with a brand new best friend and couldn’t wait to go back in the afternoon! She enjoyed every single activity and they tried a LOT!

Zak, also in Junior Club had an amazing week too. Kids Club for him is fantastic as it means he gets a bit of a break from his sometimes annoying sisters and it gives him a bit of independence from me. It was lovely to see how much more self assured he was than last year, he made friends instantly and actually led the little show they do at the end of the week. I genuinely think the experience of kids club last year has given him much more confidence in new situations both at home and on holiday.

In the week we spent at Levante, Junior Club tried windsurfing, sailing, snorkelling, swimming, pool games, tennis, football and much more. They really did have the best time.

kids windsurfing

Hannah also had a great week in Mini Club, especially enjoying the swimming and windsurfing. It was a real treat for us to spend some one on one time with her in the afternoons when Zak and Sydney were in Junior Club which we tried to make special with a Parent and Child Sail ( for an extra cost of 20 euros ). We also took her out in a kayak and tried windsurfing together. You can take out water sports equipment free of charge at any time as long as it’s not too windy. The waterfront staff are brilliant and always on hand to give advice or a helping hand. I accidentally took out a too short paddle one day with a SUP board and someone must have spotted I was struggling as they came out in a speedboat with a correctly sized one! Isn’t that amazing??

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Zak loved trying scuba diving in the main pool with Depth, a company who run the diving activities at Levante. You can read more about diving with Depth in my post from last year. Depth also run a half day snorkelling trip for 50 euros a person which Rob and Zak enjoyed so much last year they went again this year.

child scuba diving

SUP boarding is my new favourite thing to do, and I spent many a happy hour paddling along by myself. It was just the most calming, peaceful activity I’ve ever experienced, I absolutely loved it. A huge highlight of the whole holiday was the sunrise SUP stretch, this took place at 6.30am but was totally worth the early start. We paddled out in a group of 10 with the instructor and tied our boards together before stretching and then lying on the board for a rest. Lying on a paddle board with my eyes shut was just the most amazing experience. It was also completely safe as we had a safety boat nearby watching us.

Greek Sunrise

Another highlight was the Kayak Safari, this was an extra 10 euros each and took about 2.5 hours, so plenty of time to get back to pick up the kids from childcare. We paddled out around the headland, then stopped for a quick drink at a cafe before paddling back. We were a bit unlucky that it was exceptionally windy the day of our safari, but it actually felt like such an amazing achievement to complete the journey in such tough conditions. I’d definitely recommend both the safari and then SUP stretch.

All in all, we had a brilliant family holiday at Levante, I really can’t recommend the resort and Mark Warner enough.

Read my full review of Mark Warner Levante Beach Resort here.

I’m really pleased to be able to offer my readers £50pp discount on all Summer 15 and 16 bookings made by 27th July. Just use the code EmmaBlog50.

Not valid for free child place and can’t be offered in retrospect.

More great posts about Rhodes

The Acropolis of Lindos

Rhodes Old Town

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The most amazing wedding

I generally very proud of my children, they are ( mostly ) polite and kind, at least to other people, and well behaved when they need to be. A couple of weekends ago they were Flower Girls and Ring Bearer for their Uncle and were all just amazing. Zak performed his role confidently and very seriously while the girls were just the right mix of cute and mischievous. I was a super proud parent, and am so happy they got to experience such a magical day.

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Gorgeous little girls.

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Someone got a bit bored during the ceremony…

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Sydney doesn’t let a dress stop her practising gymnastics.

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Gorgeous Kaftans for Little ones ( and bigger ones )

Tortue de Mer offer a beautiful collection of lightweight summer clothes, including kaftans, Indian tunics, sarouel trousers and harem pants. The range is handmade 100% cotton voile and perfect for Summer days either on holiday or lounging around at home.

We love these gorgeous kids kaftans which are just perfect for use as a beach cover up as well as being super comfortable and easy to pack, wash and dry. I’m so pleased with the quality of these, they wash beautifully and the girls love wearing them. They also arrive beautifully packed, unfortunately my girls had them unpacked and tried on before I could get a good photo.

Kids kaftans

 

The Tortue de Mer range is available in up to 25 colours, including cool pastels and more vibrant Summer colours. Prices start at just £15 so its surprisingly affordable too.

The attention to detail is perfect, we adore the embroidered flowers on these kaftans, they are so pretty.

Kids kaftans

I love that Tortue de Mer are committed to fair trade principles, working exclusively with small family businesses in emerging countries and are also passionate about the protection of sea turtles and support an injured turtle adoption programme. I find it very reassuring to be buying from a company with such great moral values.

Our favourite Tortue de Mer items

Sarouel & cotton trousers – these look smart enough to wear in the evening and cool and comfortable enough to wear on a  hot Summer day. Prices from £12-£19.

These long kaftans would be great as a beach cover up, I’d definitely consider buying some for our next holiday.

I love this long dress for me, it looks really comfortable as well as smart and stylish, I’d also really like this bolero top which would be fantastic for holiday evenings.

 

The Tortue de Mer story

In May 2006, Isabelle Riaille, from the French Riviera was looking for soft lightweight tops for her baby Lola. She found very little available and what she did find was expensive and only available in blue for boys and pink for girls. Isabelle saw an opportunity and decided to create her own summerwear collection which was both affordable and in a multitude of colours.

She called it Tortue de Mer (sea turtle in French) because sea turtles live where Isabelle loves spending her time – in the sea and on the beach relaxing with friends and family.

We were sent the kaftans above for the purpose of this post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Furchester Hotel Magazine Review

Today sees the launch of an exciting new magazine from CBeebies. The Furchester Hotel  is targeted to children ages 3-6 years old and will be available every 4 weeks priced at £2.75. The magazine is full of engaging, fun educational activities with each issue including a free gift and stickers.

The Furchester hotel

Both my little girls adore magazines, and were super excited when the brightly coloured Furchester Hotel Magazine dropped though our door. They couldn’t wait to make the free craft gift and I was really impressed with the quality and how easy the little frames were to put together.

The Furchester Hotel

The Furchester Hotel magazine is based around seven areas of learning which complement the Early Years Curriculum. The first page is brilliant as it’s a guest book where children write their name, choose their room, a key and what they’d like for dinner, this activity really excited Hannah, enagaging her from the very beginning.

Hannah always heads straight to the sticker activities when we get a magazine so I was really pleased to see the variety of ways the stickers were used, including for little sums and for answering questions to see how well she had listened to the story.

The variety of activities is impressive, we especially enjoyed Cookie Monster’s activity book, which included lots of number and writing prompts as well as handy tips for more activities to help out parents.

The Furchester hotel

Overall we loved The Furchester Hotel, and would definitely buy it, it’s just the right mix of fun and educational activities to keep both children and parents happy.

We were sent a copy of the magazine to review

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Money matters for the kids

Did you read my review of Qwiddle last week? Qwiddle is a great site encouraging children to earn pocket money by completing tasks. I’m really pleased today to share this great post by Vanessa Cameron the founder of Qwiddle, full of great tips for encouraging children to manage their own money,

When you have children there’s so much to think about and so much to do. We all have days when we’re completely overwhelmed by the lists of jobs, when there simply aren’t enough hours in the day and teaching children about money is often something we shelve for ‘another time’!

Parents regularly ask me for tips when it comes to money education, and it seems to be an area which causes considerable worry and concern. For me experience is crucial, which is why I established Qwiddle, a tool that gives children hands on experience of money – (you can read Emma’s own review of it here).

Allowing children to try things out for themselves is the fast track to learning. Of course this theory doesn’t always apply, but there’s nothing like allowing your child to try something and learn from that, rather than trying to tell them the right way, which often meets with cynicism, disbelief and in the case of learning about money, a yawn!

When it comes to letting children manage their own money giving them some independence seems to be a very effective way of installing some good habits, and takes the pressure off of you. Of course, every child is different so the amount of supervision required is up to you, but as they get older they become much more savvy.

I’m not suggesting it’s all plain sailing (what is?!), there may be a few teething problems or hiccups along the way, but with your support you can give your child the opportunity to learn through doing and watch them start to put in place the right building blocks for earning, saving and spending.

To use a practical example, a friend of mine became annoyed at her son who was spending more money than she would like on biscuits, drinks and crisps in the school canteen at lunchtime. Rather than restricting her son by limiting him with a budget, she challenged him to reduce his weekly lunch money bill and incentivised him by offering to give him the saved money as a pocket money bonus.

Within a few weeks her son had come up with strategies to save money, this included getting involved with the weekly supermarket shop, looking for multi pack deal on crisps and biscuits so he could take those into school with him each day, rather than buy them at a premium in the school canteen, he even started showing an interest in special offers which would save the family money across the week!

Even though this exercise didn’t save the family much money, it illustrated to her son that there were better buying habits and how to look for deals. Ultimately it helped him to understand that with a little effort money could be saved – a pretty important lesson for life!!

If you need any help with teaching your children about money or would like to try out Qwiddle click here and enter code EBJul and we’ll put £5 into every child balance to get you started.

 

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Ritz Thin and Crispy – Sponsored Video

Have you seen the brand new Ritz Crisp & Thin? They’re a delicious oven-baked potato snack with a thin and crispy texture in four exciting new flavours, perfect for adding a fun and easy vibe to any occasion whether it’s a quiet night in by yourself, a family party of a catch up with friends.

I’m a big fan of anything Salt and Vinegar flavoured, but Ritz Thin and Crisp crackers are also available in Cream Cheese & Onion flavour,Sea Salt & Black Pepper and Sweet Red Chilli.

Ritz thin and crisp

Did you know Ritz is the number one savoury biscuit brand and the UK is the biggest consumer of savoury snacks in Europe? I’m not really a savoury snacker, I prefer a sweet treat, but if I’m having an evening out or in with friends I do like some tasty crisps to munch on.  We’ve been thinking of holding a wine tasting evening over Summer and I think Ritz Crisp & Thin would be the perfect accompaniment to a lovely selection of wine.

Ritz Crisp & Thin are available now in sharing bags and single bags. What are you waiting for?

Ritz Crackers

What event would you Put on the Ritz’? I have a 40th celebration to organise for August and my husband does love savoury snacks, so these would be perfect. I think my children would love them as part of a packed lunch too.

You know I love science…did you also know that crackers have holes so they bake correctly, the dough is rolled flat and then holes added by pins before baking.

To find out more follow on Facebook or Twitter and follow #puttingontheritz

Post Sponsored by Ritz Thin and Crispy

[Read more…]

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Looking for an unusual teacher gift?

I feel very blessed this year that all three of my children have had the most wonderful teachers and learning support assistants. I can’t quite believe where they are now compared to the start of the year. Hannah especially, has astonished us. My tiny little still 4 year old can read almost as well as her big sister ( although we’d never tell her big sister that ) but more importantly she is confident and happy in her class.

Zak, despite barely practising is getting to be a fab little oboist and has also grown in confidence throughout the year, representing his class in assemblies and elections and making lots of new friends in his new school.

Sydney has discovered a love of writing and adapted to the challenges of Year 1 much more easily than I expected. She’s changed so much from this time last year, her cute little chubby face has thinned out and she somehow seems so much older.

I’m feeling very ready for Summer and a break now, but at the same time clinging onto what has been a lovely Year R, 1 and 3 for my children and am extremely sad to be saying goodbye to their teachers, but I do like the chance to buy presents for people and always try and do something a little different.

Zak’s teacher will be the lucky recipient of this gorgeous personalised cookie mix by Zac and Lily which I think is just fantastic and great value at just £5. It looks worth a lot more than the price, which is brilliant someone like me who has a lot of gifts to buy!

teacher gifts

We also LOVE this personalised pretty pamper gift from Hampers By Lucy. Isn’t it beautiful? Priced at just £8.99 I think this is a really special gift, definitely one I’d be very happy to receive.

Teacher gift

Last but definitely not least I have these gorgeous seed balls for someone. I’m quite intrigued by them so might keep one for me. Each ball contains about 100 seeds, peat-free compost, clay and chilli powder. All you need to do is scatter them on top of soil or compost and leave to grow. The clay protects from seed predators and the chilli also deters predators while the ball degrades and the seeds sprout.

Do you know anyone who would love these gifts?

seed balls

As a work from home Mum myself I love the ethos behind All by Mama. It’s tough trying to work and bring up a family and I always try and support anything making the difficult work/life balance easier.

All by Mama is a unique marketplace featuring a beautiful range of products lovingly created by mums working from home whilst juggling the joys and demands of family life.

 

We were sent the items above for the purpose of this post.

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Qwiddle – managing pocket money

We’ve not yet starting giving out pocket money as such, but Zak has started to do little bits of ‘work’ for  me to earn a bit of money. His rates are quite expensive at £3 per video and 50 pence per fact he finds for my Facebook page. I don’t carry a lot of cash around usually so he ends up giving me a large bill at the end of the month. Qwiddle has made paying him much easier as I can transfer from my paypal account and even set him tasks to complete with a set reward.

Qwiddle
Qwiddle is basically  an online piggy bank for children, allowing them to manage their own pocket money in a secure and fun way. It’s powered by PayPal and owned and controlled by a parent or carer, so the child can’t spend any money without permission. It’s a great way to set goals for your child and help them learn how to work towards a goal.

We tend to have a lot of battles over homework and music practice in our house and Zak is very much reward driven so Qwiddle has been brilliant for encouraging him without adding any much extra pressure. It’s definitely reduced the amount of nagging I’ve had to do. [Read more…]

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Balance Transfer Your Life #BTYL

We’re very excited to be taking part in an exciting new project with MoneySuperMarket, who have an amazing new competition running. How would you like to surprise someone close to you by clearing an important item from their to-do list, something like decorating a room, sorting out a garden or learning a new skill?

If you’re anything like me you have an endless to-do list that grows and grows until it starts to feel unbearable and all those little things become a huge source of stress, but as with money, a simple balance transfer can take some of that heavy weight off your shoulders. Do you know someone with a huge list of things they need to do, who could use a helping hand?

long list

If you could chose to clear an item from your to-do list, what would it be?

If you know someone who deserves a little happiness and peace of mind, then we’d love to help them tick off a meaningful task from their to-do list. Just tweet @MoneySupermkt using #BTYL and let us know who you think should win and why. MoneySuperMarket will choose the most deserving person, and enlist  a team of experts to get the job done.

I’ll be telling you who I’m surprising VERY soon.

I’m working on a secret project with MoneySuperMarket, where I’ve been given the opportunity to surprise someone close to me and clear an item from their list.

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Making the most of every moment

I’ve spent much of the last few months trying to do everything and nothing very well, I knew I was doing too much but couldn’t find it in myself to give anything up. It was only last week on holiday that I sat back and realised what was really important. It doesn’t matter if I haven’t got the best photos or my house is a mess or I don’t have as many YouTube followers as I want. In 20 years time, I’m not going to be bothered about a twitter conversation with a stranger.

What is really important are the little and big people in this video, and me making the most of every second I have with them. They don’t care if my hair is a mess or I haven’t ironed my clothes, they just want to spend time with me.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the little things that you forget what really matters, and what is really important. I’m trying really hard not to let little things get to me, and be 100% present when the children are around. It’s not always easy, after all money needs to be earned and clothes need to be washed, but I’m really trying  to make the most of my childfree time to do the boring stuff and I cannot wait for a Summer of fun with my little people.

These are not my best photos, some are out of focus, the background are cluttered, but it is my ‘real life’ and pretty much sums up my family. xx

P.S Apologies for the laundry shot….and yes my playroom does usually look like that.

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