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What it really feels like to sell everything for family travel

Chaos descended on us, 1 breakdown with a side of crazy please 🙈

What it really feels like to sell everything you own to travel

Now obviously we can only give our own personal account from our perspective, based on our opinions and experiences. We feel that its important to show the bigger picture of how it all came together (or not) for us! After all it’s our journey and personally we would much rather document something that we remember to be real rather than a heavily glossed over edited version of our lives. Also I’m a bit of a technophobe and not great at making it look super nice and pretty anyway, sorry not sorry!

Initially we weren’t sure which one of us came up with the idea or how we even decided to do it but around four weeks into it when our house had gone on the market I asked my husband “How did we end up doing this?” – “I don’t know.” Even though we were both on the same page and feeling driven to do it I felt like I should’ve remembered maybe a profound conversation we had amounting to us both being sold on it and agreeing to move forward.. Like the kind you might imagine having if you were to plan on selling everything and risking your kids inheritance on a spontaneous idea. Well I can’t remember so it seemed that nope, here we were really just going for it!

Strangely enough you may imagine that we would sit down and methodically plan and budget our route. (Note: This is what you probably should do!!) Except we didn’t. I think our notion to do it was so strong we felt that we wanted the lifestyle change that much we would just aim to sell the house and work on the trip after, as there’s enough to focus on with three young children alone to be honest. More so, we didn’t actually know WHAT we wanted, so how can you begin to plan when you don’t know what you want! Also because we stayed in Australia for six months before having children and actually ended up being too overcautious, at the time we were so worried about finding work and somewhere to live that we almost instantly settled with a rental contract and setting up work that even though we had the security we desired we actually cut ourselves off from travelling and finding out where we wanted to be. So drawing from previous experience we knew that over-planning could close us off to new opportunities.

Around eight weeks after going on the market our house has sold and we’re wrapping up for completion. We had both said hopefully it will go fast and we won’t have time to change our minds!! Well it did! Anyone who’s ever moved can probably relate to this, MOST.STRESSFUL.THING.EVER I mean where does all the stuff come from you never knew you had and yet it decides to unwelcomely present itself, what’s worse is you didn’t know you had it but now you do it’s kinda cute and you wanna keep it. I’m thinking seriously, we need to downsize massively. Get rid. So we scale down the belongings of a family of five into what we assume is a car and caravans worth of stuff, along with ALL the things you didn’t have time to decide their fate so you sling them in the car at the final hour of departure for good measure. It’s also funny what you get sentimental about, I mean we’ve sold our most expensive and treasured items yet here we are saying “maybe we should put the bag full of coat hangers in storage, because, you know, they’re useful” I think if ever you’ve had to do it I’m sure you’ll agree, sorting through personal belongings is really hard work. For days I remember wandering around looking at so many things, piles of random, but somewhat necessary things and not knowing WHERE TO START. Now I don’t think I’m really one to be giving advice on this as I feel like we spectacularly cocked up the process of moving, but in hindsight what I would say is this;

  1. Start now. Even if you haven’t thought about moving yet you should probably already start packing your things.. Or maybe at least begin downscaling your possessions.
  2. Clear storage boxes are like little saviours that will help restore some of your sanity when it’s drifting out the window.
  3. Plan meals accordingly, you never know if you have to take your oven to the skip and you’ve just sold your fridge freezer poor planning could leave you eating unhealthy takeaways for a week. APPARENTLY.
  4. Take breaks. Seriously, schedule in some time for a walk or meet up with a friend to take your mind off of the enormity of it all.

So we’re out of our house, and it’s emotional, we asked the kids to say bye and it was like they were popping to the supermarket “bye house” with barely a second glance. Where as I was labouring many thoughts and emotions, the first place we bought two of our children home to, the house they all spent their first birthdays in, first steps had been taken here, the first house we owned, a place we had shared many memories some of which with people who are no longer with us, the significance of closing the door on those times was actually pretty heart wrenching. Though I felt we had to be strong or we never would have left, and as the saying goes ‘keep doing what you’ve always done, and you’ll keep getting what you always got’ which is great if you’re content with what you’ve got. Though I have to say we were – with the exceptions of the niggling feeling of wanting to experience something different, a life that would afford us to spend more time with our children and allow us, just for a while to slightly slow time down. We couldn’t wait to be free of the financial burdens and responsibility that come with home ownership and the hours we were putting in just to sustain this lifestyle. Interestingly many people said we were so brave (stupid, maybe but not brave) to be doing what we’re doing but I wouldn’t say that’s how we felt as I think when you’re doing something you feel is right and something you want to do I’m not sure that bravery comes into it.

So we embark on our new journey and begin living in the caravan and initially, it’s not pretty – there’s stuff EVERYWHERE, no really you can’t move for the stuff. I’s like de ja vu we have all these items to sort out again yet this time we have to cram it into a CARAVAN, our worldly belongings. As one of my friends said it would be quite cleansing to scale back and really cut down on all the unnecessary items, I’m still hanging onto that as I feel we’re gradually making it out the other side and I’m starting to feel that she was right, we are beginning to see the wood from the trees! There’s generally not been much we’ve missed (space aside of course – remember we’ve got kids) I don’t think I could tell you probably half the stuff I got rid of and can also say I haven’t needed it either, so that’s a win. It’s a real period of adjustment still, we’re swinging between feeling liberated and free yet still hanging onto wanting the stability and routine of our old life. The children have been pretty positive about the whole thing though and whilst I think we need to get used to being in each others company constantly they have actually settled in pretty well and seem happy – as parents their happiness is priority so that at least feels like we’re doing the right thing for now. xx

The ‘A’ Word

Anxiety.

A lot of people lately have commented on how calm I am. For those of you who know me well you will know that this hasn’t always been the case. I will also share a few things that only my family know about only because this is something I feel is important to talk about at the moment. I’m seeing/hearing from a lot of people who are panicking with the current global situation and I felt it might be time to share my story. 

Being positive and relaxed isn’t the natural state I was born with or grew up feeling, it’s taken a lot of personal work, healing, research and soul searching to get to this point. Thankfully though, I firmly believe that it doesn’t need to take years or even months to overcome. I feel fortunate to say that feeling calm now is my (most of the time) natural state of mind. I can tell you it feels awesome!!!

We’re all human and can allow ourselves a few blips of course… but what’s key is not to overthink these emotions and give them a separate form in which we identify ourselves. I used to do this, for example; I told myself ‘I am someone with anxiety’ it got to a point where I would wake every morning and wait for the anxiety or I woke up immediately feeling in that state already. Guess what happens when you look for something? … Yep you guessed it. You find it. Be it good bad, happy sad.. you CAN choose what you assign yourself to. If you’re looking for this anxiety you’re fuelling it, creating it, giving it energy and all the time you do that it will remain. It’s there because at some point in your life you gave way and let these unhealthy thought patterns creep in. Now I’m not trying to discredit your feelings at all. What I’m saying is you hold all the power within you to start to change things.

How do I know this? .. Well because at one point in my life I lived in a constant state of debilitating anxiety. So bad that I ended up in hospital, twice. I couldn’t even stay up after the children had gone to bed in the evening because everything made me anxious. Relaxing, in particular, made me feel extremely on edge. These emotions were exhausting me to the point the effect manifested in a completely physical and scary way. I was burned out, stressed and worried virtually all the time. It was like I was living my life on a constant cycle of waiting for something bad to happen and if It did it added validation to my irrational thoughts. I’d think “See I knew this would happen and that’s why I was worrying.” Until one day I broke down in-front of my family and told them how I lived in this constant state of fear and worry. I asked why wouldn’t I worry when “bad things” happen all the time, and my brother said brother said to me “because you can’t live your life like that” .. I knew it was true. It’s literally as simple as that. I had to sort my shit out for the children’s sake and my own.

Looking back it’s one of those situations where I feel as if I’m writing about a totally different person. I’m so grateful I put in the work to overcome my irrational thought patterns. To benefit myself and everyone around me. I’d say changing my mindset is probably THE best thing I’ve ever done for myself. 

I wouldn’t say that it takes constant work but it does require you to remain conscious, by conscious I don’t mean breathing but being MINDFUL. The other day I was waiting in the queue whilst food shopping and I felt the same old familiar feeling creep back. Rather than try to overanalyse why I felt anxious instead I tried to ground myself. The best way I believe is to become present – stop letting your mind control you. The grounding technique is where you use your senses, look around you for something you can SEE, listen to what you can HEAR, find something you can TOUCH, and SMELL. Try and think about your breathing or do whatever works for you to forget about these thoughts. Remember that they don’t serve you, they aren’t helping you. YOU have to decide to let them go. Don’t let it define you, especially when there’s so many beautiful things about you.

Again, I’m not trying to discredit your feelings, there might be something to worry about.. but when your mind tries to run away and catch it before it goes too far. Everyone has good in their life, sometimes you’ve only got to look for it. Focus on all the positivity, this might sound cliche or irritating but it’s true! If you want the good you have to channel it. Appreciate the small things, because they’re often the big things. Show gratitude. Sometimes there are big things we can’t control but we can ALWAYS control how we reach in the situations, sometimes it takes work. But I promise, it’s worth it. Let’s all try and make peace with the here and now. 

A few ways to help boost your mood and positive vibrations:

  • Laugh. EVERYDAY. Sometimes you have to put on your favourite comedy show or even watch a few minutes of a comedian you love and see how much it cheers you up!
  • Music. What helps me is to go back to my favourite music I used to listen to when growing up and reminisce.. Old Skool RnB anyone??!! .. Or another personal favourite –  old movie soundtracks, don’t be afraid to dance around and laugh at yourself.
  • Be Open. This for me is huge, the minute I say how I feel it lifts a weight. I try not to dwell too much on what upsets me because chances are that will all be gone by tomorrow. If I say to myself I’m upset today and I need to cry, fine. That’s great. Cry, let it out but don’t OVERTHINK it. It’s temporary. 
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously.. there’s a time and a place of course, but are your favourite people in life ever the super serious??! 
  • Do something you love.. reading, cooking, writing, play a game. Whatever it is. Allow yourself this time everyday. Don’t feel bad, you need this.
  • Exercise, this ones obvious, endorphins make you FEEL GOOD!
  • Meditate … Now this one I NEED to work on, I’m still getting to grips with it, but I feel we could ALL benefit from a little meditation in our lives… by the way if you have any tips on this one I’d love to know how to fully get the best out of it.

Keep channelling your positivity and remember perspective is everything – you can choose how you spend this time and craft it into your own experience. If you’ve got little ones at home it’s not always easy and they’re all getting bored but the best thing we can do for them is to take care of ourselves and provide them with a great example of a grounding force. I’ll leave this here as my reminder too. We can do this, let’s inspire our children and raise each other up. Sometimes we all need a little lift and I’m here for you as many of you are for me too. Lots of love Yasmin xxx

Shepherds Rest

We were recommended to come here by friends that had come across the site whilst we were staying in France! They were offering a winter deal for a month or more for travelling families and we thought we would book in as our furthest stop down the east coast! We decided it would be a good opportunity to plan where we would settle based on what we had seen and start the process of bank accounts, school enrolment, rental contracts and so on!

We weren’t even sure what to expect to be honest! Oria is a small village but people often get lost on their way to Shepherds Rest so one of the owners came to meet us at the local garage!

We had both said previously that it would be great to spend some more quiet time but if we’re honest I think in the back of both our minds we were anticipating being bored… Not a chance! Our time here went by in a flash and if we weren’t so keen to begin work and get the kids in school we most definitely would’ve stayed longer! I’ve said before in my previous post about how we were gradually won over by the area and my initial anxiety surrounding feeling isolated in a small area soon dissipated. It’s actually not small at all, it’s amazingly vast and unspoilt – and If anything it was the opposite to my first feelings, because the longer you spend in the Andalusian countryside the freer you feel! – Certainly true for Ben on his new MX bike anyway!!! 😉🙈

We’d had a long journey and several issues with our car before finally making it there! By this time Drew had either spilled his drink down his trousers or totally soaked himself in wee. Either very likely. 🤔 So we arrived in true us fashion, late, with noisy kids and possibly one that had wet himself! Corri and Joel were unfazed by our obvious chaos and immediately after chatting we felt at home in their company. We chatted about lots of different things and it was clear that we had found a real family. We ended up spending Christmas Day with them too!

Christmas Day weather never looked better!

Our first few nights we were affected by high winds that left us without power! In this time we actually spent more time talking and doing things as a family than we usually would! It pushed us out of our comfort zones and away from the tv that we like to claim we don’t watch much of. (News flash, we all probably watch more than we think we do 😆) though I’d probably argue that these days I watch more Peppa pig than anything else. How lovely it was to spend time in their beautiful garden with stunning views! Our kids don’t seem to particularly like days out that involve lots of effort or people or noise – give them a stick and some mud or sand anyway! They may be wild balls of crazy but they seem to create their own calm in nature. Take them on a walk or let them dig holes and they are actually a whole lot more bearable! 😉 Here we were spoilt for choice with many scenic walks! The good thing about staying in winter is that you still see the sun everyday but it’s not too hot to go on a long walk or climb up a mountain, Ben can vouch for that one! Though I’m sure if he was writing this he would advise taking a beer for when you reach the top! 🤪

Oria has a village pool too and a stunning church, you’re also within walking distance of a basketball court and local shops. The drive on the way in is unreal, like something from a film – that if our car wasn’t stopping us every 20 seconds anyway we would’ve intentionally stopped to take a hundred photos! 😆

Maggie Maes diner forms part of Shepherds Rest and we ate in several times – their home made food is delicious as well as being really reasonable!! It’s really refreshing to see a wide range of food available too.

We were also only 20mins from the town of Albox which has all the shops you could need as well as plenty of English and Spanish owned eateries. There’s also a bowling alley there and some lovely play parks! Though the best bit Ben would tell you is driving down the Rambla to get there! Which is a riverbed turn dirt track road when not flooded!

Ben even went to the conversational Spanish class held in Maggie Maes on a Saturday afternoon! I know 😆 I should’ve got photo evidence! That proves how at ease the family make you feel if Ben is self motivated to go to Spanish class!

We could see the play park out of our window meaning that the kids could take themselves to the park when they wanted!

You don’t just have to take our word for it, as you can see Shepherds Rest on ‘A New Life In The Sun’ on the new series next month! We’re looking forward to seeing it. 😊

When what you thought you wanted turns out to be the opposite

Recently we have redefined what we came to Almeria for, so as many of you who have been following our journey know, we have been travelling Spain over the past few months in hope of finding somewhere to settle. 

We had preconceived ideas of where we would end up, despite having only visiting the mainland ONCE prior to this and I think I was about 8? Our inclinations were based on a looking at a map strategy and seeing what area of coastline ‘we liked the look of,’ sorry but it’s true! Also based on hearsay on the popularity of different areas. Well we figured listening to where other expats settle has got to be a good starting point because if it wasn’t great they wouldn’t go there! Of course there are expats everywhere and we all like different things! So our strategy was a bit shit but a strategy none the less.

We’ve only really skimmed the surface of each area we’ve visited and I have to say we massively underestimated how long it would really take to get to know a area! For us, we couldn’t possibly look at schools, accommodation, leisure and other general facilities considering things like climate and so on in a week! I totally understand why people keep going back to an area and revisit at different times of year to see if they still love it. I think it’s key if you’re going to relocate that you visit that place at it’s hottest and it’s coldest. I know it’s been said many times before but that’s because it’s important. We’ve found that Spanish houses can be hard to heat and they can get colder than UK houses if they aren’t well set up for the cold! Most Spanish properties won’t typically have central heating and you could end up spending a fortune on gas or electric plug in heaters. A wood burner is a great investment but then again wood can be expensive too! 

Anyway..! We started down the east coast coming the entire way down the coastline because some things you like don’t change. For me, for example, I LOVE to be near the sea and it was something that if relocating it was a must. That has remained to be true. We’ve seen some stunning inland towns and villages with unbelievably reasonably property prices with masses of character. I love to see these places but something within me personally wants to be by the sea. Throw in the fact that we got flooded in France the parameters of that have changed to include near – but not next to – the sea, for obvious reasons!! On a hill near the sea sounds good!! 

We had in our mind that we would settle nearish Alicante city and before coming out I always said I wanted to check out Javea because that looks stunning! We didn’t get there sadly, but Alicante city I ADORE. It exceeded my expectations and more, so we could happily settle near there, for sure. After seeing that, moving down the coast became a bit of an exiting holiday I guess but also a tick box activity in the sense that we knew we would be heading back up to settle near Alicante. Or so we thought. 

We were recommended Shepherds Rest in Oria by some friends and we immediately booked to stay for a month, thinking that whilst here we could plan our next move to settle which is what happened just not where we expected! My first impressions of Oria and the surrounding area was that it’s undeniably beautiful with its scenic mountain roads and traditional farm buildings. I’ll do a separate post on Shepherds Rest by the way! The area literally is something out of a movie as many American Wild West films were shot in Almeria province! For what we’re used to though initially it seemed a little cut off, maybe a bit too isolated for us. We ended up having that wedding dress moment where you try on the one you don’t like and it suits you the best.. strange analogy there, sorry, but you know what I mean right?! The thing that we weren’t sure of in the beginning is what has made us feel so drawn to it now, the beauty of a slower pace, the opportunity of a quiet life. The huge daunting mountains and vast landscape that at first I found scary and isolating now has turned to beauty and excitement. What a wonderful place to call home. 

I’m generally quite guided by my heart wether that’s a good thing or not, I’m really not sure! We travelled an hour to the coast one day whilst here as we thought we’re here we might as well see the beach.. and yep, you guessed it, as soon as we drove down that coastal road I started excitedly exclaiming to Ben that I was ‘home’ “I just love it, don’t you love it? This is the place! BEN THIS IS THE PLACE!!” Yeah, pretty much like that. I didn’t really give him much input on that one, (sorry Ben.) I am a bit like that sometimes. I had an interview booked in Javea three hours away and I started to gradually put my sensible head on and suggested to Ben that we should check it out and make an informed decision, but he was coming round to it here too and it seemed he was sold. There would be no Javea for we had found home. This is what we came here for. We thought that further up the coast was where we had pictured for months being ‘our place’ but we shouldn’t pressure ourselves if actually we really like where we are. I mean how many times do you get to choose where you live? For me, not many. Probably like many others you tend to be born in a village/town or city and your family members settle there or nearby, then you grow up with your friends and then before you even have a chance to evaluate it – that is your life. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing but just getting my head around the fact that sometimes your place is chosen for you. 

I consider that whilst we may not be very fortunate in terms of wealth we are very fortunate to have the magic opportunity to choose where we will spend our life. For me if we can provide the children with many life experiences and some time being fully immersed in a new language and culture our mission will be accomplished. We aren’t here to be rich in the sense of money but what we do want from life is rich experiences. Time will tell if our hearts made the right decision. There is a saying about not chasing the love that makes your heart race but instead the love that makes you feel calm. Where we have chosen was love at first sight but not in a scary way, in a calm way that it feels right. At least for now it does.

So we have put down a deposit to rent a place, I will be starting working in a salon three days a week and part-time online teaching. Whilst Ben, well someone have words, who knows what he wants to do!? I think he’s still in holiday mode!!

Please do tell me, how did you chose your area? Or maybe you aren’t in your favourite place but you can tell me where you would be if you could! 

Lots of love xxx

Remembering what calm is

We have now got to Almeria province, though not without an adventure, yet more car troubles meant that our journey here was far from plain sailing. It made me laugh that the kids didn’t even question any of the times we broke down as they’re so used to the car losing power now! We must’ve broken down in excess of 30 times on the 2hr20min journey here! It took us A LOT longer, and whilst I’d love to say I have kept up with the car games whilst travelling, being on the road has honestly just become a normality to them now and so as long as they have regular snacks they’re happy!

I guess there’s worse places you could break down

On our first two nights here there have been incredibly strong winds, the kids have found it too noisy and scary to get a decent amount of sleep! We’re around 1100m above sea level among the mountains so when the wind comes down it makes a screaming sound through the windows and has been lifting the roof tiles. Luckily it died down last night, either that or we have just got used to it!

Some roof tiles came off above this bedroom in the high wind

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t actually sure what to expect coming to Oria. I thought it would be quiet, and it is. I didn’t expect there would be much to do, and there isn’t. What I mostly didn’t’t expect is how much I would love it for both of those reasons! Like many beautiful places, photos just don’t do here justice! I was saying to Ben as we drove here that I’m intrigued as to what makes people move somewhere like here, but the longer we spend here the more I get it. Maybe I’m just anxious natured (I know having children doesn’t’t help with that) but I would be thinking ‘what do we do if this happens, or that…’ Or any from a selection of my many irrational thoughts.

One thing I was thinking though was – ‘would the kids be bored?’. The answer so far is, absolutely not. Yesterday was a bit windy, but plenty nice enough to spend some time in the garden. We done a little bit of weeding, played with the dog and cooked lunch out of bits we could use on the gas hob. As we went to bed Koa said to me “mummy, I’ve had a really lovely day today” .. which for this kid to say is RARE! Like rocking-horse shit rare. Bearing in mind the day before we went out to finish the Christmas shopping, had lunch out, the kids got to go on a few rides, got a toy balloon, played in the many play areas around the centre (nice touch by the way.) However a day of calm made him come alive. Therefore this is what I need to regularly remind myself: money spent on kids DOES NOT NECESSARILY = HAPPINESS. Sometimes we could all do with giving ourselves a break and enjoy some quiet time. Considering we had no electricity too, it was like our reminder that sometimes you’ve got to switch off. It actually made us go out! Which is sad I know, but it’s also true. The fact is we wouldn’t have been as sociable if our phones were fully charged and we wouldn’t have maybe played in the garden as much if we had the TV with the Christmas movies on!! You know that phone anxiety of what if someone needs you, then you get the thing back on and guess what? No one needed you! I need to put it down and remember that sometimes the people that need me are right infront of my face!

Merry Christmas

On that note my lovelies, I’m going to bed to snuggle my babies, they also look cuter when sleeping as they’re proven to be less offensive.

Merry Christmas Everyone. I hope you have a truly special one, I’m sure it will be memorable as this time of year often brings about positive change. Sending love. xxx

Finding ‘our’ place


We’ve got to the point where we’ve seen the majority of places that we intended and it’s time to start making decisions about where we want to be. Where do you begin? Surely if you begin with a winning formula, good schools, yeah we should check those out, apartments, cost of living, available work etc, would be a good start? That’s proved easier said than done for us, lately we’ve kind of felt like wanderers with no real direction or purpose. On those days where you wake and it’s dark out it’s so blissful to be able to go back to bed and rise more naturally with the sun. That also could be the same factor thats holding us back, making us feel lethargic, are we really getting too used to doing nothing? I think it takes a lot of self discipline to get up early, in the dark and get motivated! Sometimes we forget we’re really just animals, our need for hibernation is real! (Or at least that’s my excuse..)


We knew we wanted to be close-is to the sea and narrowed our search down to the eastern coast of Spain, so far we’ve been near Barcelona, Valencia and Alicante and the surrounding areas! We will head to Almeria area for Christmas. Luckily we’ve been on the same page about where we’ve liked and not so much, so I guess that’s a start. We have been captured by Alicante city, pleasantly surprised by the chilled vibe and stunning architecture. I’ve said before I’m not a ‘city person’ but I think I could get used to this! I can see why this area is popular among the Brits. I worried that it may be ‘too English’ you know, but it’s not!

Alicante town hall
Magical trees.. apparently full of mice!


I also think when looking for somewhere to live you have to remember that what appeals to you as a holiday destination may be ENTIRELY different. For example, if you are on holiday you may not want to see British bars if you’re keen to experience local culture. When looking to reside somewhere a little reminder of home or a familiar accent may be a safe haven for you, seriously! Even something as small as finding your favourite sauce in the supermarket! Don’t get me wrong we fully plan to embrace the language and culture, but being surrounded by voices you don’t yet understand on a daily basis can feel a little isolating! It may make the transition considerably easier for the children too if they make friends with children that speak English.


There are so many unknowns at the moment and what was initially exciting (still is) but has become more a way of life therefore I haven’t shared much! Maybe there’s a bit of anxiety surrounding the impending need to make a decision on x,y,z etc and I feel like I need to do a shit tonne of adulting that I’m just not cut out for?! Actually, yeah that’s exactly it.

First step in adulting was buying myself a travel mug so I no longer spill hot tea in the car


So whilst there are many uncertainties I CAN however vouch for the fact that wading in the sea in December with the sun on you feels BLISSFUL, the lack of Christmas prescence here is also welcomed as it keeps the kids from counting down WAY too early! Spanish food is delightfull and the kids most definitely need to do more (some) schoolwork!

Paddling with nanny in December

Our current mission is trying to sort out the relevant paperwork which will enable us to access things such as schools, work and healthcare.

We feel from what we’ve seen so far (and we’ve loved all the areas we’ve seen for different reasons) that somewhere close to or Alicante could suit us best!

Alicante esplanade


How did you decide on your place to call home? I’d love to know, message me with your thoughts.


Have a beautiful weekend!.. I’m sitting in peace and quiet as the ferals are finally asleep (it’s been a tough day) and Ben’s gone to a bar to watch the boxing.
xx

Our first Airbnb experience

I know we’re a bit late to the table here, but thanks to our friends who we met in France encouraging us to to use the app we went ahead and booked! (Also thanks to the flood, because without our caravan getting ruined we wouldn’t have needed it anyway!)

Using the app we found really easy, I had previously looked into booking before and got a bit confused by everything and always ended up leaving it as I was still a bit unsure! Maybe they’ve changed the search process a bit, maybe I’ve gained more confidence in the idea or maybe both!

We had a search around and booked in at an apartment in Lloret De Mar for 19 nights. We chose it as a good base to explore Barcelona without being right in the city, with a few beaches nearby and lots of interesting places to explore it ticked our boxes.

Outside the apartment

We since found that the city is probably a little bit too far at just over an hours drive away, you then have to find parking! With public transport it worked out over two hours away due to the changes etc. Maybe it’s not so bad if travelling without young children. We find it pretty tricky to plan days out to fit it all in to be honest. By the time 5 people are up, fed, cleaned and dressed. We then tidy the apartment and pack up the car for the day, it’s often pushing midday before we actually get where we’re going! On the occasional time when we’re organised enough to sort a packed lunch beforehand it CAN work a bit better!

Anyway back to our booking… Ben was getting a bit anal about finding accommodation suitable enough for storing the trailer too so it was good to have somewhere with a secure underground parking! I should also mention you can chose if you share accommodation or have the entire place – which is what we select, as a large family it just suits us (and most likely others) better!! So we booked and paid upfront and were greeted by the host on arrival. (Initially this poses a bit of apprehension because you wonder if they might be a weirdo) – in our case we were surprised to find a normal and friendly guy! 😆 Who couldn’t do enough to help us out, we had an issue with WiFi (there’s ALWAYS one isn’t there, let’s face it.) Being in Spain I said to Ben we have to get used to ‘mañana’… it may not be fixed before we leave! I was wrong, our host had it sorted the next day! 😊

The apartment was really well equipped with everything and more than we could think of, it also had an onsite pool, gym and small children’s play area! We couldn’t understand why we didn’t need to pay a security deposit or similar to book but apparently, and forgive me if you already know this, but it’s covered through air bnb’s insurance. Ben got friendly with the host and went for a few beers with him, they even had a farewell beer on the last night 😆 so I asked him if we should wash and make up the beds etc ready when we leave, apparently we didn’t need to do anything as we paid the cleaning fee! It seemed mad to think we had spent all this time here (at a great price) and didn’t need to do anything at the end! It just feels a bit more personal knowing it’s someone’s actual property rather than a hotel! Especially given that we had enjoyed our stay so much it felt right to clean the whole place before we left. Though it was prob pointless if the cleaners were coming, but still. 🤷🏼‍♀️

We’ve noticed that a lot of properties listed seem to be managed through companies on behalf of the owner. Sometimes this probably works better and could possibly be more professional, but do tread carefully. We noticed that when reading through the description on some there were lots of fees being added on top to pay locally, per day etc. Which could easily be missed if you didn’t read it thoroughly. Personally I think that’s a bit cheeky, when some you see advertised at face value and others just make it look a lot better than it is.

After your stay you can review the accommodation – equally before booking you can also read the feedback on somewhere in areas such as cleanliness, response times etc. If there’s anything you wanted to let the host know privately you can do this as well as leaving a public review. You’re also able to contact the host directly during the stay should you need to!

Wine glass nearly as big as my face ✅ apartment win

We have a few more booked and we’re excited to be checking out different accommodation and new surroundings! Overall we’re loving using air bnb and, wait for it, it’s actually often CHEAPER than staying in our caravan on a site a lot of the time!! Given we were spending so much extra on campsite washing machines and the added cost of towing! We miss the social aspect of caravan living and the early wake ups and overall time spent outside does seem to be more when you’re staying at campsites. I have to say though it’s been a huge release not to be setting up an awning, constantly tidying and decluttering such a small space. Being in the apartments we’ve been spiked with a dishwasher, washing machine (forgot how good it feels to have a washing machine!!) Even though Ben does the washing, but that’s another story. Looking ahead to our next accommodation with a BATH. Hell to the yeah. Winner all round.

Beautiful views from the balcony

Do you have any air bnb experiences to share with us??

How we’re learning Spanish…

Now I say that loosely because we don’t SPEAK Spanish.. YET. However there have been a few resources, apps etc that we have found helpful and I wanted to share them incase it would be any benefit or interest to you. What I’m going to post about doesn’t only relate to Spanish you could apply it to just about any language!

Firstly our main saviour (and I’ll tell you why) has been GOOGLE TRANSLATE APP, I don’t know why I’ve not used it before – of course I’ve used the web version before, I’m not THAT much of a technophobe! So the app, forgive me if I’m saying stuff you already know, has this cool feature where you can select the language you want to translate to and from, then hold you camera over and it begins immediately translating any text presented to it! You can also import a picture from your phone which in my opinion works much better as it’s not constantly jiggling words around and resetting itself. It’s so easy to use you literally take your phone out open the app and take a picture! I’ve even used it whilst standing in front of someone to quickly convey a message!

This has mainly helped us in supermarkets and restaurants. Have you ever been in a situation where the only menu presented to you is in a total foreign language and your only hope is to look for similar-ish words only to find when it comes out what you ordered is not at all what you were expecting?! I definitely have.. and sadly never in a good way! Still not all menus are in English and I don’t think we should expect them to be!

How has this helped us learn though? Well I guess like anything the more you look at and practice something the more it sticks and certain words more so than others! I totally sympathise with people that say it’s hard learning a new language and the words and sentences sometimes just don’t stick. It’s tough! The other day I had to ask somewhere if they sold birthday cards, a small sentence but I didn’t know any of the words I needed so it felt like a lot to learn. I translated it and kept repeating it to myself as I walked to the shop, over and over. When I got there I was actually amazed when they knew what I said! Now I anticipated they would respond in a way that I would not have a hope of understanding so I made sure to say before that my Spanish is not good. Two sentences I had to learn but I have retained the words because I said them SO many times!

An important thing to consider when learning a language is there are often variants of words and how we use them just as there are in English! I mean imagine explaining the word “right” for instance to someone learning English there are multiple meanings! (Turning right.. knowing you’re rights.. yes you’re right etc!) You can’t always be guaranteed a level of accuracy with an app and it doesn’t always mean people will fully understand because there’s so much else to factor in such as accents, dialects, tone etc. Still I think people have a respect for you trying! I think a lot of it comes down to confidence, I would’ve normally shied away from trying to speak in fear of getting it wrong. Yet when I think of the amount of times I’ve been approached by someone speaking broken English, I’ve understood and tried to help. I mean we do, don’t we?!

Next is Duolingo – another app! I have found this brilliant to use and I wouldn’t have gained the same fully engaged learning experience had I of been reading a book. It’s broken down into easy to manage parts and even assesses you to set it to the right level for you to progress from. There’s lots of pictures, words and my favourite bit is that you get to speak into it to test your pronunciation, which makes it a good all rounder! It’s also free! You can upgrade which removes the ads but you can quite easily use the standard version and progress through each stage as it is. Something to bear in mind if learning Spanish is that it teaches more Latino Spanish – which according to what I’ve read would be like speaking American in Scotland in some regions of Spain!! I’d be interested to know peoples thoughts and experiences with this! To be honest I worried about trying to speak Spanish here as research told us ‘everyone speaks Catalan near Barcelona’ and it doesn’t seem to be the case from our experience!

It has many different sections to work through

Another way to learn is by asking for the correct word/pronunciation from people when out, I mean in restaurants, shops etc! Occasionally spoken words sound totally different to how they’re written so it’s useful to know how the locals would say it!

Now a lot of people say to watch films and tv programs with the subtitles on to learn the lingo. In my personal experience I find that pretty tricky and don’t feel like I learn anything but I thought I’d mention incase it could be helpful for some!

Finally, if time and money allow I’d definitely recommend private tuition! That way it cuts out any guess work and allows you to gain that speaking experience and get in all the practice before going straight in with the locals! A tutor will be able to spot your strengths and weaknesses in a way that an app can’t.

I hope this is useful, if I think of anything else useful in the meantime I’ll definitely add it! For now though I’m slightly self conscious about my ability to even speak English well as I’ve had a few rum & cokes! Always listening if you have any tips for me to learn the language. Buenas tardes mis amigos!

xx

What we really thought of Lloret de mar

So my experience in this area of Spain is virtually none – other than from hearsay of it being ‘not a great area’ neither of us had anything to go by.. Also my mum had a girls holiday here back in the day! We chose to stay here to be around the outskirts of Barcelona but not too in the thick of it and to be honest when searching for properties we liked this one and it ticked all of our boxes! Quite frankly when moving out of a caravan we were elated to have a washing machine so there aren’t any real boxes to be ticked here, – doesn’t mean the apartment isn’t great though!

Bearing in mind we arrived here from a lovely area in the south of France which, looking back, was ridiculously unspoilt and charmingly beautiful! It would be a hard one to match for it’s quaint charm. Even so, we couldn’t wait to get to Spain as this is where we had our heart set!

It took us a while to find our accommodation, an apartment booked through Air BnB, this area is bigger than we anticipated! It was also tricky getting the trailer and car parked at good location to unload the bikes off the roof before going in the underground car park! – Logistically though this is probably something people reading won’t ever have to worry about. Lol. We were instantly impressed with the apartment and both felt more at home than we can remember feeling in the recent weeks! I think being here has had the same effect on the kids too – whilst obviously we have challenges DAILY. The behaviour has really improved! I think they feel more settled and happier in a bigger living space. I didn’t expect this because as far as we were concerned living in the caravan and having the great outdoors, pardon the pun – LITERALLY on your doorstep, could you be anymore free?

Loving our apartment, also check out that green orb! 💚 🔮

The day after arriving here we took a walk down the town and instantly felt pretty put off to say the least, you could imagine in the height of season this place is probably MENTAL! If you like the nightlife and home comforts of McDonalds and Burger King, tonnes of pubs, bars and discos all lined up even named after British places like ‘The Queen Vic!!’ Then this is your place! .. Come to think of it have I not just described my own husbands idea of paradise.. ?!! It remains to be seen why he doesn’t love it here! Only joking, kind of. Though I think we’re both more introvert than we like to admit and personally prefer being in quieter areas. This could be because we provide enough noise of our own? Seriously that’s probably it. Still I guess it’s more the fear of the unknown but Ben said he wouldn’t want me going out alone here!

Fast forward a few days and we have been to the local beaches, which are absolutely beautiful and at this time of year EMPTY!We have walked around the town of a late afternoon/evening and enjoyed the end of season lull. We have visited beautiful local castles/ruins and eaten picnics from private Jardins – (Sounds posh, kind of was also a pushchairs worst nightmare!) Actually we have to go back on our word and say this place is alright, in fact it’s more than alright. It’s lovely and it has a charm all of it’s own. Everyone we’ve come across has been lovely, the people are really welcoming, which to be honest is a surprise given some of the signs (written in English) down the town ask you to be respectful ie not shout, walk around bare chested and causing trouble! It sounds like us brits have made an impression! I’d certainly rather be here than in the UK that’s for sure! Here’s some of our highlights incase you’re planning a visit;

Jardins de Clotilde


There’s loads of steps but some areas are accessible with the pram!
Beautiful views and a great picnic spot!

Castell de mas carbó

This place we found out on a drive just outside of Lloret in Palafolls. We saw it way up the mountain and headed for it, around a mile or so up a dust track the car just about reached it!! By total fluke we were there for sunset and it was beautiful, well worth a visit and even though we went with our three I would not recommend this one with young children!

This place was amazing to see but also an anxiety fest with the children – loads of unsafe areas! 🙈
There were a lot of couples here, I definitely think our noisy kids killed the vibe a bit
Daddy’s at home when up high!

Fenals Beach

Fenals beach is so pretty, as we were here in November it was really quiet too! It’s not far from Lloret beach which is much more commercial and busy with plenty of shops and bars so you have a great mix of both really close together! They are walking distance from each other, around 10mins but it’s quite a hilly walk!

Apparently it’s a plus that the sand is really grainy according to Ben as it’s not messy and you can wipe it off easy – he’s one of those people that can’t stand the wet sand on foot combination. Apparently a lot of people don’t like it either! So a win for the grainy sand that ‘just brushes off.’

Parc polivalent Francesc Macià

This one we found on google, it’s a really decent size kids park with several play areas, a few zip lines and lots of quirky sculpture type things! Ben actually got some photos on his phone but mine went flat so sadly I didn’t manage to get any but I’ve added the link here so you can take a look! 😊 Definitely worth spending a few hours here with the children! https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g642220-d2476648-Reviews-Parc_Francesc_Macia-Malgrat_de_Mar_Catalonia.html

Finding our feet in the south of France

So it seems happy times makes for not a lot to write about! Which I’ve always said when reading reviews people always speak up when they have something to complain about, have you noticed? Sometimes we are drawn to or purposely go to read the negative feedback first! We always feel compelled to make sure that we are heard when things don’t go our way. Hence I take a lot of things with a pinch of salt when reading a review because when you look at what the complaint is sometimes it really just feels like a moan for the sake of it, which lets face it even the best of us are guilty of now and again. It’s true though, even with our trip, when things don’t go to plan it makes a more interesting story!

I am however, very happy to report that things have calmed! We have had a chilled few days in good company, with (finally) good weather. Plenty of decent food, helpful local people and relatively happy kids. Having said that Koa is struggling at the moment, I’m not sure if it’s the lack of routine and a combination of the late nights but we’ve had our fair share of struggles these last few days. Any tips on stopping us from snapping would be greatly appreciated! It’s a peace of mind to know we aren’t the only ones. I’ve spoken to a few friends lately and I just wanted to say I really value your support. Some of you have helped me recently more than you may know. All this parenting (especially 24/7 with no school) is hard work! Also very rewarding as we are getting to see them develop more and more each day. I really hope that we can all pull together and learn to be kind to each other. I’ll be channelling my positivity and gratitude and I’ll let you know how it goes…

Today we spent in Collioure, (south of France) which has a great mix of small beaches, history, culture, shopping and good food all right next to each other! Winner.

No filter needed, just stunning!

One thing that both Ben and I are feeling (even though I think he’s had a harder time admitting it than me) is a huge relief from the unnecessary pressure the caravan was adding to our daily life. I am a bit of a believer that ‘things happen for a reason’ and if I’m honest I can’t recall a time where I’ve loved spending time in there. I love the places we’ve been in it and the memories we’ve shared when away – though pretty much all of these are when we’ve been away from the actual caravan or sitting outside of it to be honest! It enabled us to get here and for that I’m grateful, but I do believe we were meant to carry on our journey without it! We’re waiting to hear back from the insurance about what we need to do next as currently it’s had to remain on the previous campsite.

Lots of things that we had planned will change from now as it means that some volunteer work that we had lined up isn’t an option for us now as some were pitch for work exchanges. However, we are looking at other options and hoping that actually this will open us up to more rather than less. I’ve noticed the weight has been lifted from Ben, he’s unknowingly been carrying around a burden of the logistics concerning the caravan, the where’s, the hows, the putting up the awning the setting out the stuff (and you know we had TOO MUCH STUFF.) Some people are experienced or just naturally better at this stuff than we are therefore it is more enjoyable. I’m not great in the sense that if I don’t enjoy something I don’t add any real value to a situation – which I feel made him carry more pressure because I’d already let go! Hats off to people that do this kind of thing with small children and make it look easy!

It’s also so good to see the kids making friends and especially for Koa, seeing his guard drop. The kids are just being kids with no pressure or major expectation, running around with girls ( a few weeks ago Koa would’ve said “I don’t like girls”) so this is amazing! I think the peer pressure that can build up in the school environment has eased away and he’s gradually coming out of himself – probably like I mentioned before also a catalyst for the outbursts! Like most things I guess, you win some, you lose some!

As we all feel about our kids, if I could ensure he understood one thing it’s that he is more loved than he could ever possibly comprehend.

Speak soon guys, we’re now so close to Spain! xx

In the meantime if anyone has a different outlook on dealing with challenging behaviour please feel free to pm me I always welcome those chats!

Our stay at Huttopia Royat [Review]

A woodland retreat 580m above sea level, with modern and cosy cabins, safari tents, mobile homes and camping pitches. It has a very Centre Parcs feel about it yet more intimate and a lot less commercial (I love Centre Parcs by the way) I feel like here it had a good balance between decent amenities yet still having the essence of slightly wild camping.

Beautiful drives everywhere around

As we visited in low season the pool had been emptied and the bar/restaurant area was closed. Which seems typical for October in this area of France. We discovered a few days into our stay that the lounge area stays open until 10pm with free wifi acess, board games, a TV and self serve tea and coffee selection for 1euro. Obviously some of the games are in French but Connect 4, Scrabble and Guess Who style games are all good! There’s also a convenience shop for essentials, BBQ, fridge hire and tourist information.

Lounge, cafe & games area

I imagine that in the peak season this place gets so busy! The pool area is lovely, the showers feel like being in a spa hut as they’ve got that modern cabin feel. There’s also a fresh bread and croissant service where you order the day before and can pick up form reception in the morning!

Shower block

It’s a great location with lots nearby, as it’s up in the volcanic mountains there’s so much beautiful scenery that my camera just didn’t do justice! Vulcania a educational park with many science feautures. I wish I could say more but sadly we didn’t visit. We also drove by farms right out in the mountains where you could look around and buy their local dairy produce. We found that when we researched the local restaurants it bought up a lot of results for the more fine dining options which is ideal if you don’t have children. We noticed a lot more family friendly restaurants grouped together nearby a soft play we visited at Kizou Adventure, such as an American Diner, A potato restaurant which randomly served most things and an oriental restaurant among others!

There are loads of supermarkets nearby and the city of Claremont Ferrand is just a short drive away with lots to see including the popular Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomtion cathedral.

The two peaks in the distance are the cathedral made from dark volcanic rock, so from a distance it looks like a silhouette!

All in all we really enjoyed our stay here and were impressed with the site, I’d love to stay at another one of their 37 locations!