There’s a certain excitement in the Blogosphere air. Even writing this first paragraph I have butterflies in my tummy. If you are into blogging or reading blogs then you may see lots of travel posts circulating about being a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad at the moment. Bloggers up and down the country keen to become a part of the fantastic ambassadorship programme from Mark Warner Holidays. Something that I have only heard amazing, inspiring and heart felt love for. Anyone who has been on one of their fantastic holidays or who has been an ambassador for seems to only have good things to say and it’s no surprise their accolades feature consecutive awards for excellence, or that their innovative approach to holidaying with children are regarded as some of the best trips in the world.

#markwarnermum travel to Bruge to document for Mark Warner Mum ambassadorship 2017

As both a Mum of 2 young boys and a huge fan of travel this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get stuck into. We’ve been so fortunate in the past to have done a lot of traveling and have managed to see so much of the world as young and care (child!) free singletons. Flash forward 5 years Stuart is out the house 12 hours a day working and as soon as the children go to bed it’s my turn to work. Time together is a fragile balance and duly savoured over the weekends, our carefree days exchanged for a blur of nappies and sleepless nights.

I’m on a forever mission to be the fun mum: This usually ends in major #mumfail. Like that time I tried to impress my 3 year old and ended up flying face first off of a trampoline, almost breaking my knee. Or when I fell head first into a river, in an attempt to get the perfect angle for a family photo. Laughter is the soundtrack to our parenting style and without fail Stuart will be able to make the boys fall about in fits of it mid toddler meltdown, essential skills for life with 2 under 4!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

We love to make all of our travels an adventure even within our own country but I’ve been thinking a lot lately how I would love to spend quality time as a family learning new things, and not just seeing new things. A chance for balmy days spent teaching the boys to swim under the summer sky, the opportunity for Stuart and I to learn a sport or skill together. I love that there are so many activities available on a Mark Warner Holiday that we can take part in as a family, but with the unique opportunity to put the children into childcare while we rekindle our passions together, or even learn a new exciting challenge neither of us have done before like water sports!

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

After we had Henry we did a little traveling in North America, however latterly our adventures have been constrained to the UK. You see traveling with children isn’t quite what it used to be. Gone are the spontaneous weekends away, jumping on the Eurostar a distant memory. Our Top 10 holiday essentials are not quite what they used to be. As part of the challenge to become a #MarkWarnerMum or #MarkWarnerDad I’ve been asked to share my top 10 travel must-haves…Now if you’re a parent also you’ll know that packing isn’t quite the same post children, so I thought I would share my top 10 holiday essentials – before and after kids!

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES BEFORE KIDS….

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

 

  1. Outfits. 3 per day. Hiking in the morning, perusing the town’s market in the afternoon, not forgetting a special dress for each evening to wear to a fancy restaurant.
  2. Bikinis. 7 in total. Well I can’t be seen in the same one in each photo?!?
  3. Books. Plenty of them and as many magazines. Hours spent reading, lounging by the pool ordering cocktails and nachos.
  4. Factor 6 tanning oil. No responsibilities and no apparent awareness for sun safety!
  5. Cocktails!! See points 1 and 3. Time to drink and party and roll in at 4am...well we wont be getting up ’til noon anyway so we can worry about the hangover tomorrow…
  6. Make Up. Lots of it. A bag full! Nights out are prefixed by 2 hours blissfully getting ready by myself.
  7. Sun bathing. Not a must have, but certainly a must-do. To be done at our leisure. Hot? Take a dip in the pool or a trip to the swim-up bar…
  8. Accessories. Planning outfits months in advance and making sure I have just the right fedora to compliment that new Maxi dress of mine.
  9. Hair dryer, straighteners, tongs, curling iron…Did I mention I have 2 hours to get ready each night??
  10. The Spa. Ahhh, the spa. Couples massage? Go on then, we’re on holiday after all…

TOP 10 TRAVEL MUST-HAVES AFTER KIDS….

 

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

  1. Outfits. 3 in total for the week including something I can be comfortable in whilst cosying up on the sofa once the children are down to sleep.
  2. Bikinis. High-waisted essential to hide inevitable mum-tum. In fact a swimsuit would be best. There’s a whole lot of bending down involved when looking after children by the pool.
  3. Books. Hmm, I had one of those once. It was replaced with an iPad, pre-loaded with the CBeeBies App.
  4. Factor 50 sun block. To be frantically applied 6 times a day, attempting to avoid mixing with sand, dodging imminent toddler meltdown.
  5. Juice…Squash. Water. Ice Pops. Anything to make sure little one is hydrated and won’t suffer from heat exhaustion when all they want to do is play. Repeat hourly.
  6. CC Cream. Store by the front door so you can apply quickly on your way down to breakfast (after having packed 4 beach bags full of stuff, wrestled toddlers to get dressed, yawned 3,000 times)
  7. Bucket and spade, frisbee, skittles. Anything to entertain the children with. Why not build a huge sandcastle with big windows for you to look out of over at the couples sunbathing, carefree, cocktail in hand.
  8. Accessories. 12 children’s sun hats – ensuring you have at least 1 that doesn’t get lost throughout the week.
  9. Dry Shampoo. You may, if you’re lucky, have time for at least one shower without a small visitor or 2 tugging at the shower curtain. Maybe take a couple of cans just in case.
  10. Baby Wipes. Ever been at a spa where they bring round cold cloths for your hot brow? I have and it was bloody glorious. Well that you can forget that. Instead bring 247 packs of wipes for all those baby related spills, scrapes and sick.

Check out my #MarkWarnerMum Pinterest Board for more Travel must-haves and holiday Pins!

I hope our passion for travel is passed down to the children. There really is so much to see in this world and I love showing the boys the beauty that travel has to offer. As part of our application I’ve made a little vlog of our travels in 2016, we would love it if we could make a very special one for 2017!

 

#nofilter – have you ever seen a more incredible sunset?!

top 10 holiday essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

I’d love to know how your must have holiday items have changed since having children – let me know below!

This has been my application to become a #MarkWarnerMum, Thank you for reading xx

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

top 10 travel essentials Mark Warner ambassadorship programme entry for Adventures Of A Mum Lara Joanna Jarvis #markwarnermum

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I love the planning that goes into organising a romantic weekend away. The anticipation, the excitement of escaping the ordinary. Before we had children we used to book a weekend at a spa or jump in the car to another city every couple of months. Being based in the South of England, we’re lucky to have lots of beautiful places within a couple of hours drive away and equally just on our doorstep. I love getting lost in beautiful surroundings, learning things about the places we go and I’m passionate about exploring close to home as well as further afield.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

It is especially exciting planning a weekend away now, because since becoming parents they are understandably rare. In fact I think we have only done one or two so far, but as the boys are getting older, in turn they are getting (slightly) easier to send to doting grandparents. Equally we love to show the boys the adventures we can have as a family, hopping in the car and going off on a road trip together. Although it has to be said it’s not quite as spontaneous as it once was when we only had to think of our own needs.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

As Valentine’s Day approaches I’m sure many couples are planning romantic ventures, be it at home or away. There’s a certain pressure that comes with a weekend spent with a new partner, a relationship in its infancy is put to the test when trying to plan for a weekend away together. It can certainly be a deal breaker. It’s probably a good idea to have spent a couple of nights together before putting your relationship to the test of a full weekend away. There’s nothing quite as awkward as realising actually you’re not the match you thought you were, when 300 miles from home and have 2 days to get through.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

I love the spontaneity of a loosely organised trip. Not knowing exactly what lies ahead provides extra excitement and adventure to your weekend. Showing your partner how you can be flexible can be an endearing quality, especially if you have children who don’t normally allow for such impulsive freedom. Getting insider tips from the hotel staff for the best brunch in town, or the secret spots they don’t show you in the guide book can be exciting and a fun way of getting to know each other. It’s great to discover the places on foot too if you have the time to meander through village streets without time constraints.

how to plan a romantic weekend away

It’s especially important to make time for a romantic weekend away if you have children and rarely spend time together as a couple. Even just to give yourself that time, have a bubble bath without interruptions, to take things slowly, enjoy each other’s company like you used to be able to without having to think of your children first. Rediscover each other, remember what made you fall in love with one another in the first place. It’s so so hard to make time for yourselves in day to day life amidst the school run, the food shop and the daily battles with getting children to eat their dinner. Each day ending with falling into bed, your head hitting the pillow desperately hoping for a few straight hours of shut eye and any thoughts of intimacy as distant as the memory of a full nights sleep. We’ve all been there and it’s only natural to put yourself and each other last.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Finding the perfect spot for your weekend of romance is key to getting the mood right. Whether that’s a weekend of escaping to the countryside to an exquisite peaceful retreat where you can spend the whole weekend soaking up the splendour of the romantic setting, walking amongst stunning gardens and taking time over afternoon tea. A weekend in the City, shopping all day, fine dining and taking in a show by night. Or perhaps an action packed weekend of fun and mayhem, jumping on the Eurostar and picking a destination as you get to the station. It’s important to choose something that you would both enjoy and that is an escape from the norm. Personally I like to make sure I get as much from the weekend as possible, which means the less travel the better – there’s not much point flying to New York if you only have 48 hours to enjoy your adventure.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire  Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

Packing for a weekend away needs to start with the bag. Nothing too big so that you have to check it in for a flight, nothing too small so you have to scrimp on outfit options. I found the perfect bag whilst scouring one of my favourite websites, where I often get lost scrolling through their pages of beautiful homewares, iconic designers and luxury gifts. It’s just one of those sites where you want everything. I knew I wanted to get something uber stylish and special for a weekend bag because it will be something I use time and time again. This beautiful Ted Baker weekend holdall is a definite investment piece and one that I think will see me through years of adventures.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall HampshireValentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What ever you do, wherever you go, it’s important not to put too much pressure on yourselves to be romantic, just relax, enjoy the time do something fun together.

Valentine's Day romantic weekend away for 2 on a date at Tylney Hall Hampshire

What’s your favourite kind of adventure?

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“Outside

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With thanks to Tylney Hall for the use of their stunning hotel in rural Hampshire.

I love living so close to London, it’s just a quick 45 minute train to get to the city and each time I go I try to find new places to explore. Many of my school friends have settled in London so it’s always nice to pop up and visit. but having to make a quick dash for that last train is always a stressful experience. Sometimes it’s so much more convenient to stay up there, so when I was invited by Novotel to check out their stylish and contemporary hotel in the Royal borough of Greenwich I was really pleased.

Novotel #1000 stories blog

Sadly I didn’t get to the hotel until pretty late, so I didn’t utilise all of the facilities such as the stylish bar, pool or international cuisine restaurant. I did, however, very much enjoy a full night’s sleep in the super comfortable bed dressed in eco-designed “LIVE N DREAM” comfort bedding and pillows – a real treat which anyone with young children will agree!

Nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

#1000 stories with Novotel

#1000 stories with Novotel

Any hotel which offers Nespresso on tap is a winner for me. I love being able to have a strong coffee in the comfort of my pyjamas before heading down to breakfast.

nespresso with Novotel #1000 stories

I was racing out the door first thing the next day on my way to Blogfest so I just had enough time to grab a quick bite to eat from the breakfast buffet which included a nice selection of continental and cooked options. I probably should have loaded up more but I was, of course, being characteristically late!

Breakfast was served with view. The cosy cobbled streets and iconic red telephone box set the scene for a traditional London landscape. Morning was rising with a cool dampness to the air and I was excited for the day ahead meeting lots of fellow bloggers. It was such a shame I couldn’t explore the area as from what I had seen it had so much to offer. I’d love to go back again with the boy’s when I had more time to take a look around the area; especially as they offer great facilities for families. The hotel was so close to the train station it was really convenient to navigate to despite feeling quite far out initially.

#1000 stories with Novotel

Greenwich has a unique village feel to it, home to a World Herritige site, a Prime Meridian and where hemispheres meet. It’s so easy to get to out of central London, and the over ground train takes you through the winding tracks above Canary Wharf’s waterways which is never something I’ve seen from such a perspective.

I loved that all the toiletries were Fairtrade. Novotel is committed to PLANET 21, the sustainable development programme of the AccorHotels and there are many eco friendly materials used throughout the hotel.

Novotel #1000 stories blog 

Thanks to Novotel, Greenwich for inviting me to stay. You can take a further look at my stay at over on my YouTube 

If you stay with Novotel make sure you tag #1000stories on social media to share your story.

 

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Last week we were invited along to Bluestone Wales and during our time there we went along to the Kingdom Of The Elves attraction – a must if you are visiting at Christmas. Our mission was to find Rudolph who had gone missing – the adventure took us around a series of magical rooms accompanied by several different characters to help us find our way through.

Kingdom Of The Elves at Bluestone Wales a must see Christmas attraction for all the family

Each room in the Kingdom Of the Elves was magical and all the Elves were engaging and energetic and the boys had the most amazing time running around trying to find Rudolph.

Kingdom Of The Elves at Bluestone Wales a must see Christmas attraction for all the family

Our Elf Mission was to track down Rudolph following a series of clues – Equipped with a Super Cloak and Tracker Cuff we had to help the Elf Reindeer Ranger to find Rudolph and get him back into his stable. Pop over to my YouTube channel to take a look at the full video of our experience – I’d love it if you took a look!

Kingdom Of The Elves at Bluestone Wales a must see Christmas attraction for all the family

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Ok, ok…I know…I have been a really bad blogger, but I have an excuse!! I’ve had major tech issues recently and have had to get a new computer which has caused all sorts of problems. Annnnnd, I’m doing Vlogmas!!! We’re 12 days in, and it’s been so much fun but also so stressful!! It’s basically taken up all my time, so I have had to let the blog fall by the wayside slightly. I really hope you are going to enjoy all the content I have been putting out over on my YouTube channel…come and take a look at what’s been going on…

I'm doing Vlogmas I would love it if you subscribed!

 

So far we’ve had things like a trip to Bruges….

Bruges travel guide what to do in Belguim at Christmas

Train journeys to meet Santa

Meet Santa on a steam train at the Watercress Line in Alresford Hampshire

Making a Christmas Eve Hamper

Find out what we are putting into our Christmas Eve Box

Doing lots of Christmas Crafts with the children…

Christmas crafts how to make reindeer food

And one of my absolute faves, a video with Stuart where I laughed the whole way through…

I filmed the 12 questions tag with my husband Stuart and laughed the whole way through it

I would really love it if you checked out my channel and subscribed to see more. I am lucky that I can call this my job, and I would love your support in making it a success!

OR CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO MY CHANNEL:
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You can find me in these following places if you’d like to get in touch, or see more of our adventures!

BLOG – http://www.adventuresofamum.com
TWITTER – www.twitter.com/mumadventures
INSTAGRAM – www.instagram.com/mumadventures
SNAPCHAT – www.snapchat.com/mumadventures
PINTEREST – https://www.pinterest.com/mumadventures
FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/adventuresofamum

Thank you for watching xx

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