Get out with the kids Tue, 29 Jul 2014 19:38:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Living it up in Spain – Spanish Adventures with a bit of Luxury Sun, 27 Jul 2014 06:29:16 +0000 Living it up in Spain – Spanish Adventures with a bit of Luxury

We had a fantastic holiday in Spain that was better and cheaper than a package holiday. Here's some tips on how we did it.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Living it up in Spain – Spanish Adventures with a bit of Luxury

Normally we’re in a tent during the British ‘summer’, but every now and then we travel a bit further. This was far from being a tent…

Living it up in Spain

Most summer holidays are spent camping, hiking, canoeing, cycling, going to the beach, doing activities and visiting attractions at various places around the UK.

As much as we love the UK we do like to travel further afield but it may take us a few years to afford to do so.

We’re a family of 5 with kids getting older (airlines count kids as adults from the age of 12!) so all the regular ‘package’ type of holidays were rather pricey.

What was a surprise, that by shopping around we could hire a villa – with a private pool – to accommodate us all at a better price than those ‘package’ holidays.

one of the best family holidays we’ve had abroad
The result: one of the best family holidays we’ve had abroad.

So if you’re a larger family looking to get away and not hired a villa in Spain before, here’s our experience…

Booking a Villa

This was a DIY holiday. No travel agents involved.

Of course it means you have to do a little more work, but it really is a little. And you save yourself money in the process.

Here’s the villa we booked (Trip Advisor Review), which we hired through Holiday Lettings.

Booking a villa in Spain with Holiday Lettings (link to Trip Advisor review)
Holiday Lettings isn’t a travel agent but where private villa owners display their villa’s details and availability. As this is a private hire arrangement, you can get a lot more for your money than most tour packages.

Finding the right villa can take time. The website has search facilities so you can narrow the list of villas to those that are ‘Child Friendly‘ and have a ‘Private Pool‘.

Villas in popular holiday locations and this right next to the beach are more expensive. Look a little further out and you can get a fantastic luxury villa at a better price. You’ll be hiring a car anyway, so being a little further out shouldn’t be an issue.

Sometimes villas may have a gap in their bookings, and the owner may be offering a reduce rate so that the villa isn’t unoccupied. Look out for these deals. You can grab yourself a bargain – as we did ;-)

The booking process was painless, with a few e-mails to the owner to confirm, and then doing a bank transfer for the deposit and then final amount. Get yourself some holiday insurance that covers the cost of your holiday in case you need to cancel.

  • Search for villas that are ‘Child Friendly’
  • We recommend looking for a villa with a ‘Private Pool’ but make sure it is gated if you have young kids.
  • Look for villas away from the beach or tourist spots. They’re a lot cheaper.
  • Find a villa that has a gap in its bookings and is offering a reduced rate in order to fill that gap. You can get a bargain.

Booking the Transport

Booking flights was easily done online with budget airlines, and hiring the car online was also straightforward.

BTW, we flew from John Lennon airport in Liverpool. This is a great little airport if you are in the North West.

We flew into Alicante airport in Spain.

Collecting the hire car

Hiring a car in Spain
At Alicante Airport there’s a multi-storey car park full of car hire vehicles. Find the company you hired from and collect the keys.

escorting them to a cash point to pay a large fine
As we were loading our bags into our car another Brit came over and advised us to remove the car hire sticker from the rear windscreen. He told us that police were pulling over cars with car hire stickers and escorting them to a cash point to pay a large fine.

I don’t know if that was rumour or real, but it’s a good idea to not advertise yourself as a car hire, especially if you park up somewhere and have your luggage in the boot. Looking at the rear sticker in our hire care, it had been removed so many times before that it was barely stuck to the window anyway.

Driving in Spain

In many ways, driving in Spain is very similar to driving in France.

Motorways and the open roads were fine. However, some road junctions are just mad in towns and villages, and I can only think that the road planners never quite understood what a roundabout is.

We found several instances where there would be a large roundabout but with a road going through the middle of it, and some approach roads not quite joining the roundabout but bypassing it. And they don’t appear to standardise on give way rules, so each of these quirky roundabouts had to be handled differently.

I didn’t enjoy driving in Spain on some days
We had taken our Sat Nav after upgrading to European maps, but it had no idea what to do at these funny roundabouts either.

After doing some of these several times they became easier, but I confess I didn’t enjoy driving in Spain on some days. Lots of U-Turns.

The Villa

Some of the terraces at the villa we rented in Spain
Our villa was up in the hills in an area called La Nucia, and it was fantastic.

The owner wasn’t there to meet us when we arrived but there was another ex-pat to give us the keys and show us around. There was also an ex-pat pool cleaner & gardener that visited a few times whilst we were there. Both provided great info on where to visit.

We booked a villa with a private pool. After all, if we were going to live it up, we had to do this in style ;-)

The pool was fantastic and great for the kids. If you are thinking of hiring a villa, it is well worth getting one with its own pool.

Villa pool at night
The pool was fenced off with gates that adults could lock. If you have young kids this is essential.

We also had air-conditioning, two kitchens (including an outside one), a couple of bathrooms, a number of sun terraces and sun traps, including a roof top terrace where you could view the mountains and over look the Mediterranean sea.

The picture at the top of this page was taken one evening from the roof terrace of our villa.

we felt like royalty living it up Spain
The outside kitchen was a great addition. It included a fridge freezer so you could stock it with ice creams and cold drinks to enjoy by the pool.

Perhaps we were particularly lucky with this villa. We felt like royalty living it up Spain.

Food and Shopping

If you’ve been on a self catering holiday in a popular Spanish tourist spot, you will no doubt have experienced expensive supermarkets (usually a ‘Spa’) that don’t carry a lot of choice.

When you choose a villa away from the normal tourist spots you can find supermarkets that the locals use. There are large modern supermarkets just like Tesco, Asda, or Sainsburys, and lot cheaper than the tourist supermarkets.

Do some online research before you go of where the supermarkets are. You’ll probably also find the villa owner very helpful with where there best place to shop are.

Beaches and Attractions

Admiring the view at Guadalest
The beaches and attractions will depend on where you hire your villa, but as you have your own car, getting to different places is a lot easier and doesn’t require a ‘tour rep’ meeting to organise.

We were close to the mountains, the beaches, and even the attractions at Benidorm.

Dolphin show at Mundo Mar
Some of our favourites were Guadalest in the mountains, swimming in the mountain waterfalls (Las Fuentes Del Algar), snorkelling in Benidom (surprisingly the clearest waters with the most fish that we had found along the coast), and Mundo Mar.


If you are planning on taking your family abroad to somewhere like Spain we’d definitely advise looking at the option of hiring a villa.

We still went camping that summer too (of course!), but sandwiched it with our own custom-made luxury break in Spain.


Useful Links

  • Our villa and review on Trip Advisor. Use Trip Advisor to see what other guests think. Consider the villa we hired as recommended ;-)
  • Holiday Lettings. There’s a few private villa hire websites. We used this one and wasn’t disappointed.
  • Sky Scanner. There’s lots of websites to find flights. We found Sky Scanner useful to shop around. I think once we found the right flight, we got a cheaper deal booking direct with the airline.
  • Holiday Autos. This is the car hire company we used. There’s lots of other car hire companies too, so shop around to find yourself the best deal for your destination.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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BG Kids: Outdoor Energy Clothes for Kids Thu, 24 Jul 2014 06:46:57 +0000 BG Kids: Outdoor Energy Clothes for Kids

As any parent knows, kids have got to be motivated to enjoy doing something. We found a Bear Grylls Kids Fleece worked as a great motivator too!

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

BG Kids: Outdoor Energy Clothes for Kids

As any parent knows, kids have got to be motivated to enjoy doing something. We were surprised at how clothes can motivate…even boys!

As they say, “The extra mile is between your ears“. Your head needs to be in the right place sometimes to keep going when your legs get tired.

Any parent who has tried to get their child to walk a bit further when they’re tired knows that it’s all about motivation.

Sometimes the promise of a snack can help. We’ve also found that Geocaching can add a distraction to the walk so that kids walk a bit further (because they are enjoying it). What we didn’t expect was that clothes could help with motivation too.

So what was so motivating? Well, the kind folks over at Craghoppers sent us a Bear Grylls kid’s fleece to review, and when our little lad put this on, he was suddenly Bear Grylls, and was off!

The BG Factor

Starting a Fire
Granted, this ‘magic‘ is only going to happen if your kids know and like watching Bear Grylls.

There’s been some debate over if Bear Grylls is a good role model or not, but watching Bear is something we like to do in the winter months. The kids have certainly picked up some tips and will often build a shelter ‘like Bear Grylls‘. Fortunately they’ve not tried to fast rope down cliffs though ;-)

Our little Bear Grylls
With his BG Fleece on our youngest thought he was the BG himself. He literally ran up a really steep hill that had the adults gasping for breath to keep up.

He has been using this top now for months and it has been a must have item for camping and hiking.

The Bear Grylls Kids Fleece

Bear Grylls Infulence
Trail Fleece is a half zip fleece and is good quality, and survived the rough and tumble world of kids.

It’s a ‘micro fleece’ type of top, and is a good outer layer or mid-layer when cooler.

You can buy it direct from Craghoppers. Summer Sale

Up To 50% OFF in the Craghoppers Summer Sale

Valid until 30 August 2014 22:59:59

Bear Grylls Kids Range

Bear Grylls Kids Range

If you think your kids could do with a bit of BG inspiration then there’s a range of BG kids items to choose from, including a kids version of the distinctive outdoor trousers Bear Grylls often wears on his adventures.

Disclaimer: Thanks to the guys over at Craghoppers for providing us with a sample of their Bear Grylls kids range for us to review.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Spag Hoops and Seaweed Mon, 21 Jul 2014 06:38:31 +0000 Spag Hoops and Seaweed

Fancy foraging for your own food and cooking it over the campfire? We did with this 'Spag Hoops and Seaweed' dish, made with fresh crispy seaweed.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Spag Hoops and Seaweed

This is an extraordinary and very ordinary meal at the same time. Probably something not many people will cook when camping…

Spag Hoops and Crispy Seaweed

‘Spag hoops and seaweed’ will be in all the top restaurants this time next year….. may be not. But it is guaranteed that not many families will have cooked this when camping.

The Ordinary: Spag Hoop Stew

Cooking spag hoop stew
Spag Hoop stew is the emergency family meal.

Quite simply, it’s what you cook when you run out of food and need to go to the local shop near the campsite, where you end up grabbing various odds and ends.

Spag hoop stew
Sometimes choice can be limited. There will usually be a tin or two of spaghetti hoops.

You quite simply throw it all in the Dutch Oven and create a stew.

I think this one consisted of some sausages (sliced), tin of tomatoes, tin of mixed vegetables, a tin a beans, and of course, a tin of slag hoops.

The Extraordinary: Crispy Seaweed

Picking seaweed for Dinner

Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant and had proper crispy seaweed (not the fried cabbage version)? Well that’s what we cooked at the campsite.

Washing the seaweed
The seaweed in this case was ‘Enteromorpha’, also called ‘Green Nori’, and is one of the edible seaweeds found around the shores of Britain.  We picked it fresh from remote rocks that afternoon when we were with Ant, the Kayak King.

Now you should not go foraging for food to serve to your family without being 100% certain it is safe. Fortunately we were with an experienced guide.

You can eat this seaweed raw, or make crispy seaweed.

Campfire crispy seaweed
We washed the seaweed thoroughly, drained it, then used the Dutch Oven lid as a hot plate to dry it out.

We added some sugar to the seaweed as it baked.

Crispy Seaweed
The result was actual crispy seaweed. We were very impressed.

Unfortunately our dash at the local shop meant we didn’t have the right ingredients to make an appropriate oriental dish to go with it. Hey ho, Spag Hoops and Seaweed was born ;-)

Spag hoop stew with crispy seaweed topping


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Family Summer Walking Shoes Sat, 19 Jul 2014 06:28:49 +0000 Family Summer Walking Shoes

Hot feet when walking in the summer isn't nice. We've been putting the Salomon XA kids and adult shoes through the test, as well as the Merrell Moab shoes.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Family Summer Walking Shoes

With summer here and a lot more walking to go, we review some summer walking shoes form Mum, Dad, and Kids…

Family Summer Walking Shoes

Unless you need the additional ankle support that walking boots provide you, then boots in summer can leave your feet a little hot and bothered.

Walking shoes (sometimes called approach shoes) can provide a great alternative to boots, especially lightweight and well ventilated ones designed for dry summer days.

Here’s some shoes that we’ve been using that we really recommend.

Kid’s Choice: Salomon Kids XA

The Salomon XA Kids hiking shoes have been very reliable (your choice of socks optional!)
The Salomon Kids XA shoes have proved great all-round outdoor shoes.

The Salomon XA shoes are sometimes referred to as Trail running shoes, though we’ve found them great all round shoes for active kids.

One of our daughters has been using a pair of these since the Autumn, and though best for summer, she loved them so much that went out in them a lot during the winter, through spring, and into summer.

Salomon XA Kids shoes - even coped when swinging through the trees at Go Ape
You can imagine that these shoes have put up with a lot of punishment – including zip wire landings at Go Ape.

The shoes have been very reliable, and apart from now looking a little bit used, they are still in great condition, still comfortable, and the soles still providing grip on many different surfaces.

No laces with the Salomon XA hiking shoes
A great feature that our daughter likes about these shoes is that she doesn’t have to tie any laces.

Instead you tighten a cord and hide them away in the tongue of the shoe.

I was a bit sceptical about this when I first saw it, but they’ve worked really well and the shoes have stayed firmly on her feet.

They’re priced similar to kid’s trainers, but you get a much more appropriate outdoor shoe than you typically find in most shops selling kid’s stuff.

We bought these from Cotswold Outdoor. Remember that Cotswold Outdoor often provide discounts to outdoor organisations (such as Girl Guiding, The Ramblers, and the one we used – the British Canoe Union). These shoes are also available from Amazon.

Salomon XA Pro 2 WP -
Salomon XA Pro 2 WP -
  customer reviews...
The Salomon Kid's XA Pro 2 WP is an all terrain waterproof shoe for kids who like to play hard everywhere. Features Control Durabale Protection Anti-debris mesh Water Resistant textile Gusseted tongue stops debris entering the tongue Lace pocket Breakaway lace system Mud guard Protective synthetic toe cap Sensifit Quicklace Waterproof Non marking Contagrip Molded EVA provides lightweight cushioning and stability Die cut EVA provides excellent step in cushioning Glossary Sensifit:Sensifit system works to cradle the foot providing a precise and secure fit.Quicklace:Minimalistic and strong lace for one-pull tightening. Easy-on, easy-off.ClimadryClimadry bootie construction keeps your foot dry for at least 8 hours, in the weather conditions under which the product is expected to perform for this category.
(as of 29/07/2014 - info)

We did find the Salomon sizes were slightly smaller than normal.

Mum’s Choice: Salomon XA shoes

Salomon XA walking shoes
Yes, Shell was so impressed with our daughter’s shoes, she wanted some for herself!

Now normally the Women’s version of the Salmon XA doesn’t look exactly like the kids shoe, and the adult version are geared more to trail running. However, the kids size goes up to size 5, and the kid’s version can be about half the price, so if the shoe fits, save some money.

Dad’s Choice: Merrell Men’s Moab Ventilator

Merrell Moab walking shoes out on the trail
There was no way I was going to be able to were a child size shoe…and besides, we’d look a bit odd all wearing the same shoes ;-)

I decided to choose the well reviewed Merrell Moab Ventilator, and have been very pleased with the choice.

Merrell Air Chushion
These walking shoes are very comfortable and come with a Merrell Air Cushion inner sole.

They are also really lightweight.

Tread on the Merrell Moab hiking shoes
You can find a few different types of Merrell Moab walking shoes.

The Ventilator doesn’t have the gortex membrane (so they’re not waterproof), but that makes for a lighter more breathable shoe. Just the thing for dry and warm summer days…and just the thing for walking in one the hottest desserts in the world, which I should be doing later this year ;-)

The sole of these shoes appear to have a very good grip and I’ve found no problems on the terrain we’ve used them on. They even work well up town (if they can drag me to the shops!).

As with the other shoes we bought these from Cotswold Outdoor. You can also find them on Amazon.

Merrell Men's Moab Vent Walnut J86595 10 UK
Merrell Men's Moab Vent Walnut J86595 10 UK
 152 customer reviews...
The Merrell Moab Ventilator is a great walking shoe ideal for all-terrain trekking for the outdoorsman who is looking for mix of superb comfort and protection. It's Ventilation by name and nature as the Leather/Mesh upper provides great breathability and protection, helping keep your feet cool and comfortable throughout the day. A Bellows Tongue helps to keep out debris and add upper comfort and the shoe has also been treated with AEGIS Shield, helping your shoes stay fresher for longer.
Eligible For Free Postage
£80.00 £59.21
(as of 29/07/2014 - info)

If you are looking for summer walking shoes that won’t leave your feet too hot then you can’t go far wrong with these shoes.



This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Making family camping better for teenagers Thu, 17 Jul 2014 06:42:59 +0000 Making family camping better for teenagers

Just because your child becomes a teenager doesn't mean you need to stop family camping. Here's some great items to make camping better for teenagers.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Making family camping better for teenagers

Family camping doesn’t have to stop when you have a teenager. Here’s a few ideas to help make a better camping experience for your teenager…

Creating a better camping experience for your teenager

Camping, Teenagers, & Families

It’s only natural that as your child grows up and becomes a teenager they’ll want more independence:

  • They will not always want to go camping with mum, dad, brothers & sisters
  • They’ll want their own space that they are in control of
  • They’ll want to spend more time with their friends

For families that have been used to spending time together, this change through the teenage years can be difficult at times. But remember, they’re becoming an adult. If a group of adults went camping, we wouldn’t think twice in having multiple tents, so why not grant your son or daughter a bit of independence and get them a tent of their own?

A tent of their own?

Getting additional tents is not always practical as there’s more to take, and not to mention the cost.

However, there’s a solution to this, at least for the summer time.

We’ve written before how the Easy Camp Antic tent would be good for teenagers. Well now we’ve got our hands on one, this tent really hits the mark.

It’s quick and easy to put up, as well as having a ‘bit of attitude’ in tent design, plus comes with a matching summer sleeping bag.

This sort of tent is an ideal extra to take on family camps, enabling your teenager to have their own space.

It sleeps two as well, so if you have the car seat space, they could even take a friend.

A lot of campsites charge per head, and not per tent, and won’t mind an extra pop-up, so if you go to the right campsite, it won’t cost you any more to stay.

The tent is also ideal for back garden summer sleepovers, and easy for them to take to a friend’s house too. (Click here to read more details about this tent in our review).

Taking things further

A cool tent or sleeping bag is one thing, but you could take thing further…and be a cool parent ;-)

How about some music?

HMDX Bluetooth Speaker
A Bluetooth speaker is great for playing music from an iPod or phone.

We’ve been really impressed with this HMDX Bluetooth speaker, and have been using for about a year.

Whilst Mum and Dad doesn’t necessarily like music playing at the campsite, this is a great for your teenage son or daughter, especially if they are with friends.

Independent Eating

Light My Fire Meal Kit Contents
We want to keep family meals together, and think this is really important. However, there’s nothing to stop you encouraging your son or daughter to start being responsible for their own things, and perhaps have their own plate and cup that they have to keep clean.

We recently reviewed this Light My Fire Meal Kit that’s a perfect all-in-one set. Alternatively, this Lifeventure D of E Recommended set is rugged and does the job.

With a little bit of thinking ahead, you can get some items to keep family camping fun for all ages, including teenagers ;-)


Disclaimer: With thanks to Easy Camp for proving the Antic Pop-up tent for us to review. See our full review here.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Recommended gear for kids surfing Tue, 15 Jul 2014 06:50:49 +0000 Recommended gear for kids surfing

Just how much does it cost to buy decent surfing gear for your family? We dive through recommend family surfing gear and how much each item might cost you.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Recommended gear for kids surfing

You may have read Libby’s post on family surfing where she provided lots of useful information on surfing with kids, such as what age to start, where to go, and some recommended items to get if you want to take to the surf. If you’ve not read it, hop over there now.

In this post we dive into those recommended items to get for your kids so that you can kit out your family with good surfing gear.

Surf Gear for your family

Surf Board for Kids

BIC Minimal Padded Surfboard - ideal for kids and beginners
For a kids surfboard the recommendation was for a BIC Minimal 7′ 6″ board. We found a padded BIC Minimal 7’6 board available from Shore for £269.  This included a basic leash.

If you want a bag for your new board that’s an extra £20.

Wetsuit to keep your kids warm

We all have summer wetsuits. The sea in the UK is just too cold in summer time for extended play in the water, however Libby recommends investing that bit extra in thicker winter wetsuits.

Having tried her wetsuits, we are now looking to buy thicker winter wetsuits. They will certainly mean you’ll get more out of the British waters.

There’s a lot of places that sell summer wetsuits. Libby’s advice is to look for 5/4 mm suits.

ONeill Youth Winter Wetsuit
Again we found some appropriate child-sized wetsuits over on Shore, such as this O’Neill Youth wetsuit for ages 8 and 10 for £94 (for an 8 year old).

There are other options too. Click here to view more winter wetsuits for children.

Wetsuit Boots for Kids

ONeill Youth Wetsuit Boots
You might have to shop around for wetsuit boots to fit your child.

Here we found a matching O’Neill youth wetsuit boot at 5mm, available in XS to Large, for £14.99 from Shore.

You can also find some kids wetsuit boots over on surfdome where you can select by kids shoe size, but unfortunately a lot of the items available are for wetsuit shoes that you might wear in the summer.

Wetsuit Gloves for Kids

Alder Junior Wetsuit Gloves
As with shoes, you may find it hard to get decent wetsuit gloves to fit your child’s hand. The problem is, the wetsuit material is quite thick and I imagine very difficult to make into gloves with little fingers.

Gloves are probably only necessary in the colder months.

We did find these small 3mm wetsuit gloves over on surfdome for £11.99.

Kid’s Wetsuit Hood

Billabong Small Wetsuit Hood
A hood is a good idea when the sea or wind is cold, but you probably won’t want to wear one in summer.

We found it very difficult to find hoods specifically for children, though we did find this 2.5mm hood in an extra-small size on surfdome for £27.99.

Ear Plugs

Kids ear plugs for watersports
No one likes getting water stuck in your ear. Well you or your kids will be in and out of the water a lot when surfing, and it’s a good idea to reduce the risk of an ear infection with some ear plugs designed for water sports.

We’ve not tried these ear plugs yet, and if you’re concerned that some may be a bit big for little ears,  you can get some mouldable kid-sized ear plugs (and you can get some adult mouldable ear plugs too).

Rash Vest

You might want to get a rash vest too.

If your kids are like ours, they’ll want to be in the water until lunch, take their wetsuit off when having a picnic, and then want to go back in the water.

There’s nothing worse than putting on a damp wetsuit that has bits of sand in – especially if anyone has bit of sunburn. Wearing a rash vest underneath can help prevent the sand rubbing.

What about your keys!

key pod
If you’re all going into the water as a family (and why shouldn’t you?) then you’ll need somewhere for your keys.

A solution that’s been used by watersports enthusiast for ages in the ‘Key pod‘. This is a combination safe you can discretely lock somewhere on your car.

Frostfire Mooncode Car Key Safe
They’ve brought out a new version of the Key Pod but it’s had mixed reviews, but there are a few alternative car key safes.

The final tally

OK, so what’s the cost of kitting out one child for all year round surfing?

  • Surfboard is around £300
  • Winter wetsuit £100+
  • Wetsuit boots £15
  • Wetsuit gloves £12
  • Wetsuit hood £30

So thats around £450.

Now depending on your perspective, that may be a lot of money, or not as much as you were expecting. There are after all a lot more expensive kids activities, hobbies, and things they want (especially if they start wanting things like laptops!). The cost of not doing things can sometimes be higher.

If you are only going to go surfing a few times a year, you could save and go out with a school such as Board Games Surfing.



This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Offa’s Dyke National Trail (& Geocoin) Mon, 14 Jul 2014 05:56:05 +0000 Offa’s Dyke National Trail (& Geocoin)

Offas Dyke is an ancient 'wall' that runs between England and Wales. with a National Trail that runs along it. We've hidden a special geocoin there.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Offa’s Dyke National Trail (& Geocoin)

Not heard of Offa’s Dyke? There’s a National Trail that runs along its route, and we dropped off a special Geocoin. Hope you find it…

Offa's Dyke National Trail

What is Offa’s Dyke?

Offa's Dyke continuing over the hills
Offa’s Dyke is an ancient earth work that runs along the border between England and Wales.

Think “Hadrian’s Wall” but for England & Wales….and with a different history.

It gets its name from the Mercian King Offa, one of the great Anglo-Saxon leaders, who is said ordered its construction.

Although that would date it to the 8th century, I have heard the archeologists believe that at least part of the dyke are from a much earlier period, leading to speculation that the dyke was ‘enhanced’ by King Offa.

Walking Offa's Dyke
I’ve seen parts of Offa’s Dyke nothing more than small mound, but other sections are considerably higher, making this a very impressive man made wall.

Offa’s Dyke Path

Welcome to Shropshire Hills on Offa's Dyke Path
Running along much of the remains of Offa’s Dyke is Offa’s Dyke Path.

Offa’s Dyke Path is a National Trail. You can walk 177 miles ‘coast to coast’, starting at the estuary of the River Severn and walking to the shores of North Wales.

According to the National Trail website, you could complete the trail in two weeks. You could of course just do it in chunks as and when you can.

Geocaching and the National Trail

Of course, walking a 177 miles with kids would be a challenge, and sometimes even the shortest walk can be a challenge, but we’ve found that Geocaching is a fantastic way to get the family out hiking…. and there’s quite a few geocaches a long the route.

National Trail Geo Coin
We were honoured when the National Trail organisation asked us to place a special National Trail Geocoin in a cache hidden on Offa’s Dyke Path.

We’re not going to tell you where it is – that would be cheating…

All we’re going to say is it’s on the Shropshire / Wales border, the old Offa’s Dyke boarder to be precise.  ;-)


This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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A Family Guide to Surfing – All your questions answered Sun, 13 Jul 2014 07:26:10 +0000 A Family Guide to Surfing – All your questions answered

Many people enjoy surfing, but is it safe for kids, and can you really do it in the UK? Surf instructor Libby answers in this great guide to family surfing.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

A Family Guide to Surfing – All your questions answered

Ace family surfing instructor and outdoor activities leader Libby has created this fantastic guide to family surfing, including how old your kids should be to start surfing, where to go (yes the UK has surf!), when’s best to go surfing, and what gear you might need if your family wants to regularly ride the waves…

Family Surfing

Why Surf?

Surfing can be great fun for all the family.

The feeling you get from being in the sea = awesome! — Tweet
In the rain or on a sunny day, it doesn’t matter, it’s good fun any time as you will get wet anyway! The feeling you get from being in the sea = awesome!

What age can kids learn to surf?

Having fun in the surf
We recommend kids start learning from about age 8 as at this age they seem to understand the concept and begin to be able to catch the waves by themselves!

They can of course start before this age but you will have to be there with them, helping them to catch waves, surfing in with them and giving lots of help.

you’re never too old to give it a go!
As for Mum, Dad, Granny and Granddad…’re never too old to give it a go! We encourage everyone to try it, it really is good fun!

The best time of year for surfing

Technically there can be waves all year round. However the sea is at its warmest in August/September, after the sun has warmed it up all summer!

it’s a good idea to have a lesson with a surf school
If you have never surfed before it’s a good idea to have a lesson with a surf school as they will give you some top tips and safety advice.

If you are heading out without an instructor, hunt out beaches that are lifeguarded. Most of the popular beaches in the UK are covered from mid May until the end of August.

The RNLI provides a great service and if you surf in the right area they will keep an eye on you and the family. (Click here for a list of beaches the RNLI Lifeguards watch).

They are great for advice too, so head towards them if you are somewhere new and need to know if it is safe and the best spot! They have a whole world of info online too, lots of safety advice so look them up if you decide to go without a lesson from qualified coaches. (Click here to download the RNLI Beach Safety in the Surf guide).

Waves, wind and tides…

The most important thing is to make sure you stay safe!
Sometimes a beach will have waves – they might be small, they might be giant! The most important thing is to make sure you stay safe!

Take note of the weather and decide if it safe for you and your kids. A windy day can be fun, but not if boards are flying around like a kite (better to leave the boards and fly a kite!).  If you are not sure, best to leave it!

The tides are important too, make sure you know what they are up to! They usually go in and out, but this can mean rocks are covered that you don’t know are there, or the beach might all be covered and the waves will be crashing into a rock bank so you can’t surf! Take note of tide times, they can usually be found on a notice board near to the beach.

Click here for the Met Office weather and tide time information for beaches.

Top UK destinations for surfing…

Dude, well, to list them all would take a while so here is a summary:

Surfing in Wales

Newgale Beach
Pembrokeshire is the best (but then we might be a bit biased!) with plenty of beaches to choose from…too many in fact! One of our top ones would be Newgale as it’s big, lifeguarded in season and has the facilities too! (Click here for Newgale Beach weather & tide info).

The Gower is also a fab choice and not as far West as Pembrokeshire, so if you are short on holiday time this is great!

(Click here for Rhossili Bay weather and tide times).

Surfing in Devon and Cornwall

Inspecting the waves at Sandymouth new Bude
Great places, LOTS of beaches to play on here – too many to choose really!

Bude and Croyde are popular spots! My personal childhood favourite was Bigbury-on-sea…many good memories there!

(Click here for Bigbury on Sea tide and weather info).

[Gav: We like Sandymouth near Bude. There's a family campsite there. RNLI Lifeguard in the summer. A good beach when the tide is out. And good waves.]

(Click here for Sandymouth tide and weather info).

Scotland - A bit further away for most, but some stunning beaches! The water remains chilly up there a bit longer usually so take those wetsuits!

Practical bits & bobs….


Children learning to surf
It is important to have a board, it makes things a bit easier (but of course body surfing is an option and good fun!).

If you are not sure what you want or need get yourself into a hire shop or test centre and try some out, with advice from people that have knowledge!

If the kids really fall in love with surfing be aware they are still growing and perhaps get a board which will last them a good few years! (It might mean the board is a little big for a bit but soon it will be perfect and you don’t have to fork out for a new board every time there is a growth spurt!)

BIC Minimal Padded Surfboard - ideal for kids and beginners
The best boards for learning for kids have a soft top and slick bottom, a little bit more forgiving when they fall near it!

There are so many boards out there to choose but we at Board Games like to recommend the BIC boards as they are super durable, around about the 7’6 mini-mal size is good, for a board that will last until they are a grown up…maybe!


learning to surf
This can be expensive if they are still growing, but really do help to keep them warm!

At Board Games surfing we don’t bother with anything less than a winter 5/4mm wetsuit – nice and warm all year round.

Make sure it fits and it’s not too baggy as it won’t do much good if it’s hanging off them!  A wetsuit works by trapping water between the neoprene and the body…if it’s really baggy it just flushes with cold water constantly!

Extras you might want…

Billabong Small Wetsuit Hood
Hoods, boots and gloves – all a great addition, especially if you intent on getting in the sea all year round! They are not essential but if you have the budget, do it, it will keep everyone A LOT warmer!

Ear Plugs for Watersports
Ear-plugs – A piece of kit that is largely overlooked, but it can save on ear infections from playing in the water! If they really get into surfing too it will protect their hearing in the long run!

key pod
A key-pod – these are great bits of kit to pop your keys into when you are heading into the water. You attach it to the car and then you don’t have to worry about your keys getting wet!


find a beach, find a surf school, find a wave and go ride it! – Tweet
So that’s it…now you know a bit more, go…find a beach, find a surf school, find a wave and go ride it! Enjoy and adventure safe!


Photo Credits: Photos of kids having surfing lessons c/o Board Games Surfing.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Lifeventure Ellipse Cookware – D of E Recommended Fri, 11 Jul 2014 06:16:25 +0000 Lifeventure Ellipse Cookware – D of E Recommended

We review the Lifeventure Ellipse Cookware, which is recommended for those taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Lifeventure Ellipse Cookware – D of E Recommended

With our eldest starting her Duke of Edinburgh Award soon, we check out the Lifeventure Ellipse set…

Lifeventure Ellipse D of E plates

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is not all about hiking and camping, however that is part of it.

With so much outdoor gear available, it’s hard to know what to get if you’re not familiar with it. This is why the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme approve certain items as D of E Recommended.

Lifeventure Ellipse Cookware Review

The Ellipse Range comprises of a plate, a blow, a mug, and a knife/fork/spoon set, so that your son or daughter has everything they need at meal times.

These aren’t pop-up or foldable. There is some flex in these plastic bowls, but what’s import is that they’re simple and they’re rugged. Just what’s needed to survive being repeatedly shoved into backpacks.

The knife, fork, and spoon fit together, which helps prevent them getting lost in your bag.

They’re also one of the cheapest items you will need to get for the D of E – which is just as well as I’m sure someone will leave them behind at some point.

They come in three colours: purple, grey, green, and blue.

It’s recommended to stick to one colour when buying to make it easier to spot your items when in a group.

Here’s a video from Lifeventure. More details on the Ellipse Cookware can be found on the Lifeventure website.

Not just for D of E

We’ve been using this plate/blow/cup/cutlery set for camping and they’ve proved themselves quite rugged and still look new, despite being used extensively.

They’ve not twisted or cracked, and appear to be up to the job.

The only area for slight improvement would be to see the set stack inside one another to save a bit more space when packing away.

Other than that, the Ellipse Cookware gets a thumbs up from us.

Get Out With The Kids rating of 4 out of 5

Disclaimer: With thanks to Lifeventure for providing us with a sample of the Eliipse Cookware so that we could write this review.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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Transporting Gas Cylinders to the Campsite Wed, 09 Jul 2014 08:04:54 +0000 Transporting Gas Cylinders to the Campsite

So you've bought a gas cylinder and now you need to get it to the campsite. In this guide we look at transporting gas cylinders to the campsite, and Europe.

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

Transporting Gas Cylinders to the Campsite

So you’ve bought a gas cylinder for camping and now you need to get it to the campsite. How should you safely transport it? What are the laws on this? Fortunately it’s quite simple and just needs common sense…

Transporting your gas cylinder

Transporting Gas Cylinders to the Campsite

Unlike carrying large or commercial gas cylinders, you don’t need to put a gas warning sign on your car, or have a special driving license, but there are some sensible precautions you should take.

Cylinders should be secured so that they don’t roll around when you are driving, and should be kept upright (this is to avoid the liquid gas clogging the valve).

If you have a trailer, it’s best to carry the cylinder in that rather than your car.

If you put the gas cylinder in the boot of the car, you might want to keep a window slightly open to provide additional ventilation, just in case there’s gas leak from the cylinder.

It’s also not a good idea to leave a gas cylinder in direct sunlight in a hot car. Gas cylinders can explode when they get hot.

Having said all that, the actual risk from a small gas cylinder used for camping is quite low, and Campingaz say their cylinders are safe for transporting in a car, but it is wise to use common sense and not take any unnecessary risks when you are taking your family camping.

Transporting gas cylinders to Europe

At the time of writing, Eurotunnel had a 47kg limit on a single gas cylinder, but it must be less that 80% full.

For your typically family campers with a tent, a 47kg container is extremely large, and you’ll be fine with the normal smaller containers, such as the Campingaz R907 (which is only 2.75kg).

When you check in you may asked if you are carrying any gas, and they may want to inspect your gas cylinder, so make sure it is easily accessible.

Please check with Eurotunnel for their latest rules before travelling.

Ferry Operators have similar rules to Eurotunnel. You need to check your ferry operator before travelling, and check your route too as it can vary for different destinations.

As a general guide:

  • The amount of gas cylinders you are allowed to transport can vary. When we checked, different routes had different rules, as you can see below:
    • up to 1 x 47kg cylinder
    • up to 2 x 11kg cylinders
    • up to 3 x 11kg cylinders
    • up to 3 x 15kg cylinders
  • Any gas must be off
  • Declare the gas cylinder (most require this when you check-in)
  • Cylinder is secured and upright
  • Cylinder is accessible for inspection

Thousands hop over the channel with their gas cylinders to go camping in France and the rest of Europe. If you are taking the appropriate measures, you won’t have a problem.

Remember, Say no to CO

Remember, gas is dangerous. Carbon Monoxide Kills.

Tents are generally designed with sufficient ventilation for humans, and not sufficient ventilation for cooking. It’s not just condensation from cooking in your tent that could cause a problem, but if there’s not sufficient ventilation for the the gas, you could build up harmful fumes in your tent.

We create a cooking shelter outside. Cooking in an open porch is possible, but always keep it away form the tent walls.

Keep your gas cylinder outside of your tent
Don’t store your gas cylinder in your tent. Keep it outside, but try to keep the cylinder and regulator out of the rain.

You can get gas heaters for your tent, but this is something we’re not taking the risk with. I know, there are safety cut offs, etc., but I’m not going to put my family’s life on the line for a cheap cut-off valve.

So, please, keep it out of your tent, use common sense, and say no to CO.

Cooking with Gas – Your guide to getting started with cooking with gas at the campsite

This is the fourth article in a series to help you get up and running with a camping stove.

The next article (coming soon) shows you some great accessories for your gas camping stove.

<< Fitting a Regulator

This post was originally published on Get out with the kids

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