The Top 10 Hottest Places on Earth

*Commissioned post*

I don’t know about you but booking holidays is very much top of the agenda in our household at the moment – as I wrote last week we are working hard to prioritise travel as a family and already have a couple of trips booked in and one more in the offing.  There are so many places that Dave and I would love to visit, both on our own and with the children.  I aspire to be like my parents who heading off on big adventures and ticking off new places all the time – but for now we are working on family friendly destinations which means, with a family that is 40% ginger, the hottest places on earth are probably not places we’ll be travelling to any time soon.  If the current drop in temperatures has you craving extreme heat, check out the infographic below for information on the hottest places in the world and the logistics around travelling there!

The Top 10 Hottest Places on Earth

Infographic by LED Hut

Siblings – January 2019

I almost forgot to do the first Siblings post of the year!  I just hadn’t clocked the date, despite having had the photos ready for a couple of weeks . . . I took them up in Heaton Park on New Year’s Eve – how’s the for organisation!

These three are much happier with each other now they are back at school after Christmas – the bickering has died down and a general level of acceptance appears to have resumed.  Ben and Chloe are much happier in each other’s company than they’ve been for quite a while, I’ve caught them snuggled up watching TV together fairly regularly or disappearing off to play little games together – of course this now means that Amy is feeling a little left out and making her feelings known; “You never play with me. . . ” might have been uttered which I think we all know is utterly ridiculous.  I guess this is the joy of three, someone will always feel left out even when they aren’t!

A Weekend Update – Maximo Park, Saturday Mash Up and a Surprise Birthday Party!

Colette Burgess - family lifestyle travel blogger

I started to write a really long caption on instagram about our weekend and then realised that perhaps I actually just needed to write a blog post! When I first started to use instagram my captions were but a sentence or two – over the years instagram has become something of a micro blog however I fear that perhaps this at the detriment of my actual blog. I often don’t write about the normal, every day moments now as they tend to spill out on instagram and I feel satisfied that I’ve said what I need to say. But not today, today I’m going to take the time to tell you all about what we’ve been up to over the course of the weekend – you might not even be interested but I know in years to come I will be glad to have captured more of these moments on my blog, after all – that’s what it’s there for!

Colette Burgess - family lifestyle travel blogger

It has been a really long and lovely weekend, one which essentially started on Thursday night with a quick jaunt across the M62 for a relatively last minute gig. Maximo Park have been one of my favourite bands for about 14 years now and I’ve seen them play live more times than I can count – from their first album launch party on a boat on the Tyne with Will, a signing in HMV in Leeds or countless venues in varying sizes across the North – if they were touring, we were watching. Before Christmas the announcement came that Lukas, the keyboard player, would be leaving the band and a farewell gig was planned for last Thursday night in Leeds. Well of course there was no question that we would go. Tickets were frantically booked for the sell-out gig and babysitting favours called in. The gig was awesome – I cried. My shedding a tear at a gig isn’t completely unknown, I’ve often welled up at a Bloc Party gig if they’ve played my favourite song but I’m pretty sure I’ve never cried at a Maximo Park gig before.  This time it was a combination of joy at hearing some of my favourite tracks (especially older ones from the first album or two) and sadness that it was never going to be quite the same again. The banter on stage was hilarious but emotional and we all knew it was a pretty special gig. It’s rare that you go to send a band knowing that it will be the last time and it really does add a bit of an edge to the proceedings.  Maximo Park will carry on, they plan to bring someone new into the fold, but Lukas will be sorely missed.

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What a crowd, what a night! Thank you all for your support.

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Of course the gig meant for a pretty late night on a school night – not just for us but for Mich who was babysitting so we were extremely grateful to her for enabling us to go!

On Friday night, we had Chloe’s friend Violet to stay for the first time – this wasn’t a planned sleepover so much as a last minute decision to help her parents out and to make my life easier on Saturday morning. We were quite strict with the girls as we didn’t want them to get too giddy and not sleep but predictably they were still awake till about 10pm. At 4am I had giggles and chattering coming from Chloe’s room so I went in, growled at them both that it was the middle of the night, removed Chloe, plonked her in bed with Amy and went back to sleep to await my 6.30am alarm. I didn’t actually get to say asleep till 6.30am as Amy and Chloe decided to get up at 6am . . .

Early start at Media City, Salford to be on Saturday Mash Up, CBBC

The reason for the early start was that Ben, Chloe and Violet were going to be in the live studio audience for Saturday Morning Mash Up so I had to get them up to the BBC in Salford for 7.45am. As you can imagine they were all super excited about the prospect of being on TV and had a great time! I basically spent several hours sat in a nearby Costa getting some work done in peace before picking them up again.

Saturday Mash Up audience

Once we’d dropped Violet off and had some lunch we hot footed it over the M62 to York – we had to take two cars as we’ve not yet sorted a new bike rack and needed to take Ben and Dave’s bikes over with us. We took advantage of being in two cars to split the kids up in the hope that they might get some sleep. About half way to York I suddenly realised I’d forgotten to pack my shoes for our night out – I was wearing a pair of bright blue running trainers which were clearly not going to cut the mustard so poor Dave had to turn round with Ben and Chloe to go and pick up my shoes. I think had it been Dave who had turned up without shoes we’d have been able to pick him up a pair fairly cheaply in York but I have awkward feet and we just couldn’t risk it!

Saturday night saw us heading to Leeds (for the third time in as many days) so celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday party – only he didn’t know anything about it! Heck I’ve not been to a surprise party since I was a child and had no idea it would be so stressful! The nerves ahead of the guest of honour arriving were crazy. However, all was well – they arrived without a hitch and had no idea what was going on. We had a really lovely evening catching up with friends – it’s so rare we all get to see each without the kids. Of course by the time we left the party, drove back to York via a cheeky McDonalds I think I finally got to sleep about 2am.

Young boy learning to ride his new road bike 

We spent yesterday doing very little at my parents’ house before heading home around tea time. Dave took Ben out on his bike with my Dad and sister for his first team training ride – but Dave and I will write about that separately.

All in we’ve had a really lovely but busy weekend so today I had planned to take the time to do less – to give myself permission to slow down and relax but I’ve just spent most of the last hour on the phone chasing an unpaid invoice . . .

Prioritising Family Holidays and our Travel Plans for 2019

Holiday blues

For a long time our travel plans have been very much UK based.  In fact for the first twelve years that Dave and I were together we only had two foreign holidays – both staying at my Uncle’s apartment in Spain.  Growing up a foreign holiday wasn’t standard for either of us – my parents had different financial priorities – mainly moving house a lot as a result of Dad’s job.  As such it has meant that booking an annual summer holiday hasn’t really been a thing for Dave and I – it just isn’t an expectation for either of us.  A foreign holiday has always been seen as something of a luxury.

Kids on the beach in France- blue sky

We took the kids abroad for the first time in summer 2015 when we travelled to Benodet for a family holiday with my parents and sister.  It was hard work – the long drive was hard work, the long ferry crossing even harder and we found keeping an eye on three young children in an unfamiliar place quite stressful.  As my friend’s husband once said, “It isn’t a holiday, it’s just looking after the kids somewhere else”.   But we knew that as each year passed it would become easier.

Last year we travelled to France for a second time to stay at Chateau de lez Eaux with Eurocamp and had a really lovely break – the kids travelled really well, and we all benefited from the quality time together.  We found we didn’t have to be watching them every second – we could sit on the beach and set them boundaries, or sit at the bar and watch them play in the park, Ben even started going to the campsite shop on his own to pick up our breakfasts – it stopped being “looking after the kids somewhere else” and felt like a real holiday.

Children on the beach in Normandy

Of course in July we upped our holiday game even further by taking the children on their first flight and popping our all-inclusive cherry with a week’s stay at Holiday Village Tenerife where we experienced the joy of top quality kids’ clubs, beautiful hotel rooms and all inclusive dining as well as an awesome day trip to Siam Park.   Lying in the sun, reading a book whilst the kids were being fully entertained and cared for, we really felt we were living the holiday dream and at that point agreed that we would start to try and prioritise an annual summer holiday.

Holiday Village Tenerife kids in quiet pool

This year we already have a fairly full calendar of trips planned in.  We’re thrilled to be working with Eurocamp again this year when we will be testing our travellers with a much longer car journey down to the South of France in search of sunshine in May!  We’re planning to break up the long drive from Manchester to Languedoc with stopovers in Dover (which means a bonus visit to my Aunty M) and Loire – it means we will essentially have our road tripping spread over three days and we’re hoping to make it part of the adventure rather than a chore.  Instead of stopping off at services for a quick half hour lunch and a wee, we want to take a leaf out of Donna‘s book and try to find some nice parks or National Trust type properties to really stretch our legs and explore along the way.  (Suggestions and recommendations welcome!)

We’re planning a “multi-generational villa holiday” in the summer – which basically means we’re going on holiday with Mum & Dad and Aunty Nic again.  This time we’re going to book a large villa with a private pool which should tick boxes for allowing the grown ups to relax whilst keeping the kids well entertained (they practically grow gills on holiday!)  We haven’t quite decided on a destination as yet, we need somewhere where we know we’re going to get the sunshine we all crave without it being too hot that we can’t sit out in it, we’re looking for a nice nearby town to escape to for lunches or dinner without the kids and a water park (I think this is more for Dave’s benefit than anything else!).   (Again, suggestions and recommendations are more than welcome!)

Holiday blues

And then finally, Dave and I have booked a child-free trip to Italy in August.  Long time readers will know that were extremely lucky that Dave’s mum likes to have the kids for around a week for us in August which we’ve fondly nicknamed “Fun Week” – this is usually a time we concentrate on getting jobs done around the house, going out for breakfast and drinking cocktails in the afternoon.  This year though, one of my oldest friends, has invited us to his 40th birthday party in Minori and the timing was perfect for us.  We’ve managed to book a five night stay in Italy with my best friend and her husband which I’m stupidly giddy about – Kirst and I last went on holiday together fifteen years ago!  I’m so excited for a proper grown up holiday with some of my favourite people – it’s definitely shaping up to be a highlight of the year for us!

So, as you can see, it’s already looking like a pretty busy year before we’ve even factored in festivals and UK-based adventures!  What travel plans have you got for 2019?

Tried & Tested Tuesday (Week 2 – 2019)

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Good morning and HAPPY NEW YEAR! I don’t know about you but I feel like the new year only really got started yesterday when the kids went back to school (though from what I saw on social media there were plenty of INSET days going on yesterday too!)

In case you are new here – let us tell you what Tried & Tested is all about. We all know how useful reviews can be. Most bloggers do them – be it things they have bought themselves or have been asked to review. They are a useful tool for people looking for honest and thorough reviews of products they need, things they are considering buying, or even to introduce people to exciting new products they have never even heard of. You can find out more about how to join in here.

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Creative Ways to Get Your Child to Play with Toys and Get Off Their Gadgets

*Collaborative Guest Post*

Parents are facing a challenge in these modern times face, and that is getting their children away from screen use or at least reducing their screen time. The advent of technology has taken away the quality time of children to play outside or with other kids. Many kids spend more time playing mobile or computer games or watching television, depriving them of physical activity. It is important to manage their screen time as experts say that too much of this affects their development, linking it to speech delay, poor motor skills and other issues. Here are some techniques to help keep your child away from gadgets.

Child playing computer games

Set an example

It will be difficult to teach your child to lessen screen time if they see you engaged with gadgets yourself. Set a good example to your child by also teaching yourself to reduce the use of gadgets if it is not important. Instead, allow time for doing something with the children.

Get them busy

Playing mobile games or watching a lot of TV means your child has a lot of spare time. Get them busy doing other things they like. Change their routine and encourage them to hone their interests. Perhaps they love to draw, take pictures, or play football. Speak with them and plan how you can switch to a more productive activity. Do not let them become bored, and just settle for playing mobile games, by keeping them busy or thinking of other things to do.

Encourage hobbies

This is related to the second tip, but it is merely a way to keep them busy. Observe your child’s interest or ask them. From that, help them develop their hobbies such as painting, assembling puzzles, dancing, drawing, singing and many others. Buy educational yet inexpensive toys from Pound Shop. You will be surprised at the endless possibilities that can even foster their creativity or improve their physical health. The key is to be involved and encourage them. Getting them involved in sports is a great idea as well.

Teach them house chores

Time away from gadgets is an excellent chance for children to learn new skills and responsibilities such as house chores. Patiently teach them chores that they can do. This way, you also teach them the responsibility that can help them throughout their life.

It is very tempting just to give a child a gadget to get them busy so as not to disturb you or throw tantrums at an inconvenient time. However, the impact of too much screen time for both children and adults is huge. You might need to reduce your gadget use as well in order to be effective. What fosters a good relationship between parents and children is quality time together. If you have time to spend checking your social media account, you also have time to teach your kids or to bond with them. The first thing to do is accept that you also have a part in them being hooked on screens, so you should make positive changes together.


Sixteen Goals for 2019

Colette Burgess - family lifestyle travel blogger

Although we’re now a full week into the new year, I’m only just putting my goals down on paper (so to speak!) now.  Today is the first proper day back at school / work for us after Christmas – we’ve been putting it off and taking advantage of lie ins and cosy days at home, finishing off the festive treats and watching films as well as getting some much needed jobs done around the house.  As such, I feel like the new year starts today for us!

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Top 7 Tag for 2018

My lovely friend Jane from Hodgepodge Days tagged in me in the Top 7 Tag which features:

Your Favourite 7 Posts from 2018. They can be any posts at all that you are proud of.

7 Things You Loved The Most About 2018 Whether you visited somewhere, or just had one of those moments you will never forget, if you loved it, list it!

7 Things You Are Looking Forward to in 2019.Whether those plans are set in stone or you something you would like to do this year, share with us.

In theory I’m supposed to tag another seven bloggers to take part but what I’m actually going to do is say – hey, if you want to then do!

7 Favourite Blog Posts from 2018

I always find it hard to look back over a year and pick out favourite posts – I end up spending ages looking through things I’d forgotten I’d even written!  I recently wrote a post about my most viewed blog posts of 2018 but these are not necessarily my favourites or even ones which were written in 2018.  So, in no particular order, here’s my seven favourite blog posts of 2018:

10 Reasons you need to use Google Keep

Learning Personal Survival Skills During Swim Academy Pyjama Week

Timber Festival 2018 – Family Festival Review

Just So Festival 2018 – Our Highlights

Twenty Reasons why you should book Holiday Village Tenerife

Visiting Siam Park With Kids

Supply Teaching – Six ways to get re-booked


7 Things I Loved Most About 2018

2018 was a pretty lovely year all things considered – we travelled a lot (more than we had expected), got a few jobs done around the house (though perhaps not as many as planned) and spent a lot of time with friends and family.  I could list so many great things about 2018 but the things which came to mind first were;

1. Seeing my best friend get married to a very lovely man and having a really wonderful time celebrating them.



2. Realising I could speak more French then I thought and that holidaying with our team is definitely a lot easier than it used to be



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After all our worries about the weather we were treated to an absolute beaut of a day today ☀️ We spent a good hour or so in the local supermarket fetching supplies this morning and then after lunch took ourselves down to the beach – because you haven’t really been on holiday till you’ve felt the sand between your toes! Looking at the forecast, I’m not sure we’ll see the beach again this week but our @eurocampholidays site (@campinglezeaux) has an indoor pool which the kids fell in love with this evening – Amy stunned Dave & I by braving (and loving) the biggest slide on her own ❤️ I was sure she’d take all week to be brave enough! (Oh and check out my insta stories for a pool related injury…)

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3. Our first all inclusive family holiday



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I’m already missing this view! After a pretty late flight last night, we got home about 5.15am, slept for most of the morning before dashing over to York for a family party. I don’t want think any of us were really ready to leave #HolidayVillageTenerife – Amy wanted to stay forever, Ben has decided he’d like to live in the hotel when he’s older or invent a time machine to go back to our holiday. All three kids had the time of their lives and I can’t wait to tell you more about it when I get back into work mode next week! In the meantime my tan is already peeling, I’ve got a full on ‘Let’s Get Ridiculous’ ear worm and SO much washing to do that I’m tempted to just throw it all away and start again! #FirstChoice #HomeofallInclusive @firstchoiceholidays

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4. Seeing all three kids grow in confidence in the swimming pool



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Hola from Holiday Village Tenerife! We managed to keep this trip a secret from the kids right up until the last minute – only telling them on Thursday that they would be missing the end of term and not telling them where we were going till we got to the airport! Amy was convinced we were going camping 😆 The three of them were absolute super stars on their first flight, coping well with a bit of a delay and some confusion over transport which meant we didn’t get to our hotel till the middle of the night! We’ve had the laziest day – we slept in and completely missed breakfast then didn’t leave our hotel room till nearly lunch time. We decided our main focus for the day was just to get our bearings as the hotel is absolutely vast! Highlights for the kids so far have been being able to freely help themselves to slush, three swimming pools and the entertainment put on by the reps! #HolidayVillageTenerife #FirstChoice #HomeofallInclusive

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5. Finding a school I really love to work in on a regular basis

6. All the sunshine


7. Festival fun with friends


(It would appear, from this list, that the summer months were my favourite!)

7 Things I am Looking Forward to in 2019

I feel like on the whole, 2019 should be quite a settled year for us – though voicing that out loud does seem a little risky!  Looking ahead we have some lovely plans for the year but there’s no big changes to our routine forecast – everyone is in full time school, Dave and I are both pretty settled in our working arrangements and we have no plans to move house or add to our family – of course I could be looking back on this in six to twelve month’s time and wondering what on earth I was thinking but for now I’m feeling pretty content heading into the new year.

So, seven things I’m looking forward to in 2019 – the first four are all travel related unsurprisingly; taking Ben to Alton Towers for his “coming of height” trip with Aunty Custard and Uncle Chris, a family holiday to the South of France with Eurocamp in May half term, a summer villa holiday (location as yet undecided!) and a child free trip to the Minori for a good friend’s 40th birthday party.  And then the final three are more home based – we’re hoping to finally get on top of our garden and have an artificial lawn laid, I’m looking forward to the living room finally being finished now that we’ve removed the fireplace (I’ve hated it for the last decade) and last but I’m just looking forward to enjoying my family as they are.

We're going on an adventure family photo December 2018

Me and Mine – December 2018

It’s been ages since I’ve published a Me & Mine post, in fact it’s a whole year ago!  I can’t believe I haven’t shared a family photo since December last year!  I’m sure there must be some hiding somewhere on my blog and that perhaps I’ve just not written a Me & Mine update – either way this is something I need to rectify.  I guess I just got out of the habit, which is all well and good in terms of the writing but what it really means is that I’ve lost a year of documenting us as a family – of making sure I take those photos.  This is definitely something I need to fix in the coming year.  Realistically I know I’m unlikely to manage a family photo every month of the year but I do intend to prioritise this and share more with you!

This month’s photos were taken on our traditional new year trip to Heaton Park – we always go on New Year’s Eve and take an updated set of family photos, in fact facebook memories informed me that this was our fifth annual visit.

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Checking in on eighteen goals for 2018

At the start of this year, I wrote a list of eighteen goals for 2018, published it and promptly forgot about it.  I never looked at the post again despite claiming that writing this list of goals would make me more accountable!  With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting to look back at those goals for the year and see if I achieved any of them (accidentally or not!) before I go and write a list of Nineteen goals for 2019  . . . (Can you spot a pattern?)

Team WGOAA in Heaton Park

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