Sunday, 29 November 2015

Don't sniff a christmas tree...

The Christmas decorations have gone up early in the Sawyer household this year. Partly due to there being no Center Parcs holiday this year to start the official time when we are allowed to start being all festive because of our recently overseas adventures. Also, because why not eh! Who doesn't love flashing fairy lights and a bit of tinsel?

This year we decided to buy a real Christmas tree which was very exciting. We considered going full National Lampoon and going for a trek in the forest to find the perfect tree, but alas, other than potentially chopping down a neighbours overgrown conifer this appeared to be an unlikely option.

You know that feeling when you take your car for its MOT and the mechanic says 'so where do you keep your wheel brace?' "Errrr yes of course that most useful of all the braces, let me just stand here looking like I know what you are talking about for a few minutes.....nope I got nothing."

It felt a little like that. We walked around for a while looking intelligently at all of the different types of Christmas tree (apparently there are more than one type) when a man who looked like he took the business of Christmas trees quite seriously approached. Panic set in, "for god sake family look like we know what we are doing." He took one look at us and asked if we wanted a "chunky or thin" tree. Foiled!

Here are a few of things I learned today:

1. When someone tells you the tree has a nice scent, it is OK to sniff it but do so with caution. Some pine needles are sharper than others.

2. Don't get over excited regarding size....remember you do not live at Downton Abbey

3. Nordmann is not a place in the Netherlands.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

How we 'did Florida'

The Package!

For many people travelling to Florida to visit the theme parks the decision of accommodation often comes down to choosing between staying in one of the Disney hotels or renting your own villa.
Gaining some expert advice at this point seemed to be what we needed so we went to see the lovely people at North America Travel. After discussing the options and potential prices with them we decided to go for having our own villa for our ten day trip. I think what swayed it for us was the freedom that having your own villa gives you, the fact that you get your own pool, the cost and that we had had good experiences of staying in villas in the same area in the past.

Car hire is quite pricey but a must if you are staying in private accommodation. If you are a car fan this is where you might have the chance to treat yourself. My mum and dad drove around in a bright red convertible mustang for the 10 days. It cost my dad $8 to half fill his car! No wonder most Americans seem to drive around in huge, gas guzzling vehicles. Not brilliant for the environment though.

It might sound a bit silly but for me part of the experience is driving down the streets and seeing the very stereotypically American mailboxes and because of the time of year we got to see people's Halloween decorations. Self-catering means going to the supermarket - I could have spent hours walking around Publix! Key lime pie...check, Budweiser...check, diet coke...check, pizza...check!

The villa was huge with a master bedroom with en-suite, toilet, two living room areas an open plan kitchen, laundry room and of course the swimming pool on the ground floor. Upstairs were three big bedrooms and another bathroom.

Yes that will do to wake up to every morning and come home to every day.

Monday, 9 November 2015

How we 'did Florida'...

Our family  has recently returned from our biggest holiday to date...that's right, we've been to Disney!

Having such wonderful memories myself of childhood holidays to Florida with my family, taking our boys there once they reached what we felt was the appropriate age has always been a goal of mine.

There are things we had to consider before booking this holiday of a lifetime. The main consideration (of any holiday but especially one that is renowned for being very pricey) is one that winning the lottery could nicely eliminate. As the boys reminded us frequently with their x-factor worthy versions of Aloe Blacc's tune as we cruised along the interstate "I need a dollar dollar, dollar is what I need." A dollar won't get you very far. I saw someone spending $260 on wands from Olivanders in Hogsmead at Universal Studios. That's excessive but you get the picture. Its easily spent.

Once the money consideration had been deliberated over again and again and we decided that it could be done (sensibly) then the other main consideration for us was age; I don't mean us oldies, although I definitely don't have the energy I did when I visited the states at the age of 12. Other then my Dad who couldn't resist the variety of classic films on offer on any of the thousands of channels we had on our television (whilst we were there it was the same date that Marty McFly travelled forward in time too in Back to the Future which made the choice of films even better as you can imagine) we were in bed by 10pm most nights (rock and roll I know).
The best age to take the boys at was something we had to discuss. I wanted to go before our oldest was passed that fabulously innocent stage of believing everything is real. Yes some things were pricey but that look on my boys face when it appeared like he was actually doing magic with his Harry Potter wand was priceless and I'll never forget it. Worth every penny and then some.
There is a gap of three years and two months between our boys so we wanted to go when the magic was there for both of them but when the youngest would be big enough to enjoy plenty of rides and understand what was happening. I think we waited until the right time.

I want to share our experience and hopefully try and help convince anyone thinking about 'doing Florida' with the kids to go for it.

More to come