Fatherhood: A Tyre for All Seasons? Maybe I Can Help!

October 15, 2017 at 3:09 pm

Or: 14 things I learned at the Goodyear All-season tyre event in Luxembourg

I was recently lucky enough to be invited along to join an event Goodyear Tyres were running in Luxembourg, to showcase their “All season” tyre range.

Along with a contingent of other, much more successful bloggers than myself (including a few British dad bloggers that you might recognise!) we took a 2 day trip to Luxembourg, where we got to test-out their tyres first hand.

8 Steps for Planning Your Autistic Child’s Future

October 12, 2017 at 11:21 am

The parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have a lot of concerns. One of the most pressing worries is how to prepare their child for the future. Here’s how.

Fatherhood: Bugs and Slugs and Toads, Oh My!

October 6, 2017 at 10:23 am

Last weekend we were up in Hereford, spending my birthday weekend with our extended family. It’s almost an annual tradition in our house, and one of my favourite weekends of the year – and not just because of the obvious birthday timing!

My cousin and his wife live deep in the Hereford countryside, in a house which is paradise for a small child (as well as a slightly bigger one like myself) – acres of fields and woodland to explore, a lot of fun sporting equipment to try out and a tonne of family around them to keep them occupied.

Needless to say we had a fun time – so I thought I’d share some pictures.

Fatherhood: Review – YourDesign custom merchandise

September 15, 2017 at 11:24 am

Over the past year, I’ve become a huge fan of a particular item of clothing: namely, the obscure reference t-shirt. You might not know an obscure reference when you see it – that is, after all, kinda the point – but I’m sure you’ve seen a few in the wild.

I have a number in my collection, mostly purchased via very well-targeted (i.e. I’m a sucker) Facebook ads which appear in my feed. I’ve got a Flight of the Conchords t-shirt, a Hot Fuzz/Shaun of the Dead t-shirt, a few Marvel ones.

Fatherhood: Where is your Happy Place?

September 15, 2017 at 10:13 am

Tresco in the Isles of Scilly

With Summer now rapidly disappearing in the rear-view mirror of 2017, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little bit sad about the approaching colder months. Whilst I personally LOVE the Autumn and Winter months (as I’ve written about a number of times) I appreciate that not everybody is in the same boat.

Unlike the last few years, where work has been so busy that we’ve not had time to take a break, we managed to squeeze a great summer holiday in this year – I’m sure I’ll write about it at some point.

Emojis go Beyond Texting

September 12, 2017 at 12:48 pm

In the past few years, you have no doubt started to come across the emoji more frequently. In fact, 2017 saw the first World Emoji Day celebrated, on July 17th. Young people and adults alike are using emojis more than ever. Whilst some of us may just send the occasional smiley face in a message to friends, the symbols have far more potential to them, because they’re a universal language. In fact, a London-based translation agency hired the world’s first professional emoji translator a few months ago.

Fatherhood: 7 tips for finding coupons, online discounts and promo codes like a total pro

August 23, 2017 at 7:47 am

We’ve all been there: you’re doing a big shop online, you’ve spent half an hour browsing and gathering the products you want, and then you get to the checkout page. Suddenly you spot a little text box that you’d not seen until now. It says “Enter promo code here” – and you get excited!

So off you go to Google, typing in the website and “promo codes”, only to be met with a raft of discount websites and blogs professing to offer you a dozen different promo codes for said site. Only trouble is: none of the buggers actually work. Arse.

Could you save money booking family holidays last-minute?

August 20, 2017 at 12:15 pm

I’m sure you’ve heard it said before – ‘book your family holiday as far in advance as possible to get the best deal’ – but is this always true? If you’re busy planning your summer getaway a whole year in advance, you may be missing out on some of the cheapest holiday deals around.

The key to getting a great deal is often to look at offers in the eight weeks before your departure date. Booking eight weeks in advance or less constitutes a last-minute holiday, and it’s here you’ll find all the best prices. Discount travel sites will knock up to 70% off the cost of a holiday as the countdown gets close, starting at eight weeks and going right up until the day before your flights. You can save 2/3 off the price by waiting to book in this time period instead of planning a year in advance, even if you’re travelling during school holidays!

Being prepared

Of course, it is difficult to wait that long, especially for people who love to plan and are highly organised. But it will benefit you in the long run to wait it out, and booking two months before your departure still gives you plenty of time to research the best beaches and attractions in the area. If you’re worried about not having enough time to get things done there are a few handy hacks to help you prepare for your last-minute holiday.

Instead of making a list with pen and paper, think 21st century and download a holiday app on your smartphone. There are tons of travel apps on the market and they each have their own use, from what-to-pack lists, flight trackers and detailed maps of the city you’re visiting, to nearby restaurant reviews. With all these apps in your repertoire you’ll be totally prepared when you step off the plane and into the sunshine.

To make it even easier on yourself, browse package deals rather than going for the DIY route, so flights, transfers and even food and drink for the whole family is included in the holiday price. Almost all major tour operators offer deals for last minute travellers, so you don’t have to rely on cheap flight or cheap hotel sites – you can book it all at once, and any queries or changes can be dealt with in one place.

Family teamwork

Tempting as it may be, don’t be too keen and book super early at full price. Hold off and do your research on where you’d like to visit, and what activities and sight-seeing adventures there are in the area. The closer you get to your departure the cheaper the deals will be, and you can book your last-minute holiday knowing you’ve snagged the best price and gotten the best bang for your buck.

When it comes to planning, get the kids involved as much as possible. Pay attention to a few different destinations and monitor when their package holidays go on sale. When you’ve decided on the top three to five spots you’d like to travel to, have a mystery games family night. Describe each place and show photos of the surrounding areas before you have the kids pick which spot they would like to travel to. Since you’ve already narrowed it down to a few good last-minute deals, you won’t need to worry about them picking the most expensive one.

How much could you save?

Depending on where you look, the average cost of a European family holiday for four people ranges between £2,000 and £3,000. When you consider that there were headlines recently about a two-week package holiday to Greece being sold for £87pp at the last minute, suddenly leaving things late looks like quite a good idea.

Those end-of-sale discounts often put family-friendly holidays at around £150pp, depending on where you’re flying from, which means there’s clear potential to save yourself plenty of cash for another holiday – or a longer one!

Fatherhood: Review – Disney Store & Cars 3

July 23, 2017 at 2:40 pm

I don’t know about your house, but the Cars films have been an entertainment staple in ours for the past 5 or 6 years now. We saw both of the first two films at the cinema (the second being Freddie’s first ever trip to the cinema) and we’ve got more Cars toys than you can shake a stick at.

So when the nice people at the Disney Store asked if we’d help them to spread the word about their fantastic range of Cars 3 toys, my boys jumped at the chance. Even better, we were tasked with building a racing track for the toys to zoom around – something the kids do on a regular basis anyway!

Throwing an Outdoor Summer Party — 3 Tips from the Experts

July 21, 2017 at 12:59 pm

It’s that time of year when outdoor summer parties are more or less compulsory. And they always sound like a good idea when the notion first springs to mind. What could go wrong, after all? There’s more room for fun and games, and everyone loves being outdoors.

Outdoor summer parties, however, need just as careful planning as any other type of party, so here are a couple of tips to make sure yours goes down the way you’d want it to.

Plan Early

Too many people think it takes just a couple of days to throw everything together, then wonder why the music’s rubbish, the kids are bored and the food runs out.

Here’s a quick checklist of areas where planning is needed:

Unless it’s a really spur of the moment family get together that needs no more planning than a quick supermarket trip, you’ll need at least a couple of weeks. Factor in months if it’s a big do and you’re hiring entertainment, erecting a stage or marquee, or organising outside caterers.

Keep Everyone Entertained

As the organiser, it’s up to you to make sure everyone is having fun. Fun can’t be conjured up on demand so make sure you provide the elements needed:

Children — need entertaining and supervising. Toddlers can get into a world of trouble at a moment’s notice so maybe consider drawing up a parent rota for supervision duties? The grownups will appreciate their time off duty more if they know someone’s keeping a watchful eye on their little ones.

It’s a good idea to have some kid-specific entertainment, and supervising lively tots is easier if these happen in ‘fun zones’, especially if guest numbers are high. How to cordon off areas? Hire some barriers or fences. They don’t obscure the view of what’s happening, but they help keep everything and everyone in one place. When there are various activities going on at the same time, this also helps prevent items (or people) wandering off or getting lost. Ask for volunteer supervisors for each area to make sure everyone takes turns and plays nice.

Adults — providing food and drink goes without saying, but it’s a good idea to keep it as simple as possible. If you’re hiring outside caterers, arrange delivery times and locations that allow room for error. There’s nothing more stressful than being behind with the food when hungry guests are forming queues. Drinks bars are popular and, like kitchens at a party, are where people congregate. Erect a marquee for big parties or a gazebo for little ones, and have plenty of tables and seating.

Bands and DJs — need somewhere to work/perform. Hire a stage if the budget allows, and have it erected by professional stagers. Stages need to comply with safety regulations, ensuring they’ll withstand the intended use and weight.

Health and Safety

Thinking about the safety aspect before the event will mean you spend less time fretting during the event.

Things to consider include:

  • Fire and burn hazards — these range from open flame candles to hot food and spitting barbecue fats. Have a fire extinguisher handy, just in case, and make sure cooking zones are away from lively party/dance/play areas.
  • Trip Hazards — guy ropes from tents or power cables running across pathways can spell trouble.
  • Toddler dangers — aside from adequate supervision, make sure the venue is as safe as possible. Cover ponds or pools, make sure garages or sheds are locked up tight, fence off entrances and exits so there’s no wandering off, and keep pets under control.

And finally, a bonus tip — an outdoor summer party may well keep your house tidy, but there will be plenty of clearing up to be done after everyone’s gone home. If you can rope in some volunteers to help pick up glasses, stack seats, clear away debris and tidy up the kid’s activity zones, this post-party obligation will go a lot smoother.