Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Top tips on caring for your puppy

Just as people have basic needs, so too do puppies, and some of them aren’t that different.  Their five basic needs (which are called ‘welfare needs’ by the experts) are described below. In fact if you own a puppy or a dog, you must provide them to your pet by law.

Environment

Your puppy should be provided with a suitable environment. This includes the following:
Ø  Bed – you puppy needs a comfortable dog bed which should be in an area that is free from draughts, dry and quiet.
Ø  Exercise – you should give your puppy the right amount of exercise which means not too little and not too much. This will depend on the age and breed of the puppy, so it’s best to ask your vet.
Ø  Toys – just as babies need toys to play with and help them develop, so too do puppies. You should also spend a fair amount of time playing with your pet which of course is one of the main reasons for having one.
Ø  Care when you aren’t there – you shouldn’t leave your puppy alone for any longer than four hours. If you have to be away, then arrange for somebody to call in and take care of it for a while.
 

Food

Obviously you will need to feed your puppy, but you need to take care of how you do so.
Ø  Your puppy requires a healthy diet. It needs to be balanced and to meet its nutritional needs. The amount of food that you should give it depends on its size, so again you can take some advice from the vet.
Ø  Never feed your puppy on scraps from the table, and never overfeed it. Obesity in dogs is as serious a problem as it is in humans and can shorten their lives considerably.
Ø  Your dog should always have access to fresh clean water; and we mean always.

Behaviour

You should allow your puppy the opportunity to behave as a puppy should. This has a number of elements which include:
Ø  Socialisation – the more you allow your puppy to socialise with other dogs and people the better adjusted it will become. But, apart from its own mother, it shouldn’t associate with other dogs until it has been properly vaccinated.
Ø  Training – You should start house training your puppy as soon as you can and then continue its training using rewards and never punishments.
Ø  Identification – when in public your puppy will need to wear a collar and identification tag. Micro-chipping is also recommended which increases the chances of your puppy being returned to you should it ever get lost.
 

Health care

You will need to look after the health of your dog and protect it from pain and suffering
Ø  Vaccinations – your puppy will need to be vaccinated when it is 8 to 9 weeks old with a booster jab a few weeks later. It will then need annual boosters on an ongoing basis.
Ø  Worming and fleas – you should worm and de-flea your dog as recommended by your vet.
Ø  Grooming – you should groom your puppy regularly, though be very gentle. Increase the amount of grooming as it grows.
Ø  Regular checkups at the vet are recommended. It is also advisable to take out dog insurance so that you aren’t faced with any unexpected vet bills.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

#Travel - Manchester: What's on at the Theatre This Summer


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Manchester is home to several world class theatres offering a huge array of shows, musicals and events throughout the year. So why not book yourself in to a Travelodge and head to Manchester to take in a show or two this year? Some top picks are:

War Horse

The moving story about a boy and his horse. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, it follows the story of Albert and his horse Joey as they overcome many an obstacle, both together and apart. It's an amazing story in its own right, but the stage production really is something else. Full scale horse puppets are brought to life, galloping, trotting, breathing and all. It really is an amazing sight to behold and one you're never likely to forget.

Swan Lake

A wonderful tale of romance set to the well known music from Tchaikovsky and danced by the English National Ballet. This stunning ballet is always worth seeing, no matter if you're a seasoned ballet goer or it's your first time. You're guaranteed to fall in love with the story and this beautiful and graceful dance form.

An Evening of Burlesque

Whether you're a burlesque show fan, you're a dab hand at it yourself or you've never seen it before, you won't be able to help but tap your feet to the music as the sexy seductresses shake their thing to the beat. It's a great show to watch with the girls on a girls’ night out and you're pretty much guaranteed to sign up to a burlesque class together the following day.

Only Fools and Boycie

Fans of John Challis aka Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, or the show itself, will absolutely love this show. You'll get to know both Boycie and John himself a little better as he lets you in on a few secrets from the Only Fools and Horses set and shares a few laughs and stories from his acting past. Guaranteed to be a laugh a minute.

Joan Rivers

Guaranteed to have you laughing all night long, the ballsy, multi talented comedienne, actress, writer, tv star and talk show host is heading to Manchester this year for a night of quick talking and hot opinion.

The Big Reunion Boy Band Tour

This one's being held at the Phones 4 U Arena, rather than in one of the theatres, but it's sure to be a huge hit. Fans of 90's pop stars Five, Blue, 911, A1, Damage, 3T and the newly formed '5th Story', featuring the likes of Gareth Gates, Dane Bowers, Adam Rickitt, Kavana and Kenzie, will absolutely love this concert, which promises to transport them back to their teenage years. With songs like Ghetto Romance, Take on Me, Freak Me, Crossroads, Everybody Get Up, Bodyshakin' and All Rise, you'll be in for a night of dancing and singing like no other.
 
It's clear that in terms of entertainment, Manchester has it all. So why not book your next break to this vibrant city and see for yourself what it has to offer you?

This post is in association with Travelodge

Monday, 30 June 2014

5 Things To Read Before Travelling To London With Kids

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London, some people see the hustle and bustle and think 'With kids?? No Way', well I say 'yes way'. We go to London all the time and it's all about the preparation of the journey that makes it go as easy as a trip up the road.
 
So for those of you who are biting the bullet and taking the kids on a trip to the big city for the first time, here are my Top 5 things people need to read before Travelling to London with kids.
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1: Pre-Plan Your Day Out In London...

With Rainy Day Back Up Plans

When travelling to London with children it is really important to know where you're going or at least what is on and what times things are open.
 
To avoid disappointment and tantrums, plan your trip in advance with some google research and jot down what is on and where. Don't forget an activity inside too, you just can't trust the British weather, so always have a back up plan. 
 
Also make sure to put the opening times of the places you'd like to visit on your plan too. You don't want to spend 30 minutes on a sweaty tube and then get there and it's closed causing a huge disappointment for all, this is often a rooky mistake when travelling to London with kids.
 
Speaking of the lovely British Weather, don't forget to check the weather forecast before you go. You don't want to be dragging soggy kids around for too long, that's never fun for anyone. 
 
Planning your trips to London in advance will reduce the likelihood of the day being a disaster and is better for you all as a family, no stressy parents, no frustrated kids... just bliss.
 

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2: Plan Your Route Around London

Travelling in London isn't as scary if you know what you're doing in advance. Kids can make life really hard when you're trying to read a tube map, keep track of them and understand which tube goes where, with you getting more and more confused and frustrated in the process.
 
ALWAYS PLAN YOUR ROUTE.
 
After planning where you're going, find the directions to each destination and write down the route underneath each one, including how to get from one place to another. There is a tool that does this for you on the TFL website (click here for details). Don't forget to check the time of the last tube and how often they come. This just lessens the chances of being stranded at the cost of a pricey taxi ride.
 
Always check for planned engineering disruptions and tube closures on the dates you're going too, this can be found on the Transport for London website.
 

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3: Travelling By Tube

The tube can be quite a scary place to go with children but here are a few handy tips when travelling with children on the tube, which I have picked up over the years of travelling to and from London with Kyd and Rocky.
  • Keep Left at all times in the tube station or they'll get stood on.
  • Keep safe on the stairs and escalators, hold their hands or carry them also keep in front of them on the way down and behind them on the way up, so you can catch a stumble or fall before it becomes an injury.
  • Stay away from the platform edge and keep hold of small children on reins to prevent runners falling on the tracks.
  • Go right down to the end of the platform for the quieter carriages.
  • Pushchair access is limited so you will need to carry them at times. Take reins for safety when it comes to toddlers and a sling for smaller babies, this will free up your hands to carry the pushchair. Again go to the end of the platform for more space in the carriage.
  • Whilst on the train make sure they're holding on even if seated, the train can be very jolty and so injuries can happen. People may not offer a seat to a child, ask for one nicely and they may let them have their seat but be prepared to be ignored. 
 

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4: Safety For Kids In London

So this is an important factor of a trip to London with kids, SAFETY FIRST.
 
  • Before you go, explain what it is they are likely to expect. Busy crowds and roads, high escalators and stairs, jolty tubes and quick tube changes. Explaining to them prepares them for what they're about to see and so the hustle and bustle won't shock or panic them.
  • On the day, come up with a strategy as to how you're going to manage the crowds, who holds who's hand and how you'll find each other if you get separated.
  • Write your number on their arm in felt tip. I find that this gives you confidence that if lost they'll know who to call.
  • Wear distinctive and sensible clothing, this way you can spot them in a crowd and they won't be losing their shoes or hats in the gap of the tube. If they have laces be aware that many of the accidents caused on the escalators at tube stations are caused by laces being caught in the bottom step. It can lead to nasty falls and injuries.
  • Traffic and crossing it, don't cross without the little green man and holding the hands of the child. They can change really quickly so be sure to get across in good time as London drivers are a little erratic at the best of times.
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I would advise that you explain to them regularly on the day that if they're on a London street, stand still for a while so you have time to find them, stand against a wall so not to get in the busy peoples way and find a member of the police if they can see one or go into the first shop they find and ask them to phone the number on their arm. Tell them to NOT ask a stranger to call for safety reasons. It is safer to ask a working member of staff and will be easier to find them in a particular shop than it will if they walk the street.
 
Writing your number on their arm won't help on the tube though as you have no signal, so make sure you discuss that if they get lost at a tube station they need to stay still, find a member of the tube staff or police person and not speak to strangers. If they do get lost look for them yourself, alert a member of staff asap and then go to find signal just in case.

If left on a tube carriage tell them to always get off at the next stop, alert a member of staff ASAP, they can get a member of staff to the next stop quicker than you can get there. They will alert  the train staff also and stop the train until they find them.
 

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5: Eating With Kids In London?

Save Money, Pack A Picnic

OK so you have a family of 5, 2 adults, 3 children. It costs £4.99 for a child's meal and £9.99 for an adults meal, that is a grand total of just under £35 just for lunch. Double that for dinner and then add in snack money.... on top of the price of the activities, that is quite an expense. So how do you cut that cost down.
 
  • PACK SNACKS Bottles of water, crisps and biscuits will keep their little bellies at bay for a while. Walking around London is hungry work and buying snacks at events or attractions can be stupidly expensive.
  • PACK A PICNIC LUNCH: If you are just doing regular tourist attractions then it's easy to sneak off and find a beautiful place for a picnic. There are many grassy areas for nice days and Hyde Park is just a tube ride away from all the main tourist attractions and that is a great place to have a family picnic. Some indoor places have picnic areas too but do check with their website before you go that your own food is allowed to be eaten on their premises.
  • HAVE A JUNK FOOD/TAKE OUT DINNER: It's only one day and there is a McDonalds on every corner in London. For a cheap, quick, on your way home dinner, nip into somewhere like McDonalds or Marks and Sparks and grab some food to eat on the way home. You'll be too tired to care what you're eating and the kids will love you for letting them eat junk. 
  • EATING IN: If you're clever you can pre think your dinner and find vouchers online that reduce the cost. Make sure the vouchers are accepted in that particular restaurant as sometimes they have restrictions on popular areas. Check that you don't need reservations too as London restaurants get busy. If you know you're going to be in a particular area for dinner at a certain time, then ring and book a table. Better to be safe than sorry.
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Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Top 10: Budgeting Tips For A Family Holiday With Tweens

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You do know when your baby gets bigger and not so much a baby any more, holidays get more and more expensive to go on, don't you? No?

Well, I hate to break it to you but it turns out that when they hit 12/13/14 with some airlines and holiday companies they're classed as an adult when it comes to holidaying abroad.

Adult appetites. Adult activities. Adult prices.
 
We all know about booking a holiday on a budget, it is a widespread Top 10 phenomenon across the internet, but what about preparing for a holiday on a budget and entertaining them when you're there? What can you do to save money entertaining a tween when you're thousands of miles from home, away from playing out with friends and something that is classed as cool, other than the pool of course?
 
Depending on where you're going, it is a hard job keeping a tween entertained all day every day and in clothes they actually like and want to wear without breaking the bank, so here it is...
 
Before You Go
 

Top Ten Hits For A Holiday With Tweens, My Life My Son My Way, Holiday, family, Top 10 tips, abroad, foreign country, tweens, tips, Alice, Kyd, 1: Buy Holiday Clothes In The Sale The Year Before/Borrow Them...

An essential part of holiday planning is buying suitable clothes for the climate, this can prove expensive, especially if you have more than one body to clothe. Try thinking ahead and buying next years swim wear a size up from this years in the sales at the end of the holiday season. Put it away for next years holiday where the tweens have no idea you got it 75% off 12 months ago, they just see new clothes where you see a bargain. Same goes for summer clothes and accessories, see it, buy it big, store it, use it later on.
 
Failing that, if you have friends with children of a similar age and size who have just been on holiday, why not do a swap shop. Lets face it, they'll only be wearing it for one week out of the 52

Borrow those all important summer must haves she/he so desperately wants for holiday, from the Smiths down the road. Make an afternoon of it, a tea party clothes show for the girls and their mums or a surf pre holiday water fight for the boys. If you are close to the families your kids are friends with, this could be your answer... and theirs.
 

2: Ask For Spending Money For Presents...

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 To save some of your own cash for food and essentials, why not ask Nan & Grandad for some spending money for the sprogs instead of their usual birthday/Christmas presents that they only play with for a week. Put it away in their bank and either give it to them in foreign currency or put it on a Pre Pay debit card like a Caxton FX Currency Card, to make them feel that little bit more grown up. Obviously, it is just to spend ever so wisely on the pointless holiday tat all kids love and parents hate.
 
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3: Save Up Pocket Money By Doing Chores...

Q: How to bribe your kids to do the housework?
A: Holiday spending money.
 
Kids hate asking for money all the time because they're always told no, so what better way to both eliminate this and teach them the value of money at the same time, than to setup a pocket money chore system for a period before the holiday. Whilst on holiday they can have a budget of a certain amount each day knowing they've earnt every penny and they can spend it on whatever they like and when it's gone, it's gone.
 
Have your kids got a target amount they want to save? Well why not create and print off a cool savings chart that they colour in each time they earn a little more to put in their holiday fund. 

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4: Bring Entertainment With You....

Pack their favourite games, toys and books and bring them with you. There is nothing worse than a whiney tween telling you their bored when you've spent all your hard earned cash paying for them to be privileged enough to be there. Get them to sort out what they want to take a week before going and then whittle it down to what is a sensible amount. Pack some in the suitcase and some in hand luggage and that is holiday and the flight sorted. It is great back up for a rain storm too.
 


When You Get There
 

5: Create A Collage Memory Book Of The Holiday...

 
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One way of keeping the kids busy in the evenings is to get them doing a little collage of what they've done that day.
 
Pack a little box of paint, glue, pens and crafty things together with a large scrap book, big enough to fit several photos on each page and decorate the front page with the family name, date and where the holiday is.
Every day gather small mementos of where you've been and what you did and stick them to each page with an explanation of what they are.
 
It'll keep them busy for hours and you can have some peace and quiet on the balcony with a glass of vino.
 
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6: Find Free Things To Do Around The Area...

Before you go, research the area via the tourist board website about what there is to do in the area which is free. Some of the most beautiful parts of a country are often the free trails you find on the tourist information.
 
Most hotels and holiday companies have reps at the hotel at least once a day. They are there to answer all your questions and know all about the area you are in. If in doubt ask the experts. It is best that you speak to them on the first day as  there are lots of markets, museums and street fairs to visit but they are often on specific days so make sure you pre plan if you don't want to miss out.
 
Warning: Research what parts of the country are safe to roam. Some can be very dangerous and it is not advised to go without a guide or suitable equipment.
 
 

7: Daily Challenges With Postcards From Home...

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If you plan enough in advance you can create a lot of fun indoor activities that don't take up too much room in your suitcase. Simple things that surprise or shock the kids are often the ones that are most effective and the ones that create the most memories..
 
Why not get Nan, Grandad, Aunt Sally, Uncle Bert or even their friends and teachers to secretly write them a little postcard/letter challenge from home. A little note to say
'Today you will be going to ??, why don't you find me a pretty rock for my garden to bring home. Love Nan'.
Get creative, make them rhyme, think of cool things for them to find, you can even make it look like they've posted it and have it addressed to them. It will get them up and out of the hotel and eager to complete their challenge. You don't have to do them for each day either, just save them for when they're needed.

8: Go Exploring The Wildlife With A Camera...

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Inspire that little photographer in them, get them looking at nature and wildlife on the beach or even on a walk in the woods and taking beautiful photos they will love forever. It is a free way of getting them interested in their surroundings and teaching them something about the country they are visiting too, so win win.
 
I wouldn't give them your £1000 camera to play with though, unless suitably supervised by you... you don't want any accidents.

Top Ten Hits For A Holiday With Tweens, My Life My Son My Way, Holiday, family, Top 10 tips, abroad, foreign country, tweens, tips, Alice, Kyd, 9: Find A Market To Try New Types Of Food For Free...

Markets are a great way of finding local produce to try and buy. Whether you're self catering or not, make sure you visit the local markets and ask the market sellers to try the produce before you buy it, it's free and fun for all to do. Set challenges to try 1 new food a day or even find a gift for Grandma handmade by the person they bought it from (it helps the local economy too if that makes you feel any better about buying tat).
 
To avoid an overload of 'I want that one mummy' set an amount of money they can spend and only take that with them, once it's gone, it's gone.
 

10: Do A Daily Family Selfie Challenge...

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This one is easy to do and will make a great addition to your family photo book. Every day, at the happiest point of whatever you're doing, take a family selfie to capture the moment. Try and get in the background what you're doing and don't take life seriously, pull a face, create a shape, do whatever you want just as long as you smile!
Perfect memories for any age.
 
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Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My Top 5 Tips: Booking A Holiday Abroad For A Child With Special Needs

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When you have a special needs child a jet setting lifestyle isn't as simple as packing a bag and boarding an airplane. The truth is you have 1001 things to think about before you even choose a destination, then another 1001 things to do before you book or pack your bags but you soon become an expert and each holiday brings to light a new thing to remember for next time.
 
We've packed our bags and jumped aboard an airplane a fair few times since Kyd was born and so we've compiled a few do's and don'ts of holiday planning along the way.
 
Here is our top 5 things to think about before you book...
 

1: Research your destination

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Research is everything for Special Needs parents throughout all aspects of life so this shouldn't come as a surprise. There are many different things to research whilst planning a holiday with an SEN child, some of which you'd not really think about unless you've fallen foul or heard stories of situations best avoided.
 
There are so many questions to ask about the destination before booking a holiday but it all depends on YOUR own child. Only you know your child and what they can or can't do, will or won't cope with, will or won't enjoy. Here are some questions to think about when looking for your destination...
 
Length of flight AND transfers to and from the airport. Are they going to deal with a long haul flight? Short haul flight? Coach journey?
 
Is the area safe for 'runners' (children with a habit of running off)? Are there lots of high walls, large drops or unsafe areas?
 
Is the area flat or hilly? Wheelchair/buggy accessible? The area you are planning to go to may be all hills and long walks to get anywhere, will your child cope with that? Can they walk that far or are the rest of the party OK to push them in a wheelchair or buggy?
 
Is it a busy area? Lot's of large crowds and people? Will they cope with that? Is there a quieter area you could go to that would be more suited?
 
Different countries have different views and acceptance levels of SEN children. This may sound like an odd thing to have to think about in this day and age but a lot of countries are still quite behind the times with equality and so it pays to know their thoughts and ways if you want to avoid the strange looks or hurtful comments. I say this mainly because people can be cruel and sometimes it's best to avoid them than confront them in their own country full of like minded people. It is only a few places I think, but it is worth thinking about and asking if anyone has been there and what their experiences were, failing that if you're brave... google it.
 

2: Pick the right Holiday Company

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Some holiday companies and hotels look amazing in the pictures and promise the earth but fail to deliver, make sure you think about that before you book.
 
Again it is back to research and recommendations. Ask people who have children with similar needs which companies they would recommend and have actually used themselves. Check out TripAdvisor for general recommendations but always put your SEN spin on it and take it from there.
 
Phone and ask both the company and the hotel ahead of booking, hear it from the horses mouth so to make sure each story matches. This is not paranoia, a parent needs to know their family is in safe hands, so check, check and check again.
 
Inform them well in advance of your needs where possible, you're more likely to get the best help and not miss out if you're organised and cooperative. Companies appreciate your organisation too as it means they can make your stay as amazing as it should be. If you don't tell them in advance, don't expect as good a service as it could be, they aren't mind readers and it is always first come first served. You snooze, you lose and all that.
 
Look into what each company does for Disabilities and the exceptions and adaptions they make for different abilities. Some companies have discounts for certain disabilities so don't forget to ask before booking.
 
When you're looking into picking a company you may find your head is hitting a brick wall for a while but they are out there, I promise. Companies like Mark Warner have a great reputation for Special Needs and Disability holidays for all ages, so take a look at what they offer, you might not need to look any further.
 

3: Look Into Childcare and Entertainment Available

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SEN childcare abroad is very different to SEN childcare here. Here we would expect some kind of help or equality, abroad that isn't guaranteed. Although they are lovely and willing to give your child the best holiday ever, there is the small/huge detail of the language barrier and training getting in the way.
 
Before booking a holiday check whether it is English based childcare, what their view on SEN children joining in their activities are and what, if any, training they have for your particular disability. Knowing this will help you decide which holiday company is best for you.
 
It isn't the be all and end all to have children's entertainment that they can be included in though. Knowing all about it and researching will help you plan your time away properly. If necessary you can just avoid particular times by the pool when the other children are getting involved so not to cause an upset. You can create your own holiday entertainment and discover shows and entertainment elsewhere.
 
Mark Warner is one of the only Holiday Companies that offers one to one holiday childcare at some of their destinations when booked in advance. This is with an English SEN trained nanny and can be for all ages. It means that children can join in all the activities offered for their age range or their ability range with the satisfaction that you as parents know that they are in safe hands. It makes their holiday and your holiday as parents much more relaxing.
 

4: Booking with a good Airline

Virgin Special Assistance, Holiday, Airport, Check in, My Life My Son My Way, Hoff, Kyd,
When booking the flight make sure you read the airline's disability policy and see what they offer as special treatment on the big day. Some things need pre booking but others are a general disability guideline which applies to all automatically. If in doubt ring the airline directly and ask for their help.
 
Don't be offended if you are asked to prove it, it is mandatory in some companies so keep your DLA award letter on you or your Blue Badge will do if you've got one.
 
At check in, many offer a quick queuing system for disabilities, this means SEN children too so find a member of staff and ask for Disability check in, they'll direct you to the right place. This avoids queues and crowds so can really help anxious SEN flyers or just really keen ones.
 
When checking in remember to outline and explain properly the help that you need on the flight, so they can try and help you if they can. Remember that they want a peaceful flight as much as you and so a good airline will always try and help with this. This includes extra leg room so not to feel claustrophobic and gives you space to play or calm them, although these are first come first served so get to the airport early to avoid disappointment. Also think about sitting near a toilet if you have pads or catheters to change and wheelchair services and access, which they'll bring to the door before you get off to make life easier.
 
 

5: Read the Insurance Small Print and Save Some Emergency Cash

Kyd, medicine, illness, insurance, holiday insurance, Lakitira Beach, Lakitira, Kos, Greece, My Life My Son My Way, Holiday, special needs, Mark Warner, Family holidays, Top 5 tips,
I know, this is an obvious tip but so many forget to even get Holiday Insurance whilst going away, let alone take time to read what it is they are and aren't insured for.
 
When buying insurance for an SEN child with medical needs READ THE SMALL PRINT. Some companies don't cover existing illnesses, loss of medication and so on. If your child has any existing or reoccurring illness it pays to make sure they are covered.
 
On top of this, order and pack, double the amount of medication needed and place it in both your hand luggage and your suitcase. The chances of you losing both is next to none but losing one that has everything in it, is just too much to risk for me. On top of that, if that does happen, being able to find the specific medication needed in a small foreign pharmacy is a gamble I wouldn't want to take myself. Plus they'll be rather pricey to buy over there too.
 
Speaking of money, don't forget even if you do have insurance if you need any medical attention you will need to pay excess, unless you've paid a higher insurance premium. It pays to have a prepaid card with money on, a few hundred pounds in whatever currency needed should do it, JUST IN CASE. Don't be tempted to spend it if you start to run out of money, you'll be tempting fate, pretend that card doesn't exist. You can always go on a spree once in Duty Free and out of danger... a big bottle of perfume or Gin is a lovely treat for yourself to end the holiday on a great note... a girl can try can't she?!

I hope this has given you a few ideas as to what to look for when booking a holiday with your special needs child.

I hope you have a lovely holiday. If you need anything else don't hesitate to ask.
I'll be back with My Top 10 things to do with tweens on a budget holiday and My Top 5 Packing Tips for a child with Special Needs soon.

Alice, Lakitira Beach, Lakitira, Kos, Greece, My Life My Son My Way, Holiday, special needs, Mark Warner, Family holidays, Top 5 tips,

Monday, 23 June 2014

Discover London, Take A Wrong Turn

Samual Johnson, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, London, Hampstead, Quote,
London is such a beautiful city in the sunshine, the rain, snow or even through a storm and for me a day wondering the streets of London creates a calming factor to the madness of my life.
 
It sounds daft really doesn't it, how can London be calming with all those people and traffic?
 
Well for me, walking the streets of London sends me into a little Zen like trance. Watching the hundreds of people going about their world, some smiling, some not, reminds me that others exist outside my dismal existence and that they're probably as lost in a trance as I am. 

Hampstead, London, Hampstead Heath, The Heath, Heath, Tourism, Walking, My Life My Son My Way, blog, Visit London,
 
Exploring London streets with no map and no agenda makes me feel almost complete for a short time. Turning down a side street to find all the beautiful buildings, venturing further and finding small hidden gardens, history and art work you'd never have seen if you'd not taken that turn.
 
For me this is something that makes my heart that bit calmer, my head that bit clearer and allows me to breathe that bit deeper. I might be breathing in the foggy fumes of the city but for me it gives me an odd sense of understanding of myself and time to think about what I've been avoiding thinking about.

You see to me, London represents life, you can be busy and fast paced on the outside, yet if you venture just around the corner, explore and be brave, you can find tranquil and calm, happiness and peace.
London, Whitby Street, Shorditch, Art Work, Art, Street Art,Tourism, Walking, My Life My Son My Way, blog, Visit London,
 
Obviously London has it's rough side, it's horrible side, it's own realty, but for me as a 'tourist' this is in the far distance and so although it's there, it isn't in my eye line, because I'm blinded by the beauty that is London.
 
'If one is tired of London, one is tired of life.' Samuel Johnson
 
I love getting lost in London.
My advice to anyone is, take a wrong turn and discover the real London.

My Life My Son My Way, Alice, blog,
 

Sunday, 22 June 2014

#BritmumsLive14 - Life, Learning and Blog Loving!

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,
Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,Britmums Live, the annual blogging conference I look forward to from the moment I leave the doors of the previous years event. You get to see old friends, make new ones, learn a whole load of important blog stuff and come away with new and important contacts from the incredible sponsors. It is a lifeline for some bloggers, a place they learn to love their blog again, a place they learn to earn from their blog and make it work for them, a place where they can talk geeky blog stuff without being stared at with that glazed look of no interest. Most importantly for all, a place to be amongst like minded people for those 2 short days a year, people who probably know you better than your family and who can pick you up when you need them most without even knowing they're doing so.... Your very own Internet world, brought to life in the centre of London Town.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014, selfie,This year has been an odd one already for me, huge highs and sinking lows that have hit me like a fly on a car windscreen and I've not really dealt with it all that well. I have had a complete identity crisis in both real life and in the blog world which has left me quite unsettled, anxious and completely drained.

Some knew this before this weekend, some didn't, and this made it really hard to act 'normal'. I have no 'normal', I don't know who 'normal Alice' is any more and so I knew I'd hit panic mode. In these situations I have a habit of painting on a smile and acting out like a hyper toddler after a fist full of Skittles. I end up talking faster than the speed of light, often saying things that offend, shock or confuse anyone who comes into my path by accident and it can cause so much distress to me and them, I can't help it, it just falls out of my mouth. I tend to do this to disguise my shaking insides and the crippling dread of being caught in an awkward silence or being asked too many questions. I wish I didn't but I do.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,I know I'm god damn annoying to be around when I'm like this and knowing that made it worse. Having a small handful of people who know how anxious I was about just being me really helped. It meant I had someone to catch my eye and whisper 'it's ok' when I was staring into space, smile at me when they knew I was flagging, to tell me to calm down (without patronising me) when I began to act out, to hold my hand when I cried at a keynote and come with me when I needed to escape.

I really needed to escape at times too, whether it be to get some fresh air or to hide in the toilet just to be on my own to pick myself up and give myself a talking to.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,I'm not on my own in this taking a breather thing during events. Many people were seen to be taking time out in the new and beautiful 'garden' area at the venue (The Brewery). It seemed that I wasn't alone in feeling a little over whelmed and that made me feel a lot better in myself.

Hannah from A New Addition was one of them. She, like me, had begun to feel a little trapped and enclosed on such a beautiful day, full of lovely people. As much as the sessions about blogging, our friends and talks with the sponsors were lovely, we both just needed to escape for ten minutes. So we did.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,We escaped to find some lunch, so whilst the rest of the bloggers scoffed their way through some
posh nosh, we hunted down a Maccy D's (classy). The walk turned into a deep talk about our odd habits and how people perceive our behaviour. It was great to talk to someone who really understood how anxious it can make you when you are aware of how annoying you can be. Sometimes it just needs that mirrored understanding to make you feel less alone. In turn that makes you less anxious and more likely to enjoy whatever it is you were doing. Within a few mouthfuls of my burger and being stared at by people whilst sat on the step of a little art ridden area, we were ready and fighting to get back to it.

HELLO KEYNOTES.


Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,I purposely missed the keynotes in the morning, although I was desperate to watch them and listen to the amazing people talking, I knew for me it was a bad move emotionally and mentally. I am not a Britmums Newbie and so I knew that tears would be shed. I needed to try and keep a smile on my face and I was frightened with that one move I'd lose it and that would mean home time.

I did however stay for the wonderful keynote speakers in the afternoon.

Some of my dearest Blogging friends opened their hearts and soul on stage and read posts they'd written over the past year. Some moving, some funny and some that made me melt into a mess of tears. So many were read and so many familiar faces spoke but some really hit me in the heart and took me on their journey with them.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,Sarah from Grenglish is a blogger I have known for a very long time. When she first wrote the post 'We need to talk about the M word' I had to read it in 5 line blocks. Knowing how much this post had taken to write for Sarah I knew that I was going to struggle watching her read it to the crowd. It struck a cord in everybody's heart and those who had suffered a miscarriage sat nodding whilst tears rolled down their faces. Before Rocky arrived I suffered several early miscarriages, I have pushed those memories into the black hole of obis in my mind and pretended they didn't effect me, brushed them off when they're mentioned like it was 'one of those things'... it's not, it does hurt and I haven't dealt with that pain yet, so this particular post rung true and stung like a bee. I love Sarah and I know that reading that post was really hard for her but she has helped a lot of people in the room by putting out there what it is to lose a baby before you even have them. I didn't have chance to hug her tightly after she spoke but she knows how much I admire her strength and honesty.

http://sandycalico.blogspot.co.uk/2014/06/running-kit-must-haves-and-nice-to-haves.htmlSandy from Baby Baby is another lady I have had the pleasure to have known for some time now. She spoke about her friend with cancer and there wasn't a dry eye in the house. I'd like to say that I heard every word whilst being a supportive friend but after some recent news about my own friend, my brain seemed to shut off what she was saying and replaced it with silence as I stared at her teary face. I have read the post in the past and so I know what was said, it is just something else to hear it read with the pain in her voice, especially when it is all ringing so true. Sandy is a really strong lady who I hold very dear, her friend would be very proud.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,Laura from Tired Mummy of Two, who I've mentioned a few times recently on this blog, read aloud a post she wrote about her daughter Alison's take on her sister Elizabeth's journey through Leukaemia. Now this was hard to watch, to hear and to take in. You often forget the siblings of children with illnesses like this. You often forget that they too go hand in hand with their much loved sister or brother. You forget that when so young they don't understand why all of a sudden their fun play buddy has suddenly been taken away and into hospital and is bed ridden, attached to wires and drips. You forget that they too are grieving for the sibling they once knew because that sibling isn't likely to re appear the same way they were back then, often returning fragile and easily tired. You often concentrate on the child who is sick, she reminds us of the children who are living with this illness alongside those most effected. Again I cried. Again because for me, seeing Laura with a tear rolling down her face talking about her amazing children, got me. At that moment I turned and stared at the picture on the big screen of them both with huge smiles on their faces and that reminded me how happy they both are, all the time and it puts me to shame.

Finally, although there are so many I could write about and mention, I will mention this one last Keynote Speaker....

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,Mary from Keynko read aloud a post in which I've read a fair few times when I need reassurance that it isn't just me this happens to and that life turns good in the end. I shared my Brtmums Live experience with this amazing lady this year, we shared a room and all  that jazz. I watched as she walked up to that stage her heart in her mouth and speak to the hundreds of bloggers about a time long ago but not forgotten. A time in which for me is now. I was so proud of her. She spoke about what is a regular occurrence for me, an old lady makes a comment on a bus which hurts so much it makes a huge impact on your life, you think of nothing else and those comments make you bitter yet determined. In fact it makes such an impact that 20 years down the line you are speaking about it to hundreds of women and smiling because you know that you've beaten the crap out of what they assumed you'd be and turned it into dust. What I took from this post is to actually stand up to the bully on the bus, as that is what these old opinionated ladies are, bullies, and prove their wrinkly ass wrong. You can give me the I'm a bad mum because I'm young and in your words 'have only done it for the money' and you can take my happy marriage, well turned out children and the house I own and pay the mortgage for and you can shove it up your..... annnnnnnyway... Mary and I have a lot in common, albeit she is a lot more sensible than I am, she really is my Blog Mum. I love her lots and thank her for keeping me safe and not making me sleep in the bath this weekend.

Britmums, Britmums Live, My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,
Anyway, tears aside, this weekend was a great big anxious bundle of loveliness. I learnt a lot, didn't cry or offend anyone and bar drinking a few to many glasses of wine and sexually assaulting Elmo I think I was rather well behaved.

I'd like to thank Mark Warner for buying my ticket and giving out a Holiday to one of my beautiful bloggers at the event.... good luck folks, can't wait to see who's won!

 My Life My Son My Way, Alice, 2014,