A Lifestyle & Parenting Blog

Thursday, 30 June 2016

13 Budgeting Tips For July To December

We are half way through 2016 already - and I suspect many of us are very glad about that, given the year it's been so far.

Image credit:  TaxCredits.net

Back in January, here at Hobbis Towers we resolved that this would be the year we made sure we budgeted properly for Christmas and Caitlin's birthday.  I also have nieces and a nephew with birthdays in November, December and January.  It's quite an expensive time for us.

Lots of you started the 365 Day 1p Savings Challenge. This is a great way to save over £650 by the end of the year by saving the number of pennies which matches the number of the day out of 365 / 366 days in the year.

But have you kept it up?  I must admit I tend to fall a bit behind then make one large payment to cover what we owe!

On day one, 1st January you save 1p.  by 1st June, the 153rd day in the year, you're saving £1.53 and so on right up to the 31st December where, this year, you'll be putting away £3.66 as it's a Leap Year.

We found our template at Skint Dad.

The 365 Day 1p Saving Challenge

It's easy when you start off but as you get later into the year, you're paying over £2 - £3 per day into you savings jar - but this is still about the price of a coffee each day.

By the 31st December we will have saved £667.95 if we can stick to the plan.

You could still start the plan from 1st July and have around £500 by 31st December.

Otherwise, now is a very good time to sit down with your budget sheets and check that your outgoings are not exceeding your income.

I like to list any big ticket items coming up in addition to birthdays and Christmas and check we can cover them.  Both my car insurance and our house insurance fall in this second half of the year and we need to allocate enough time to get a number of quotes.

Unless it's a very good deal we never accept the automatic renewal premium quoted by our insurers as we know that the best deals often go to new customers with loyalty rarely being rewarded.

You can find an excellent guide to budgeting, including a template from Martin Lewis on the Money Saving Expert site here.

Here are some useful tips you may find handy to save some cash or get your finances in shape for 2016 Part II - all road-tested by the Hobbis family.

Lots of them you will already have heard of but it never hurts to have a reminder, does it?

Use Direct Debits (1)

Arrange to pay your bills by direct debit - including your credit card bills. It is too easy to forget to pay your monthly credit card bill which means you accrue interest and your credit rating may be affected - even by missing one payment.

Check out Guarantor Loans (2)

If you need a loan but your credit history is poor, or you haven't yet built up a credit history, take a look at guarantor loans where you can borrow up to £10,000 if you can get someone else to guarantee your loan for you. This means that if you have trouble paying, they will step in and make the repayments for you. Make sure you understand all the terms and conditions you are signing up to though.

Do your comparison shopping (3)

Don't buy anything online without checking whether there is a voucher discount code or cash back available from sites like topcashback.co.uk, myvouchercodes.co.uk or dealsdaddy.co.uk.

Invest in a restaurant discount card (4)

You can save significant amounts off eating out and taking kids to the cinema with a subscription card like Tastecard which can quickly pay for itself as it has loads of 2 for 1 deals or 50% at restaurants around the UK.  We use ours at Pizza Express for example.

Take a thermos (5)

Invest in a thermos.  When you out and about you can save a fortune on coffee shop lattes or just fill it with water to keep it cool and carry a Robinsons Squashd mini squash pod to give the kids a drink.

Get off and walk (6)

Walk some of the way - get off the bus a stop or two earlier.  It's a great way to build in some extra exercise.  In general we try to leave the car at home as much as possible to save on fuel costs.

Create a kids' party stash (7)

Buy kids' birthday cards, wrapping paper and party presents when you see them and in the sale. Create a mini stash so that you won't be caught out when that party invite card appears and you have 2 days to find a present.

Use your loyalty cards (8)

If for no other reason than that you might accrue enough points to give yourself a mini treat to perk you up when money is tight. I find that the Boots Advantage Card is quite generous, although Boots is not the cheapest chemist by far.  It does mean that I can have yet another red lippie to cheer myself up completely free.

Check out Ebay and learn how to snipe (9)

I saved a fortune buying kids' clothing bundles for my two when they were younger and I learned how to use a bid sniper which automatically bids for you up to an amount you specify to hopefully win the item during the final stages of bidding.  You know when a bid appears from nowhere topping yours and snatching your coveted item from under your nose, or when the price starts to rocket?  That's bid sniping in action.  You never know when they're there but you can do the same.  Try Goofbid.com where you can set up your own sniper using your current Ebay log in details.

You could also sell lots of the toys, books and kids' clothes you no longer want on Ebay too. Be aware though that there may be sellers fees and listing fees, plus an extra charge for using Paypal.  You need to do the maths to ensure that you are actually making a profit.

Create a savings jar (10)

At the end of each day, just chuck your loose change into it - perhaps 20ps and 50ps.  You'll be amazed how the total will rise or try the 365 day 1p savings challenge I mentioned earlier.

Check out Aldi and Lidl (11)

Since we swopped to Aldi about 9 months ago we have saved a small fortune.  I would say our weekly shopping basket (including the odd treat like a bunch of flowers or sweets) is about 30% less than the big four supermarkets without sacrificing the quality.  In fact, the quality of some of the produce is better.

I have also found that items such as Easter eggs and particularly their Christmas produce is excellent and much cheaper.  If you prefer to have everything branded, Aldi and Lidl may not be for you but I think once you see how much you save, like me, you'll probably wish you had started shopping there earlier.

Buy Own Brand rather than Premium Brand (12)

If you don't have an Aldi or Lidl near buy, you can also save quite a bit by choosing the supermarkets' own brands.  Very often food stuffs are produced in the same factory and then packaged into the different brand packaging with the accompanying variation in price.

We have tried this with various success, the only notable failure being coffee.  Pricier though it is, we still love our Gold Blend.

Write your Christmas present list now (13)

Lastly, I know it is ridiculously early but write your Christmas list now - particularly what you plan to put in the kids' stockings if you have them.  I always find it's relatively easy to budget for their main presents but I end up spend way too much on bits and pieces to go in their stocking.

Why not assign a financial limit for things like Christmas stockings and start to buy small items as you see them to avoid that mad panic in the last week of December. It's also a good time to buy teachers' presents or the general gifts you might give to people like your milkman or the window cleaner.

Hide them all in a drawer somewhere out of the way of prying eyes and little fingers.

The trick with all these tips is to work out ways to save money without compromising on your quality of life.  It can be done.

If you adopt some of these tips then you may be able to create a Christmas fund to relieve some of the pressure on your finances at the most expensive time of year.

*This is a collaborative post

Relationship Dilemmas - What Was I Asked In Week 26?

As you may know, I spend a lot of time responding to the questions I am asked about dating & relationships on Quora.com and I thought I'd share some of my answers with you in case you are going through anything similar.

Obviously I am not an expert but I am a 50-something married mum of two with quite a few years' experience under my belt. I take the view that, sometimes, you need to hear it like you would from your own mother - however tough the truth may be.

Here's just some of the questions I've been asked this week.

Q: My wife is accidentally pregnant and is saying I have ruined her life. She's now so depressed that she's threatening my life. Gone crazy. What should I do? 

A: Your wife will be very hormonal and her moods may well be all over the place - that’s natural with pregnancy. But this sounds like a huge over-reaction. 

Do you have any idea why she feels this way? What have you ‘ruined’ - her career? her figure? When you say she is ‘threatening your life’ do you mean literally or is she just so angry she’s saying things like “I could kill you for this”? 

I would suggest she needs to see a doctor for some counselling to help her decide what to do next but you also need some support for you too. 

Do you have any relatives close by who could help? Could anyone come and stay with you for a bit? Does she have a mum or sister who could come and help her? 

You don’t mention contraception but if you were using something which didn’t work then that is hardly your fault. If you weren’t using contraception then both of you are responsible - she had the choice to protect herself by using contraception too. 

This doesn’t make it any easier of course but blaming you is hardly going to help her deal with the pregnancy. 

It also sounds like there is a huge gulf between the two of you in terms of how you feel about each other and where the relationship is headed - I assume you knew she didn’t want children? 

When things are calmer, I think you need to do some serious talking. If you feel your life is seriously under threat then you must leave immediately. I hope things work out for you. 

Q. What does it mean when your boyfriend is always texting other girls but doesn't tell you?

A: It may be that he has lots of female friends but it’s the fact that he doesn’t tell you that is suspicious, unless you are very jealous and possessive and he is too afraid to tell you.
How do you know he is always texting other girls - are you checking his phone without him knowing?
If it were me, I’d be asking what he’s up to because, on the face of it, it sounds like there are other girls in the picture.
Q: How do I show my boyfriend that I want to be a bigger part of his life?

We've been dating for around 8 months.  We're both divorced and we both have some issues opening up but it's clear we have a connection. Lately we’ve been seeing less of each other, and when we do we don't go out. In the beginning we met family, did a lot together, now he always seems to have an excuse - too buy with work etc.

A: I can tell that you are very keen on your boyfriend, but is it possible that you are coming on too strong and pushing for a commitment or at any rate more involvement than he is willing to give right now?

It sounds to me as if he is back tracking a little unless he really is busy with work.
You don’t say what the ‘issues’ are but I suspect these are at the heart of the problem. Was his divorce amicable? Is his ex-wife still around? Are there children?
Demanding to be a bigger part of his life won’t work if he is just getting over the trauma of a tricky divorce. He’ll want less stress, not more.
I think a heart-to-heart is in order - after all it has been 8 months - to see how he is feeling and whether, rather than pushing for more attention, you might be better off seeing how you could offer support.
You also need to work out what the ‘connection’ is - because it may be that, on his side, it’s friendship whereas on your side it’s clearly more.
Good luck!

Q: My best friend and I can't live without each other. She's dating another who doesn't treasure her.  I am in love with her.  What do I do?

A: Hard though it is, I think you need a little reality check. Your friend is dating someone else and, although you clearly think the ‘other’ isn’t good enough for her, unless she has said she is unhappy you really shouldn’t interfere.
Does she know how you feel about her or have you not told her because you don’t want to lose her?
If she does know, then you need to decide whether being second best is good enough for you, unless you think there’s a chance the situation may change.
If she doesn’t know then all you can do is tell her how you feel - but if you do that, the nature of your friendship may well change.
I hope things resolve in your favour.
Q: Should I text this to the guy I have a crush on? "What would you say if I told you I liked you and wished we could hang out together more"?

A: If you are at the stage where you are prepared to risk being rejected then yes, but has this guy given any indication he likes you?

How well do you know him? Does he know YOU like him? If he doesn’t he may well find your text a bit odd.

It’s very easy to hide behind phone calls / texts / social media but real relationships are based on talking and face to face contact.

Why don’t you just ask him out for a coffee? If he says no thanks you have your answer without having told him about your crush.

Q: How do I tell my girlfriend that I have enlisted in the army?

A couple of times when I have asked her opinion about “how cool do you think the army is?”, she has conveyed that she wouldn’t date someone from the army because of how hard it is. The thing is, I signed the dotted line before I met her and we love each other and have been together for more than 6 months and I leave in 2 months.

A: I think you have to be honest and tell her right away - otherwise she’s in for a big shock.

Tell her you fibbed because you didn’t want to lose her and give her the chance to talk about her fears.

It is possible she does not want an ‘army life’ but I’m afraid you are going to have to address this now because otherwise your relationship going forward will continue to be based on a lie.

Q: Let's say I get a woman over 40 pregnant. What would be the odds of the baby having some debilitating birth defect?

A: The risks of abnormalities increase after the age of 35. I am not a doctor but I had my babies at 43 and 45.

With my first I had a nuchal translucency scan to assess for the likelihood of Downs syndrome and other chromosomal abnormalities. With my second I had amniocentisis.

My point is that the risks increase but that the defects can be tested for.

A bigger issue is the decision whether to continue a pregnancy where defects are indicated - and even then sometimes you don’t know until the baby is born.

Will you be able to stand by your woman and support her in the making of that decision if need be?

That’s the real issue here.

Q: If, on a second date, there is no kissing and no escalation physically or much flirting, but the date went well aside from that, is that a sign that a third date is unlikely? Or are some people just slower?

This is a general question, but it's based on a real scenario. Our first date went exceedingly well, but on the second date it felt like it had de-escalated physically. The girl was less flirtatious by far than on the first date, and gave no 'chances' or hints at all, compared to the first, for any physical contact. I'm trying to tell if some people are just like that, or if it's a sign of disinterest / fizzling out.

A: Easy tiger! What happened to taking things slow and getting to know one another? It sounds to me that you are just after sex and not really interested in a relationship. Your description of “the girl” is less than flattering.

I’m not surprised she is pulling back if she senses you’re only after one thing.

Women aren’t machines you know. What about wooing, showing interest, complimenting her? What on earth do you mean by “chances”?!

I’d dial back your enthusiasm before you get yourself in trouble, otherwise you’ll never get that third date.

Q: Is it unrealistic or presumptuous of me to think that people should take more consideration and time before they prepare to have children?

I often find that people (including myself) love our own children very much, but often refuse to admit any mistakes in regards to their upbringing because they’ve done “everything” they can for them. I find ourselves talking about how we ‘should’ do things instead of “walking the talk” so to speak.

A: A bit unrealistic. Until you have kids you really have no idea what it’s like to be a parent and you just have to feel your way day to day and learn as you go. We all make mistakes but we have to forgive ourselves and, in most cases, our kids do just fine.

I don’t know if you are familiar with the writer Louise Hay but she says that we should all forgive our parents because they were only doing the best they could at the time as they simply didn’t know anything different.

I’m obviously not excusing child cruelty here but I think there’s a lot of truth in Louise’s words.

I think one of the biggest challenges of parenthood is learning to live with guilt - but ultimately it’s the struggle to be better that makes us good parents and makes us grow as people.

Q: My brother's girlfriend is harassing my daughter via phone, text and social media. I have all the proof so what can I do now? 

A: How close are you to your brother? And how bad is the harassment? Are we talking constant badgering / insulting? Has there been physical violence?

If it were me and it was that bad, I would have told my brother in no uncertain terms that his girlfriend’s treatment of his niece is completely unacceptable and that you don’t want to play hardball with the evidence but if it doesn’t stop immediately there will be consequences (you don’t need to specify).

How has it been allowed to escalate to this stage?

BEFORE you speak to your brother though, you need to be absolutely sure that your daughter has no part to play in this situation. You don’t say how old she is.

I would make very certain you have ALL the facts just in case your daughter isn’t completely the innocent party in all this.

Whilst you have these conversations your daughter needs to block this girl on social media and her phone or change her phone number. I’m a little unsure as to why this hasn’t already been done, although I guess it’s to allow you to gather ‘evidence’.

I think with a bit of swift action and a few open conversations this could be swiftly nipped in the bud.

Q: Me and my ex-girlfriend are still dating but she is not ready to marry me. She has told me that she is going to dinner with a man introduced to her by her parents.What should I do?

A: Firstly, how can she be your ‘ex’ girlfriend when you are still dating. She is either your girlfriend or she isn’t and the fact that she is not ready to marry you suggests she is stringing you along.

I think she is gently trying to tell you that she is moving on and you should do the same. Her parents have obviously decided her future lies elsewhere and it doesn’t sound like she is putting up much resistance.

This doesn’t sound if it’s going anywhere and you deserve better.

Q: Is it possible to repair a relationship after you've been cheated on?

A: Perfectly possible but the question is at what cost? If you can forgive that is one thing but I think a lot of people would struggle with the forgetting.

If this was a one off, then possibly you can get over it, agree it was a mistake and move on on the basis that the person they cheated with was completely out of the picture and you could rebuild your trust in your partner.

If this wasn’t a one-off or the rival is still around then, personally, I would leave and find myself someone I could trust who would treat me with respect.

I think you do need to look at your role in the relationship too though - did you do anything that led to your partner being unfaithful? It’s very easy to blame others and ignore our own part in the drama.

No, it doesn’t excuse the cheating but a bit of self analysis may help you go forward to your next relationship in a stronger, more confident frame of mind.

Q. I have two ex-girlfriends who mean the world to me. I will not settle for letting go. How do I get one back?

A: Did they both leave you? In which case, I’m not sure you can and if you left them, why on earth did you if they meant that much to you?

It sounds like you are wallowing in nostalgia for happier times and possibly forgetting the reasons why these relationships did not work.

Why would things be different now?

You make it sound as if these girls were your possessions - were you perhaps a little too jealous or possessive?

You say you will “not settle for letting go” which is not a particularly healthy attitude towards your relationships. Do you have a fear of commitment or getting too close to people which leads you to push them away when you really don’t want to?

There is no reason why you cannot remain friends but I think you need to be honest with yourself about the reason why you want not just one, but two of them back.

Perhaps you need to work on your self confidence a little and look to the future where you will meet someone who is right for you.

How would you have responded to these questions?  You can find more dating advice on my problem page.

All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tips For Caring For Elderly Relatives At Home

I recently wrote about the challenges of caring for your elderly parents while they still live at home and just recently this has become a little more important to us due to the fact that Mum has had rather a patchy year of it so far, health wise.

Flickr:  Artis Rams
My parents are in their late 70s and still fully mobile and I have to say that I would far prefer to look after them at home for as long as possible before considering residential care.

But I am increasingly aware that, for them to live at home in comfort and safety, we will eventually have to make some changes to their house.

It's amazing what you have to think of when it comes to avoiding accidents - for example, my parents have had to swop to a cool wall toaster in case Mum touches it when she is unwell.  (She suffers from Temporal Lobe Epilepsy).

Then there's things like installing a handrail alongside the steps which lead down to their house and another to help them to walk down their sloping drive which is treacherous in icy weather.

Eventually we may have to consider adapting their bathroom to include a walk-in bath or shower when Dad is no longer able to lift Mum or creating a wet room.

I'm sure many of you will identify with the difficult line we have to tread between offering advice and help and being seen to 'take over' or dent our elderly relatives' pride.

It has taken Dad a while to be able to openly admit that having help sometimes is nice and he is much better at asking for help and sharing his worries with my sister Sarah and I.

But I find I often sound like I am nagging these days if I ask if they've had the heating on (the house is often like an igloo) or whether they are eating enough.

One of the things I am able to do is to invite them around to ours (we live literally a 10 minute walk away) for lunch to feed them up.

I think it is really important to maintain regular contact with your elderly relatives.  I find it heartbreaking when I read of old people who are in residential care yet receive no visitors. Their loneliness must be terrible.

My lovely mum
There are things we can do to help out - as long as we offer this help as tactfully as possible and gauge whether we are hurting feelings.  It's all about open and honest communication.

Here are some suggestions you could do if, like me, you're in that delicate position of recognising that a bit more help is needed, whilst not wanting to tread on toes.

I am, however, in the lucky position of living close by and with both parents currently able to look after one another.

For example:-

- invite them for meals

- batch cook at home (soups, stews, pasta dishes) and pop a few portions round in air tight containers to put in their freezer

- buy larger amounts of fruit and veg and let them have the surplus (very easy if you are a member of a cash and carry, such as Costco)

- offer to drive them to town once a week or to their supermarket to do the weekly shop

- carry out simple gardening tasks (hedge trimming, weeding, planting some perennials or herbs in pots).

- arrange for the laundering of big items such as blankets or duvets or take items to the dry cleaners

- wash the windows

- clean the house, even if it's just whizzing around with a vacuum.

- do their ironing

This is all basic stuff and I'm sure you will have many ideas of your own. The tricky part might be getting your elderly relatives to agree to let you help out with some of these!

If you live far away from your parents or elderly relatives, you may be relying on a paid carer or assistance from Social Services and your hands may well be tied in terms of what you can do to help - in which case an honest conversation with your elderly relatives might be the best way to see whether they are coping.

There is always something that can be done to help with the added bonus that knowing our elderly relatives are being looked after and their stress minimised makes both their, and our lives, just that little bit less stressful.

*This is a collaborative post

Monday, 27 June 2016

Choosing The Best Child Car Seat For Your Little One

When you are planning your budget for the arrival of your new baby, one of the most important items to include, apart from the pram or pushchair, is the safest and most secure child car seat you can afford.

Flickr credit: Jon Pinder 
The car accident statistics make grim reading. Each year around 25 children between 0-11 years are killed while travelling in cars with approximately 250 sustaining a serious injury and around 6,000 being slightly injured.

Even if you don't have a car yourself, if you are planning to travel anywhere by car, the law says that children under 3 must be in a child car seat.

If you do have a car but you don't have room for a third child seat in the back of your car, children aged three or under can use the front seat but they must be in a child car seat.

The only exception to this rule is if it's in a licensed taxi or minicab and the rear seats are separated from the driver by a fixed partition and the child travels on the rear seats. If you ignore the law you are liable to a fine of £500.

I don't know about where you live, but here in Cardiff although we have some of the traditional black 'London' cabs, most taxis are saloon cars where there is certainly no partition.

In fact, UK law currently says that children must use a child car seat until they're 12 years old or 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) tall, whichever comes sooner.

In Ireland and in some European countries such as Germany and France, this height limit is higher at 150 cm (4 ft 11 in).

As children grow, the type of child car seat they can use changes until, eventually, they progress to what is known as a child booster seat.

For the first time parent, buying a child car seat can be quite daunting.  Not only are there loads of brands to choose from, but the car seats are classified in groups:-

Group 0+ - weight 13 kg, age birth to 12/15 months
Group 0/1 - weight 18 kg, age birth to 4 years
Group 1 - weight 9 - 18 kg, age 9 months to 4 years
Group 1,2,3 - weight 9-36 kg, age 9 months to 12 years
Group 2/3 - weight 15-36 kg, age 3 years to 12 years

So, to choose the right seat for your little one, you have to consider not only their age but their size too.

Then there is the choice between rear facing seats, where the baby obviously faces the back of the car seat and forward facing seats for older children.

Safety experts say that rear facing seats are safer than forward facing seats for children under 4 years old and advise that young children should be kept in rear facing seats for as long as possible. Despite this, generally, according to The British Medical Journal, many babies are switched from a rear facing to a forward facing seat at 9 kg or around 8 to 9 months.

Then there is a wealth of other safety factors and design features to consider for example, recline positions, the ease of adjusting the straps on the safety harness, compatibility with adult seat belts, washable cushions and a booster cushion for newborns who may be too tiny for even the starter car seat.

There are also loads of accessories to go with your car seat, from waterproof covers to toys you can attach to keep your little one occupied when on the road.

You can also buy pram systems where the child car seat can be attached to the pram frame so that you can lift baby straight of the car and onto the pram wheels without having to transfer them over from the car seat to the pram - no fun in pouring rain and a gale I can tell you!

There is so much to consider that your best bet is to find a child car seat retailer who offers the widest choice and helps you compare the different makes and models at a glance, such as Online4baby.com.

Online 4 Baby is the UK's cheapest online baby megastore and offers a wide range of discounted travel systems, prams, pushchairs, twins, car seats, baby cots, furniture and nursery equipment stockists of top brands including Graco, Cosatto, Baby Jogger, Mamas and Papas, Hauck at discounted prices.

In addition, the company has had over 255,000 positive reviews and is ranked the No. 1 top rated power seller in the UK for nursery products.

Whatever you choose, be sure that you are buying the best child car seat you can afford for your children and keep yourself appraised of the latest Government rules and regulations.

And don't be afraid to ask for advice. The best child car seat retailers won't hesitate to answer all your questions - and don't worry, you're sure to have quite a few.

I know we did!

A note on child backless booster seats - at present, children weighing as little as 15 kg (2 stone 5 lbs) can travel in backless booster seats but from the end of 2016 the rules about using these are changing. You can read about them here

Manage your sensitive bladder with Always Discreet

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Always Discreet®. I received free samples from P&G. All opinions stated are my own. 

If there’s one issue which unites many women and yet is rarely discussed, it’s having a sensitive bladder and coping with the occasional leaks that come with it.

There's nothing like letting your hair down and having a good laugh

It’s a problem which is very common after childbirth and as we enter our later years when our bodies naturally change as we get older. In fact more than 40 million women of all ages in America alone experience bladder leaks, ranging from those who are middle aged or menopausal, to those who have been pregnant, or are overweight or diabetic.

And in the hot summer weather, it’s even more of a challenge for us to stay dry and fresh at the times when it’s most important to us whether at work or on holiday, attending a summer wedding or graduation ceremony or even a hot date.

Having a sensitive bladder also affects your choice of wardrobe - one pieces, playsuits, jumpsuits - anything it takes an age to get out of are no-no's and you can hardly wear your sexiest underwear or anything in a light, bright colour.

My bladder has always been sensitive. It’s a family joke that I am unable to travel more than 20 miles without needing a toilet. And the Husband is now very familiar with most of the motorway service stations between Cardiff and Plymouth whilst he would think nothing of travelling the length of the country without stopping for more than 5 minutes and a quick coffee.

Having a love of tea and coffee (both diuretics) really hasn’t helped either but I have managed to kick my Diet Coke habit (which is another bladder irritant).

I was doing fine until I had kids. I had two caesarians 18 months apart and whilst I was blithely confident that, despite this procedure being a pretty hefty piece of surgery I would recover entirely, I suspect that the pregnancies themselves have left a legacy of a bladder which is prone to leak slightly when I cough, sneeze or if I go for too long without a loo break.

I know that some women experience a slight leakage when they laugh as well and I have occasionally had this problem. Mind you, the Husband says I have suffered a catastrophic sense of humour failure since having kids and it certainly feels like that some days!

Exercising is another activity which can trigger a leak, again, if I haven’t had a loo stop before starting the class.

Two of the products in the Always Discreet range - there's also Always Discreet Pants
Now it’s very difficult to predict when you are going to cough or sneeze, and you can’t always get to the toilet in time. Ordinary panty liners are just not up to the job but Always Discreet have a great range of products designed with women’s needs in mind – providing incredible comfort, protection, discretion and odour control, with a full line of pads, liners and underwear, specifically made for bladder leak protection. You really don’t want to go out feeling as if you’re wearing a nappy.

The Always Discreet Liners are incredibly thin yet very absorbant
Always Discreet absorbs leaks and odours in seconds – and the best part is that they’re so comfortable and surprisingly thin, you will barely feel like you’re wearing any protection at all.

Research shows than only 1 in 7 women are using the right protection, with lots of us relying on period protection which just won’t handle the job. Always Discreet on the other hand has a super absorbent core that turns liquid to gel in seconds, to help keep you dry and fresh.

The Always Discreet Pads are wrapped just like sanitary protection
The OdorLock™ Technology neutralizes urine odor instantly and continuously whilst the pads and underwear also have Soft Dual LeakGuard barriers™ which offer incredible comfort and protection to help stop leaks at the leg, where they happen most.

The Always Discreet Pads offer the extra reassurance of Soft Dual Leakguard barriers 
Using proper bladder protection means that rather than worrying about the odd leak, you can focus on enjoying yourself. It’s pretty miserable, isn’t it, having to plan days out (particularly with the kids in tow) to ensure the right number of toilet stops ‘just in case’ or carrying extra pairs of knickers stuffed in your handbag.

Always Discreet helps you to cope with the natural body changes that are part of being a woman, so that you are not held back from the activities you love.

Always Discreet products are available in all major supermarkets and pharmacies and larger department stores in the incontinence aisle (if only there were a nicer word for it!).

You can also find them on Facebook.

Do you suffer from a sensitive bladder?  Share your story below. The more of us who open up about this problem, the more women like us will have the confidence to address the problem.

And with Always Discreet, no matter what's happening, you'll be able to #LaughAllYouWant.

I am participating in a sponsored campaign hosted by Always Discreet®. I received I received free samples from P&G. All opinions stated are my own.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Win A 3 Month Subscription To Le Petit Ballon - Fine Wines Without The Fuss

Le Petit Ballon is a unique wine subscription service where, every month, you receive two bottles of fine wine selected by renowned Master Sommelier Jean-Michel Deluc.

The June 2016 Apprentice Subscription Box Selection

Monsieur Deluc certainly has some impressive credentials - from being head sommelier at the Ritz in 1984 to being recognised as one of the best tasters in the world after participating in Starwine in the US, a wine competition that brings together the top 60 tasters in the world.

The Petit Ballon team put together wines from the winemakers they meet at fairs and expos and from wineries who have sent them samples and this tasting panel, presided over by Jean-Michel decide on the monthly wines which subscribers receive.

There are two levels of subscription - Apprentice (£24.90 per month for two bottles inc. delivery) and Master (£39.90 per month for two bottles inc. delivery).  The Master subscription contains slightly more prestigious labels whilst the Apprentice subscription aims to introduce wine lovers to great value wines from vineyards you would never otherwise have discovered.

In addition to your monthly two bottles, you receive the Gazette, a mini magazine which includes all sorts of interesting information about your subscription and tasting notes for your two bottles.

The Gazette contains all sorts of interesting information
We were sent the Apprentice subscription box for June to try.  It contained one red (Le Grand Verdus 2012) and one white (Domaine de Pouilly Clos de la Condemine 2014), together with probably the best tasting notes I've ever seen.

Not only do these include Jean-Michel's views on the wine but there are full tasting notes and recommendations for the food and wine pairings that will work best.  You are advised how long you can lay the wines down for, which temperature the wine should best be served at and the wines are categorised further as to whether they are fruit, spicy or woody for example.

There are many ways to categorise your wines!
So far we have tried the red, Le Grand Verdus and found the tasting notes to be spot on, describing the wine as being supple on the palate and having a nose which is grapey, pleasant and fresh.

What makes Le Petit Ballon different is that the service punctures lots of the pomposity surrounding wine tasting whilst introducing you to the facts you really need to know to help you to make better choices with your wine purchases.

We have been members of a rival wine club for years and find that the Le Petit Ballon's subscription prices are very reasonable, as is the price of extra bottles if you want to buy your favourites.  There is a decent discounted price on each bottle (20%) for subscribers but anyone can buy Le Petit Ballon's wines to try.

You can buy a Le Petit Ballon subscription as a gift and it's ideal for those who want to learn about wine or, with the Master subscription, a great way to introduce wine connoisseurs to new wines and help them to build their own wine cellar.

You can also customise your monthly wines by choosing them in advance on the website so, for example, if you prefer red wine, that's no problem.

Boxes are sent out between the 15th and 20th of each month, just in time to perk you up from any mid month slump.

A Le Petit Ballon subscription is ideal for those of us for whom a date night is a rare occurence - particularly when you think that one large glass of wine tends to start around the £6 mark and rises steadily depending on the restaurant you choose and your location.

And I don't need to say that it would be an ideal gift for some of us mums who need a tipple at the end of a fraught day. (And without sounding like your mum, you will mind your units and drink responsibly, won't you?).

Le Petit Ballon are very kindly offering a 3 month Apprentice subscription to one lucky winner.  Entry is via the Rafflecopter.  UK entrants only and you must be over 18.  Terms and conditions apply. The giveaway ends at 11:59 pm on Saturday 16th July.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Enjoy More Water The Flavoursome Way With Robinsons Squash'd

Kids love water.  To be more precise, kids love splashing, swimming and water-bombing.  They love being sprayed with hoses.  Puddles, pools, rivers, streams and of course the sea - all fine.

Watching strange creatures flit across the surface of a pond shimmering with sunlight?  Check.  Spending so long in a paddling pool that the grass on your lawn takes a year to recover?  Check. Feeling the bubbling waters of a fast flowing river rush over your ankles as you jump across on stepping stones?  Brilliant.

Water parks, log flumes, lawn sprinklers - bring them on.  Ice cubes, ice lollies, ice cream - of course.

Have a glass of water?


Now I have explained, as have their teachers, that our bodies are 70% water and that even a slight drop in the levels of hydration has a measurable effect on our cognitive ability.

I obviously translated this for them as in "you won't be able to find your Shopkins or Star Wars Lightsabers".

I have warned them both that if they don't start imbibing water soon they will both look like a pair of sultanas on a day out in Marbella.  I mean the fruit, not the female potentate.

But, after two or three sips, glasses are cast aside.  Caitlin, in particular is dreadful for not drinking water. Weirdly she will drink a glass before she goes to bed from the upstairs sink because the water there is especially cold and she says it tastes nicer.

We have a cupboard full of water bottles in a variety of colours and featuring several of their favourite characters to encourage them to enjoy more water.

They will, however, drink squash and the whole family has drunk Robinsons Squash for years - after all they've been making it since 1935.

Robinsons polled 2000 adults and discovered that two out three (64%) parents say they do not know how much water their children should be drinking each day, and 42% say their children find the taste of water ‘boring’.

As a general guideline, kids aged 5-8 should be drinking 1 litre (approx 5 glasses), kids aged 9-12 need 1.5 litres (approx 7 glasses) and over 13+ the recommended amount is 2 litres (8-10 glasses). These quantities should be increased if you are exercising a lot or on a hot day.

We also try to instill into our kids the fact that when you feel thirsty you are already dehydrated so it's best to top your water levels up regularly throughout the day.

So, in January this year, Robinsons launched the Enjoying Drinking More Water campaign and we have signed up to the #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge run by BritMums and sponsored by Robinsons.

We were sent a selection of  Robinsons Squash’d - little pods of super-concentrated squash which make up to 20 drinks when diluted with water, and a star chart to help track our progress.

Robinsons Squash'd comes in a variety of flavours such as Passion Fruit & Mango, Orange & Peach, Lemon & Pink Grapefruit and, Caitlin and Ieuan's favourite, Apple & Blackcurrant.

Now obviously we are well aware of the importance of protecting our kids' teeth, but I think that as long as they have good dental hygiene and are given a clean bill of health by the dentist, then there is little harm in one or two glasses of squash a day, provided that their teeth are not brushed immediately afterwards and are given at least 20 minutes to avoid damaging the tooth enamel.

And you don't want little ones constantly sucking on a bottle or sippy cup filled with squash for this very reason.

But, as a way of getting them to enjoy more water, adding a dash of one of Robinsons flavoured squashes from one of their cute little portable Squash'd pods is a great way to get them to up their water intake - particularly since Robinsons Squash'd contains no added sugar or artificial colours or preservatives.

I would certainly prefer that they had squash rather than fizzy drinks which can do much greater damage to young tooth enamel.

So how do you get kids to up their water intake?

- Use a reward chart

A reward chart works well and is a great way to measure how much they are drinking - if  you can get them to remember to add stickers. Hands up, we weren't brilliant at this.

- Have a jug of water on the table at meal times

You could have a jug of water with some pretty glasses on the table with each meal, perhaps jazzing the water up with some slices of lemon or orange.  We encourage our two to help set the table and filling the water jug is a great task to delegate to an older child.

- Try a variety of water bottles

There are loads of different types of water bottle such as these which allow you to add a selection of fruit to a central reservoir in the bottle.  We tried strawberries and mint for example.

- Get the kids to take bottled water to their exercise /sports classes

I make sure the kids have bottle of water to take to their ballet and Tae Kwon-Do as I find it's easier to get them to drink plain water if they have been exercising.

- Lead by example

As parents, we have to lead by example so the Husband and I make sure that we drink water with meals too.

- Keep hydrated during shopping

If we are out together shopping, I will often carry a couple of bottles of mineral water for us and mix up some squash to take with us for the kids. Carrying a Robinsons Squash'd with you means you can mix up squash almost anywhere.

- Keep a glass of water by the kids' bedsides at night

We also make sure that the kids have a glass of water by their bedside each night. It's part of our nightly ritual and oddly it is the one time of day they will happily drink it.

- Make your own Squash lollies

In hot weather a simple to use lolly kit is a godsend because you can just freeze your squash to make an additive free lolly.

- Give them a 'grown up' glass or bottle, or a fun straw

Anything which ups the fun factor is more likely to get them to drink.

- Medicate with water first

If the kids complain about having a sore throat or a headache, our first piece of advice is always to have a long glass of water.

- Keep hydrated when travelling

We never travel in the car without having some bottled water to hand which is really important in hot weather and we can carry one of the Robinsons Squash'd pods to make some impromptu squash to jazz things up a bit.

I hope you've found some of our ideas helpful.  Let me know how you encourage your kids to enjoy more water in the comments below.

This post is an entry for BritMums #EnjoyMoreWater Challenge, sponsored by Robinsons.

Friday, 24 June 2016

New Releases, Free & Bargain Books Link-up 24 June 2016

How are you all this week?  It's quite a day today in the UK following the EU Referendum and, whatever your views, the political climate has probably changed for ever.  Many of us are still trying to get our heads around what it all means and what the future might bring, both for us and our European cousins.

If you want to avoid all the media turmoil, and particularly the brewhaha on Facebook and Twitter, escaping with a good book might help. I'm also making the most of the peace whilst there are still 3 weeks to the end of the school term!

Here are the fab books on offer this week.  You're sure to find something that takes your fancy.

Sharing the Love of Books
Enjoy our selection of New Releases / Free & Bargain Books this week

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

Authors please feel free to add your own books
Readers please free to add your own finds
(any genre except erotica welcome)

This weekly link up is hosted by Beck Valley Books & these awesome book loving blogs...
 Life as Leels | IrishdaisylovesRomance | Book Babble | All Romance Reader
It's My Side of Life | Celticlady's Reviews | First Time Mommy Adventures | Bound 2 Escape
Beck Valley BooksA Library of Reviews | Cinnamon Hollow Reviews
Miki's Hope | Taking Time for Mommy | Nicki's Nook
Ebook Addicts | I Love Romance | A Bit Bookish | Mother Distracted | Colorimetry
Totally Addicted to Reading | 3 Partners in Shopping | Angie's Angle I Creat Purty Thangs | Wishful Endings
Lynchburg Mama | LibriAmoriMieiAli - The Dragon Slayer | Wondermom WannabeMy Bizzy World |  Deal Sharing Aunt 

For Pre-orders post - PRE-ORDER / genre / title /author
For New Releases post - NEW / genre / title / author
For Free Books post - FREE / genre / title / author / end date 
For Bargain Books post - SALE / price / genre / title / author / end date
(Strictly no Erotica please.  Steamy romance is fine but watch those covers people, incase any underage child is viewing it!)

Click HERE for this week's awesome selection.

And don't forget you can always add some of your own!

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Relationship Dilemmas - What Was I Asked In Week 25?

Here are some of the questions about dating, relationships and health I have been asked this week from my readers on Quora.com.

I share my answers just in case you are going through anything similar - after all, a problem shared is a problem halved as they say.

Whilst I am not a professionally qualified psychologist or mediator, I am a 50-something married mum of two with quite a few years' experience under my belt.

I take the view that, sometimes, you need to hear it like you would from your own mother - however tough the truth may be.

Here are just some of the questions.

Q: Am I crazy for staying with my cheating husband of only 3 months?

A: I’m really sorry to hear this. Is this new cheating or has it been going on before the wedding? 

Did you suspect? Has he admitted it or is this just worry on your part? You do need some proof before you take action. 

If you have no doubt, I’m afraid I would kick his sorry backside out and cut my losses. If he’s cheating he’s making a mockery of your marriage vows. 

You don’t say if you have kids but if you don’t and you are considering them, this is not the right situation to bring them into. I hope things sort themselves out for you.

Q. My boyfriend does amazing things for me but he works so hard to do them. How do I convince him he doesn't need to do this? 

A: Some people express their love through giving. That’s just the way they are and actually, not appreciating these gestures can sometimes feel like a rejection to them. 

Can’t you just enjoy being spoiled? 

Lots of women would give their eye teeth to have your problem. It may be that your boyfriend worries about losing you and is overcompensating so as long as he knows that you love him and you are occasionally spoiling him in return, I’d say that’s fine. 

Rather than worrying about him overexhausting himself, it would be more useful to sometimes turn the tables and run him a hot bath or cook his favourite meal - be creative. 

Don’t turn this into a psychological issue that needs solving - it all sounds fine to me! 

Q: Me and my boyfriend are both introverts and we have nothing to talk about.  How do I fix this?

I have known this guy since 2 years. But we started dating only recently. I’m silent and shy too. We don’t have much to share and speak about. What should I do? I have heard people telling that ‘if you don’t have much to talk about then your relationship will never work’ Is it true?

A: I think you need to find a shared hobby or interest that you can do together - art, museum visits, theatre? 

There’s nothing wrong with being introverted but there is a problem if you have nothing to say to one another. 

Having nothing in common is not the same as you both being shy. It sounds like you don’t really know each other very well and if you want the relationship to last, one, or both of you, needs to start talking.

Q: This guy I like takes forever to text back but yet he's on social media the entire day & doesn't text me back for hours…Why is that?

It really irks me because people make time for other people & I don't think I'm overreacting because he's on the phone so I'm guessing I'm not that important to text back… Right? He took an interest in me & I started showing interest back now he's not texting as much it feels like.

A: How do you know he is always on the phone or social media? Have you got him on 24 hour watch?

Seriously, it sounds like you’re a little obsessed with tracking his every move which he is probably finding a little intense or annoying.

If he’s interested in you he will contact you but monitoring him is a quick way to make him lose interest. 

I suspect he’s well aware that you are desperate for him to contact you but I think you need to concentrate on other people, go out and have fun and step away from social media. 

Have a little pride. Be a little more mysterious and hard to pin down. You may well find there is a message for you when you come back.

Q: How do you heal emotional wounds after breakups?

I really was convinced that he was the one, he kept confirming that to me. But when something went wrong for him, it would always be my fault. He kept guilt-tripping me and was highly suspicious and jealous. He liked to control the friends I went out with and if I didn't obey his 'rules', he would yell at me and belittle me.

I later found out that he was lying about drug abuse and had cheated on me but he still made me think it was all my fault. I broke all contact with him, but I know he is running me down to all of our friends - calling me a psycho and a crazy bitch. He is much more sociable than me and seems to have won them over too.

I am completely devastated and my self esteem is now so low that I feel it was all my fault and he has won. Can anybody help me move past this?

A: This man seems deeply unpleasant, emotionally controlling and abusive. I honestly think, despite your pain, you are much better off without him.

If you are struggling with your feelings I strongly suggest you seek counselling to move past this and to understand why you feel you deserve such treatment and put up with it. 

Hopefully you will then be able to leave him in the past - where he belongs - and move forward to meet someone with whom you can have a healthy loving relationship which makes you happy.

Q: What does a girl mean when she says "I feel I've misled you"?

I was on a date with a girl, she got drunk, and became a little seductive, so on the way back in the car i touched her hair.. later on she told me that she has a feeling she misled me. what does she mean? does she mean she wasn't into me? or only that she didn't mean to seduce me?

A: I think it means she regrets your encounter and is not interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.
I know that’s probably not what you want to hear but without asking her directly it’s hard for anyone to advise.
Next time though, you might want to think twice about seducing a girl who is drunk. Had circumstances been different, you may well have found yourself in quite a bit of trouble.
Have a chat with her to see how things stand between you.

Q: What does a guy mean when he says "I'm just really busy"?

I had a great first date with this guy.  I texted him afterwards and we texted back and forth. I asked him out for a second date and he told me "I'm really busy at the moment but it sounds really fun".  I asked him jokingly if this is a rejection or a postponement? He didn't answer directly, he just said he was really busy.

A: I think you need to stop chasing him and try to be a little more cool and mysterious. From the sound of it he likes you but isn’t interested in a second date  - for the moment at least
If he’s reluctant to commit because he really is too busy, you’ll find out soon enough. 

In the meantime, get busy yourself - go out and have some fun and flirt with a few guys who DO have some spare time.

Q: How does a guy feel if another woman shows an interest in him when he already has a loving girlfriend? 

A: I imagine most men would feel flattered. Their next reaction will depend on how they feel about their current girlfriend.
If they are happy in their relationship, the interest shown will swiftly become a bit irritating if it continues when they have made it clear they are happy and have no interest in pursuing someone else.
Or, if they aren’t happy, then perhaps they will reciprocate.
If you are really asking if it’s OK to flirt with a guy who is happily coupled up, then I’d say it is alright for some light flirtation, but you’d be better off concentrating your attention on a guy who is single and looking for a relationships, than trying to break up a happy couple.

Q: My girlfriend broke up with me because she said she needed space and couldn't be in a relationship right now.  What does it mean? 

I met this girl in university and we dated for a couple of years, one of which was a long distance relationship between the UK and Central Europe. She broke up with me at the beginning of June saying she wanted to focus on herself, wanted to travel and to be there for her family.  She said she doesn't want a relationship at the moment.  

A: Well she can’t really make it any clearer, can she? She doesn’t want a relationship with you and her priorities are travel and enjoying her independence.
I can tell that you don’t want to let her go but it would be better to concentrate on finding someone closer to home to develop a close, meaningful relationship with than pin your hopes on someone who, by the sound of it, has no intention of settling down for a long while.

Q: Why does my boyfriend keep fighting with me for a long time about the same topic and always wants me to do something his way? Does he really love me?

A: Without knowing what the topic you are arguing about is, it’s impossible to say. He may well love you but feel that you are being unreasonable - and that, long term, is likely to kill the relationship.

What is the issue you are fighting about - if it’s an important one you need to find common ground and negotiate a solution.

If neither of you will concede, then perhaps it is time to part.

If he is being controlling and abusive and trying to bully you into something you do not want to do, you would be better off without him in any case.

Q: Is it possible to get my baby's dad back together after 5 years apart and his new child has been born with someone else?

A: I would say it’s highly unlikely unless he is separated from his recent partner and has made some romantic overtures to you again.

Without knowing the exact details of your situation it’s impossible to be more specific.

It sounds like you are hurting terribly because of the new baby and want to hurt the mother of his latest child but this will not bring you any happiness and will just make you look vengeful and desperate.

You need to concentrate on maintaining a good relationship with your baby’s father for the sake of your child but I would say 5 years is too long a time to have passed to return to how things were.

Keeping on good terms with your baby’s dad is your best bet to seeing if there may be some slight hope in the future but trying to break up his existing relationship is likely to ensure he will never want to return to you.

Q. How common is it for the woman to do all the driving in a relationship?

How often do you see a couple where the girl always drives the car? Has the number increased over the years? Do people still find it weird if the girl’s on the driver’s seat while the guy is the passenger?

A: I have never noticed and even if I did, I wouldn’t think anything of it. In the UK it is a common practice for the wives and girlfriends to drive so that their partner can have a drink.
Unless you are suggesting that letting a woman drive is somehow emasculating, I can’t see the problem.
If on the other hand, you aren’t driving because your girlfriend won’t let you then that’s another issue. If you can’t drive, obviously lessons are the answer otherwise I’d be happy you have a chaffeur.

How would you have responded to these questions? You can also send me your own at Quora or drop me a line in the comments below.

More dating advice on my problem page.

All materials included in this post are intended for informational purposes only. This post/information is not intended to and should not be used to replace medical or psychiatric advice offered by physicians or other health care providers. The author will not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, special, exemplary or other damages arising therefrom.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

A Fast & Frantic Card Game The Kids Will Love - Gobbit

Gobbit is a fast and frantic card game for 2-8 players that demands strong powers of observation, steadfast concentration and the reflexes of a ninja.

It's like a rather violent game of Snap where the winner is the last player to still have some cards left.

The cards feature four animals in three colours, all of whom eat one another based on their colour and a rigid food chain: the chameleons eat the flies, the snakes eat the chameleons, and the gorilla eats anything.

You take it in turns to reveal the top card in your pile but you need to have your wits about you – slap your animal to defend it from a predator’s attack, or slap your opponent’s animal to ‘eat’ it and claim their pile!

This gets trickier the more players there are because you have to work out where to slap.

Once a player’s lost all their cards, they stay in the game in their new guise as a ghost. This means they can slap any matching pairs they spot between the remaining players.  This obviously doesn't work when there are only two of you playing!

The winner is the one with the most cards at the end of the game.

We played the basic game but as you master the rules of the game, there are several other versions which are more complicated and more challenging - for example "Poltergeist" where if you run out of cards, you can become a poltergeist and attach any cards that form a pair.

Our game also came with a beginners' wristband in white which allows us to join the Gobbit Federation.

Caitlin and I were the test team as Gobbit is really suitable for kids aged 7 and over.  Ieuan still doesn't have the patience at the moment, although each game of Gobbit can be completed in about 10 minutes.

We did find that it took us quite a while to understand how to play which, for younger kids, might mean they get a little impatient and Gobbit is clearly a game which is more fun with a larger number of players.

It's also a game that you have to play quite a bit to master

Gobbit, for ages 7+, is priced at £14 and available to buy from www.RulesofPlay.co.uk. Each game also comes with a wristband which permits entry into all Gobbit tournaments taking place in stores throughout the UK.

I think Gobbit is an ideal game to throw in a suitcase to take on holiday with you to keep the kids entertained on rainy afternoons. It would also be a great party game for adults.

I think I'll be wearing the white wristband for quite a while though!

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Sicily’s Best Seaside Holidays

For a perfect family summer vacation there is nothing better than relaxing in the warm sands of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, surrounded by nature and spectacular habitats where rare species of flora and fauna complement the diversity of the environment.

Beautiful Sicily
Sicily is the best choice for families because it has all of this and more, thanks to the rich geological transformation it has undergone over thousands of years as a result of the ongoing volcanic activity of the island - and also due to its strategic location, where diverse underwater currents and winds cross- making the region a transitory point for the migration of many species of birds and marine life.

In Sicily you can enjoy a picnic and a swim in the best pristine beaches of the island and its Aeolian and Egadi Archipelagos, or retreat inland to the fresh air of the mountains of Madonie, Nebrodi, Vendicari, and Etna to recharge your batteries and visit local agroturismo farms.

Best of all, you can rent the most beautiful Sicilian villas for your beach holidays in Sicily to make your stay more authentic at affordable prices- accessorized with swimming pools, terraces and luscious gardens- some with direct access.

At San Vito lo Capo (on the Trapani coast) you will marvel at its turquoise waters and soft sand, with the towering rocky cliffs of Monte Monaco looming overhead, making it a primary location for rock-climbing enthusiasts.

The pretty fishing village of Cefalù in the North is a piece of millennial history where the Lungomare beach (with the best pristine sands in Sicily) is located only a few steps from the streets of the old town and a short climb away from the scenic La Rocca promontory.

Mondello is a local spot for Palermitans and where you can experience the best of any beach - lush surrounding vegetation, and 1 ½ miles of white sand. After all, locals know best!

Lido de Fiori is designated as a blue-flag kid-friendly zone; a primary choice for families due to its shallow waters. Parents can enjoy a glass of wine from the regional specialties of nearby Selinunte.

Calà Mosche is rated as one of the most beautiful beaches in Italy; little known by most travellers, it is a small quiet haven with no bars, located in the Vendicari nature reserve and embraced by lush flora. It is only accessible by foot.

Which would you like to visit first?
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