Bargain Family Holiday Deals

Summer sun that won’t break the bank


Thrifty guest blogger Natalie has been hot on the trail of bargain holiday deals this month. Read on to find out what she found.


Over to you Natalie ……

Natalie Vincent B&W


Holidays are a great opportunity for families to spend some quality time together away from the stresses of everyday life.

However taking a typical family of four abroad for a week or two can quickly get expensive.

That’s why we’ve found some good value trips that won’t break the bank this summer.





Eurocamp is a great place to find family-friendly deals at affordable prices. Many of the parks have plenty of free activities on site and the accommodation ranges from basic tents to more luxurious campervans.

We found affordable Eurocamp deals to traditionally expensive countries, such as Switzerland.

A family of four can spend seven nights at the Bella Tola site for £763. That’s staying in a surprisingly spacious tent that can accommodate six.

If you want something a bit more comfortable, then try a two bed caravan for £1,029.


Mountain campsite



Cycling in Catalonia


Spend a week cycling through beautiful Catalonia countryside, medieval villages and secluded beaches in this active family holiday from Inn Travel.

One of the best things about this trip is that the routes are short and easy enough for the kids to manage. This means there is plenty of time left over for long, leisurely lunches and water fights in the pool.

Accommodation, bikes, breakfast and dinner are all included in the price. You don’t need to worry about luggage either as that is all transported for you. All you need to do is peddle.

Adult prices start at £660. Get more informationhere.



Disneyland Paris


Take the kids to see Mickey and Minnie Mouse at Disneyland Paris this summer.

A trip like this is never going to be cheap but we found a three night break for a family of four for £888.24.

That deal includes return flights from Manchester and accommodation at the historic, 4-star Vienna International Dream Castle Hotel – perfect for a little Prince and Princess!

Considering prices for this kind of trip can easily start in the thousands, we thought this was a good deal.



Balearic Islands


Majorca, Minorca and Ibiza are all popular holiday destinations that are just a short flight away.

We found a 7 night stay in a three star TRH Jardin Del Mar Apartments for £1,165.92. Like many other properties in Majorca, this one is aimed at families. It has a pool, playground, play room and entertainment included in the package.

Try Travel Republic for similar deals.



City Breaks


Thomas Cook has some good deals if you prefer a city break over a beach holiday.

We found a 3 night stay in Berlin for £891.88. That includes return flights and accommodation at the Sylter Hof hotel for a family of four.

That’s a pretty good deal since a short city break can often cost the same as a week long holiday.



Build Your Own


Package holidays can be a God send if you’re just looking for a quick and convenient trip. Most companies will handle all the particulars so you just need to pack and show up.

Building your own trip can often work out cheaper though and it gives you a lot more flexibility.


Holiday homes


That’s why we are big fans of Airbnb. This useful website lets you stay in other people’s property for the duration of your trip. You could rent a room in a house or an entire apartment. There are also plenty of weird and wonderful properties you can stay in such as castles and even tree houses.

Organising your own trip is time consuming, but you can get a great deal if you’re willing to put the effort in.


Bon vacance!


Natalie x


Natalie Vincent is feature writer and social media manager for


Photographs: Eurocamp, Air BnB


Other articles by Natalie:

Things to do this Easter Bank Holiday

The Share Economy

Affordable things to do February half term

Improving your money habits

How to have a thrifty Christmas

Ideas for pre Christmas breaks

How to avoid big phone bills abroad

Free things to do – New York

Free things to do – United Arab Emirates





Holiday healthy eating – Venice

You don’t have to abandon healthy eating just because you’re on holiday!


I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to eat healthily while I’m on holiday. The lure of lard, larger and lounger in the past have been too much to resist. Let’s face it, it’s just to hard to eat healthily on holiday.

Or so it seemed!



Iconic Venice


Sara Perry from Renaissance (Fitness, Health & Happiness) has just been on her jollies to Venice. But you’ll be delighted to know that despite the place being awash with temptation – she didn’t let herself go, and is reporting back to tell us just how she did it!


Over to you Sara ……

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my man to bits but when he informed me that he’d made five pages of ‘History Notes’ for our upcoming trip to Venice to say my heart sank is probably the understatement of the century.


Map of Venice


We came to a compromise whereby he would feed me ‘snippets’ of said history notes and I would pretend to be interested, and with that sorted we set off from Manchester on yet another rainy morning for our Venetian adventure.


fegining interest in the history notes


Amazingly, we found our hotel relatively easily despite the ramshackle lay out of narrow alleyways that make up Venice, and so we showered and changed and headed out to eat.


Venice bridge shot


Anyone who knows me will know that eating well is very important to me and in that respect Venice (or in fact anywhere in Italy) offers something of a double edged sword.  Yes the food is fabulous, but a diet full of bread, pasta and creamy sauces tend to leave me lethargic, a bit windy and with a belly to rival the Jade Buddha.

But I needn’t have worried.  Over the course of the weekend we ate some of the most amazing fish and seafood, all freshly caught and simply prepared.


fresh fish at the market


Catch of the day


Char grilled calamari with herbs


We sampled liver, prepared in the Venetian style and a fillet steak to die for and with every meal was offered a fresh salad or char grilled vegetables to accompany it – perfect!


fresh griddled vegetables


We did a lot of walking and spent 90% of the time lost.  But to be honest, that’s the joy of Venice – wandering around, approaching a corner with no idea what will greet you around it.

Heading out to visit Academia and finding yourself at Ferrovia with absolutely no idea how it happened.

Discovering a great little wine bar that you just have to try because you know you’ll never find it again in a million years.

Coming across a cute little deli and buying a picnic lunch of fresh meats, olives and stuffed peppers and supplementing it with fresh fruit and veg from the fabulous Rialto Market (and washing it all down with a cheeky glass of Soave to make the history notes more palatable).


Fresh fruit and veg


Fresh meats





Venice really is a city for the senses: the smells; the sights; the sounds all match expectations and what was great for me is that I could choose to eat healthily and still enjoy the fantastic tastes that make Italy a food lovers dream.


My top tips for eating healthily in Italy:


  1. At the coast go for the fish (you very rarely go wrong with the catch of the day)
  2. Ask for olives rather than bread to start your meal
  3. If you do choose a sauce, make sure it’s tomato based rather than cream and cheese
  4. Fill up on freshly prepared salads and vegetables drizzled with good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil




Sara x


Photographs: Sara Perry, Venice online

This is a sponsored blog post


Other articles by Sara:

Personal training for 40+ women








Money saving tips for holidays

Helping to make your holiday money go even further


We’ve got Altrincham based money saving web site Watch My Wallet back on the blog again today with some top tips for keeping on top of your holiday finances.

I hate having to watch the pennies when I’m on holiday, but in the current economic climate, and with exchange rates less favourable than they used to be – all advice is gratefully received.


Over to you ‘Watch My Wallet’ Natalie ……

Going on holiday can be very exciting, but it can also be incredibly stressful if you’ve got a budget to stick too.

That’s why Watch My Wallet has created a guide to help you manage your money and get the most out of your holiday.


beach walk


Pick the Right Destination


Eastern Europe has some beautiful budget friendly destinations that are becoming increasingly popular amongst savvy tourists.

Countries such as Lithuania, Croatia and Bulgaria offer secluded beaches and beautiful scenery just a few hours flight away.

Not only are these countries cheap to fly to but your money stretches a lot further there too. You can grab a good meal and a pint of beer for under £10.00 which is a pretty good offer.




If you’re after a cheap city break, Prague and Budapest are great options. They have lots of free activities to keep you occupied during the day and the streets are filled with affordable restaurants to relax in at night.


All Inclusive Holiday


An all inclusive holiday can help you stick to a budget as it eliminates the need for additional spending. However, it’s only good value for money if you can pick a hotel that fits your specific needs.

Before you book, know what kind of holiday you want. Do you enjoy a glass of wine (or four) in an evening? If so, check to see how many drinks are included in the price. If you don’t drink, there’s no point paying for an unlimited bar tab so see what else is on offer or find a more suitable deal.





Flash Currency Sale


Get a good deal on your currency before you go away by taking advantage of a flash sale.

This type of deal typically lasts just a few hours but it means you can snap up currency for a heavily discounted price.

Keep up to date with currency flash sales here.



Cheap Travel Insurance


No-one wants to spend their money on something as boring as travel insurance, but it is important to have a policy in place before you go away.

When looking at travel insurance quotes, use a comparison website, such as, to find the best price.

It’s important to disclose any health issues you have. If you fall ill while abroad and it’s discovered that you weren’t entirely truthful on your insurance form, the policy could be declared invalid and you will be left holding a huge hospital bill.

Be sure to check the small print so you know exactly what is covered. Some basic activities may not be included and you may need to purchase additional insurance for certain sports.





Keep your eyes peeled for offers


There’s money to be saved if you keep your eyes peeled for time limited offers, like this one for Disneyland Paris.


Have a great holiday!


Natalie x


Natalie Vincent is feature writer and social media manager for

Photographs: Watch My Wallet



Other articles by Natalie:

Making money through the share economy

Affordable things to do February half term

Improving your money habits

How to have a thrifty Christmas

Ideas for pre Christmas breaks

How to avoid big phone bills abroad

Free things to do – New York

Free things to do – United Arab Emirates















Day Tripper Hawarden Old Castle

Medieval ruins in Flintshire with a big history


A good friend moved out to Hawarden recently, just across the Welsh border in Flintshire. While Hawarden New Castle is the impressive Gothic style former home of British Prime Minister William Gladsone (1809 – 1898), there is much more to this pretty village.

I could be talking about footballer Michael Owen who grew up in the village – but actually it was a walk in the parkland around Hawarden Old Castle which was such an unexpected treat.

A easy 40 minutes along the M56 from South Manchester, Hawarden is definitely one for our Day Tripper portfolio!


Hawarden map


Please note that the paths on our walk were a bit muddy, so wellies and walking boots are advised if you’re visiting after it’s rained. If you follow our circular route then it’s not suitable for buggies, but our path from the castle back up to the village was absolutely fine.

The woodland and old castle belong to the Hawarden estate, so there are some areas where you need to be a permit holder (available to locals), so just keep an eye on where you walk.


The Start


Our walk (approx 1.5 miles) started in the centre of Hawarden, parking in the car park just along the A550 from the junction with the monument to William Gladstone.


Gladsone memorial Hawarden


We followed the path from the bottom of the car park, dropping down into the valley. Immediately we stumbled across an old overgrown derelict watermill – the huge brick chimney slowly being reclaimed by ivy, while a gash in the wall exposed the old water wheel.

Rusty cogs and gears lay discarded along with the massive millstone, complete with channels where the flour once escaped after being crushed from it’s husks.

In the Spring sunshine, it was secret, mysterious and awash with wild garlic.

*A note of caution – please be careful when exploring. Watch your feet, don’t climb on loose bricks etc.*

We carried on back up the valley and were treated to a fantastic view right across the low lying Cheshire Plain towards the Mersey Valley. You can clearly see Hawarden New Castle in the distance, keeping a watchful eye over it’s estate.



The Middle


This part of the country isn’t without a castle or two – built to defend the English / Welsh border. The oldest fortification on the Hawarden Old Castle site dates back to the Iron Age. Later being replaced by a Norman Motte-and-bailey castle. The current castle dates back to the 13th century, built by Welsh Noblemen appointed by the King of England.

This magnificent ruin played an important part in the Welsh struggle for independence. At Easter 1282 Dafydd ap Gruffudd, Prince of Wales and the last independent ruler of Wales led an unsuccessful attack on Hawarden Old Castle against the English. For which Edward I ordered him to become the first person of note to be hung, drawn and quartered.

With Dafydd, daughter Gwladys and niece Gwenllian who were exiled to convents in Lincolnshire, the Welsh royal line came to an end.


Hawarden Castle


The old castle was finally ruined in the 17th century during the English Civil War.

It does apparently open to the public on some Sundays, typically the second and fourth Sundays in summertime. However, we weren’t so lucky and the gates – reminiscent of Bilbo Baggins’ home in Hobbiton, stayed firmly shut.


Entry to Hawarden Old Castle


We were left to admire the ruins on a daffodil clad pedestal as Easter bunnies hopped in and out of their burrows between the flowers. And to imagine Dafydd ap Gruffudd making his unsuccessful attempt to capture the castle 732 years earlier, almost to the day.

I like to think that the proud Welsh daffodils covering the banks remember him.



Old Hawarden Castle


As the last of the sunshine captured our shadows, we acted out various scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, before the ghosts of our medieval selves faded and then were gone.


Shadows in Hawarden


The End


We followed the well made path back up from the castle, watching the buzzards circling over the trees, before re-emerging into the centre of Hawarden village through the impressive castle gates.







Hawarden is a really pretty village – you won’t be stuck for a pub and the church is as cute as Gladstone’s Library is impressive (check out their equally impressive looking afternoon teas).


I love the fact that a Sunday afternoon trip to catch up with a friend in her new home can open the door to a key moment in our country’s history. Well worth a visit!

For more information about Hawarden visit



Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples


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Taking Holidays During Term Time

Price hikes and prosecutions


With many holiday and travel companies putting up their prices during the school holidays it’s becoming more and more costly to share a family getaway. But with high profile cases now coming to court for parents who have taken their kids out of school during term time, it’s something of a hot topic.

We asked guest blogger and parenting expert, Belinda Hayes (TLS Parenting) for her thoughts on the pros, cons and alternatives.


Over to you Belinda ……

Belinda Hayes


It is amazing to see how social media can influence what our MPs are discussing, and this is no more obvious than with the issue of holiday price rises during school holidays.

For as long as I can remember parents (and teachers!) have been paying more to go on holiday during the school breaks.



For the extra money they get to experience their destination, be it home or abroad, at its busiest, full roads, full flights and the increased likelihood of strikes!

However, lately extreme price rises coupled with parents being fined for taking children out of school in term time has meant that the situation has escalated. Now people’s frustration has finally reached Westminster’s ears.Mother & daughter on beach

The holiday industry argues that it is a case of supply and demand; so long as there are people willing to pay the increased prices, the prices will remain inflated.

They also say that these busy periods are their chief source of revenue, and allow them to sustain their business throughout the year.



There are no easy answers


If I ruled the world I would allow parents to take their children out of school for up to 10 days with the agreement of the teachers, and would build in some kind of project for the children to undertake while away.

I would also want to try and find a way to give teachers – who don’t have a choice about their holidays – some kind of voucher or discount scheme.


Why holidays mean so much


However, since my ruling the world is not an option just now we need to think of more creative solutions.

It may be that we need to remember why holidays mean so much to us. For me, they are about having no routine, making memories, and reconnecting with my family.






So if going away isn’t an option what can we do?


Firstly, I suggest you ask yourself what you like about the holidays – is it a chance to have some you time, read a book, go to markets, do nothing?

Then, ask your children what they would like to do?

Often we assume that we know what makes our children happy – expensive days out and keeping busy; but you may be surprised. Our children are often incredibly over scheduled and may relish the thought of a pyjama day, watching TV and doing nothing!


Make a plan


So, having worked out what makes everyone happy, it is time to make a plan to make sure everyone gets something. Here are just some ideas:

  • Go walking through a forest – making dens, looking for ‘monster’ footprints, even just collecting bits of nature. You could try Delamere Forest or Alderley Edge, not to mention the many National Trust sites in the area.
  • Have movie days or nights – get in the popcorn, and relax.
  • Craft activities (including trips to local art galleries) and baking – but don’t put too much pressure on yourself – it is supposed to be fun!
  • Camp in the garden, go to the beach for the day… the list is as long as your imagination.


BUT – try and book in some time for yourself too – maybe you could exchange child care with a friend so you both get some time off. Now, all you need is spray tan and you’re all set!


Belinda x


Photographs: Free digital photos






Ukrainian Love Letter

A personal story from one of Manchester’s Ukrainian community


What’s happening in Ukraine at the moment seems hard to believe. Quoted by some as the most serious stand off in Europe since the end of the Cold War we’re in the midst of a major international situation.

It’s hard to get beyond the shocking images of burning barricades, black smoke and bloodshed in Kiev’s Independence Square. It’s like Les Mis meets an apocalypse.

Manchester has a large Ukrainian community who I’m sure are going through a thousand torments. They will also be devastated that the world is seeing a fractured war zone – rather than the culturally rich and beautiful country they know.

I first met Myro (Myrodoodles) last Spring when she exhibited at one of my events. A talented artist who is inspired by Ukrainian folk art – she is unique. I wanted to hear how she was getting on – having read this, I thought you would too!





Over to you Myro ……

My name is Myroslava and although you can tell from my accent that I am Manchester born and bred, the nine-letter name suggests different, right?

My heritage is Ukrainian and still going strong after two generations of living in England. My grandfathers, like millions of other Europeans, had to find somewhere new to live after the war made it too dangerous to go home to their families.

They chose England, married women who were also far from home and settled down to a new life – Ukrainian communities were formed all over the country to keep the rich heritage alive 2000 miles away from home.

Like my parents before me, I was brought up in the heart of the Manchester Ukrainian community which is based in Cheetham Hill. On Saturdays I went to Ukrainian school to learn the language; during the week I sang in choirs and learned beautiful folk dancing; in the summer I went to Ukrainian camp to spend two weeks with other Ukrainian kids from all over the country.

Now I am older, I weave my Ukrainian heritage through my illustration work – I am inspired by the beautiful costumes of folk dance and the magical culture that breathes through Ukraine.

I had the privilege of visting Kyiv, the capital, in 2009 to dance there at a festival with my Ukrainian dance group, Podilya, which is based in Manchester. For many of us it was our first trip, and a chance to see the land we’d heard about all our lives was magical.


Trip to Ukraine


When the world opened its eyes one morning in January to see that peaceful protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosty (Independence Square) in Kyiv had turned violent, my heart broke like those of many other Ukrainians all over the world. I remembered being on that square with my friends in happier times, being proud to be Ukrainian – seeing it covered in ash, rubble and blood was soul-destroying.

Pray for Ukraine folk art


The situation is getting worse every day for Ukraine, with threats of invasion from Putin and his army.

It’s hard to watch images on the news every morning, but I want to remind people from all over the world that Ukraine is more than a pawn in a game between East and West, more than a potential war zone.

It is a beautiful, magical land, with a rich history and a culture that never fails to enchant me.

The people are hard-working and proud of their nation, wherever they were born and whichever language they speak.

They just want to live in a country which is peaceful, democratic and fair – don’t we all?

Whatever happens in Ukraine, I will continue to share the beauty of my heritage through my work – the brightness, the intricacy and the spirit that manages to come through every piece.



Myrodoodles Ukrainian folk art


Please keep the wonderful country of my ancestors in your thoughts and prayers – they may be thousands of miles away, but the past few months of trials and tribulations have taught us all that hope can travel far.


Myro x



Photographs: Hannah Rose Photography, Myrodoodles







The share economy

Make money from your things with peer-to-peer lending


We’ve all of us spent years acquiring stuff – that we don’t necessarily use all the time. Wouldn’t it be fantastic if there was a way of making a bit of money back on our ‘investments’!

A phenomenon which started in the US is now making it’s way over here. I already make extra money by renting out my spare room to tourists through AirBnB (see below), so this month I’ve asked our regular thrifting blogger Natalie to explore a bit further to see what’s available to us in the UK.


Over to you Natalie ……

Natalie Vincent B&W


Peer-to-peer lending has become increasingly popular over the last few years as household budgets shrink and consumers watch their every penny.

Savvy savers have realised that you can boost your monthly income by renting out your spare room, car, bike, and even your power tools if you know the right places to list your items.


Similarly, you can save a bundle by renting from a private owner rather than buying or renting from an established business.

Watch My Wallet has looked at some of the best ways to save or make money via peer-to-peer lending.


Rent Your Spare Room


Watch My Wallet and your 4ManchesterWomen editor are big fans of Airbnb.

If you have a flexible schedule and a spare room, you can rent it out to some lovely people looking for somewhere to stay. It is a safe way to generate a bit of extra income and meet a diverse bunch of people.


Air BnB


It’s also a good place to find affordable accommodation in some of the most popular holiday destinations in the world.

The website is easy to navigate and you can read hosts profiles and ratings to check everything is legit. You can communicate with hosts via the site which is great if you have any questions or want further information.

For more information visit



Rent Out Your Car or Driveway


If your car spends most of the week just sitting outside your house, you could make some money by sending it to work. Your car has to be up to a decent standard for this to kind of scheme to work and EasyCar won’t accept models made before 2005.


Easy Car


If you regularly drive long distances, you could cut costs by renting out a seat in your car. BlaBlaCar ensures that drivers can’t profit from this kind of arrangement though but it can substantially reduce your petrol costs.

BlaBlaCar also offers women only journeys, which can give you some extra peace of mind if you’re a solo female travelling on a budget.

Parkatmyhouse is an easy way to generate income if you live in a busy or popular area. Got a house near Old Trafford or in trendy Chorlton? Rent your pavement out to visitors and earn a pretty penny while you’re at it.

For more information visit:



Rent Your Bike and Winter Sports Gear


Spinlister is a small American website that is steadily growing in popularity across the UK and the rest of Europe.

If you have a bike collecting dust in the garage but don’t want to part with it for good, then you can rent it via Spinlister. The same goes for snowboards and skis.




This site can help you avoid renting a costly bike while visiting London, Paris or New York. You can pre-arrange to meet a local resident and simply rent their wheels for the day, normally at a much lower rate.

For more information visit



Rent Your Space


Generate some extra cash by renting out your spare room, garage, empty loft, or vacant shed.

Storenextdoor claims that the average person makes £90 a month, or just over £1,000 a year, by listing on their site. That’s your summer holiday paid for.




It’s also a much cheaper way to store items than using a traditional unit.

For more information visit



Miscellaneous Items


Got a set of tools you only drag out of the garage occasionally? Rent them out to frugal DIY fans via Rentmyitems.

This site has a bizarre collection of things on offer. You can find instruments, camping equipment, air guns, a cross trainer, rollerblades, sledge, kayak, lawn mower, BBQ, chocolate fountain, and a decorative archway to hire – as well as many, many other items.


rent my items


You’re probably not going to generate a large regular income via this site but you could still make enough pocket money to pay for the odd takeaway or trip to the cinema.

For more information visit


It’s time to start embracing the share economy. Let us know how you get on.


Natalie x


Natalie Vincent is feature writer and social media manager for


Other articles by Natalie:

Affordable things to do February half term

Improving your money habits

How to have a thrifty Christmas

Ideas for pre Christmas breaks

How to avoid big phone bills abroad

Free things to do – New York

Free things to do – United Arab Emirates






Todmorden to Hebden Bridge

Day tripper – walking The Rochdale Canal


We chose possibly the grimmest day of the year for our 4 mile walk along The Rochdale Canal in the Calder Valley from Todmorden to Hebden Bridge (the ‘grey area’ between Lancashire and Yorkshire). It was a real adventure.  Click here for more information on the route.


Todmorden to Habden Bridge Rochdale Canal Map


I’d never been to Todmorden and I’d never been to Hebden Bridge – so I was in unchartered territory!

I’ve driven past the junction for Milnrow and Shaw on the M62, hundreds of times. But I’ve never taken it. And as we gained altitude, leaving the A58 from Rochdale, a big red sign told us whether the roads were open or closed. It was foggy, there was snow. It was like entering the Alps!


Arriving in Todmorden


I’m exaggerating of course – but it was quite exciting and I was wearing a thermal hat with ear flaps and plats.


“This is a bloody marvellous town” I overheard someone say in the Market Place. Well the price of a hair cut seemed very reasonable, that’s for sure, and there were some top items to browse through in the market.


Vintage Market


Vintage Market



The Rochdale Canal


But we couldn’t stay. We were looking for The Rochdale Canal! We found it eventually, hiding at the back of Lidl’s car park.


Rochdale Canal


Rochdale Canal


The tow path was incredibly icy and there was quite a lot of orange dog poo! But we were soon able to stop looking at our feet and appreciate the icicles and remains of an industrial revolution.

Onwards along The Rochdale Canal – past some crazy people in canoes and nosey ponies. The good thing I tend to find about canal walks is that it’s quite hard to get lost. As someone who got off the train once at Crosby and walked away from the sea – having something to follow is always a bonus!


Ice & reflections


Rochdale Canal


Rochdale Canal


Rochdale Canal


Progress on the ice was slow – I was mincing about at a snails pace. It was only when we were overtaken by some pensioners that I finally realised that at our current speed we were unlikely to reach Hebden Bridge before dark. At that point I sat on a lock and had a tantrum!


Rochdale Canal



Rochdale Canal


So we bobbed back up onto the main road and continued on our way. It was a bit grim!



Sign Post


Derelict building


Model in window

But then we arrived in Shangri-La, where homes and shops were painted in Farrow and Ball’s ‘Lulworth blue’ and ‘Lichen’, there were shops called ‘Snug’ and ‘Home – Oh’ and you could get a grilled haloumi panini!



Hello Hebden Bridge!


I’d walked into a magazine shoot!


Snug Hebden Bridge


Hebden Bridge


Home - Oh


As I worked my way through a piece of Lemon Drizzle cake and a nice cup of tea served in mis-matched china, I thought what a cracking place it was. Designed to seduce me into parting with a serious amount of cash for lovely things that I’m not sure I really needed.


Valentine heart


Rocking Horse


All this – and just on our doorstep. I’ll definitely be back, but next time in the Summer, when I think we’ll bring the bikes and carry on and cycle to Sowerby Bridge.




A properly Grand Day Out. You should try it!


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples



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Day Tripper – Chatsworth

Day Tripper – The Mersey Valley

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Rainy Day Places to Take the Kids

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Day Tripper – Trent and Mersey Canal Walk








Five Top Winter Sun Destinations

Plus packing tips to make your trip even better


With the half term holidays fast approaching, many families are on the hunt for a slice of winter sun.

But before we get into destinations – it’s hard to imagine sizzling beaches and warm tropical evenings when you’re huddled up in jumpers and a vest. So here are a few packing tips to file away as reminders:


Spilled beach bag


Pack your sun gear! This means everything from sunglasses and hats or visors, to strong sunscreen. We all get a bit out of practice during the winter, but when you’re headed to a warm, sunny destination—even in February—it’s important to protect yourself from the sun.

Don’t forget your swimming costume. This probably seems like the most obvious tip in the world, but it’s incredible what packing in a cold climate can do to you. Basically, if it’s chilly outside while you’re packing, it’s tough to imagine yourself swimming outside in a matter of days!

Pack extras, be they underwear or contact lenses. You never really know when you’re going to lose and / or be in need of an additional pair of knickers or lenses. Accidents happen, so according to Acuvue, it’s advisable to bring two (not just one) extra pair of lenses just in case you lose them. Also, if you’re traveling a greater distance, they say you should pop in a newer pair when you get to your destination to keep your eyes fresh.

Pack water equipment. Just as your contact lenses and swimsuits will come in handy on the beaches and in the water, packing the right equipment – goggles, snorkel gear, fins, flotation devices for young children, etc.  can be of service, and also saves you money on renting them once you’re at your destination.

It’s just a few tips, but things that many might forget in the depths of winter! And now on to the fun stuff: to help you to get a jump on your travel plans for the school holiday, here are our top five winter sunshine destinations!


1. Goa, India


According to Cosmos, Goa is a great choice if you like your trips affordable but with an exotic edge. The winter temperatures in this part of India tend to exceed 30 degrees, and there are a number of specific beaches to choose from (some of which are less crowded this time of year).


Goa Beach.

Furthermore, travel to this region can be cheaper than other popular winter beach destinations around the world (such as those in the Caribbean or south Pacific).

Hot Tip: For water sports, Lonely Planet recommends the Candolim beach region and the Goa Dive Center, where you can take up snorkeling or scuba diving.



2. Greek Island Cruise


The Greek isles are fairly accessible for most in the UK, and while they boast some of the most beautiful islands in the world, travel to and around Greece won’t break the bank.


Mykonos beach


The slight drawback is that temperatures can be cooler (closer to the 10-15 degree range), but you can stay updated on accurate temperatures at the Holiday Weather website.

Hot Tip: Skip Santorini if you’re cruising the islands and looking to stay on budget. Mykonos offers twice the fun, often at half the price, and is equally picturesque.



3. Canary Islands, Spain


These sun-baked islands off the coast of northwest Africa make for an ideal winter getaway, offering a perfect blend of tranquil beaches and bustling resorts.


Canary Islands


In short, you can pick your own style of beach holiday on the Canary Islands, depending on your family’s preferences, and budget. But really, there’s no way to go wrong. Tenerife is arguably the most popular island, due to its blend of high-end resorts and quieter beaches.

Hot Tip: If you like resorts, check out the Playa del Ingles resort at Gran Canaria, even if just for a day. It’s the biggest and most impressive Canary Island resort.



4. Red Sea, Egypt


Warm, beautiful and festive in the winter months, Egypt’s Red Sea coastline is dotted with excellent resorts that can make for perfect destinations. Sharm El Sheikh resort is the biggest tourism hot spot on the Egypt Red Sea coastline, offering a great variety of activities.



Red Sea


Hot Tip: Take advantage of the water sports in the area. The Red Sea is a beautiful spot for diving and snorkeling, but if you want to get even more active, sailing and windsurfing also come highly recommended!



5. Algarve, Portugal


The main draw for many to The Algarve tends to be golf, so if this is a sport your family enjoys be sure to keep this destination on your list!


Algarve coast.

However, the region is also known for lovely beaches and fine winter resorts, offering you a very relaxing vacation destination, and all the sunshine and warmth you can hope for in Europe in February!

Hot Tip: Stay on the eastern side of The Algarve and you’ll enjoy easy access to Spain, which will diversify your holiday experience.


Bon voyage!


Photographs: Chelsea McNamara via Creative Commons on Flickr








Travelling with kids – must haves

Top 10 tips for handy things to take when you’re going on holiday with children


When you go on holiday it can sometimes feel like you’re taking everything but the kitchen sink, but the trouble is that hotels and self-catering apartments often just aren’t that well equipped.

Yes they might have a travel cot, but what about the other myriad odds and ends that babies and toddlers just can’t seem to do without?

Mother & child on beach



If you’re thinking of heading off in search of sun this half term, there are plenty of cheap holiday deals to be had, so do shop around to find a bargain.

To make sure that the money you save doesn’t end up blown in the local baby store or supermarket, our friends at Travelzoo have put together a checklist of ten handy things to pop in your suitcase to make sure you’re well prepared.



Travel BandsTravel sickness tablets or bands


The first hurdle to get over is the journey. If your little ones suffer from travel sickness make sure you factor in plenty of breaks and are well-equipped with travel sickness medication or wrist bands, bottles of water and perhaps lollies or sweets for them to suck.



Small toys or stickers


They’ll be plenty of moments when you’re away when your little ones will need distracting – in the car, at the airport, waiting for meals in restaurants – so we suggest putting together a small goody bag of quiet toys, stickers, paper and crayons so you’ve always got something you can get out to keep little people busy.




Although it’s great to be able to introduce your kids to new foods and cultures, do keep an emergency supply of snacks you know they love, just in case, such as little boxes of raisins or fruit bars.


Bedtime books and teddies


Never underestimate the importance of bedtime rituals for small children so if at home they have a favourite book or teddy do take it with you to make them feel safe and secure. Just make sure you remember to take it home with you!


Baby wipes


An absolute travel must-have, no matter how old your children are, baby wipes are perfect for cleaning hands and faces, giving sticky surfaces a wipe down, and can even double as emergency toilet paper!




Kids always seem to manage to get sick or get a temperature when you’re miles from the nearest pharmacy and don’t speak the language, so always carry an emergency bottle or sachets of Calpol – you won’t regret it!


Tot seat


Travel highchair


Even if your hotel is well-equipped, local restaurants might not always have highchairs, so we recommend investing in something like a Totseat – a light and portable canvas ‘highchair’ that fits easily into a handbag and can be used on pretty much any kind of dining chair.


Baby cutlery


A travel plastic cutlery set is such an easy thing just to keep in your handbag, but it can make mealtimes so much easier if all a hotel or restaurant has to offer is a metal soup spoon!


A lightweight buggy


Even if you children don’t regularly use their buggy at home, you might still want to take one with you just in case. Exploring new places can be tiring, especially if you are somewhere warm, and you may have later nights than at home, so you’ll find toddler legs get tired out much more quickly than normal.


Buckets of patience and your sanity


Holidays can sometimes be a little unsettling for small children as they get used to a new environment, so we can’t guarantee this one will always come back intact…


Competition time


To try and make your air travel a bit easier with your little ones, we’ve got four Cryin Air packs to give away to one lucky winner. The idea being that when junior starts to exercise their lungs mid flight – you’ve got a little something to give to the people sitting next to you which will hopefully lighten the atmosphere!


Cryin Air



All we want to know is what’s your top tip for travelling with kids?

Pop it in the comments box below – but only one comment per person please.

So don’t be shy – whether it’s bringing a favourite teddy or leaving them with Grandma, we’d love to know?


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Free Digital Photos,, Tot Seat



By taking part in this competition you are agreeing to 4Manchester Womens Terms & Conditions for competitions and prize draws.


Competition closing date: 9pm Sunday 2nd February 2014.

The winner will be the first name selected at random from all respondents. No purchase necessary. No cash alternative. The Editor’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into. Closing date is 9pm Sunday 2nd February 2014. The winners will be notified immediately. Only one entry per person. UK entries only. No automated entries. Supporting ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions and loquax. If you are a lucky winner, your contact details will be forwarded to the providers of the prize, strictly for the purpose of fulfilling the prize and not for any other purpose.
Please note: Should you be notified as the winner, and you do not respond within 2 days of our notification, we reserve the right to re-draw the winner.


Previous competition winners (last 6 months)

Cocktails & Dreams – win a cocktail making masterclass at Lock 91 (29th August 2013). Winner Nicola Robinson.

Creative Stitches & Hobbycraft Show – win tickets (1st September 2013). Winners Claire Jackson, Pauline Rendell, Joanna Arthur, Fran Morgan, Liz Ferguson, Michelle Smith, Dil Price, Pam Gregory, Linda Weatherley.

The Independent Interiors Show – win a house hamper (3rd September 2013). Winner Nichola Gill.

Indulge Fragrance Boutique – win bottles of perfume (8th September 2013). Winners Gillian Shiels, Leanne Williams, Julie Ward.

Creamline Diaries / Getting Kids to Eat Breakfast – win a Saturday Cookshop course with a celebrity chef (18th September 2013). Winner Sara Perry.

The Lounge Gallery – win a Michelle Keeling necklace (22nd September 2013). Winner Alison Ferrara.

The Perfect Princess Party – win a Princess fancy dress outfit (14th October 2013). Winner Emma Wolski.

MINILAND Manchester – win a family day pass to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Manchester (6th November 2013). Winner Andrea Lloyd.

New trends Christmas decorations – win a John Lewis Christmas 2013 teddy (11th November 2013). Winner Rachael Barratt.

Luxurious home products – win a throw from Linen Loft (15th November 2013). Winner Chris Fletcher.

Personalised Christmas Gifts – win a personalised mug from Photobox (18th Novemberr 2013). Winners Katrina Steward, Nicola McConnell.



Thank you so much to everyone who entered our competition. The winner is Lily Bowers.




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