family

Living in London, we are surrounded by so many cool places to visit. And Spitalfields Market is one of those cool venues. It is a unique and vibrant hub of activity where you'll find art, music, fashion and more. And this September, there is definitely more. There is a new photography exhibit, FACES of Spitalfields, from photographer Manos Fotiou.

Launching on 20th September, the FACES of Spitalfields exhibit can be viewed as you walk around the market enjoying the various stalls, shops and restaurants. The photos are of the traders, porters, management and security with each photo having a lovely bio so that you can get a better feel for the people who work at Spitalfields.

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Regular readers will know that my son got his first passport last year, when he turned five. And since then he has begged me to visit lots of different countries. But since we spent a fortune going to Disneyworld at Christmas, we had to watch our pennies this year when it came to family holidays. When looking into European destinations for our May half-term holiday, we decided to visit The Netherlands. And when we discovered Roompot Beach Resort, we knew we had to book it through Eurocamp.

You may remember that we had our first Eurocamp holiday last year and absolutely loved it. And Eurocamp offers guests a 5% discount on the following year's booking (every bit of savings helps!), so we were keen to book. One thing that attracted me to visit southern Holland is its proximity to Calais. We took the ferry over, and the drive to Roompot took just under three hours. That's actually quicker than driving to many places in France.

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Every April I get new raincoats for the kids, and sometimes for Husband anid me. It rains so much in the UK that it's essential to have light and waterproof rain gear. Unless you stay home every time it rains. But I don't think that's feasible. And it's certainly a very boring way to live.

We all have Regatta winter coats (and love them), so we were eager to try out their lighter gear.  The only issue is that since we received our jackets in April, there has been a record low of rain. And no rain means no need for a raincoat. We wore our jackets four or five times this spring, but only on the school run. So we were actually a bit relieved this weekend to get some rain and wear our new coats on an outing. So off to Kew Gardens we went (and ate our picnic as we walked around).

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My family and I eat out at least once at the weekend. We just love restaurants. And we love trying out new places. The kids are now 10 and six, so we are no longer limited to pizzas and burgers. A couple of months ago, we tried out Maison Du Mezze in Kingston upon Thames. It's a new-ish restaurant in the area and we were keen to expose the kids to Lebanese cuisine. And they loved it, which is always a relief when you try new food. So when Maison Du Mezze invited us to return a few weeks ago, we jumped at the chance.

Maison Du Mezze Kingston are offering an amazing deal this summer - kids eat free! For every main meal purchased, you get one free dish from the children's menu. This is such a bargain, especially in the summer holidays when it feels like you are just throwing money around. But besides saving money, the food is utterly delicious.

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It's a true sign of summer when my family and I head to Mayfield Lavender Farm. It provides a lovely backdrop for informal family photos. And of course the smell is unreal. But we almost did not go this year. But two weeks ago, on a Saturday morning, the power on our road went out. So we decided that a trip to the lavender farm and brunch at a cafe would ease the pain of not having any electricity.

And ease the pain it did. Mayfield Lavender is a 25 minute drive away, so we were able to enjoy some air-conditioning. At the lavender farm, we only spent 10 minutes taking photos, and then went to brunch at Fego in Banstead. We came home at 1pm hoping for electricity, but annoyingly it did not return til after 6.30pm. Still, at least we had a lovely morning, and some sweet photos to remember the day.

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Last week I attended the NFL Flag Football Summer Bowl, presented by Subway®, in Chiswick. It was a great day watching kids play football and meeting some super cool NFL players. Growing up in the USA, I spent Friday nights attending high school football games and cheering for my team. Us Americans love our football, and now it's in the UK. Hooray!

American football is the fastest growing sport in the UK. And not only are Brits watching the games, but they've started playing as well. Did you know that over 10,000 children in the UK have taken part in the NFL Flag programme presented by Subway®? And it's not just boys. Flag is a mixed-gender sport, and it's wonderful having a sport where boys and girls can play together.

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Last month I did something pretty unusual. I said goodbye to Husband and the kids, and I went off to Italy for three days. I hadn't traveled on my own for almost 20 years. I was a bit anxious beforehand, but it felt quite liberating to do something on my own. It was like 'Eat, Pray, Love' with just the eating. And it turns out that Catania is a great city if you love food.

If you've never heard of Catania, it is located in Sicily by the sea. This means that you will find the most amazing fish and seafood. And with the growing popularity of wine being grown near Mt Etna, your meal will be complemented by some terrific wines. And because it is Italy, it is beautiful and the people are absolutely lovely.

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Last week was spent visiting The Netherlands and Belgium for the half-term break. And while I will put together a proper post about it another time, I wanted to write about my boy. For years we only had UK holidays. He was such a handful from the ages of 18 months to about 4 1/4. He would throw a tantrum about everything. He didn't want to leave the house. He didn't want to come home. He didn't like the colour of his cup of water.

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My father-in-law turned 70 this year and he wanted to commemorate this special birthday with a family trip. So a few weeks ago we drove to Normandy to spend four days with Husband's extended family. I wouldn't think to spend a long weekend in France, as it seems to far away, but it was actually an easy trip.

The drive from south west London to Folkestone was about 1 1/2 hours, and then we drove onto the Eurotunnel train which only took 30 minutes to get to Calais. It was cool driving right onto the train. People mostly just sat in their cars, but there were toilets if needed. We drove swiftly off the train and then two hours later and we reached Luneray.

This journey was about the same as when we went to North Cornwall last month, but this time we were in France which naturally feels more exciting. Luneray is in Haute-Normandy. Not only does this mean that it's closer to the UK, but it means you're not far from the sea.

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My family and I have been to many dinosaur experiences. Many. And although Dubz isn't obsessed with dinosaurs anymore, he still adores them. And to be honest, the rest of the family quite like them. I mean, what's not to like?! Cool creatures that we'd normally be afraid of but are extinct so we can be fascinated without fear. And one of the newest attractions in London showcasing them is Dinosaurs in the Wild.

When we first arrived at the giant warehouse that housed Dinosaurs in the Wild, I wasn't sure what to expect. I thought it was going to be an exhibit of animatronic dinosaurs. But I was wrong. I don't want to give too much away (the element of surprise helps to make this such a cool experience).

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