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Ikos Oceania, Greece- Part Two...

on Thursday, 28 May 2015.

It feels like my mini trip to Ikos Resorts with Sovereign Travel was a million years ago now. Back in April I spent a long weekend at Ikos Oceania on a press trip. I wrote all about Part One here if you want to have a read.

Here is the second part of my adventure to this beautiful resort...

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Carb overload. The food at Ikos Oceania was absolutely delicious. I think often there can be a little bit of preconception when it comes to all inclusive holidays but Ikos is working hard to put an end to that by redefining the luxury all-inclusive experience with their concept 'Infinite Lifestyle'. 

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After settling in on the Thursday afternoon, the Friday was spent out and about. Our first stop was the Petralona Caves, about half an hour away from the resort. A large cave discovered in 1959 where they also discovered human and animal remains, this natural structure is fascinating to visit, and was really interesting for me as it's not somewhere I would have gone having such young children. I didn't take any photos while we were there as we weren't allowed to but here are the rest of the ladies on the trip waiting to get on the litle train that would take us the short distance to the caves. 

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It was a pleasure to spend time with this group of journalists, travel writers and bloggers. Some of the other ladies on the trip were Tina from Loved By Parents, Mimi from La Vida magazine and Gretta from Mums do Travel.

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The Friday afternoon was spent at the beautiful Gerovassilou winery.

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We were treated to a tour of the factory where the wine was being produced which was fascinating, before visiting their on site museum where they have the world's biggest corkscrew collection. It doesn't sound particularly thrilling but honestly it was so interesting, you wouldn't believe the different kinds of corkscrew you can get. 

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Before it was on to some wine tasting. (that's more like it!)

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I used to be a massive wine drinker before having Mads, but I have weirdly gone off it a bit since being pregnant and it's not come back. Still it was great to enjoy a glass or two of the award winning wine- a fair few of our group took some home to enjoy back in the UK. 

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More awkward posing, it's a lot easier to pose when you have a child in the photo to take the attention off you. And I call myself a blogger!

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The sun setting over Ikos Oceania. The resort is built into a cliffside and as such the views are spectacular. 

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Friday night was spent in Ikos Oceania's a la carte Italian restaurant Fusco, where the menu has been created by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Fusco. The decor was gorgeous, I loved the white washed brick walls and industrial style lighting.

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As I mentioned in my previous post, the whole resort has recently undergone an extensive refurbishment and as such is absolutely stunning. The decor throughout was modern, clean and really calm, with lots of whites, blues and greens. 

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At Fusco we were treated to yet another array of delicious taster plates to try, including this rather tasty chicken and chilli pepper dish. I came away from the long weekend with jeans feeling a little tight around the waist- I dread to think what would happen if I was there one or two weeks.

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Chilling out in the lobby with Alison- it was fantastic spending time with her over the course of the trip. 

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On our final full day, the Saturday, we were lucky enough to be one of the first few people to see the new Ikos Olivia resort which at that stage hadn't opened to the public, although it's since welcomed it's first guests. It was an honour to see this beautiful resort, which is modern and with an amazing selection of accomodation for families, with the introduction of private villas. I can guarantee that we will book to go back there with our girls one day as it was just a perfect family hotel. I felt very envious of the first guests tweeting me to say that they were off there and could I send them a photo.

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On the Saturday afternoon we got to sample a bit of sunbed relaxation, which I must admit I was absolutely looking forward to. How beautiful is this pool? I think that the infinity pool at Ikos Oceania might just be one of the most beautiful I have seen. Look at that view in the distance. 

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:)

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The resort offers pool and beach side waiter service (and of course drinks are included in the price) which was just a wonderful luxury. It was wonderful taking a bit of time just to relax and sip on my mojito. 

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So beautiful. In fact all the grounds were absolutely stunning, some of the most immaculate and landscaped I have stayed in, with flowers everywhere and lovely attention to detail.

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Could you ask for anything more from a holiday pool? We also got a gorgeous massage in the resort spa which was lovely. In fact it was one of the best I have had. 

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Our final evening was spent dining out. A really great bonus when you stay at the Ikos properties, is that you get to 'dine out' at a local restaurant for no extra cost. The food at Ikos Oceania was so gorgeous that you could never get bored, but still if you are there a week it's definitely nice to mix it up and have a change, plus of course it's great to experience an authentic Greek restaurant.

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We ate at Erodios restaurant by the harbour and were yet again treated to an array of salads, meats and other dishes, including the most delicious fried feta cheese and also these zucchini fries- yum. Ikos organise transport for you to and from the restaurant as well so it's definitely worth visting a local restaurant at least once. Plus these dine out experiences also benefit the local community which of course is a great thing.

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As well as eating breakfast in the hotels main restaurant Flavours for breakfast, we also ate lunch there on the last day. I snuck in three puddings, after all I was about to go home, it was compulsory really. 

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One last photo with the ladies from the trip and the hotel managers. All the staff were incredibly friendly and you can see why guests return year after year. Even better that they now have a beautifully refurbished hotel to enjoy. 

Just in case you missed my last post, here is a video of my time at Ikos Oceania...

 

Overall I had a fantastic trip to Greece with Sovereign Travel and Ikos Resorts. The resort truly is beautiful and I was really impressed with the facilities that they had on offer, especially for families. The kids club looked incredible, but even if you don't fancy putting your kids into childcare, there was still a huge array of things for them to do. The soft play area was fantastic and there was a lovely outdoor playground for them as well. For older kids there was a range of activities for them to do as well, but really when you go on holiday what do you need except for a pool? And what beautiful pools there were on offer, the infinity pool was truly stunning, and there was a dedicated kids pool too.

My room was stunning, large and beautifully decorated. My one slight issue would be that if you had a family then there wouldn't be a separate area for the kids to sleep, this is a big part of what we look for in holiday accomodation. However having seeing my friend Alison's room, she had a different layout with a little lounge area, so that would be perfect for younger families. I would make sure you specify on booking if you want this kind of accomodation and I am sure the hotel will help you work out what's best for you. The rooms had great extras, with premium drinks (hello Diet Coke!) and a Nespresso machine too. 

I would definitely recommend Ikos Oceania and the new property Ikos Olivia to anyone who is looking for an All Inclusive family holiday with a difference. It's definitely opened my eyes to the fact that you can still experience luxury while enjoying the benefits that an all inclusive resort has to offer. Ikos Oceania offers luxury, attention to detail, excellent family facilities and more in abundance. As I stare out of my dreary office window, I would give anything to be back in that infinity pool- but this time with my little family splashing away beside me. 

 

 

Sovereign (01293 731566, www.sovereign.com), the luxury specialist, has a week at Ikos Oceania from £1899 for a family of three on an all-inclusive basis. The price includes return flights from London Gatwick to Thessaloniki with easyjet and private resort transfers. All Sovereign customers also benefit from complimentary lounge access at No 1 Traveller Gatwick and the premium security lane, as well as a private cocktail on the beach and a farewell gift. Price based on departures 25 October 2015 with a saving of £411 per family. For further information on Ikos Resorts please visit www.ikosresorts.com Lounge provided by www.no1traveller.com

 

A Week in our Lives- May 2015

on Tuesday, 26 May 2015.

A couple of months ago I filmed a video of a week in our lives. I really enjoyed doing it as I know that it will be such a treasured thing to look back on when the girls are grown up. We often document the days out, the holidays or the special milestones, but sometimes neglect to take a note of the every day. That's indeed why I started my ordinary moments project, to remember the good and bad parts of our daily life. I suppose in a way these videos are an extension of that, it's nice to be able to record the regular parts of our life.

I decided to make another one for the week just gone by. It's a lot longer than any of the previous videos I have made, but I love that we now have this record of just an ordinary week. I am thinking about doing them once a month, just picking a week each month to document and film. I am absolutely loving filming videos at the moment, I have been doing them of days out and special days for a fair while now, but it's fun doing other kinds as well. Just like with teaching myself photography, I love learning about using my camera for video, although I have a lot to learn. I find editing them really therapeutic too- just putting on some headphones, listening to music and getting lost in the world of my little family.

If you are new to this blog, aside from all that we are also having a year of adventures with Subaru. We have had our lovely white XV for almost six months now and it suits our family life perfectly. With this video you can see just how much we use our car and how much fun we have with it. Because at the end of the day a car isn't just for long trips to fun places- it's about the day to day times- using it for the school run, to do the food shop, to pick up emergency Calpol supplies for little girls who are under the weather, it almost becomes another part of the family. 

So back to our week. We started the week in Alton Towers which was exceptionally wet but fun all the same. We then had a couple of days of work, which was overshadowed by finally finding out the school Mads would be going to, before having a lazy bank holiday weekend. The weekend was just what we all needed and we had a great time, especially on Saturday when we went into Cambridge for the day and just chilled out in the park, had some lunch at Pizza Express, and just generally had a nice time doing nothing in particular. They are often my favourite types of days.

So here we go, it's slightly longer than my usual videos, but here is an average week in this beautiful life we are leading raising our little girls. It's always hectic, sometimes stressful, but a lot of fun...

{The Ordinary Moments 15} #21 A This and That Week...

on Sunday, 24 May 2015.

This past week seems to have flown by, so much so that I am sat here on Saturday evening writing this and I almost need to pause to take a breath and actually register that a whole week has gone by since my last Ordinary Moments post. I really wish the time would slow down a little, as much as I love life being busy and love ticking off the days until we have something to look forward to, like a weekend away or a visit to see friends, I am well aware that with each passing day we are getting closer to a very huge milestone...

This week has been dominated by some huge news for us. Back in April, I nervously waited up until midnight like thousands of other parents across the country to find out about our application to Mads primary school. I knew deep down before I even refreshed the page what the answer would be and upon clicking for the hundredth time I was proved correct- Mads had got into our third place school, our catchment school, which we only really put down because we were told not to waste a place. I am not ashamed to admit I burst into tears and didn't get to bed until gone 2am. There are lots of reasons why I was disappointed, the school hasn't got the best reputation, but the main factor was just quite simply that when we went round it we just didn't really like it. It didn't feel right for our little girl.

When I am stressed I often act on impulse, it is definitely one of my faults. I am one of those people that act in the heat of the moment, or say something I don't mean, and then I have to deal with the consequences. After finding out about her application, I was on the phone to our local admissions office at 8am the following day, finding out what the next steps were and what I could do. Mr E told me to try and calm down and give myself time to process it, but that's unfortunately not something I am particularly good at. By 9.30am we had a couple of visits set up with schools in our area that still had spaces left after the first round of applications. 

To cut a long story short we reapplied to three different schools, all of them a little further away, all of them meaning more of a drive, and all of them a bit more of a logistical worry to get to. But all of them having a better 'feeling' than our catchment school. On Thursday we found out that Mads got into our second place school in our second round of applications. Again another one of my faults is that I am an impatient so and so, the offer date was Tuesday so I rang up Tuesday morning only to be told by our admissions office that even though the offer date was that day, they couldn't tell us over the phone until the letter arrived. They weren't the most helpful on the phone so I ended up ringing the schools and I found out via them that our little girl had got a space.

When I found out, I burst into tears on the phone. It sounds so pathetic, but I am emotional and I do wear my heart on my sleeve. I was and am, just so relieved that my little girl will be going somewhere that we feel will help her thrive. The school is almost six miles away from us, but to be honest we would drive another six, and another six after that in the hope that she will go somewhere best for her. I have no doubt that if she had ended up at her original school she would have been more than happy, but I am excited now that she is where she is. It's a small to medium sized village school and it looks lovely.

We have since had the letter directly from the school saying that she is in, we know what house she is going to be in (green when she was holding out for blue cause she prefers the colour!) and we have a few settling in sessions for her penciled in for July. I can't believe it's really happening. Every time I look at her at the moment I almost feel like we are on borrowed time- I really am not ready for her to go but now at least I know that I can wave her off through my tears on her first day and feel comfortable that we made the right decision.

Asides from that huge news it's been a bit of a 'this and that' week. We started off the week having a mini adventure with our besties. We all went to Alton Towers for a couple of days which was great fun, although we definitely didn't pick the best weather for it- it went from absolutely chucking it down to brief moments of sunshine on and off all day. I still am so thankful to have met Lucy via blogging, our families just get on so well and I know they will be in our lives forever now. It was lovely to see all four of them running around together- they are all getting so big. 

Then it was home for a couple of days of work catch up, with the girls doing long days at nursery as we had been away. On Wednesday I was really poorly, I have written before about how I have had tummy problems over the last year or so, but I hadn't had an episode since January and so I thought perhaps I was feeling better. But frustratingly I was up most of Tuesday night with awful cramps, it's really worried me as I really don't want them to come back regularly as they are so painful. Hopefully it was just a one off though as it wasn't as bad as previous times. I also found out that unfortunately my blog didn't get through to the next stage of the Brit Mums BIB awards, which I was of course disappointed about, but not in the least bit surprised as the other finalists summed up the category perfectly- outstanding. But I did find out that the travel blog I run with three other wonderful ladies Space In Your Case is through to the finals so that is really exciting. 

And other than that it really has been a this and that kind of week. Moments of quiet, mixed with hectic times and now as I write this it is Saturday night, we have Britains Got Talent paused ready to watch, plus a few episodes of The Affair to watch too. We have had a lovely day in Cambridge, and we have absolutely no plans for the next two days which is exactly how I like it. This weeks Ordinary Moments post is a little all over the place, as to be honest that's exactly what my week has been like too.

A This and That week. 

 

{Some iPhone Photos from our Week}

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Cable Car riding at Alton Towers.

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Sisterly snuggles in our bed.

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Have a breather from all the walking round Cambridge on Saturday. 

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On the way home from Cambridge it was so sunny we had to stop and have a drink on a local pub roof terrace.

 

 

 

 

Our Holiday to Lanzarote- Part Two

on Wednesday, 20 May 2015.

I am now writing this post almost a week and a half after we returned from our holiday to Lanzarote and almost a week after I wrote our first post. Our tans have definitely started to fade already, but our memories haven't and I have loved going back over these photos and having another look. I wish we still back in our little villa, enjoying the sunshine with my little family.

Here is Part Two of our holiday to Lanzarote in photos and another little video... (I just love making these videos so much!)

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Sister cuddles. On the third night of our holiday we went to a beautiful marina called Puerto Calero- if you are visiting Lanzarote I highly recommend a visit as it was so lovely to walk around and look at the boats.

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Everywhere we went the girls got given these sticky, horrible lollies, usually AFTER they had already consumed an ice cream for pudding as well. We couldn't say no as they would look forward to them every meal but they definitely weren't as exciting for myself and Mr E who were worried about their teeth!

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Look at my happy girly, she was all smiles all holiday.

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Little freckle nose playing the 'minion game' on Daddy's phone- she was obsessed with playing it with him all holiday.

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Puerto Calero harbour.

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I love this photo of my girls- after all what is there not to love about golden light sunshine and sisters holding hands?

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I'm a lucky lady to have these three to call my family.

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Oh golden light sunshine you will always be my favourite. My Grandpa was looking at my blog the other day and he said 'why do you always take these hazy photos?' I think it might only be me whose a fan of these beauties! ;) 

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Love, love, love, love this photo of myself and this beauty. Mr E is getting better at the photo taking, as long as I set up the settings beforehand for him!

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I think I might like this one even more. Does anyone else talk about owning a yacht when they walk round a marina or is it just us?! Puerto Calero was beautiful and definitely worth having a walk around, it was only about fifteen minutes drive from where we were staying.

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Villa Ventura had a private pool and it was amazing to see how happy the girls were swimming around each day- Mads is a complete and utter water baby.

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Two little crocs in the water- they look so similar in this photo I think.

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I love the little bit of tummy poking out on this photo- this girl has got class! They lived in their Konfidence jackets as they do every holiday, they give us such peace of mind when being near water.

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Both of the girls have got so much more confident going in the pool over the course of this holiday, I guess that's one of the benefits of having a private pool in your villa. 

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Cool dudes. Evening light. Yippee.

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It was lovely to go for a walk in the evening, it stayed so hot even up until when the sun went down 8ish- the main promenade was wide enough that meant they could walk along without me worrying they were going to run into the road.

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I am so proud of these two- love their Little Bird outfits too, Mads loves that blue playsuit, she is on an anti pink stage and so loves anything blue. 

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I am not quite sure why she was jumping in this photo!

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I'm a big succulent fan (is there such a thing as a succulent fan?!) so I loved all these cacti on someone's front steps.

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The girls loved the fact that the tide came in overnight and made big water pools, it meant they could splash and play to their hearts content. I love the beach but who else finds with children that the sand just gets absolutely everywhere?

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Happy Splashing.

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Serious sandcastle building. 

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Sitting on Daddy's lap to eat her ice cream. You never know what to expect from restaurants on holiday but we can definitely recommend the areas of the Puerto del Carmen old town harbour and Puerto Calero, where we found a fabulous selection of tapas, fish and meat dishes. Plus they all had plain pasta and pizza for the girls which means it's always a winner in my eyes. ;) 

 

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Our last evening out and the last lolly of the holiday!

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I love their happy smiles in this one.

 

Here is the second little film I made of our time in Lanzarote...

 

Overall it was a fantastic holiday, full of memories, happy times and laughter. Indeed if I had to sum it up in one word I would say smiles, of course you don't go on holiday to have a bad time, but I don't know what it was but it was just relaxed and laid back from start to finish. Sometimes going on holiday can mean the occasional grumpy day as routines change and the inevitable later bedtimes make for over tired children, but the girls were so well behaved from start to finish. We got into a routine of them both having a long afternoon siesta which meant that we could keep them up until around 8.30/9pm, therefore we actually managed to get out and have dinners out rather than just staying in our villa.

We went on lots of villa holidays before the girls were born, but this is the first time we have done one with them. It's hard to say which is my favourite- I love the luxury of a hotel stay, the fact that your room gets cleaned and you have your pick of nice food, but there is definitely something more relaxed about being in a villa. We could come and go as we pleased, weren't held to timings and the best bit for us was having the private pool area, which meant the girls could sit inside for a bit of shade and have a little watch of the television, but we didn't have to go in with them as we could sit less than a metre away in the sunshine.  

As for Lanzarote, having been a few times in my childhood and teens, plus once in my early 20's, I admit to having a few tiny worries before I went away, mainly around it being quite commercialised and British- but in actual fact we couldn't have asked for a better location. The villa was in a quiet area but with the action not too far away. We were a stones throw away from the beach and there were really fantastic playgrounds dotted all around us, which were great fun for the girls. The whole resort was spotless, the people were friendly and we wouldn't hesitate in going back there again- there really was so much for us to do. 

Looking back on these photos makes me get a little teary. I am just so, so incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to experience things like this with my little family, but more than that I am just so grateful to have these three in my life. I must have said to my husband 'we are so lucky' at least three times a day. Because we are. We have those two beautiful little girls, whose faces were full of smiles all week just at being able to have their Mummy and Daddy all to themselves. Day to day life is hectic, busy and at times I am the first to admit I am not always completely present- we work hard, the girls go to nursery, or there's cleaning to be done, jobs to be doing or meals to be made. I relished the opportunity to switch off and spend a week with my girls, away from the stresses and mundanity of day to day life, and I know they did as well.

Thanks for the memories Lanzarote! 

 

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