Mark Canvas Holidays, Family Tales, Days Out, Reviews 2 Comments

Altomincio Family Park with Canvas Holidays

altomincio-poolOur trip with Canvas Holidays to Altomincio Family Park near Lake Garda was to be a holiday of firsts. First time on a plane; first time abroad; our first proper holiday as a family.

As we sat in the airport, and in an attempt to avoid Luca’s question about how planes stay in the air (magic?), I asked the boys what they were most looking forward to.

Sonny: “To finally try some proper pasta dishes!”

Harsh. As their stay-at-home dad who’s been cooking pasta twice a week for the past five years I could have been offended.

Luca: “Trying out the Spanish I learnt at school!”

Proof, were it needed, that his passion for languages may be to the detriment of his geography.… Read the full post

Mark Tales of Parenting, Family Tales, Days Out 2 Comments

Operation Alphabet

tower-of-londonLast week we embarked on a top secret mission to London. Code name: Operation Alphabet.

It was based on a book by the same name which had really captured the boys imagination. For those who haven’t read it, all the letters from all the words in all the world live in a postbox under the shadow of Big Ben. To contact them you must find an old fashioned red telephone box, dial six and count to ten slowly, but more on that later.

Our cover story was that we were staying with some friends, visiting a few landmarks and attending a rave at the Ministry of Sound. The perfect foil.

But we needed aliases, and for the purposes of this mission we would now be known as Terry and Jude.… Read the full post

Mark Days Out, Reviews 0 Comments

Manchester Hidden Gems

Richmond-tea-rooms-6I was recently asked if I’d like to contribute to an infographic on the foodie hidden gems of Manchester. I’ll not lie, my first thought was that I was being mocked.

Me? A stay-at-home dad? Eating out?

My culinary adventures mostly involve hiding in the car, wiping the crumbs of a Greggs pasty from my top lip, because heaven forbid I’m caught eating something that hasn’t first been tampered with by the thieving, grubby mitts of Sonny and Luca.

Or my weekly full English breakfast at the local café cholestérol, which, should Janet ask, I’ve not frequented for months. Honestly, I’ve not!

When I declined her offer of a breakfast there a few weeks ago it was because, as she’d suggested, I was watching my waistline.… Read the full post

Mark Tales of Parenting, Family Tales, Days Out, Activities 2 Comments

Culture, Sport and Sand Sandwiches

posing on the beachI’ve not blogged over the summer holidays. I’d like to say it was a self-imposed sabbatical, but that would be ignoring the hours sat sobbing in front of a blank screen calculating how many hours it was until school re-opened.

But the six weeks have been nothing if not educational.

I learnt that playing bad-guys is this seasons “let’s play cars!

It’s a simple premise. Ransack my bedroom under the guise of building a hideout. Fill it with enough artillery to qualify for a seat on NATO. Rampage through the house leaving carnage in your wake. And repeat. Again, and again, and again …..

I’m not saying it was torturous, and turn away now if you don’t like plot spoilers, but the season finale involved me turning a Nerf gun on myself.… Read the full post

Mark Days Out, Lifestyle 8 Comments

40th Birthday Picnic

I’ve been in a stubborn state of denial about turning forty. I only acknowledged the date in order to insist on no boozy nights out, no “Look who’s 40!” scrawled on a bed sheet and left to litter a local roundabout, and definitely no surprise party!

Thankfully my family saw beyond my grumpiness and arranged a picnic in Lyme Park …

picnic1picnic2picnic3picnic4picnic5Read the full post

Mark Canvas Holidays, Days Out, Reviews 11 Comments

Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont

la croix du vieux pontI love everything about France, even if my last trip was memorable for very different reasons. But then who’s not nearly been arrested for human trafficking at some point in their lives? Really, just me?

Well that’s probably best told in a separate post which you can read here.

When I was kindly invited on a press trip by Canvas Holidays to review their Camping la Croix du Vieux Pont site in Berny-Rivière, with a day trip to Disneyland Paris thrown in, I decided against telling the kids where I was going.

Instead my plan was to send them a postcard of me sat on Donald Duck’s knee, dressed in as much Mickey bling as I could find alongside the message,

“…because daddy eats all his vegetables!”

My trip started a day early so I could spend a night visiting friends in London, and to have an opportunity to tick off as many Underground faux pas as possible.… Read the full post