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First Bristol Travel Massive Soars on Social

Bristol Travel Massive text

The inaugural Bristol Travel Massive meet up was held on 20th April 2016, offering almost fifty travel professionals an evening of busy yet casual networking at the Shore Bar of The Bristol Hotel. If you’re involved in the travel industry, you may like to read about how we set up our regional chapter and how #TravelMassiveBristol went from zero to trending on Twitter in just a few weeks.

I met my co-organiser and fellow Bristol travel blogger, Heather Cowper, for the first time in 2015. We both write and produce videos (I can also be found on my travel and lifestyle blog Practically Perfect Mums and my Youtube channel and Heather on her award winning blog Heather on Her Travels and Travelator Media). We live just a few miles apart yet only met via mutual travel friends at a London Travel Massive event organised around World Travel Market 2015. After that we very sensibly decided to meet up in Bristol and soon began to talk about ways we could collaborate and create some sort of forum for content creators in the region to connect and collaborate with other travel professionals.

Bristol Travel Massive, chapter leaders Jane Batt and Heather Cowper

Heather Cowper and Jane Batt. Bristol Travel Massive Chapter Leaders

I’d already joined Travel Massive prior to my World Travel Market trip, but only the London chapter. We did some research and decided that, as the closest chapters to us were London and Brighton, we’d just have to start our own and so in February 2016 Travel Massive Bristol was born!

Heather came up with the idea of tying in our event with the Social Travel Britain conference which was being held in Bristol so we aimed for 20th April, the evening before the conference began. The date worked for everyone involved and The Bristol Hotel kindly offered to host us the in their waterfront ‘Shore Bar’ and provide wine and nibbles.

As this was the first chapter event we’d organised, we decided to keep it fairly simple and offer a networking opportunity for both travel professionals from our area and early arrivals to the Social Travel Britain conference which was being held the following two days. Like all Travel Massive events, admission would be free and open to anyone working in the travel industry.

Cautiously we worked on an estimated number of around thirty guests, but as the date approached and email after email pinged into our inboxes informing us of new Bristol Chapter members who’d signed up for the event, we soon realised that figure wasn’t going to be high enough. Heather and I were loath to restrict numbers too much and fortunately the hotel was very accommodating and agreed to cater for more guests.

The evening arrived and Bristol couldn’t have put on a better show if she’d tried.

Bristol Travel Massive, Bristol harbour

Bristol Harbourside

As I walked over the bridge towards the bar, it seemed as though all those people who’d been cooped up in offices all day had happily spilled out onto the historic harbourside and now planned to stay there to make the most of this warm sunny evening!

Bristol Travel Massive, harbourside

Bristol Harbourside

I approached the bar simultaneously excited and anxious about what the evening might hold. How many people would actually turn up? Would plain old networking be enough to keep people happy? Might I be called upon to “say a few words”?! (AArgh!)

Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel

The Bristol Hotel’s Shore Bar

Of course it went well. The Bristol Hotel’s hospitality was immaculate: smart waiters served refreshments, wine flowed and the ‘nibbles’ turned out to be these beautiful canapés.

Bristol Travel Massive, Canapés at Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel

The Shore Bar’s much admired canapés

Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel

Almost fifty travel professionals turned up: bloggers, journalists, video producers, adventure travel companies, Bristol Airport, The SS Great Britain, PR companies plus Fleet Street journalists and organisers of Social Travel Britain.

Judging by the constant chatter, laughter and the hardcore group who propped up the bar for some time after the official event was over, yes, I’d say networking was exactly what people wanted from Bristol Travel Massive. Oh and I didn’t have to do any public speaking but I did get to chat and make some really interesting new travel connections.

Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel
Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel
Bristol Travel Massive, Shore Bar. The Bristol Hotel

By the end of the evening I was on a bit of a high because of all the positive feedback and one person after another asking when we’d be holding the next meet up. It was great to hear comments like:-

I thought it was a great event, lots of interesting people and there was a real buzz both physically on the night & in cybersapce on social media.

and from our hosts, The Bristol Hotel:-

Delighted to have been a part of the trend! I nearly lost my voice talking to so many people. 

Tying in with Social Travel Britain turned out to be an excellent move. Conference organisers Steve Keenan and Mark Frary incorporated our pre-conference meet up into their conference programme and joined us for the evening and we were more than happy to support and attend their excellent event in return. The conference was very informative yet friendly and casual and I felt completely in my element hearing so many of the speakers stressing the ever growing importance of travel video content creation. (Yay, sounds like I’m doing something right after all!)

Bristol Travel Massive, chapter leaders Jane Batt and Heather Cowper with Mark Frary and Steve Keenan at Social Travel Britain

Jane and Heather with Fleet Street travel writers & Social Travel Conference founders, Mark Frary and Steve Keenan

Having Travel Massive just before our Social Travel Britain conference in Bristol worked out really well. We were able to meet travel influencers from the South West, many of whom joined us at the conference in the following days.

Mark Frary
Social Travel Britain Founder and Travel Journalist, Sunday Times

Excellent first Travel Massive in Bristol, with a strong core of social and digital Bristol-lites. Really good kick-off to STB, with conversations began that night and continued for three days.

Steve Keenan
Social Travel Britain Founder and national print travel writer

Seeing our inaugural meet up trend on Twitter was a great endorsement. 
Bristol Travel Massive trending on Twitter

#TravelMassiveBristol trending on twitter for four hours now

Being part of the global Travel Massive movement which connects travel industry folk around the world feels pretty exciting. If you’re a travel professional in the South West and didn’t make it this time, there will be other opportunities. Based on the success of this event, we’re planning around four meet ups each year. Some may be more structured and offer the opportunity to learn about a travel related subject, others will be purely networking. If you’d like to hear about future events then sign up to the Bristol Chapter now so we can keep you informed.

Thanks to Heather Cowper for being a great organiser, to Bristol Hotel’s Shore Bar for hosting, to Social Travel Britain for promoting us on your website and squeezing us onto the start of your conference schedule, to everyone who came or tweeted or shared and to you for reading!

If you have any comments or questions about Travel Massive, please leave them below and I’ll be happy to try and answer them!


Our 1st Bristol Travel Massive event hosted almost 50 guests. Here's how we set up our chapter which was trending on Twitter within a few weeks.

Reluctant Camper Endures Tent Camping Break!

Taking 5 tent camping

Taking 5 Camping in a Tent

To say the husband is not a fan of tent camping is something of an understatement and to be fair, he does have a point, doesn’t he? Basically you leave your lovely comfortable home with all its mod cons to sleep under a sheet of canvas (or whatever the modern equivalent is) in a field with no security and no inside toilet. You endure lying on an uncomfortable hard floor which, against all the odds, manages to be cold even in the middle of August. After a largely sleepless night you get woken up at whatever unearthly time the sun chooses to shine into your tired and quite possibly grumpy little face.

And then there’s the packing.The husband absolute detests anything to do with packing for family holidays, and organising all the paraphernalia necessary for a few nights sleeping in a tent is right at the top of that list of horrors.My friends will therefore be gobsmacked that I’ve managed to persuade him into our first actual family camping trip – and none of that lovely Eurocamp luxury*. We’re going to have to put up the tent ourselves and everything! We’ve agreed that if it’s too unbearable we’ll come home after one night but I’m optimistic that after all the effort involved in getting this organised, he’ll be swayed to stay for the full two nights.

Our three sons are ridiculously excited.It’s been such an unpredictable summer weatherise, we decide to delay booking until a few days before we go. Our camping buddy and instigator of this trip is my brother, a seasoned camper who explains that the premium sites are booked up at this late stage but he manages to book a basic campsite for us in the New Forest via Pitch Up.Having borrowed a six berth tent, three blow up beds, a table and a camping stove from my family,  we’re all set. Because the weather has been so bad and the ground is wet, we don’t have a trial run of putting the tent up, deciding instead to wing it on the day. It can’t be that hard, right?

putting up the tent
For this very rare occasion in a tent, I pack what I consider to be the basics for five people for two nights yet the car is virtually at full capacity. I do manage to achieve driver rear visibility so I see that as a significant victory. (Yes I know blow up beds aren’t strictly an essential but remember I’m aiming to get two nights away instead of one and figure that a comfy bed and the fact that there’s a country pub within easy walking distance of the campsite might work in my favour.)

After a couple of hours in the car with very well behaved children (I admit that may be because they’re armed with every device we can lay our hands on) we arrive at the campsite. Only opening for one month a year, the pop-up campsite is basic with porta-loos, a shower block and a reception area which sells a few essentials and sweets and has a freezer for icepacks. We opt for the distant ‘quiet field’ because the boys point out that this huge flat area will be perfect for playing sport. The only facilities here are two porta-loos and a standpipe. With only a handful of other campers nearby, we choose a flat area and begin setting up camp.


setting up camp

After about two hours we’re relieved to have our tent erected, airbeds blown up and table and chairs in place (I know, I know – we are such novices!). Fortunately the spectacle is over by the time my brother arrives and we watch in awe from the comfort of our newly established dining area as he unpacks and erects his tent singlehanded in about 20 minutes – or was it less?

With the sun shining down upon us, we sit back and enjoy our little set up. Our tents are perfectly adequate for a couple of nights but don’t afford the luxury of the huge living space of those frame tents we camped in as children and in many ways I think this very lack of comfort can be a huge benefit.  We’re not going to choose to sit inside the porch area unless it’s raining so not only are the children constantly outside playing, but we adults join in too. We’ve already decided to take the easy option and have dinner at a pub a stones throw from our campsite and it’s very rare that I say this but there’s absolutely nothing else I feel I ought to be doing at this moment in time. Having been playing with a club this season, the boys are quite competent and well versed in the rules of cricket so we all enjoy a leisurely game. When the adults eventually call for a refreshment break the boys carry on playing, only stopping when another group invites them to join in with a big rounders match instead.

After all that fresh air and exercise we’re ready for the short stroll to the pub to enjoy dinner cooked by somebody else and a couple of drinks before bed.
Despite my brother having to go home the next day, we do decide to stay the extra night. We’re very lucky with the weather and somehow seem to have chosen one of the best weekends of the year!

the quiet camping field


At £30 per night in a way we’re surprised at how expensive it is to stay in a basic campsite, but of course August is peak time and where else could a family of five stay for £60 for two nights during the school holidays?


We particularly enjoy the lack of facilities in our huge field and just a handful of other campers as company. I can’t remember the last time I haven’t showered for two days on the trot but I find it’s quite liberating!


The boys just love being outside and it’s always a pleasure to see them detached from a games console which is such a temptation for them at home. With no wifi on site, I don’t use my phone here either, except for taking photos so I feel like I’ve switched off properly too. I’ll admit I can’t resist doing a doing a data download when I’m in a free wifi spot, so I dont have to worry about having neglected any urgent emails for too long, but on the campsite, we’re all fully immersed in the moment.
From a cost perspective it’s one of the most affordable options for larger families and it seems to be relatively easy to find somewhere to pitch your tent even at short notice.
Yes there’s a lot of packing, unpacking and travel for just a two night break. If we camp again I’ll consider going to France and enjoying a longer holiday like we did when we were children.

And the husband? Would he consider tent camping again? Perhaps he might be swayed if we found another site with a very local family friendly pub serving a good pint of “Old Hooky” or maybe the French equivalent!

What Have The Tent Camping Novices Learnt?

  • Pack a fun activity which everyone can join in with.

    The cricket set was the best non-essential I packed and gave us and the boys hours and hours of fun.

  • Write an electronic packing list.

    Like my husband, I’m not a fan of packing either so I always use my packing lists to simplify it. I don’t want to keep reinventing the wheel every time we go away so I have various versions stored on the notes app on the iPhone/ipad. The children at 11, 9 and 6 are quite familiar with this system so as soon as I mention that we need to get ready the six year old asks me where the iPad is!

  • Keep it simple.

    We opted for a local pub meal the first night and bowls of soup with bread the second. This meant we only had to pack the bare minimum cooking equipment.

What tips would you more seasoned campers add to our tent camping list?

*Disclosure:  This site contains affiliate links which means I may earn a commission if items are purchased via those links.

To say the husband is not a fan of tent camping is something of an understatement and to be fair, he does have a point, doesn't he? Basically you leave your lovely comfortable home with all its mod cons to sleep under a sheet of canvas (or whatever the modern equivalent is) in a field [...]

How do you Relax?

Beach Escape in Pembrokeshire

Escape to Relax

The Husband and I aren’t the best forward planners in the world and it’s easy for our weekends to become consumed by mundane family arrangements and household chores: a bit of homework here; a kids party there; a trip to the shops; several loads of laundry and before you know it it’s Sunday night and we’re preparing to climb onto the weekly treadmill once again.

When we manage to get our act together and go away for a weekend, or even just one night, something remarkable happens.


We relax and that ,”We really ought to be doing ……” feeling, disappears at least for a day or two.

I’m sitting outside in the warmth of the early evening June sunshine in rural Pembrokeshire, having only left home at midmorning, preparing to head out to a local pub for dinner.

The caress of a gentle breeze, the nearby sound of crashing waves, the feeling of warm sun heating up the skin under my cut off navy jeans, long grasses and wild flowers swaying and the sight of the blue-green sea makes me catch my breath as I devour the vibrancy of these ever changing colours.

I feel at one with nature and for this brief interlude feel that I have space to think, to exist, without the crushing pressures of home life, where technology, guilt, outstanding homework, laundry, gardening, housework and more, weigh down upon me.

I always think that we ought to be able to relax in the same way at home and save ourselves the cost and effort of coming away, but no it doesn’t work like that.

Life can be short. I want to remember this moment and indulge in it and others like it.

How about you? Can you find peace at home or do you have to escape to truly relax?

The Husband and I aren't the best forward planners in the world and it's easy for our weekends to become consumed by mundane family arrangements and household chores: a bit of homework here; a kids party there; a trip to the shops; several loads of laundry and before you know it it's Sunday night and [...]

Trevella Park, Crantock, Newquay, Cornwall

Crantock, Newquay, Cornwall

Who in their right mind heads off with their family to stay in a caravan in the wilds of Cornwall, during the chilly October/November half term? Oh and why not throw into the mix predictions of one of the worst storms for decades? As a family we haven’t generally been lucky with the Cornish weather, even during the height of the summer, so a forecast packed with severe weather warnings and dire storm damage predictions just as we were set to go on holiday, seemed fitting.

For once I’d packed early, using my latest super slimline packing list (husband, of course, still labours under the misapprehension that I take FAR too much). We had originally been planning on spending Sunday night with relatives to break up the journey a little, but due to the weather, we decided to batten down the hatches and be prepared for any trees or garden furniture which might end up in our lounge during St Jude’s storm.

In the end the storm didn’t come to much in our part of the country, although of course it rained quite convincingly while I packed the car. Grrrrh! Fortunately the sun came out en route to Crantock and we didn’t feel quite so foolish leaving the comfort of our lovely solid house to stay in a flimsy little caravan in a field!

Anyway I’ve made a little video about our break at Trevella Caravan and Camping Park in Crantock, Newquay so you can see how it actually turned out.

Crantock Location

Trevella’s in a lovely spot, just minutes from beautiful Crantock Beach (apparently walkable when the ground isn’t waterlogged!) and a short drive from Newquay. As well as lovely beaches there are also plenty of attractions nearby like Lappa Valley Steam Railway, Eden Project and Blue Reef Aquarium. Crantock beach car parking is free for National Trust members.

On-Site Facilities

For the children there’s loads of space. Big grassed areas, an adventure playground, a normal playground, a heated outdoor pool (not open in October half term), mini golf and a beautiful fishing lake.

There’s no bar on site but there’s a sizeable shop and licensed cafe which are both reasonably priced. Ranger activities are free, subject to availability.


Our Monday to Friday four night break, in a luxury 3 bedroom static caravan during October half term was priced at £229 including bed linen. We were a party of 5 but the accommodation sleeps up to 8, (6 if you just use the main beds rather than the lounge) so I would rate this as a very good value break, especially for larger families.

Pros and Cons

At this time of year when the clocks had just gone back and the weather was wet, a bar on site might have been good. The licensed cafe closed at 7pm and there was no communal area open after that – although we were so tired out by all the fresh air we ended up having really early nights. In the summer this would be less relevant as we would have enjoyed sitting out on our decking or walking into the village.

Customer service throughout was excellent. I mentioned that one of the children’s beds was uncomfortable and it was immediately replaced. We asked about local family friendly pubs and were offered maps and personal recommendations. The halloween celebrations were superb and age appropriate for all our boys from a nervous 4 year old to a thrill seeking 9 year old.

As we had a lot to pack into our break we only managed to fit in one ranger activity, but it was very enjoyable and exceeded expectations. This wasn’t just for children either. As you can hear from the film the adults were completely immersed in trying to identify the creatures we’d caught!

Location and accessibility to nearby beaches and activities was great.

Lots of pros and very few cons. We would certainly recommend Trevella Park.

Trevella Park, Crantock

Disclosure: We received complimentary accommodation for the purposes of this review, however I retain full editorial control and all opinions are my own – as are any sweets and other treats which may or may not have been left over after Halloween (chomp, crunch).

I made the video just because I really liked our break and because the staff at Trevella went to such great lengths to make our break special. Please feel free to leave a comment to let me know if you find it useful or if you have any suggestions for future video guides/reviews

Thank you for reading. Now please share this article or subscribe to Taking 5 so I can do a little dance for joy. 

Who in their right mind heads off with their family to stay in a caravan in the wilds of Cornwall, during the chilly October/November half term? Oh and why not throw into the mix predictions of one of the worst storms for decades? As a family we haven't generally been lucky with the Cornish weather, [...]

Why we Love Family Camping Holidays

Kids Days Out Camping

Guest post & images kindly supplied by Joanne Brady

A couple of years ago we changed from a family of four into a family of six. Out went the small(ish) people carrier, in came the tank. Another thing that went out of the window is holidays. Easy ones anyway.

If you’ve got more than two children, or even three, finding a hotel that can fit you all in at a reasonable price is very difficult especially if, like us, you leave things to the last minute. We have had our fill of static caravans and Butlins, as good as those holidays are, and now the twins are fast getting through toddlerhood we are wanting to go further afield.

We have, optimistically, invested in a family tent. It’s gorgeous – if you like that sort of thing. Two bedrooms, large living space (which doubles as the adult sleeping area) and a porch to stash all the cooking and eating things.

Last week we took our first camping holiday. It was only three days in Norfolk but we really enjoyed it.

Putting the tent up was quite stressful. I took the girls off for a play in the camp’s playground while Dad set everything up. It took way longer than it had when we practiced in the garden and we didn’t get to go out for tea until well after our usual meal time. We were all starving and wasting away, and our fish and chips were wolfed down.

The first night was stressful as the children got used to their new sleeping arrangements. It was a lot of giggles and pillow fighting, and threats of the lady with the torch coming round to tell us all off before they finally went to sleep.

We wondered why we ever thought this camping lark was a good idea.

But then, the next morning, we were greeted by the sun. Kids Days Out Camping

A quick breakfast of croissants and orange juice was followed by playtime on the rope hanging from the tree a few yards from our tent. The girls were out and about in their pyjamas and making new friends.

After we got cleaned up and dressed, we headed off to explore the area. We spent another two nights there, exploring places we’d never been before. We even did some cooking one evening, and the girls were shown the delights of washing up in the camp utility block. They loved it. Such novelty!

The girls, especially the older two, spent the first two days complaining about having to camp. Then they spent the next two days complaining that we would have to go home. By the end of the trip we were all won over on camping. We need to buy a few more bits and pieces before our next trip, but it was a lot cheaper and less stressful for us than a hotel would have been.

Our site cost £30 a night for all of us including electric. A hotel would have been, well I dread to think. Yes, camping with small children is stressful, but then doing anything with small children is stressful. At least this way, we can get away more often and not worry about blowing the budget. Holidaying with four children is expensive enough.

We’ve already booked our next trip. And another one!

Our top tips for family camping holidays:-

Get a tent big enough for everyone to fit in. Being squashed in does not make for a good night’s sleep.

Check that the tent is not TOO big. Some camp sites have a size limit and will charge you for two pitches if your tent is over the limit, which will double the cost of your holiday.

Choose a site with something to do for the children, such as a games room or a playground. Camping is about letting them have a bit of freedom and you’ll need to get them out of your way while you put the tent up and take it down again.

Don’t forget your tin opener. Disaster awaits if you do!

Take more clothes than you’ll think you need. Children and camping seem to attract dirt. Take wet wipes too.


Joanne Brady is the author of KidsDaysOutReviews, a blog with quality reviews of great family days out around the UK. She is also a mother of four, and a freelance copywriter and social media manager.

If you enjoyed this post as much as I did and would like to read more, you can also connect with Joanne on TwitterGoogle+ or KidsDaysOutReviews on Google+


Guest post & images kindly supplied by Joanne Brady A couple of years ago we changed from a family of four into a family of six. Out went the small(ish) people carrier, in came the tank. Another thing that went out of the window is holidays. Easy ones anyway. If you’ve got more than two [...]

Bristol International Balloon Fiesta

Sometimes I just love living in Bristol. We have our very own Balloon Fiesta, just a few miles from where we live and it just happens to be Europe’s largest ballooning event. How handy is that?

During the four days between 8th – 11th August 2013 over 150 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes will take off from Ashton Court Estate with half a million visitors gathering to watch.


We’ve been to the Fiesta many times over the years and this year we got the chance to get up close to the action in the main arena.


And wow, what an experience it was! You know when you really do something for the benefit of the kids because you know they’ll love it and you’re not really expecting to be that bothered yourself?


But once I plucked up the courage to pick my way through the numerous tethers, 4 X 4s & belching flames to join the other press types and balloon crews, the most excited kid was me! The first thing that struck me was the size of the balloons.




Balloon Fiesta 201308

While some of the impressive shapes were already inflated and showing off for the crowds, these huge expanses of fabric were waiting their turn.


“If you think they look big now, just wait until they start to fill them”, laughed the friendly crew from Bristol Balloons. So I waited, right there along with a few others


Did you realise that the baskets are on their side while the envelope is being inflated? You did? Ah – perhaps I cannot rely on one episode of Peppa Pig as an exhaustive source of ballooning knowledge after all!


As the air went in, I started to get an impression of their size


For the sake of atmosphere, can you please imagine the sound of  giant fans and belching flames?

Thank you 🙂

And there it is. Yes that little white blob inside the balloon is actually a man! I don’t know about you but I find it hard to equate the size of that internal space with the similar finished product below!


The weather on Thursday was fine so a fabulous range of balloons took off




A fantastic display apart from the poor beer bottle on the horizon who seemed to be suffering from an unfortunate case of brewers droop!IMG_2217


The main event is the balloon ascents which are scheduled for 6am and 6pm but there is a packed schedule during the four days in the arena as well as lots to see and do on the ground. These mini tethered balloons provide a fun show once the full size ones have taken off.

Balloon Fiesta 201309

Apart from the balloons, this years free entertainment includes an aerobatic display by the Royal Air Force Red Arrows, the all female Breitling Wingwalkers taking to the skies for dare devil performances at 12 noon and 5pm on Saturday 10th August, the EXIT Parachute Display Team and a Spitfire memorial Flight and display by the RAF Falcons Parachute Display Team.


A bandstand is featuring a full programme of local bands and a stage is showcasing all genres of dance from ballet to bhangra and bollywood to ballroom.

Oh and cartwheels are free too.


The nightglow involves 30 teams lighting up their balloon as night falls at 9.00pm on Thursday and Saturday to a backdrop of fireworks. It’s an impressive spectacle but we decided to head home before it started on Thursday, partly because it makes a really late night of it and partly because negotiating your way back in the dark and trying to find where you parked your car is not that appealing to me!



Entry to the event is free but some of the commercial activities come at a price. I asked the boys to have a good look round and then let them choose something they’d like to go on. So far I’ve steered them away from the main funfair section as I suspect it would just guzzle money. Four year old Zu wanted to go on this gigantic bouncy slide which I thought was pretty reasonable at £2.50 and I let the bigger boys go on the Top Gear simulator which cost £3 each. As that and the £6 car parking was all we paid for, I thought it was a pretty reasonable afternoon out.

Balloon Fiesta Slide


  • If you’re taking a car, book your parking in advance as it’s much cheaper – even if you book the same day!
  • Aim to arrive early for the evening ascents to get a good spot. A picnic blanket makes a good base and the viewing areas are on a hill so you can generally see pretty well without standing up. There’s lots to see and do so it’s worth planning to stay for at least a few hours.
  • Food can be costly and the queues for food and drink can be very long at peak times, so bring some snacks and drinks even if you want to buy a meal there.
  • Bear in mind it’s quite a walk from the parking to the arena so plan footwear accordingly. I still take a pushchair for my (lazy?) 4 year old which doubles as transportation for all our baggage!
  • Check out the programme. There are quite a few free activities like this Pokemon tent, which can be easy to miss as the site is so big.Balloon Fiesta 201310


Ascents: 6am and 6pm daily, Thursday 8th – Sunday 11th August

Night glows: 9pm on Thursday 8th and Saturday 10th August

To find out more about this year’s festival, please visit http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk or follow @BristolBalloon and https://www.facebook.com/bristolinternationalballoonfiesta.



I still love this balloon from “Up” and have probably taken far too many photos of it! Do you have a favourite ‘thing’ at the balloon Fiesta?

Sometimes I just love living in Bristol. We have our very own Balloon Fiesta, just a few miles from where we live and it just happens to be Europe’s largest ballooning event. How handy is that?

During the four days between 8th – 11th August 2013 over 150 hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes will take off from Ashton Court Estate with half a million visitors gathering to watch.

Beach at Benodet, Brittany, France

When school broke up for summer at the end of July, we hadn’t booked a summer holiday yet. What a surprise! We hadn’t intended to leave it so late but, as usual, other family, school and work commitments took priority and our holiday ended up way down the to-do list.

As we’ve already had an extravagant holiday to Florida this year, we decided to limit our search to relatively inexpensive options.  My husband has yet to be persuaded that sleeping under canvas constitutes a pleasurable experience and as we don’t have our own caravan, we plumped for holiday parks, which can be a good, economically viable option for a family of five.

The weather we’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks has been amazing and did make the UK quite a tempting option. I’ve just been sorting through my 9 year old’s school text books and noticed he’d quoted Butlins at Minehead as his ideal family holiday.

Lollibop Festival 2012, Regents ParkYep, if it was just up to the children, the back to back entertainment, gregarious redcoats and negligable travel times would make Butlins the obvious choice.

But my husband and I were keen to travel a little farther south so we decided to look at Eurocamp and KeyCamp Holidays in Europe. Keycamps operate mobile home and camping holidays in France, Spain, Italy, Sardinia, Croatia, Portugal, Slovenia, Holland, Austria and Switzerland. We haven’t ever holidayed with them before, but their range of children’s clubs from tots to teenagers and their activities from scuba diving to sailing, cycling to horse riding, windsurfing to canoeing suggest that their holidays could be ideal for families.

Boating at Benodet Beach

Eurocamp is the market-leader in self-catering holidays to Europe, with 174 holiday parcs across 12 European countries and islands. They specialise in holidays for families and have great facilities for families with younger children. We’ve had 2 holidays with them at a total of 5 different parks and all but one of them has exceeded expectations. Their holidays offer activities ranging from canoeing, cycling, horse riding, windsurfing and diving to simply playing in the pools and water features. My 9 and 7 year old love joining in with activities at their kids clubs and this year, given the chance, my 4 year old might even be brave enough to join them!

Eurocamp Kids ClubsAs we’ve been on this type of holiday before, we had a pretty good idea about what works best for us as a family. We wanted to go far enough south to have a good chance of guaranteeing some decent weather, working on the basis that the heatwave was bound to end at some point. We didn’t want to put three little boys and ourselves through a long, tedious car journey, nor did we want the expense of flying, so the Southern Brittany and Vendee regions of France seemed the logical choice. I was quite keen to book with KeyCamp as we haven’t used them before, although we’ve seen their accommodation on the Eurocamp parks we’ve stayed at, but they didn’t have a suitable caravan on the dates we wanted. It just so happened though that we found a good deal through Eurocamp once again. As we’d booked our accommodation through them, we received a subsidised ferry price as well as a 5% loyalty discount, so the price was a bit less than we’d anticipated – always a bonus!

Water slide at Benodet Eurocamp, France

We’ve had several great European holidays with Eurocamp – both with our immediate family of 5 and also with 2 grandparents in tow and now we’re looking forward to another.

Plymouth Roscoff ferry crossing

Taking 5 Top Booking Tips.

  1. Consider booking your ferry through the holiday park company. In our case it was considerably cheaper to book through Eurocamp than to go direct to the ferry company.
  2. Think carefully which ferry route suits you best. It’s not necessarily economical on time, accommodation or fuel to just go for the cheapest ferry route.
  3. Check the holiday company’s website for available discounts. For example you can save up to 30% by ‘parc hopping’ with Eurocamp and on ‘Flexi-stays’ with Keycamp.
  4. Do a search for on-line promotional codes. We got £50 off just for entering a relevant code.
  5. If possible, try to avoid the school holidays. Even if your children are school age and they have an odd inset day tacked onto the start of end of their holidays, it’ s well worth making use of it. Prices are calculated daily and the parc price can plummet to less than a third once term time starts.

Toddler pool at Benodet, FranceSo, that’s us sorted for this summer. I’m sure a review will appear on this site at some point! How about you? Are you going away and do you have any suggestions for a reasonably priced family holiday for 5 or more?


DISCLOSURE: This post contains affiliate links but opinions and general lack of organisation are all my own!

When school broke up for summer at the end of July, we hadn't booked a summer holiday yet. What a surprise! We hadn't intended to leave it so late but, as usual, other family, school and work commitments took priority and our holiday ended up way down the to-do list. As we've already had an [...]

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