family holiday planning


I am an obsessive planner. It’s what fuels me, keeps me going… no joke it’s what I live for.

Crazy I know, but it just happens to be the way I am.

Some people find their happiness relaxing in front of the tv, shopping for new things… me? planning my next fun trip, whether it’s down the road, in the UK somewhere or abroad.

On that note I have been very blessed so far this year. I’ve explored the beautiful country of Myanmar, spent a weekend in London, week skiing with my best friends in France, day out with the hubby in Liverpool… and next week I’m off to Dusseldorf (FYI If you have any tips please fire them over). I’m feeling like a very lucky girl right now, but of course that also means I’ve raised the bar and it’s not even April!

So when my lovely sister called me up to say she wanted to go away on a mini break for her birthday I didn’t even hesitate, I just said yes. I didn’t even consult Mo, I just couldn’t resist the allure of a family break centred around relaxation.

YES. This is exactly what I need.

I’ve often mentioned that I’m exhausted, I’ve fallen behind on things, I’ve had lazy days… but that’s all because working full time, running a blog and other writing services, keeping up with friends and family, it’s bloody hard work! Don’t get me wrong I love every second of it, but I go to bed every day, physically unable to keep my eyes open, wishing I had just a few more hours of awake time.

My sister and G visited Portugal last year and they fell a little bit in love with it. Their memories are that of good food, reasonably priced, beautiful natural sites and everyone they encountered was friendly and approachable. So as it’s her birthday trip, the destination was her choice and it didn’t take long before she decided on a sandy beach location back in Southern Europe.


Arrifana-Beach-Algarve. taken from James Villa Holidays blog


Perks of choosing a family holiday in Portugal? Here’s what ticked our boxes:

It’s not too far to fly

On a personal level, this is quite an important factor for our family vacation. You wouldn’t know it by looking at her but my mum suffers with arthiritis. Now she’s a real trooper so she never lets her arthiritis stop her from doing anything BUT as her children, we’d much rather pick a location which we know will cause her minimal discomfort. The shorter flight the better.

Beautiful, clean beaches

My sisters one criteria is to have access to a beach. All of us are happiest by the water, but my sister and brother from another mother are especially fond of it. Being in the sea is their idea of a perfect holiday – I love it too, but just to watch or float over in a boat (I’m not fond of deep water, I mean who knows whats down there?!!?)

Its not too expensive

After a week of staying in a ski resort, wow group holidays can end up quite expensive! Worth every penny of course, but when you’re confined to certain areas it does limit your options and spending can get out of control.

We can relax 🙂

I’m always so quick to say how busy I am, I always forget about everyone else (selfish I know). All my family work full time, and they too work their bloody socks off. So Choosing a location that we can all indulge in some vitamin D and down time, well it’ll benefit us all massively.


There are six of us going and from the off set my sister and I both agreed a villa was the perfect arrangement for us. It means we can all be together, we can do things at our own pace and in our own time.



James Villa holidays have a fabulous resort on the Algarve which pretty much fits all our criteria. I’ve always admired James Villas from afar, their images of beautiful villas, perfect coloured serene looking pools, bright blue skies and sunshine… but as I’ve been a fan of doing things DIY always assumed I can do a better job. I recently wrote about the pro and con of budget travel and recently I’ve been really enjoying the benefits of having a reputable company help with organising my trips.

And then one day as if by magic a tweet popped up, with an offer on a villa. In Portugal. With a private pool. And it was SO reasonable?!?!



Logging onto the website I realised, ALL of it was quite reasonable?!?! Whatever had I been thinking. Since then my sister and I have been scoping out options.

I fell in love the Eden resort, Algarve. It’s actually part of their signature collection, which is probably why it looks so amazing.

I love that you have access to all the resorts facilities, but you can still have the privacy of your own villa and your own space. Oh and for the beach bunnies of the group – it’s a mere twenty minutes away.



My villa of choice was the Villa Roma, it’s got everything I think is important in a family villa and ticks all our boxes! My essential criteria:

  • Air Con
  • Outdoor patio area for potential barbecues
  • Bath and shower facilities
  • Shaded terrace
  • Private pool

But of course… it’s not just me on this trip so we’ve got lots of exciting planning ahead when we all sit down and bring our options to the table, ready for discussion and judging. I’ll let you know one, if I survive and two, what we decide once it’s all sorted.

The sooner we get it picked the better!! It’s another exciting addition to tripcase and another exciting adventure to look forward to!!


Have you ever stayed in a James Villas property? Any recommendations? Or perhaps have you any tips on Portugal??



*** This post is sponsored by James Villas, but I must point out that my sister and I were both considering James Villas holidays options, and still are, before I was approached by them. All opinions are as always my own and are not influenced whatsoever by a third party. The images are thanks to James Villas holidays, I can’t wait to have my own picture of Portugal!! ***



Morocco – a country filled with colour and culture. It was a perfect summer, honeymoon destination. Our mornings were spent sprawled out on the day beds, basking in the sun, sipping ice-cold drinks and watching red dragonflies dance in pairs over the still pool.

After the peak of the heat had passed, the time came for exploring.  At night, we headed into the city; navigating through the dusty, narrow streets between deep, earth-rich toned buildings. Artisans selling traditional clothes, shoes, furniture and tall pyramids of spices and piles fresh food, all packed tightly into the souks. Our eyes darted from place to place as the colours caught the last flecks of light in the tiny mirrors sewn into large hanging textiles, reflecting them all over the medieval courtyards.

There were so many tales of adventure that came out of our trips away from that quiet poolside, but there was one afternoon that stood out above all.

As the taxi pulled up outside the entrance to the Jardin Marjorelle, this was no ordinary day. This was the hottest day we had ever experienced and we were simply not prepared.


Beads of sweat immediately dripped down our backs and we hadn’t as yet managed even ten steps away from the car. We threw ourselves at a local street vendor, casually sat under the shade of a protruding ledge, cigarette in hand, boredom written all over his wrinkled face; an arm perched on a cooler filled with ice cold water bottles. Drinks purchased, we couldn’t decide whether to drink the water, or to bathe in it.

Still flustered, we carried on. Although completely unassuming from the outside, on entering we found ourselves surrounded by our very own hidden oasis. A metropolis of only flora and fauna. The soothing sounds of birdsong, rustling leaves, the occasional trickle of water and then all of a sudden the blistering heat we both felt earlier, just lifted.

Here we were, standing within a ten acre amalgamation of art and nature, our two passions. Jacques Marjorelle – a painter, regarded these gardens as his most beautiful piece of work. His magnus opus. He brought plants from all over the world to this one plot. Rare varieties of plants and trees landscaped along the walkways around the central basin, purposefully arranged to allow both light and shade. (Later restored by YSL in the ’90’s).

Unlike the sand coloured buildings found in the city, earthy in texture and concept, the structures here were modern in design, consisted of Art Deco precision and boasted vibrant colours inspired by the skies and sights seen over the Atlas Mountains. Of course the masterful Berber craftsmanship was still evident here… hand painted tiles with intricate detail can still be found hidden within the ‘marjorelle’ blue walls.

It was only after we settled for a drink at the Café Bou Saf Saf that we felt the need to speak. Having previously been enchanted and overcome by the beauty of the gardens, our communication had been reduced to an excitable pointing of fingers, at flora and wildlife.

Time drifted on, as did we, slowly and peacefully. I remember the first step back outside, the first step onto the red tinted sand still hot from the afternoon sun. It was almost as though we had stepped out of a dream.

The memory of the gardens stayed with me, so much so I later recreated one of the YSL postcards on display there as a gift for Mo. I chose one that encompassed everything I felt from that experience –

The black represented the mystery and exclusiveness of this secret paradise once occupied by one of the worlds greatest artists.  The bright colours I not only associated with those of the floral displays and architecture in the Jardin, but also to the stalls packed full of handmade goods we passed during our evenings in the souks. And of course the word ‘Love’ strong and bold in the centre to remind us of the most important thing we found that summer.




Planning a honeymoon like ours? Or just need an inspiring family holiday destination? Visit Morocco! Book yourself a good looking James villa, pack the sunglasses and prepare to be enchanted by one of the most mesmerising cities in North Africa.

What’s your favourite summer holiday memory??