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!! ***



It’s coming up to that time of year where everyone is bombarded with ‘couples’ things to do. Mo and I aren’t big participators in the Valentine’s Day shenanigans, but we do like to treat ourselves to a date night every once in a while. So here are five of my current top spots for Date night in Manchester:


San Carlo Cicchetti

The San Carlo group, without a shadow of a doubt provides the best Italian cuisine I have ever had the pleasure of tasting. Over the years, we have been to a number of their Manchester restaurants but the most romantic one, I would say, is Cicchetti on King Street West. It’s not huge and it oozes intimacy with its décor: an array of branches intertwined with fairy lights, marble tables, comfy seats and their signature Italian charm. The service is excellent and the food second-to-none. A real must try for date night, special occasions or even if you’re just out shopping and you get hungry.

*Make sure you call ahead and book if you’re thinking of going on a weekend, it can get pretty busy

Cicchetti Manchester, House of Fraser Ground Floor,
(private entrance located on King Street West), M3 2QG

Image taken from



A bit out of the way, Vermillion is quite a showstopper of a restaurant; the décor here, is the work of Miguel Cancio Martins (I’m a big fan). Spanning over two floors, Vermillion is famous for both it’s quality restaurant and it’s trendy bar area (Cinnabar). Their menu is a fusion between Thai and Indian palettes, and bonus for us Muslims, everything on the menu is halal.

*It’s about a 15 minute drive from the city centre, luckily they have ample parking available on site. If visiting Cinnabar and wanting to sit in their famous pods, they need to be pre-booked.

Vermilion & Cinnabar
Lord North Street / Hulme Hall Lane, M40 8AD

Image taken from


Harvey Nichols second floor restaurant

Harvey Nichols restaurant is a great one for a romantic date or a special occasion, even during the daytime. I would say this is your typical five star restaurant, white table cloths, brilliant service and beautifully presented food. Not a huge amount on the menu, but what they lack in quantity is more than made up for in top quality.

*Ask for the corner window table, it has great panoramic views of the city below.

Manchester Dining
21 New Cathedral Street, M1 1AD

Image taken from



The newly opened Sakana restaurant is our latest special occasion find; we went there recently for our anniversary. A lover of all things design, I was sold on this place even before it opened by the magnificent twisted wire tree that occupies the centre of the dining area. They serve pan-Asian cuisine, prepared in their open kitchen. The bar area is also perfect for after dinner drinks if you’re carrying the party on.

*Order the passion fruit panna cotta dessert, it’s to DIE for (provided you like panna cotta and passion fruit).

23 Peter St, UK M2 5QR

Image from


All Star Lanes

Last one on my list is on a different level to the ones above but I’m throwing it in there ‘cos it’s a goodie. All Star Lanes Manchester just had to be on here. I’m a sucker for a good burger and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Why not spend date night having the tastiest American diner inspired meal in the whole of the North and finishing the off with milkshakes (or cocktails) and some grown-up bowling. They even provide waiter service when you’re on the lanes!

*Another one that gets booked up pretty quickly, so it’s always best to ring and book both your meal and bowling in advance.

All Star Lanes, The Great Northern,
235 Deansgate, M3 4EN

Image taken from


We like to schedule date night once a month at least, so if you know of any other great places to try, please do share the love in the comment box below 🙂


On planning a surprise trip to Grasse for Mo’s 30th birthday, I had the mammoth task of finding accommodation that would be romantic, practical and not over-priced. I spent many a day traipsing through google searches and trip advisor reviews to find a hotel that would be just right for this special occasion. None of the mainstream hotels seemed to fit the bill and just as I was about to give up, I somehow stumbled across a bed and breakfast villa called La Rivolte. I instantly fell in love and wasted no time in emailing the lady in charge.

From the first reply Suzie sent me, I knew I had found the perfect villa in Grasse. View Post


Theres no better way to catch up with friends then over a spot of afternoon tea and desserts. Which is exactly what we did on our last trip to the capital.

The place, La Duree in Harrods. The verdict, complete dessert indulgence.

The choice of teas is vast and choosing a dessert was difficult as each description had us all drooling. View Post


The Lake House is a private venue that can be hired for exclusive use. It is part of The Gilpin hotel, an award winning country house in Windermere. This secluded house boasts a luxury spa, stylish indoor pool, cedar wood hot tub, beautifully decorated en-suite bedrooms all set in 100acres of private grounds with outstanding views from wherever you are, inside or out.

It was June when we got in touch and from the off, I was always greeted by a warm and friendly voice when making initial enquiries and was soon dealing directly with Renato, who invited us from some afternoon tea with a tour of the house. We were not disappointed! View Post