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In which we try out the Rolls Royce of trampolines…

A few months ago we started considering that next inevitable stage of parenthood… buying a trampoline. Before children I always wondered why literally every family I knew had one in their garden (even when there was room for nothing but the trampoline) and then I realised that they are practically the only toy you can buy a two year-old that they’ll still be playing with when they are twelve… and beyond.

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Our Eurocamp Diary – Part 1

Our Eurocamp Diary – Part 1

by Clare Mansell

Two years ago Eurocamp was sold to French Travel company Homair Vacances group. At the time some people wondered if this marked the beginning of the end of camping and caravaning holidays, but since the sale Eurocamp seems to have created a new place for itself in the family holiday market, enticing a new generation of middle class holiday makers to try out it’s campsite based accommodation.

Last year after hearing positive reviews from friends we considered booking a trip ourselves, but hesitated at the idea of staying in a mobile home. So when Eurocamp approached us in February and invited us on a press trip I was intrigued to see if the experience would match up with the “basic but great” reports we’d heard from other families.

With 170 parcs in 11 countries the choice of destinations is a little over-whelming, so as we were traveling on our first trip as a family of four, we decided to stick relatively close to home, at the Domaine Des Ormes campsite in Brittany.

I kept a diary of our stay, with an honest report of our experience of the week…

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The story of Alice’s amazing homebirth

The story of Alice’s amazing homebirth

by Clare Mansell

Two weeks ago today our baby girl made her arrival. The first fortnight has flown by and after a few wobbles and deviations, we eventually decided to call her the name we chose on the day she was born. Alice Jane was born in the year of the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice In Wonderland and her middle name pays tribute to three members of our family, including my sister.

The birth itself is something I really wanted to write a blog post about. Partly because, thanks to my sister, I have some wonderful photos to show off and also because it was an incredibly positive experience and I want to get the story down into words before I forget the details.

Theo’s birth was pretty unremarkable. Like many first babies he was overdue which lead to an induction and a very long medicated labour. The whole experience felt beyond my control and despite the fact I had taken a hypnobirthing course I never felt I had the opportunity to reign in what was happening to me and relax. For this second labour I wanted a chance to do it my way, so we opted for a homebirth.

I was extremely lucky to have a friend who had had a homebirth before which meant she was able to provide us with some of the kit we needed including the plastic sheets and a tens machine, but crucially she also gave me the kind of positive and reassuring words that I needed when every now and again I thought maybe I was slightly mad for planning to do at home what most other women do in hospital.

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Canalside suppers with the Lotus barbecue grill

Earlier this year on my flight to Malta, I spotted a revolutionary new portable barbecue being advertised in a magazine. I’ve mentioned a few times before that we love barbecuing and Jim will cook outside at any time of the year and in almost any location, so any sort of barbecue usually peaks my interest, but this barbecue was particularly intriguing because it looked perfect for taking to the beach or on picnics.

Anyway, I did the usual thing of forgetting all about it until fate intervened and we were offered a loan one to take on a our trip to France…

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Our family holiday on the French canals

Three years ago we had a fantastic canal boat holiday in Wales. We did the trip with my parents and my sister’s family, but all hired separate boats so everyone had their own space. Theo was nearly a year old, so it was great to have extra hands to help and his older cousins were kept occupied by having a baby to play with.

Inevitably we all started talking about doing a similar thing again, but wondered if we could do it somewhere where we stood more chance of being guaranteed warm weather. France was an obvious choice as there is a huge network of waterways, the dogs could come too and it didn’t necessarily involve a really long drive.

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