The impact of technology on the travel industry

November 27, 2014 in Blogging, Holidays, Technology, Travel by Emma Day

Do you take your mobile phone on holiday with you?

As a blogger, technology, is clearly an essential part of everyday life. The truth about blogging is that only a small percentage of running a successful blog, is actually writing it. The rest is social media, editing media and site maintenance. For a great deal of us bloggers, there is NO such thing as a tech-free holiday. I mean how relaxing would it really be if you couldn’t check your emails, Instagram the weather or Tweet the name of your hotel?! Not to mention Pinning photos of cocktails, YouTubing your mates doing silly things on stage and checking your mum in on Foursquare at her first ever foam party! We are in the age of sharing, and being abroad doesn’t stop our smartphones from working!

So I really wasn’t surprised to learn that the average person checks their phone 4.5 times whilst they are on holiday and a third of people couldn’t handle a digital detox. In fact, 72% of us now book our holidays online to begin with! And then there’s probably currency, travel insurance and of the course that all important new itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny-yellow-polkadot-bikini, which are more than likely, also bought online!

A holiday survey, conducted by James Villa Holidays, shows the differences in holidaymaker preferences between now and 1984. (That’s two years before I was born!)

Is it possible that all these changes are influenced by technology?

The first mobile phone was only invented in 1973 and very few people had them until the late nineties. I got my first mobile phone in the year 2000, which was the very same year that TripAdvisor was invented. Not that mobile phones had internet then. The late nineties also seemed to be the era where everyone started buying PC’s and getting online (good old dial-up… ding ding ding, brrrrrrrr, twang, dong buzzzzzz… wait ten minutes - “ooh I’m online”)! Facebook wasn’t founded until 2004 and even now, in 2014, brand new social media platforms are popping up left, right and centre. In my opinion, technology and the internet have made travelling abroad more accessible and more desirable. Reading other peoples travel reviews or seeing their photos and statuses about their recent holidays, makes other people want to book a holiday. It shows you where is good to go and where to avoid. It allows you to book online and check-in for flights online and compare prices, to get the best deals. It’s these things that are most likely responsible for the changing habits of most popular destinations and the number of people who now travel abroad.

In 1984 books were regarded as the number one holiday essential by 48% of people. This figure is still high at 39% but I ask you this… how many of those 39% read their books on their phone, kindle, or tablet? I mean this is one area where I still like to stick to the good old fashioned paperbacks, because a) they hurt less when they land on your face as you drift off to sleep and b) they survive a soaking from the swimming pool. But the truth is, many people have ditched the print for an electronic device. That’s probably why 41% of you factor in WiFi, when choosing a holiday!

It wasn’t until I saw this infographic, that I realised just how much of an impact that technology influences our lives. Right down to travel choices. And now it’s got me thinking back to my childhood, all I can think about is just how many things have changed as a result of technology. Some good, some bad, but there’s no going back now!

 

So what do you think? Do you take your phone on holiday? If you could only fit one more item in your suitcase, would it be your hair straighteners or your iPad?

 
30 Years of Experience In The Travel Industry - Infographic
James Villa Holidays – 30 Years of Travel Infographic
 

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Place your bets: Are my daughters identical twins or non identical twins?

November 24, 2014 in Baby development, Family, Health, Medical, Parenting, Photography, toddlers, Twins, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Identical twins or non identical twins

After two and a half year’s of hearing the question, “Are they identical?”, we are fed up of answering with, “I don’t know”. This obviously leads to numerous other questions, and when all you wanted was a pint of milk in the supermarket, that soon becomes annoying! Aside from which, I genuinely WOULD like to know if my twins are identical or non identical. I’d like to be able to tell them, when they are old enough to ask.

So, we are getting a zygosity test done, by DNA Solutions. Today we took cheek swaps, from both twins and packaged them into an envelope and sent it off for analysis. I don’t know how long it will take to get a response, but I’m excited about it.

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For those who don’t know…

Identical twins are caused by one sperm, fertilising one egg, and then the egg splits into two embryos. The twins have identical DNA.

Non identical twins are caused by two eggs, fertilised by two sperm and have 50% of the same DNA – just like any siblings with the same parents. 

Semi-identical twins, although extremely rare, is caused by two sperm, fertilising one egg, before the egg splits. Meaning the twins carry identical DNA from the mother, and Non Identical DNA from the Father. Only one case of semi ID twins in the world, have ever gone public. 

The majority of people only get the straightforward ID / Non ID zygosity test, which is probably why there are so few cases of semi-identical twins in the world. But I am a curious creature, so I am having the full test done.

I personally, as Tiny and Fluffy’s Mummy, don’t think they look very much like each other. But there are some days, when they do. Some days, when we get them mixed up (but only for a split second!).

So here’s where you can get involved (just for a bit of fun)…

Here are some photos of Tiny and Fluffy. I would like you to guess…

Do YOU think our twins are Identical, Non Identical, or Semi Identical?

wpid-imag0100.jpg terrible two's with twins Siblings

 

Which type of twins, do you think Tiny and Fluffy are?

View Results

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I will blog the poll results AND the DNA results, as soon as the DNA results come through.

My Sunday Photo

November 23, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, Family, My Sunday Photo, Photography, Twins by Emma Day

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OneDad3Girls

Tips and advice: How to choose a pre-school for two year old twins

November 21, 2014 in Baby development, Family, Parenting, School, Twins, Uncategorized, Working parent by Emma Day

Based on my recent experiences of looking for a pre-school for my two and a half year old twins; here are my top tips for how to choose a pre-school for your two year old… 

Firstly… think about what kind of childcare is most suited to your family?

Types of childcare

Nurseries tend to have longer hours, more structure and more facilities, but they are expensive.

There are also childminders, nannies or au pairs to consider, childminders usually mind your child in their own home, along with a small number of other children (dependant on age as to how many they can take). Nannies or Au Pairs live with you in your house and tend to do chores as well as mind the children.

Then there are Pre-schools. Most of these take children from two years old, but you should check, as some don’t take them until a little later. Pre-schools are generally a lot cheaper than nurseries, sometimes they receive charity funding or government funding, which lowers the price per session. 

Tips for choosing a pre-school

  • Schedule a visit to look around. Don’t go on the website or word of mouth alone. You don’t know how up to date the website is, and what works for other children, might not work for you.
  • Meeting the staff and having a chat with them, will give you an idea of the types of attitudes they adopt towards the children and how much they care.
  • Prepare some questions you want to ask before you get there.

Questions might include:

What age can children start at this pre-school?
Do you take children who are still in nappies?
What hours / days / times are the sessions?
How much are the fees?
Is lunch / snack provided? If yes, is there an additional charge?
How often do you get to view the records kept of your children’s progress?
What methods of discipline do they use if your children are naughty?
Do you have availability or is there a waiting list?
How many staff members are trained first aiders and what qualifications do the staff hold?

Twin specific questions

How seriously do they take differentiating between your twins?
Do they treat twins as individuals?
Will your twins be encouraged to interact with the other children or will they always be paired together?
If your twins have developmental delays… Are they fully trained and equipped to deal with that?

  • Whilst visiting, look at what the children currently in the pre-school are doing. Do they seem happy? Is there any structure to the activities or is it just free play? If it is just free play, you might want to ask how often they do more structured activities. 
  • Go with your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right – don’t send your children there. If you love the vibe from the staff and the other children.

Funding

In the UK, when your child turns three years old, you can qualify for a set number of hours of childcare for free. Some people qualify for this when your child is two. This can include people on a low income, benefits or children who have been referred by a health visitor. You must always check with the childcare provider that you wish to use, if they offer these free childcare places, as some don’t.

People on working tax credits or students in full time education, can also qualify for a percentage of their childcare fees paid, you can read more about that here.

Bad pre-school Vs Good pre-school: How I chose which pre-school to send my twins to

November 20, 2014 in Baby development, Childhood, education, Family, Little snippets of twin life, Parenting, School, toddlers, Twins, Uncategorized, Working parent by Emma Day

When Bunny was two years old, I put her into a nursery for one whole day and two half days per week, whilst I was at university getting my degree. I was fortunate enough to have the funding paid for as I was a full time student at the time. When it came to choosing a nursery, I simply looked online. I found a website which showed all the facilities of each local nursery and I fell in love with one, before I even saw it. They had their own nutritionist, meaning that a healthy breakfast, mid morning snack, cooked lunch, afternoon snack and light dinner were all well researched and included in the price. They had a room for babies on the top floor, tweenies on the middle floor and a pre-school on the bottom floor. Bunny loved every second of her two and a half years of nursery.

Bunny aged 2

Bunny, aged 2 years and 4 months.

This time around, however, I am not a student, and I have twins. To put twins into a nursery for one day, would cost me £80. I can’t afford that. When they are 3 years old, they will get a free place, but that’s not for another six months. The twins have reached the demanding stage of two year olds, where they need constant attention and supervision, as they are really naughty. They are behind on their developmental milestones and don’t really talk yet. At the same time, I am trying to run two blogs and write a book. I need more time for my writing and I think it’s time for the girls to start socialising with other children and having a few mummy-free hours each week. I think it will be good for all of us.

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The twins aged 2 years and 4 months.

So with that in mind, I decided I would need to choose a pre-school, rather than a nursery. But how do you choose one? Well, I’ve used my experiences over the last few weeks, to put together a guide of tips and advice for choosing a pre-school, which you’ll see published on this blog tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s how I chose…

First of all, I visited the pre-school attached to the school which I intend to move Bunny to. How easy would that be, if I could drop them all off at the same time? 

It turned out, it would only cost me £9 for both of my twins to attend a 3 hour session at this pre-school, which is really good value. However… I really wasn’t impressed once I was inside the building and all my maternal instincts were screaming “NO NO NO!”

These are the things I didn’t like:

The pre-school manager saying, “We’ll never know the difference between them, so you’ll have to write their names on them or something”. My twins are believed to be non identical, however they are extremely alike, but I would expect a good pre-school to learn to tell the difference and treat each twin as an individual. It’s bad enough that one set of their grandparents has never bothered to learn their names!

There seemed to be no structure. It was just a free-for-all playtime and a lot of the children didn’t appear to even be being supervised.

The manager said to me, “We like to take a lot of risks here. If a child climbs on something, we let them. That way, when they fall off and hurt themselves, they will know not to do it again”. This horrified me. I expect pre-school to be a safe place where my children don’t get hurt. If they allow them to climb on things that are dangerous… what happens if they hit their head? Or worse? I can’t bear the thought of my little girls getting hurt. Aside from which… the presumption that a 2 year old “won’t do it again”, because they hurt themselves, isn’t really true. My twins have a developmental delay. They don’t understand as much as other two and a half year olds and they don’t speak much yet. If they fall and hurt themselves doing something, they don’t make the connection between action and consequence. Neither would a child that had only just turned two. 

The attitudes and apparent lack of care in this pre school had me running for the hills. 

I then looked around another pre-school, a bit further away. And wow… what a difference!

Not only was I was greeted enthusiastically, but the twins were too. On arrival, the manager said to me, “The first thing we will do, when your twins start here with us, is learn the differences between them, so we can treat them as individuals”. That’s exactly how it should be, and it shows that they care, from the very outset.

The children were outside doing gardening, when I arrived and they all seemed very happy and very well supervised. I was told that a lot of the play structure is child led. So if a child talks about a certain thing, for example, the colour of the leaves in autumn, or if a non verbal child is enjoying playing with leaves in the garden, then they will tailor an activity around leaves. They then write a storyboard of how they came up with the activities and the different things the children have said, done or enjoyed. The parents can then read all about it, when they pick up their children.

I told her about the “risk taking” comment from the other pre-school and the manager was horrified. She said that the children’s welfare is paramount and they do all they can to prevent them from getting injured. They also said they are trained to deal with children who have developmental delays, which really reassured me.

The atmosphere and attitudes between the two pre-schools couldn’t have been more different. The second pre-school costs a little bit more money and is further away, but I’m sure it will be worth every penny. It’s an easy choice to make, now I’ve seen them in person.

 

Hub’s rude improvised rendition of Walking in the Air

November 18, 2014 in Christmas, controversial, Entertainment, Holidays, Videos by Emma Day

Although it’s only mid November, a lot of my Christmassy posts from last year seem to be getting some read-time. So I thought I should share with you a video clip, that I took on Christmas Day last year.

Let’s set the scene…

We’ve just finished our Christmas dinner. Hubs has had a few beers and begun singing. Improvised, made up, new renditions of Christmas songs. At the dinner table.

RUDE, improvised Christmas songs.

I decided to hit record on my phone and see what he came up with. It was completely unrehearsed, but I’m so glad I filmed it… so I can humiliate him now! Mwahahaha! 

I can only apologise for all the giggling and camera shake, but it was pretty impossible to hold the camera still whilst wetting myself.

I highly recommend you don’t play this video clip in front of young children, or if you are easily offended or prudish!

 

If you like this vid… let me know and I’ll post more. I have more!

Side Saddle Shopping #MySundayPhoto

November 16, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, My Sunday Photo, Shopping by Emma Day

The twins decided that the normal way to sit in a shopping trolley was a little dated, so they invented a new way!

shopping

I am a warrior

November 13, 2014 in #EmmasArmy, Cancer, Charity / Awareness, Health, Medical, Mental health, Radioactive mum by Emma Day

Most of the time, I am a positive person, who can see the bright side of everything and I try my best to see the good in everyone. I try to be a good person and do things that help and inspire others, especially when it comes to my blog. But there are times, as some of my readers know, when it all just gets too much and I break down into a fit of depression. I’ve blogged about depression before, I’ve also blogged about cancer and depression and I’m sure I’ll blog about it again in some form.

Depression brings guilt. SO MUCH guilt. For not being a better person, for not feeling motivated enough to do anything useful. For letting people down. For not inspiring people. It brings extreme insecurity, self loathing and irrational thoughts.

The last few days, have been like that for me. I have been at the lowest point I can remember since being on the low iodine diet last year. I have quite frankly felt like I was losing the plot. One of the reasons is what I blogged about the other day, being near my due date for the baby I lost in an ectopic pregnancy.

But this morning, something happened which brought about a small and uplifting change.

As I was sitting at rock bottom, in floods of tears, feeling wretched and weak, I received a tweet from a stranger. Just four words. Four words that meant so much to me. They inspired me. They reminded me of who I can be. They motivated me to see a doctor for the abdominal pain I have been in for about two weeks. The kindness of a stranger. Four words.

“You are a warrior”.

This person, had seen this tweet (from a month ago) …
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And replied with “You are a warrior”

I tweeted back a thank you, and I received replies, telling me how strong I was.

Bearing in mind, that at the point in time when I was reading the tweet, I was the weakest I’ve been for a very long time… this exchange did something to me. It reminded me of all the fights I’ve won. All the things I’ve overcome. Not just Cancer, but other serious illnesses, miscarriages, ambitions, obstacles in my life, grief, a broken heart, broken friendships, physical and mental challenges, amongst so many other things too. 

I questioned it.

Am I a warrior?

I never give up. No matter how low life kicks me, I always think that there is someone worse off. I always get up. Maybe I am a warrior?

After a few hours of thinking about this, I picked up the phone and I called my doctor. This afternoon, I saw my doctor and told her about the pain I was in, and that I was generally feeling low. It turns out, that the wound site from my large loop diathermy three weeks ago (to remove pre-cancerous cells from my cervix) is infected. The pain and a lot of the other problems I was having, were down to this. That wasn’t the end though. On top of my surgical infection, I also have a kidney infection. My doctor said that the combination of the two were bound to affect my mood, because I had been suffering for so long before seeing her. I felt so relieved, that had she not just had her fingers somewhere intimate, I could probably have hugged her!

I left with a prescription for 35 tablets which will hopefully, over the next week, restore me to full health and my normal happy positive self. And you know what? If I hadn’t had that tweet, I’m not sure I’d have even gone to the doctor.

So the moral of this story? Well there are several, depending on how you look at it. but the biggest for me is this… Four kind words can make a difference to someone’s life. Even a stranger. 

So I challenge each of my readers to do the following two things after reading this post…

1) Ask yourself… “Am I a warrior?”. Think about all the things you have achieved/survived in your life. No matter how big or small. And be glad you got through them. YOU ARE A WARRIOR. And if you are feeling brave… share them in the comments on this blog. Tell me why YOU ARE A WARRIOR. Share the positivity. Be proud.

2) Pass on those four words. Or any four words. Or three, or five. Say something kind to someone. A friend, a relative, a stranger. Tell someone you are thinking of them and that they are strong.

 

 

I’m still feeling low, that’s not changed, but I am a little less low and I am feeling inspired. I am going to beat this.

I AM A WARRIOR

 

****Thank you to the kind stranger on Twitter, for making a difference****

 

I’m still fundraising for #EmmasArmy against Cancer. Please sponsor £1 or two. I walked 104 miles in 10 days and then I Marched on Cancer in Cardiff. #EmmasArmy is an awesome team of people doing spectacular things to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Help us meet our target.

 

Mama Owl
Ethans Escapades

Mumsnet Blogfest 2014 – My honest opinion

November 9, 2014 in Blogging, controversial, Uncategorized by Emma Day

Despite the drama at last year’s controversial Mumsnet Blogfest, I decided to go again this year. I love going to events where I can socialise with like minded bloggers and Blogfest gives you the opportunity to learn new things during the talks too.

 

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I arrived just in time for coffee, pastries and a few hugs before the first panel session started. 

 

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I’m afraid, I just wasn’t into it. I was bored from the start and ten minutes in, one of the panellists stated a very strongly formed opinion as though it were fact. It was an opinion that I would never agree with and the way it was declared, grated on me. I thought “here we go again” and not wanting to be made angry from the start of the day, I got up and left.

It was the best move I made.

I found the lovely team from Mark Warner Holidays, who not only remembered me, but were keen to hear how I was and asked about the current status of my health issues, including last year’s Thyroid Cancer and my more recent removal of pre-cancerous cells from my cervix. We had a lovely long chat and despite it only being 10am, I started on the delicious mulled wine the the Mark Warner bar staff were making from their Alpine Ski themed bar!

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I also met the highly talented team from WAH London, who painted my nails. I was so lucky to have left the talk when I did, because it meant I didn’t have to queue at all to get my nails done. Along with a lovely lady from Talk Talk, we had a really nice chat about twins and nails and all manner of things, whilst drinking more mulled wine. I was really thrilled with the gorgeous job that they did of my nails, designed to match my dress.

 

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I had such an enjoyable morning.

It was really nice to chat to so many of my blogging friends. Particularly Laura from Tired Mummy of Two, because I was so thrilled to hear the news, that her daughter Elizabeth is on her very last week of chemotherapy – she too has beaten Leukaemia! I hope they have a really fab time celebrating.

 

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Throughout the day, I caught up with lots more blogger friends and entered some of the competitions run by the sponsors. I caught up with my 2013 sponsor Coca Cola, who have recently launched their new product, Coca Cola Life. You can see my review of Coca Cola Life here.

 

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I had a delicious lunch of noodles and prawns (I was warned by other bloggers that the beef dish was awful) and then hit the desserts, which were totally yummy!

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I thoroughly enjoyed the talk by James Dearsley from The Digital Marketing Bureau about how to get more out of Google. He made it interesting, lively and funny. I actually felt that I had learnt a lot from that session and I have come away with a ton of questions to email the poor guy as he ran out of time.

 

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I also enjoyed the session on YouTube, as this is an avenue I want to explore more on my blog. I learnt an awful lot from that session too and really hope I can put it into practise.

Unfortunately I didn’t get anything out of the other sessions I went to. I found them boring, only vaguely related to blogging and one went way off on a tangent away from the topic title. I left most mid-way through in favour of socialising, drinking wine or chatting to brands.

My highlight of Blogfest, was Lucy Porter. She was SO funny. I was quite literally laughing out loud. There was lots of rude jokes about the male anatomy and plenty of swearing. What a way to end Blogfest – absolutely hilarious!

 

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Toddler twins on the London Underground #MySundayPhoto

November 9, 2014 in Blog Hops / Memes / Linkies, My Sunday Photo, Photography, Travel, Twins by Emma Day

Toddler twins on the underground

On Thursday, I braved the train and then the London Underground, with the twins… Never again! That’s all I can say!

OneDad3Girls
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