The August Chronicles

It’s hard to believe that the summer holidays are almost at an end and that the children will be going back to school next week.

The month started incredibly well with the amazing news that Suitcases and Sandcastles has made it into Vuelio’s Top 10 UK Family Travel Blogs. I’m really excited about this and looking forward to sharing more of our family adventures with you.

Our August has been filled with fun days out, lazy days in the sunshine and long evenings spent watching sunsets and eating delicious Greek food in local tavernas.

After a brief stop in Santorini, we spent two fabulous weeks exploring the picture-perfect Greek island of Folegandros and fell in love with its easygoing charm, stunning views and secret beaches.

Back in the UK we discovered some of the fascinating secrets and stories on a Houses of Parliament tour in London. We watched knights jousting and let the boys get soaking wet in the water maze at Hever Castle in Kent and had a picnic on the beach at Durdle Door on the Dorset coast.

For me, one of the joys of a summer holiday is the chance to indulge in some reading time. My suitcase is always packed with books and this month I spent many happy hours reading while basking in the Greek sunshine. I travelled to 18th-century Australia in Kate Grenville’s ‘The Lieutenant’, to Detroit in the wonderful ‘Middlesex’ by Jeffrey Eugenides and relived the horrors of London during the Blitz in Kate Atkinson’s ‘Life after Life’. All three books were fantastic reads and I thoroughly recommend them.

I’ve also enjoyed reading about other people’s travels in some of my favourite blogs. As a travel writer I’m always thinking about the next trip and looking for inspiration for where to travel next. These are the blog posts that have really given me itchy feet this month:

Pretty Towns of the Italian Riviera – Untold Morsels

Top Family Beaches in Nantucket – Fifi + Hop

Do Denmark in the Fall – Oregon Girl Around The World

Must See Scotland – the North East Coast – The Smalls Abroad

In September I’ll be writing about Greece: the wonderful island of Folegandros and the more well-known Santorini. My boys remain as obsessed as ever with royal palaces so we’ll be visiting Windsor Castle and a couple of London’s museums as well as exploring more of the English countryside.

And finally, here are this month’s blog posts in case you missed them:

The Best Things to do with Kids in Paris



The Best Things to do with Kids in Paris



Best UK Castles for Families      The UK’s Best Castles for Families


Nine Reasons you should visit the Lisbon Oceanário       Nine Reasons You Should Visit The Lisbon Oceanário


A Photo Tour of Folegandros       A Photo Tour of Folegandros


Eleven Things to Spot on the Houses of Parliament Tour        Eleven Things to spot on the Houses of Parliament Tour


The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever Castle       The Best Things to do with Kids at Hever Castle


Thanks so much for reading. What have been your best trips and reads over the last month?





The Liebster Award

Liebster AwardI’m delighted and honoured to tell you that I’ve been nominated for the Liebster Award by the lovely Virginie at Travel with my Kids. Virginie is a Parisian who lives in Italy with her husband and three children. She blogs in both English and French and her blog is filled with fantastic tips on travelling with children, with guides to places as diverse as Cuba, Venice, Stockholm, Tokyo and Mexico.

So what is a Liebster Award?

A Liebster is an award given by other award winners to fairly new bloggers (typically with less than 1,000 followers) to promote and recognise up and coming blogs. In German, ‘liebster’ means ‘dearest’ or ‘sweetest’.The award was created to recognise new bloggers and welcome them to the blogosphere.

What are the rules?

Once you have been nominated you need to write a blog post thanking the person who nominated you, with a link back to their website, and answer the questions they’ve asked you. Then you nominate up to 11 blogs of your choice (remembering to let them know that you’ve nominated them) and provide 11 questions for them to answer.

So here are my answers to Virginie’s questions

Where were you born and where are you living now?

I was born in the county of Wiltshire in England, in-between Stonehenge and the New Forest. I’ve lived in London, Paris and Cambridge but I now live with my family, crazy labradoodle and two bantams in a tiny village in rural Kent, surrounded by castles, woods, fields and pretty villages filled with timber-framed cottages.

Write three words describing yourself

Can I have four please? Independent, travel-obsessed, booklover, seeker of joy.

What is specific about your blog?

The belief that travel is the very best way to teach your children about the world and the people in it, to enthuse them with a love of history and culture and show them that it is better to jump into new experiences than be afraid of them.

I want to inspire people to believe that you can have fun and relaxing holidays with children, the kind of holidays that everyone in the family can enjoy.

I also want to make my blog as useful, well written and beautiful to look at as I can. Is that too much to ask?!

What is your favourite blog post on your website?

I have three favourites for different reasons: On Travelling With Books because I loved writing about books and reading; A Photo Tour of Sintra because I was really pleased with the photos and so far, it’s my most popular post and I’m so grateful that people are actually reading the blog; and The Ten Best Bookshops in the World because it combines my two great loves, travelling and reading.

What is the longest time you’ve been travelling non-stop for, and where was it?

I spent seven months backpacking my way around India and Thailand after university. I loved waking up in a new place every other day and having the independence and freedom to explore where I wanted, with the luxury of time to savour every moment.

Are you more flip-flops or snow boots?

Definitely flip-flops. On summer holidays my favourite footwear is one of the many pairs of flip-flops I bought in every colour for £2 each at a market in Brazil, long before Havaianas were sold for £24 a pair on every high street in Europe.

Plane, bus, bike, car, tuk-tuk, train, boat: what’s your favourite mode of transport? And what about your kids?

I’m always writing on the blog about making the getting around part of the fun. My favourite way of travelling is when the journey is as much a part of the pleasure as the destination. That might be driving around the German countryside in a vintage car with my father or sailing on a boat around the Greek islands or off the coast of Brazil, stopping to snorkel or have a picnic on a deserted beach.

As for my kids, the 12-year-old dreams about travelling around the world on a luxury yacht and the 10-year-old just loves the excitement of getting on a plane and flying somewhere new.

What was the biggest low moment of your travels?

The panic I experienced when my train pulled into Calcutta railway station and I couldn’t find the bag in which I’d packed my passport and camera. I’d been cramped onto the top bunk of a tiny carriage for the last 12 hours, with my bag lying by my side, and I’ll never work out how it was stolen. My biggest concern was all the hassle I’d have to go through filling out forms to report the theft and get a new passport. I was particularly keen to make sure my parents didn’t find out so that they couldn’t make me come home early!

Which country has surprised you in a positive way?

Portugal. We visited Lisbon for the first time in February and we all just fell in love with it. I can’t stop writing about it. There was so much for families to see and do and so much colour and light, even during the winter. I can’t wait to go back and explore more of the country.

What is your favourite travel memory?

One of the most memorable is wandering around Machu Picchu in my dressing gown. I was on a press trip and we were staying right next to the ruins. Obviously we all wanted to see Machu Picchu at dawn but I’m not the best at getting up in the morning so I figured it was better to get out there as quickly as possible rather than go to the trouble of getting changed so I just grabbed the hotel’s dressing gown and went for it. It was very special walking around the ruins before any other tourist got there, with just a few llamas for company.

What is top of your travel bucket list?

I really want to show my children some of the amazing places I’ve been lucky enough to visit on my travels. I want to take them to India, to Thailand, to Bali again… If only long-haul flights weren’t so expensive for a family of four.

Liebster Award

And now, congratulations to my nominees!

I would like to nominate the following fantastic blogs for a Liebster Award:-

Untold Morsels

fifi + hop

Blooming in Bordeaux

Five Flying Again

Rubios Wander

La Blogueuse Américaine

Passports and Pigtails

Not All Things Touristy

Strollering the Globe

Bling and Butterflies

Here are my questions for you:

What do you most enjoy about blogging?

Where do you write most of your blog posts?

What’s your best piece of travel advice?

What’s your least favourite part of travelling?

How would you describe your packing style?

What do you always take with you?

Name three of your favourite books.

Beach shack, five-star luxury hotel or gypsy caravan, what’s the best place you’ve ever stayed in?

What’s the worst place you’ve ever stayed in?

Which place would you most like to go back to?

What’s your biggest travel regret?

I’m really looking forward to reading your answers and finding out who you’re going to nominate.