A Visit to SEA LIFE Brighton - January 2022


We recently celebrated our youngest daughter Lilah's 4th birthday. We spent her special day painting pottery and eating all the cake, before a big family birthday gathering (with of course even more cake) the next day. And for her final birthday treat, we decided to head down to Brighton for some seaside fun! A big draw for picking Brighton as our seaside destination of choice, was so we could take the children to SEA LIFE Brighton using our Merlin Annual Passes.


The Brighton Aquarium was thought up and designed by Eugenius Birch and opened in 1872 - making it the oldest aquarium in the whole world! It was bought by SEA LIFE in 1991 where it has been redeveloped and restored to the beautiful aquarium we know and love today. The most recent development was in 2012, when SEA LIFE Brighton was closed so that the Victorian Arcade could be beautifully restored to it's original glory. I really think that this area of the aquarium is the highlight and make's it one of the most beautiful SEA LIFEs I have visited.

The aquarium is really easy to find once you make it to Brighton as it's located right on the seafront, opposite the main Brighton Palace Pier. We visited on a Sunday in January and only just managed to park along the seafront, so do keep in mind that it can get really busy and parking is pricey. 

What to Expect from your Visit

Once you enter SEA LIFE Brighton there are 5 zones inside that you can currently wander through along a one-way route. You start off in the Victorian Arcade which includes the rock-pool area where you can have 'hands on' experiences, and the ray pool. Like with most SEA LIFE aquariums there's the rainforest adventure area (we love watching the leaf cutter ants here), Reef area, Conservation area, and of course the ocean tunnel too - made extra special here by the two beautiful giant sea turtles Lulu and Gulliver who are around 82 years old! Something unique about Brighton aquarium is that the seawater tanks are fed from a large tank under the building, which actually gets its water from the nearby sea twice a day. Cool right?

Make sure to collect the free children's guides/maps as you enter, as the littles loved finding the answers to the questions as we went through the aquarium, and if you show them to a member of staff in the gift shop you receive POP badges as a reward. There's also a small cafe in the Victorian Arcade area if you need refreshments during your visit. The aquarium is quite small though so you are probably best heading out to grab food as there are many yummy treats to find around Brighton.

How to Book Tickets

You currently have to prebook tickets to enter SEA LIFE Brighton, however ours were not checked when we arrived and they let us in before our timed tickets. Standard tickets costs £21.50 per adult and £17.50 per child (under 3s are free), but you can save money by booking online. You can also pay extra to go on the glass-bottom boat and VR experience. We visited with our Merlin Annual Passes which was really easy to do, as I just simply booked a slot online and then they scanned our passes to go through.

Have you visited SEA LIFE Brighton or any other SEA LIFE centres?

4 Ways to Help Teach Children About Money

Helping children understand money is right up there with the most important things you can teach them. They need to know its value, where it comes from and just how fast it can go if you don’t keep an eye on your bank account regularly. But like with most things, just because it's important, doesn't mean it's easy. But hopefully these tips and advice will help you to teach your children a little bit more about money.

The younger they start, the less fear children have of money as they mature. A bonus is that kids also grow up feeling confident about working with numbers, from basic adding and subtracting to more complex financial aspects such as interest rates. It can pave the way to future success, and could even lead them to investigate a career in accounting, or simply guide them towards wiser spending decisions as adults. 

It’s Never too Soon to Start

In today’s cashless society, small children might not see you handling actual coins very often - something that was made very clear to me when I was trying to teach money during home learning last year. The disconnect between earning money and spending it starts even earlier than it did in previous generations that used cash more. So, while you might always pay for groceries with your debit card, it could be an idea to carry a small amount of cash and let young children buy something they want, hand over the cash themselves, then get their change.

This brings us to another common problem children often have with money: they don’t automatically understand that having more coins isn’t the same as having more money. Games with coins can help here. Have piles of coins in different denominations and show them how, for instance, one 5p coin is the same value as five 1p coins. Of course they cover this at school, but it's always great to follow this through at home too.

Make Spending Decisions Out Loud

We all know that children learn best through watching and repeating. So why not take this advise when it comes to money too? In supermarkets you could: 

  • Reason verbally so your children can hear why you’re choosing one brand over another. 
  • Compare the prices on a couple of similar items such as one branded and one generic. 
  • After checking out, go through the receipt with them before you leave the shop. 
  • Show them how, by choosing a just-as-good but cheaper alternative, they could then afford to buy something extra. 

You can also include children, especially older ones, in family decisions about days out or holidays. Discuss prices, how much and for how long you’ll need to save up, what the daily budget might be, the various costs of different types of travel and how your budget might influence your decisions. It doesn’t have to be a heavy or judgemental conversation, just make it open and inclusive. Children will soon accept money as a natural and important part of decision-making. 

Encourage Saving and Budgeting

Confidence with money comes from building up a history of successfully managing it, and this is something you should ideally set up at a very young age. You can start with a money box, move on to a children’s savings account with a bank, and maybe progress to a debit card when both you and the older child are confident enough. 

Instead of handing out a fixed amount of pocket money each week, give children the chance to increase their earnings by doing jobs round the house. Keep a tally score and jobs list available (maybe pinned to the fridge) so they can see what needs doing and claim tasks if they feel like it. With each job having a fixed ‘wage’, ticking off the job as it’s done increases their weekly allowance by that much. Remember to keep track of who does what, or have a separate tally for each child. 

One way of encouraging older children to take responsibility for their spending is to put them in charge of their regular purchases. It could be toiletries or makeup, hobbies, social activities, clothes, or anything else. Agree an area of spending with your child, then decide on the amount of allowance by figuring out what you’d spend over a year then dividing by 52 (or 12 if you want to pay monthly). Having a personal pot of money is a great way of encouraging ownership and responsibility. They'll soon learn that life isn't as much fun when all their money has run out!

Share your Household Budgeting

This might seem a bit radical, or even ‘oversharing’. Most parents wouldn’t dream of letting kids in on their credit card spends, savings, bill amounts or mortgage and interest payments. It’s a personal decision and wouldn’t work for everyone. But by doing it, however, it demonstrates that even adults must live according to their budget, and sometimes maybe go without one thing to pay for something else. While you don’t want to burden children with grown-up concerns, it can help them develop a mature attitude towards managing their own money. It can also banish any feelings of unfairness as they realise they’re not the only ones who can’t always have things the minute they want them. Very often, real world finance isn’t taught to any great depth in schools, so we end up learning by trial and error unless we choose to deliberately study for a career in accounting or finance.

Making money talk a regular part of family discussions and trying to include children in money decisions when it’s appropriate, is a fairly painless way of ensuring they grow up feeling comfortable and confident when making their own financial decisions. 

What other tips and advice would you add?

This is a collaborative post.

5 European Summer Holiday Locations to Consider


Despite the pandemic, our love affair with travel is far from over. Each country, and even each city, has its own character, and getting to know the secret charms of a great city takes time - much more than a weekend break usually allows. Cities offer us the finest dining experiences, the best art, the best architecture, the best entertainment and, most importantly, their unique atmosphere. And they are also a great base for exploring the region they are in too.

Europe is full of great cities, and in this post I am going to share just 5 great European summer holiday locations I think you should consider. Where would you choose?

Limassol - Cyprus

Limassol is the second largest city in Cyprus and is considered to be one of its most beautiful. The largest port in the Middle East, Limassol is both a centre of commerce and a centre of culture. Its historic centre, with a castle and cathedral, is home to a yearly carnival and wine festival, but there is also a lively arts scene throughout the year. Definitely worth a visit!

Reykjavik - Iceland

Not as cold as you might imagine, the temperature is best described as ‘mild’, with summer highs of 10C and winter lows of zero. Set amid a fascinating coastline of caves and islands, Europe’s northernmost capital is home to 60% of Iceland’s population. The long hours of summer sunlight make Reykjavik perfect for festivals and when darkness does fall there’s never any shortage of nightlife. Famous for its great arts scene, museums and geothermal pools, Reykjavik is also a great base for whale watching, seeing the Northern Lights or visiting the Blue Lagoon. Prices can be a little high in Iceland though, so do make sure to take enough spending money with you so you can enjoy every moment.

Faro - Portugal

More affordable than Lisbon, Faro has its own international airport and is a short hop from the capital and the world class beaches of the Algarve. Often overlooked by tourists heading for the beach, the city has an ancient centre of great charm and makes a perfect base for exploring the locality.

Florence - Italy

One of the most art laden cities in the world, Florence is one of the world’s great tourist destinations. There’s an almost endless list of famous sites in the city, including the Uffizi Gallery which houses the largest collection of Renaissance art in the world! This is a city which you could spend a lifetime exploring, but be warned, summers are very hot and very, very busy.

Nice - France

One of the most popular destinations on the French Riviera, Nice boasts a beautiful climate all-year-round, making it a chic, sophisticated delight. The old town is maze of cobbled streets and red roofed houses where you can linger in charming café after charming café. And as you would expect, there’s no shortage of high-end shopping (mostly centred around the Jean Medecin Avenue) and plenty of lively nightlife and quaint restaurants. This is France, so there is of course also plenty of cultural diversion as well, of which top of the list is the Marc Chagall Museum.

Where is your favourite European destination to visit?

This is a collaborative post.

Hever Castle at Christmas 2021 | Review


We absolutely love visiting Hever Castle as a family. Whether it's to cool down in the water maze during the summer, or to search for the first signs of spring, there really is so much to see and do throughout the year there. I think one of my favourite times of year to visit though has to be during the festive period. We were lucky enough to experience Christmas at Hever castle in 2020, however this was during a period where there were lots of restrictions because of the pandemic. So visiting again in 2021 just after Christmas was the most magical experience that I just had to write about.

We decided to arrive later in the day this time (around 3pm) to make sure we got to see everything fully. Hever Castle offer Twilight tickets which are a fantastic idea if you are wanting to visit just to experience the festive additions. These tickets let you enter from 4pm and stay until 8.30pm. We decided to arrive just a little earlier than this as we wanted the littles to be able to enjoy the playgrounds whilst it was still light - they really are a must do if you're visiting with young children!

Once we were done in the playgrounds we headed straight to the main hub (the area next to the Moat Restaurant and Shop) to purchase tokens for the fairground attractions. Tokens cost £2 each and each attraction was 1 token per person. You could buy bundles which helped lower the cost - we paid £18 for 10 tokens, which was enough for our family of 5 to go on both the carousel and the ferris wheel. Also keep in mind that there are height restrictions for the ferris wheel, so worth checking before promising rides to smaller children.

The ferris wheel was great fun and a definite highlight of our visit! The ride was a great length and the views from the top were spectacular - you could see all over the grounds of Hever which looked especially lovely with all of the festive lights. The carousel was in a fantastic location right in-front of the castle and the lights and traditional music made it feel extra magical! This area also had a hook-a-duck stall, as well as doughnut and coffee trucks. We purchased from both and thoroughly enjoyed our treats despite them being on the slightly expensive side (5 doughnuts for £5 for a rough price estimate).

Next stop was the children's trail - this year based on the classic tale of Pinocchio. We loved the Peter Pan trail last year but this one was definitely better! There were lots of models and decorations that told the story, as well as the addition of story boards which really helped the children to understand what was going on (they haven't seen the film!). We even spotted characters from the story whilst walking around the grounds too which was such a lovely touch.

The last stop of our evening visit to Hever Castle was the festive light trail. Even longer than previous years, the trail takes you all around the gardens and grounds where you can see beautiful light displays, fountains in the lake and even a glittering disco ball or two. It really is beautiful to walk around once the sun has gone down - but do remember to bring a torch (or phone with one built in) just in case, as some of the lights had gone out due to technical difficulties during our visit, so some areas were pitch black!

Of course you can also visit the beautiful Hever Castle itself during your visit (you need to purchase a castle and gardens ticket for this). The Castle is traditionally decorated for Christmas and I can only imagine how beautiful it looked! And if you are lucky enough to get tickets, you can also see Father Christmas in his Grotto if you visit before Christmas too - something we are really hoping to do in the future!

Visiting Hever Castle during the week between Christmas and New Year really was the perfect way to 'blow away the cobwebs' but still sneak in that last bit of festive cheer. And I know it would be even more magical in the lead-up to Christmas too. Either way, if you're looking for a fun and festive day out during December I would 100% recommend a visit to Hever. I can imagine it will be even better in 2022!

We received our entry tickets in exchange for our review and coverage. All opinions are honest and my own.

3 Ways to Make Money During Home Renovations


Statistics show that 47% of Brits have already embarked on home renovations since they became homeowners. Whether the purpose was to create additional space or improve appeal for a resale, home renovations always come with a great deal of waste. Fortunately, there are certain measures to take care of the amount of waste that you may create. So if you’re already renovating (or are about to) hopefully this post will help you during this process - and even make you money too!

Sell or Re-Home Old Fixtures and Appliances

Sometimes when people renovate, they take out old appliances to install new ones with more modern features. If they are not functioning, throwing them away is the straightforward move to make. You might need a skip hire service to deal with the pile of old fixtures and appliances you no longer need. But throwing items away doesn't have to be the first step! You can always try and sell to someone who could use the parts or even fix the broken parts.

And if they are still in working order, you will likely find several homes in the community that may be in dire need of the items you don’t need. For example, old sinks (in good condition), light fixtures, and kitchen appliances can be useful in a home finding these things expensive to purchase. Those items can be quite costly as brand-new items, so not only will you make some money this way, but you'll be helping someone out too. 

Find Alternative Uses for Packing Materials

Cardboard boxes and pallets are just a couple of examples of packing materials you will find in a home under renovation. Instead of tossing them away, you can still reuse them as recycled or up-cycled items! Old pallets can be up-cycled with a splash of colour and used as a tool-hanging surface in the garden shed. Old cardboard boxes can be repurposed into planters (make sure to line them with thin plastic material to prevent moisture from destroying the base first). These are also great examples of items you can pass or sell on to others once you are done with them too. There's always someone out there moving!

Salvage Flooring

There is a good reason salvaged or reclaimed wood receives good public reviews. Apart from being cost-efficient, they are useful, convenient, and easy to access only if you know where to look. So if you’re renovating and need your wooden flooring replaced, try to put them to better use. Old flooring (whether wood, tiles or lino) can all be sold on to a new buyer so make sure to take them up gently to keep them in the best condition. You could even save yourself money by buying your 'new' flooring second hand!

Home renovations generate a lot of waste, but you will discover that you can repurpose many things upon careful observation. So before tossing anything away, it always makes sense to think about it's next step. Home renos are expensive, so don't go wasting money when you don't need to!

This is a collaborative post.