By chance yesterday I noticed a pretty special hashtag going a little crazy across social media which made the butterflies flutter gaily in my tummy and the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end.

An excitement that hasn’t surfaced since last year – and I didn’t even take part then! Mark Warner holidays – yep, no additional intro needed – have launched their annual search for Brand Ambassadors and there are five places up for grabs. Well, a one in 5 chance is pretty big, huh?

Last year – and the year before! – I was too shy to enter. Yep, me who bolds it out with the best of them and can hold her own anywhere from the boardroom to the playground at school pick up, I was not confident enough to submit the vlog I had lovingly crafted together or the blog post I had painstakingly written. I told myself I wasn’t ‘big’ enough, good enough or talented enough.

I watched with glee as some of my lovely blogger friends entered, show flair and creativity I can only wish for and then when the winners were announced, did a little happy dance for those lucky lovelies who were not only off on their holibags, but are now part of the Mark Warner Family. Maybe it’s because I am an only child and but I really wanna be part of that family!

This year, when I saw the #, I decided it’s now or never. Time to do what Mark Warner holidays embodies – time to rise up, take the challenge and allow my soul to soar. It is time to find my moment.

I don’t feel like I’m special enough to win in many ways – an average mum who loves to write and who does her best at this mothering lark, day in , day out. I do struggle with the juggle, working full time as a blogger/vlogger and ferrying the kids around – but who doesn’t? There are much harder ways to earn a buck so I’m eternally grateful for this wonderful childcare-friendly career I have forged for myself. And now I have a stab at watching my boys eyes light up and give my kids what they value most – TIME.

#markwarnermum holiday pics

Holidays are the only time of the year when, as a family, we completely shut off from the pressures and responsibilities life serves up on a daily basis. They see us through the year. The boys get their daddy, who works away from home week in, week out, totally to themselves 24/7 – a treat we cannot put a price on. We laugh, we play, we behave in the silliest ways possible and we love. Just lots and lots of love. No distractions, no compromises.

Our entire family life has been punctuated by those little milestones which fill our hearts with joy and prompt picture opportunities we can look back on for not only our lifetime but that of our children’s children.

#markwarnermum holiday pics

I found out I was pregnant with Dominic whilst on holiday in Egypt, Harry lost his first tooth in Spain, D was potty trained in Cyprus, and H learned to swim like a fish in Turkey. Fast forward to his 9th birthday when he got to sit in the cockpit of our holiday plane!

#markwarnermum holiday pics

One of Harry’s earliest memories is of being kissed on the cheek by a baby elephant in Thailand and Florida brought a newly verbal Dominic an American accent – not bad for a 2 week stay – but that’s another story from our little comic!

Our holiday history reads well and for us grown ups every memory sits alongside the blood, sweat sacrifice and tears incorporated into affording these trips.

We have also championed staycations and have visited most parts of the UK with glee and excitement but now we need some sun on our backs.

 

 

Every photo in this post and in the past has been taken with my humble old Iphone, but finally I have splurged on a swanky new Olympus camera which has become my third child as I adore it and the pictures I can capture now astound me – I cannot wait to visit some sunnier climes and nail the perfect holiday snaps. Although I did almost pee my pants when I took this (what I think is perfect) picture with my phone – to me it is holiday beauty summed up in one picture!

 

My boys are the best of friends, and their greatest love of all – apart from their mummy of course! – is swimming. This is the first year Dominic will be a strong enough swimmer to make use of the water slides etc with Harry – and boy they can’t wait! Total water babies. It is all they have talked about even though there’s no holiday on the horizon this year yet – maybe Mark Warner will change all that! And since they’ve started their own You Tube channel, they are itching to get some sun-soaked footage!

Mind you, my hubby is partial to making a bit of a splash himself!

Something we’ve never really used on holiday are kids clubs. Badly run and patchy in quality, we haven’t been confident enough to endorse them but having heard amazing things about the Mark Warner kids clubs, we are hoping that will all change and we can actually enjoy some time together in the sun for once whilst the kids have a blast. Here’s hoping, and I will report back if so because I know so many of you want to know about that aspect too.

I used to be the world’s worst at packing – chucking everything in but the kitchen sink so we didn’t find ourselves in need of anything away from home. As the years have ebbed away, it has become evident what little material things we actually need, other than functional clothes as our experiences have been so rich in quality, without any of the unnecessary baggage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve honed it down to a fine art for us, and I would like to share my top 10 travel essentials with you now. We are finally at the stage (and so utterly delighted and relieved!) to have no further need for nappies, sterilising equipment and all that jazz, but gosh, every time I pack I check myself for those and then happily give myself a break as my boys are slightly older now at five and ten.

It’s still a mission though – and here’s what we genuinely cannot holiday without! Let’s have a closer look at what’s on that list…….

So, Mark Warner, thank you for giving us all a 1 in 5 chance to be part of your extended family. I’ve stripped it back, kept it real, given you everything I’ve got and shared with you a little slice of our hearts. Well, thats what family is all about, is it not? I’m packed, I’m ready, I’m hopeful…..

A #wanderlust Pin if I ever did see one… enjoy!