Friday, 2 December 2016

Shopping ǀ Surviving the Festive Season

A couple of years ago we made the switch to online shopping, especially around birthday season in May and Christmas.  When you are ordering en masse it just makes sense for things to be as convenient as possible and yet, as a lover of all things festive, I missed that sense of wandering around a shopping centre or city centre, soaking up the atmosphere and physically selecting gifts for family and friends.

It is possibly this which drove me to Liverpool City Centre last weekend, to brave the crowds and begin my Christmas shopping for the year.  I know, some of you may sit back smugly and know that you have already bought, and wrapped, your presents but I'm just not wired that way!

Liverpool is just about the best place to go if you are based in the North and want a whole day out experience.  There is Liverpool ONE, Albert Dock, the Ice Rink...there are also tons of restaurants in Liverpool which make the perfect place to have a pit stop after you've spent a few hours shopping.

Of course, begin so close to Christmas, it was absolutely rammed and it got me thinking about my top tips for shopping (and surviving) during the festive season:-

Have A Plan
The absolute worst thing you can do is turn up without a clear plan of where you'd like to look.  This doesn't mean knowing what presents you want to buy but it does mean knowing which part of the city you want to head to.  For example, Liverpool ONE is home to more upmarket stores such as Zara, Michael Kors and Harvey Nichols whereas the High Street (Church Street) is where you will find your large department stores and brands such as as Primark and H&M.

Have A List
Not necessarily a list of the things you want to buy but it will definitely help to have a list of the people you need to buy presents for.  That way you won't get home and realise you bought something for every except Auntie May and have to head back out again or online.

Save the Big Items Till Last
If you know there is something large you need to buy then leave it until the last minute to avoid having to carry a bulky item around.  The city will be busy enough and navigating the crowds is never an easy task but you certainly don't want to be doing it with a giant bag in tow.  If you're worried that something might sell out then maybe head for that first and take a quick walk back to the car instead.

Make the Most Of It
There is so much going on in Liverpool over Christmas that it makes sense to make a whole day out of your visit, especially if you aren't local.  Get your shopping out of the way early on in the day and then you can pop your bags in your car and head on down to the Christmas pop-up market stalls (and enjoy some mulled wine), visit St George's Hall and the Dreamworks Lantern experience, or check out the Ice Festival down on the Pier Head complete with Ice Skating rink or enjoy a meal at one of the many fine restaurants the city has to offer instead.

What are your top tips for surviving Christmas shopping?  Or your favourite things to do in Liverpool; let me know!

This is a collaborative post.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

SkyPark Secure Airport Parking ǀ Review

The internet is a wonderful thing; it's so easy to find information at the click of a button or the swipe of a finger these days and pretty straightforward most of the time.  But, like anything, it does have its downsides and it is this which partly saw me staring blankly at my computer screen back in October trying to decide which of the many airport parking services we were going to use.

There was such a mixed set of reviews for each service on offer.  Some people raved about one and I would make up my mind and then, there, nestled in amongst the 5 star reviews would be one or two complaining that their car had been scratched or they'd had to wait for hours after arriving back home for their car to turn up...

Couple that with the fact that we had an extremely early start for our trip to Malaga and I was drawing a total blank on which airport parking service would be the best and I was pretty tired of hunting through all the various websites to find them.

Imagine my delight, when I was contacted by a member of staff from SkyPark Secure and offered the chance to roadtest their website in exchange for some airport parking?  It was so straightforward and simple.

SkyPark Secure is basically a comparison website; you enter the airport you are leaving from (they cover 28 of the UK's airports), your travel times and dates and they compare the different options available to you.

All your options are then displayed on the following screen, along with the cost, what is included in the price, and reviews of the service as well.  This part was still my nemesis but at least I could look at all the information on one page and determine which would be the best one for us.

Due to the fact that our flight was so horribly early in the morning we decided to book the terminal Meet & Greet through SkyPark.  We immediately had all our confirmation details emailed through and the whole process couldn't have been more straightforward.  

On the day we pulled up at the barrier, gave our names and were directed to a parking bay.  We just left our car and were practically on the doorstep of the terminal which was perfect as the kids were more than a little bit grumpy with it being 4am!  So was I, come to think of it.

I was a little nervous as we were arriving back at a different terminal and although we had made this clear on our booking, I was dubious about whether our car would be there or whether we'd have to stand around and wait; again, not what you want after a long flight journey home.  But like the outgoing journey, we got to the Meet & Greet which was right outside the terminal, and there was our car, waiting for us.

The Manchester Airport Meet & Greet was priced at around £80 which was a little more expensive than some of the other options but for sheer convenience I couldn't fault it.  There was no waiting around for a shuttle bus to take us to and from the airport, so no real faffing around with suitcases and the kids, we just dropped our keys off at reception and walked across into the terminal.  If you are travelling with a lot of luggage or young children then I would almost certainly recommend paying the extra for the Meet & Greet service.

The entire process from start to finish could not have been easier and I would almost certainly head to SkyPark Secure the next time we need to book airport parking and I'm really pleased they got in touch with me to offer their assistance; it saved me a whole heap of stress!  They also offer other comparison services including airport hotels with parking, airport lounges and car hire too.

We were offered parking through SkyPark Secure in exchange for an honest review of their service.  All thoughts and opinions are our own.