Reviews and Best Buys: summer holidays

Reviews and Best Buys: summer holidays

Reviews by Alice Ellerby, Jess HazelEmma Hypher, Sophie May and Sharon Whiting 



I researched lots of sustainable swimwear brands before I settled on Batoko. I liked its ethos – using only recycled plastic waste intercepted before landfill, with collections kept intentionally small. The swimsuits are produced in small batches, helping avoid overproduction and encouraging customers to make slow and considered purchases. I wanted a swimsuit that would last me a long time, and I am really pleased so far (still going strong after six months of regular use). I wear it mainly for sea swimming, and always rinse it out afterwards with fresh water as recommended; Batoko suggests washing swimsuits as little as possible. It’s also worth mentioning that the brand sells ‘imperfect’ swimsuits at a reduced price. That’s how I bought mine, and I am yet to find an imperfection! I like this approach – nothing is wasted. The fit is super comfy and secure – they are fully lined, which really helps. The distinctive bright designs range from sea-inspired (seals, orcas, crabs, sharks) to hares, flowers and birds. I can always spot another Batoko wearer at a distance! JH



Little Bug Bingo Mini Game

This is a great compact travel game for young children. Unlike other bingo games we have, there are only nine squares on the bingo grids, which means games are short and snappy and hold the interest of all players. The bugs and minibeasts theme is really engaging. My children, like many, are fascinated by insects. As well as some familiar favourites – spiders and bees – there are more unfamiliar ones too, like water boatmen and grasshoppers, which sparked their curiosity about the different species. The game is recommended for children aged 3–6. My two are at either end of the range, and they really enjoyed playing it together. With boards and counters made of thick, quality card, the game can be played again and again and will last for years. AE


Tea Tree Balm

This multi-purpose balm from Balmonds is great for soothing insect bites and itchy, sore or dry skin. It’s very rich and a little goes a long way. It’s made with tea tree, safflower, olive oil and beeswax – all natural ingredients, some of which are organic. I also use it as a lip balm (it’s great for dry, cracked lips), to soothe shaving rash and scratches, and in place of cuticle oil. As it’s a balm, it leaves a protective barrier, which keeps the skin around my nails moisturised for longer. It comes in a recyclable pocket-sized tin, which is small enough to keep handy. A very versatile product! SM

£4.65 for 15ml

Dog-friendly Hot Tub Lodge

We had the most fun-packed weekend at Cofton Holidays in Devon. It is brilliantly set up for families and there is just so much to do! We really enjoyed the indoor pool, which is open and bright, with water jets that thrilled my 5-year-old, and bubbling hydrotherapy seats that my 2-year-old loved splashing around in. There’s an outdoor pool too, and new for this year is an amazing splash zone with fountain trees and tipping buckets. The site is beautifully maintained, with countless play areas for children of all ages, including one set in gorgeous woodland, just past the donkey field! We stayed in a spacious dog-friendly hot tub lodge, which was a real treat. Other accommodation is available, or you can camp. There’s a cafe, pub and restaurant on site, with great locally sourced family food, soft play zones, and entertainment. The local area has much to explore – we just found it hard to leave all the fun on site! AE

From £500 for a four-night mid-week break


Doll’s House

This is a gorgeous doll’s house, simply and beautifully designed. Made in two parts, it folds flat to be stored away and slots together to be played with. We took it with us on holiday. It’s perfect because it takes up so little space but opens up a whole world of imagination and joy. My 2-year-old, who loves small world play, was totally absorbed in the story she created around it with her toy animals. Outside the house, the artwork captures the natural world with flowers, butterflies and birds, and inside the house, a colour wheel allows children to engage with different feelings. A really thoughtful toy, made with sustainably sourced plywood and inks with no VOCs. AE


Pouch Bag

We really love our Khushi Kantha pouch bag – it goes everywhere we go! When my twins were little, I used it for their nappies, wipes and other changing bits and bobs. Now they’re older, I use it for their spare clothes and snacks when we go out for the day, or PJs and cuddly toys when we go away for the night. It’s very spacious with a strong zip; there’s plenty of room for two of everything! It’s also light and soft so you can squash it into a bigger bag or squeeze it under the buggy. I love that it has been ethically produced and embroidered by a mother in Bangladesh. Plus it looks great, and came in a gorgeous bag made from a vintage sari offcut. Highly recommended! EH



‘3 for 2’ Triple Pack

This is a cost-effective way to stock up on HayMax for hay fever season! You apply the balms around the nostrils and the bones of the eyes. They work as a barrier, trapping pollen, dust and other allergens before they enter the body. They are 100% natural and can be applied as often as needed. You can choose which three blends you’d like when ordering, and the range includes Aloe Vera, Frankincense, Kids, Lavender, and Pure. The 5ml tubs arrive in a handy reusable metal tin. ‘Kids’ is new to the range, and free of essential oils, making it suitable for use at any age (and it’s fine for children to take to school and self-administer throughout the day). I have ongoing rhinitis, which worsens during hay fever season. These balms have helped reduce my symptoms, particularly the Lavender balm. It smells amazing and opens the airways, which is great when you have a permanently stuffy nose! SM


Cooling Cream

One to pack if you’re going to be out and about this summer, this brilliant multi-purpose cream from Balmonds is both moisturising and cooling. It works well as an after-sun lotion, and to help relieve prickly heat, stinging nettle rashes and hives. The ingredients include aloe vera, to soothe the skin, and menthol crystals, which give the cooling sensation. The cream provides a protective barrier and leaves the skin feeling moisturised but not sticky. As with other Balmonds products, this cream is fragrance-free, cruelty-free and suitable for vegans. JH



I love sunglasses! For me they are a year-round wardrobe essential. It’s not always easy to find a pair that goes with everything (I’m not someone who wants lots of pairs!), which is why my Pala Mzuris are so perfect. The dark pink tortoiseshell frames are versatile and the slightly cat-eye shape gives them a vintage feel. The website has a useful guide to choosing the right shape for your face, and its suggestion was spot on! The glasses are also a great weight, meaning that they stay in place on my face rather than slipping down my nose. As someone who is trying to shop more consciously, I was really drawn to Pala’s B Corp credentials, as well as the projects it works on in Africa. The hand-woven glasses case is a nice touch and the fact that everything was delivered in a cardboard box, with no plastics, really resonated with the way I want to shop. SW



Facial Sunscreen SPF15

Ringana FRESH SPF15 is a lightweight facial sunscreen, which I’ve really enjoyed using. It absorbs well without leaving any white cast, and feels light on the skin, allowing it to breathe. It leaves a soft, matte finish and feels really nourishing. It’s great for warm days when you’re out and about, as part of everyday skincare. This product carries the Positive Reef Initiative badge, which not only means that the product itself has been classed as ocean-friendly, but that a contribution is being made towards the restoration of coral reefs. JH

€31.90 for 50ml


Pro Vitamin D Sunscreen SPF30

I’ve repurchased this New Layer product several times, which is always a good sign! It’s a chemical sunscreen rather than a mineral one, but all ingredients are naturally derived. It is free of any harmful ingredients like octocrylene, oxybenzone, avobenzone or nanoparticles – and, importantly, all ingredients are classed as reef-safe. The formulation of this cream means it’s quickly absorbed and doesn’t deposit a white layer on the skin. It’s non-sticky, and water resistant. It feels great, and I use it daily during summer on my face without any breakouts. It also smells delicious, with a fresh ‘ocean breeze’ scent. A bottle lasts me (on my own) about a year, with regular daily use during summer months and as needed throughout the rest of the year. Recycled packaging and certified climate neutral. JH

€27.95 for 200ml


Sunscreen SPF50

For longer days in the summer sun, a high SPF is an essential. Ringana FRESH SPF50 is a natural, mineral-based sunscreen using zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. I found it easy to apply – it’s not too thick and a little goes a long way, leaving just a minimal white cast which is barely noticeable once absorbed. You can apply more thickly to sensitive areas such as the nose, ears and back of the neck for extra protection. It’s a waterproof formulation, which is great if you’re in and out of the water. As with other Ringana sunscreens, this product also carries the Positive Reef Initiative badge, and does not use artificial preservatives – so keep an eye on the expiry date. All Ringana products are made in small batches with sustainability in mind. JH

€28.20 for 50ml


First published in Issue 84 of JUNO. Accurate at the time this issue went to print.  

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