Tag Archives: summer holidays

Our Summer Bucket List 2016

With the summer holidays just one week away it’s definitely time for me to turn my attention to how I’m going to keep my lively and lovely 5 year old entertained during the summer holidays. We need a summer bucket list!

I say summer, it’s mid-July and we’ve seen precious little sign of the sun, or indeed the ‘not rain’ we tend to associate with the summer months. I am not at all hopeful that the next couple of months will be wall to wall sunshine. I’d like some sun and some warmth at least. I’m not a sun worshipper, but I do like a lazy evening in a warm beer garden. Plus it’s great to see the boy and his friends splashing about in a paddling pool to cool off. 

Summer, where art thou?

After school today I sat down with the boy for a serious chat about our summer holiday plans. He didn’t take it especially seriously and came up with this plan for the summer holidays…

  1. Go swimming
  2. Play
  3. Go to the park
  4. Go to the ice cream van

I put a little more thought into it, based on what we had planned already and what I think we would like to do during our time off together and came up with this…

OUR Summer bucket list:

  1. Go on holiday and find somewhere new to explore
  2. Camp at the Just So Festival
  3. Visit the Lake District and show the boy some of the sights and places I explored as a child
  4. Have a spa day
  5. Put the tent up in the garden and have a camping day
  6. Be by the sea
  7. Explore down by the river with the boy
  8. Have a picnic with some of his friends in the park
  9. Indulge in a spot of beer gardening
  10. Make jam
  11. Go on a bear hunt
  12. Find some happy.

There. It’s as simple or as complicated as that. It’s a loose plan but most of it is achievable. It doesn’t all require sunshine, but it would be nice if it could be arranged. I’ll let you know how we get on.

Summer Bucket List

 

Our Bluestone Wales Holiday – May 2015

In May this year we were lucky enough to go to Bluestone Wales for a break (Monday 11th May – Friday 15th May). We were delighted to be selected as ‘Bluestone Bloggers’ and offered a break to review. We loved our time in Pembrokeshire and were sad to leave, here’s what we thought of Bluestone Wales.

The Journey
We live in South Manchester and drive down to Devon and Cornwall several times a year, we are not strangers to a long journey and this took around 6 hours. It was a bit of a schlep and I’d be unwilling to drive all that way for a night or two, but for a Monday-Friday break it was tolerable. We drove over the Severn Bridge into Wales and I’ve put a clip on YouTube of the crossing. As long as you’re prepared for the journey with activities, drinks and snacks you’ll survive.

Arrival & Check In
Bluestone Wales was pretty easy to find, following the brown road signs we got there without getting horribly lost. We drove up the long driveway and up to the welcome gate, there was no queue (it was around 6pm) and we were given our lodge keys and welcome information pack and we drove straight to our lodge, unpacked the car and took the car back to the car park. We found check in really quick, simple and efficient. Though I think there might be queues if you arrived at peak time.

Accommodation
We were allocated a ‘Ramsey Lodge’ which sleeps four people and has two en suite bathrooms. The bedrooms and bathrooms are downstairs and the living areas are upstairs, which makes the most of the stunning views at Bluestone. The living area had a well equipped kitchen, dining area and lounge area, all open plan, all modern and stylishly designed.

Bluestone

We didn’t spend that much time hanging out at the lodge though, I think I cooked two meals there and everything I needed was available in the kitchen and pretty straightforward to use. We were supplied with a few essentials to help with the washing up. Everything was clean, modern and much nicer than home, sad to say.

Downstairs in the bedrooms, the small boy was delighted to have his very own bathroom which was a wet room. His bedroom had two single beds in it which were very comfortable and with really lovely bedding which felt quite luxurious. In the master bedroom there was a comfy double bed, again with the same luxurious feeling bedding and lovely furniture, this room had patio doors which you could open if you wanted, we didn’t because it wasn’t that warm, but it was a nice touch.

bluestone

The en suite had a shower over the bath which I didn’t use. The small boy did as he prefers baths, but we enjoyed the wet room, it was nice to have a choice and with my disability it was easier for me to shower in the wet room. The floor does get slippy, so do take care.

The accommodation got a really big thumbs up from us, it was by far one of the best places we’ve stayed. The lodge was far superior to other lodges we’ve stayed in. It was clean and well maintained with everything we needed, apart from a hair dryer, though these are available to hire, but we took our own.

Village & Restaurants
Having stayed in similar lodge based holiday villages, we were pleasantly surprised with the layout of the village. We were used to large noisy bio-dome type places; but the Bluestone village was set out like an actual Welsh village, with narrow rambling lanes, shops in traditional looking buildings, with a smattering of places where you could eat and drink.

Bluestone

Over the stay we tried a few different places, our favourite was the Knights Tafarn which was a child-friendly pub. The food was hearty and they had a good selection of drinks, as well as colouring activities for the kids. You could sit outside if you wanted, it’s a good spot to sit with a pint while the kids play havoc in the huge playground next door.

One night we went to the Farmhouse Grill. We were expecting quite lovely things, the specials board outside listed some great sounding dishes made with local produce, so we booked a table and got a bit dressed up. We were pretty disappointed with the meal, we ordered the kids macaroni cheese which arrived looking good, but when we dug into it there was a thick black solid layer of cheese underneath the top layer, indicating that it was re-heated, which you do kind of expect, but serving a child a thick layer of burnt cheese is disappointing. My meal was ok with the sweet potato fries a highlight, but hubs ordered the fillet of sea bass off the specials menu. He loves eating sea bass fillets and has them all the time, however this was riddled with bones and clearly hadn’t been checked at all before cooking, after three mouthfuls and 8 or more bones he gave up. We complained to the waitress who said it was meant to be full of bones (it wasn’t), so we complained to the manager who didn’t charge us for the sea bass or the kids meal. We left feeling disappointed but I think the manager handled it well, which is all you can ask when mistakes are made.

Getting Around
Bluestone is set in a small valley with a lake at the bottom of it. We were very lucky that we were less than 5 minutes walk from the village centre, which meant that the playground, spa, shops and pubs were all within easy reach. Lots of people hired golf buggies to get about in and we did enquire but they were all booked up. I was easily managing about 8k a day and because I’m not great on my feet I was starting to struggle after day 2. The small boy was finding all the walking we did quite hard work too, if we went again we would pre-book a buggy for the duration of the break, but it wasn’t terrible without it. There was a free bus which ran through the village and up to the car park, activity centre and Blue Lagoon. The bus was a godsend and the driver was really lovely.

Building Work
At Bluestone they are busy building some new lodges which they are planning to open this summer. Our lodge backed on to the fenced off building site, which in some ways was brilliant for our digger loving son, especially as there was a viewing platform nearby where you could watch the diggers at work. We were given a call before we went to warn us that building work was taking place so we were prepared for it. I suspect if we had been unhappy we could probably have been moved, but we were fine with it, especially as for most of the time during the day when they were working we were out anyway. I made a little vlog (be gentle, I’m not a natural vlogger) about the building noise at Bluestone Wales.

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a fabulous addition to Bluestone, it is open to the general public, but if you go before 11am it is open exclusively for Bluestone holidaymakers. It’s free to use, you just have to flash your lodge key and they issue you with a pass for your stay. It’s a brilliant pool with a wave machine and two water flumes, as well as an outdoor jacuzzi and a lazy river that meanders outside, plus a wet play area for little ones, there’s plenty to enjoy and it’s well worth a visit. The changing areas are good and there is a cafe by the pool where you can grab a drink or a snack. We went every day!

Bluestone

The Activity Centre
The Activity Centre is located at the top of the village. I took the small boy there for a morning and we enjoyed the huge soft play centre, which was free to go in. Later he joined the ‘Bluestone Buccaneers’ where he and his fellow pirates got to dress up and go on a pirate adventure, exploring Bluestone looking for buried treasure. He really, really, really loved being a Bluestone Buccaneer. The activity centre has a good range of activities for children and adults alike, I would have liked to have tried a few more out but there just wasn’t enough time.

The Well Spa
Both hubs and I managed to separately grab some time in the spa, located in the village centre it was minutes from our lodge. I have devoted an entire blog post to the spa, so you can read more about my experience and thoughts about it here. But yes, in short, I’d move in if they’d let me!

Well Spa

Things To Do in Pembrokeshire
The area around Bluestone is absolutely stunningly beautiful, with seriously breathtaking beaches and lots of family activities you can get involved in. Again, I’ve written a separate blog post about what we did while we were in Pembrokeshire which you can read here, but highlights were the stunning beaches of Tenby and Saundersfoot and a rainy day visit to Dylan Thomas Boathouse.

Overall Thoughts
Bluestone was hands down the best holiday of that kind we’ve ever been on, and we’ve been on a large number of them. The accommodation, pool, spa and activities were spot on, the village was well designed and the shop was well stocked and the playground was by all accounts lots of fun. The problem with the meal was handled well and the on-site customer service team were lovely and very helpful.

What we commented on was that although judging by the full car park the site was obviously very busy, with most of their 300 lodges in occupation, it all felt quite quiet and peaceful which is exactly what you want in a holiday. Overall there were no real negatives about Bluestone, nothing we couldn’t live with and nothing which left us with a bad impression. We’re saving up for a return visit as soon as we can. We have very much fallen for the white sands of Saundersfoot and the calm clean air of Bluestone Wales.

Note: We were invited guests of Bluestone Wales and were not asked to pay for our accommodation. All food, activities and travel expenses were covered by us. All images and opinions are our own.

Our Top Five Most Fun Summer Things

It has not by any stretch of the imagination been a boring summer, ok the sun could’ve shone just a little bit more, but we definitely made the most of it. We had days out to exciting places, met new people and tried new things. We had days in and did painting, crafts, splashing in the paddling pool. But mostly we had a really good time. Looking back over the summer here are our top five most fun things we did…

1. Coombe Mill – we snuck in a visit to meet the Coombe Mill gang, and take a tour of their farm while we were on holiday in Cornwall. It’s such a beautiful place and 100% geared towards families. The small boy loved it and still talks about his visit. We met and helped feed all their animals, collected eggs, tracked down a newborn deer, we played pooh-sticks on the river which runs through the farm and best of all, we visited their miniature railway. A grand day out and we can’t wait to have a proper holiday there soon.

Coombe Mill

2. CBeebies Land at Alton Towers – this falls squarely into the “we didn’t think we’d like it as much as we did” category. Neither of us adults like roller coasters, so we visited with very mixed feelings. By the end of the day we were completely won over and the small boy had the time of his little life. His highlights include meeting Postman Pat, the Charlie and Lola House and the In The Night Garden boat ride. A brilliant day out and the queues weren’t as dreadful as we imagined. We’ll be back!

Things to do summer

3. Blackpool – Being a northern girl I have fond memories of trips to Blackpool as a child, one sunny day we decided to hop in the car and head off to see a show on the pier, take in the sights and have a stroll on the beach. Blackpool has changed a lot since I was a girl, but the small boy loved the razzmatazz of it all and couldn’t get over the fact there were actual, real donkeys on the beach. We’re going to try and take him to see the illuminations this year, I think he’ll be wowed by them.

4. Just So Festival – We managed to bag ourselves a day ticket to the festival and we were suitably wowed. The Just So Festival which is held in the Rode Hall Estate in Cheshire was a magical, mysterious, marvellous experience. It’s a family festival which is packed full of amazing things, from pirate boats and buried treasure, forest adventures and crafty fun, drumming and dancing to theatre productions and circus training. All the festival goers dress in “tribes”, so be an owl, fox, stag, fish, frog or a lion, be yourself if you want. This was most definitely the highlight of my summer. I came home with flowers in my hair, looking more relaxed and happy than I’ve done in a long time. Oh, and the boys had fun too, as much fun, if not more than me! We’re already booking our ticket for next year!

Just So Festival 2014

5. Picnic in Delamere Forest – at the start of the summer we hopped on a train and the boy and I went to Delamere Forest. It was our first solo trip since my operations and I was nervous, but everything was fine, better than fine, we had a great day. He loved the train ride and was as good as gold. We got to the forest and found all our friends there, so we set to work making sandwiches for our picnic with the help of Roberts Bakery, while the children ran around and tumbled on the grass, later being entertained by a storyteller. Delamere Forest is a fabulous place to explore, I’ve heard they’ve got a Gruffalo trail, so we’ll be heading back their soon, you never know who we’ll meet in the deep, dark woods!

Roberts Bakery

Of course wherever we go, whatever adventures we’re having, we always take a picnic, you can find some of our favourite picnic sandwich recipes here and here. And if you’re looking for something to keep boredom at bay and for summer things to do, then Roberts Bakery have some great ideas in their 50 Days of Summer Activity Pack which you can download for free from their website.

Note: This is not a paid for post, I have not been financially compensated in any way.

42 Days of Summer – frugal summer fun

It’s been a busy old summer for us, it’s our last before the small boy slips on a school uniform and goes to the nursery at big school, so we’ve been busy making the most of our time together. We don’t have a lot of money to lavish on grand days out, so our fun is usually fairly frugal, with the odd treat thrown in for good measure.

When it’s hot, there is nothing more enjoyable than an afternoon playing in the paddling pool with some friends, it’s important for Mums to keep cool with a jug of Pimms too. Playdates are a great opportunity for the kids to burn off some energy while the parents have a catch up and a sit down.

42 days of summer

Picnics in the park are a brilliant thing to do, we live close to lots of great parks as well as National Trust properties. We often just throw together a pile of sandwiches, pick up a ball and his scooter and go and spend an hour picnicking and relaxing in the park.

Dunham Massey

One thing we like to do on rainy or dull days, is a spot of baking or creating in the kitchen.  The small boy loves baking cakes and helping Mummy make lunch. His latest fun thing to do is making milkshakes in the blender. He likes helping to tip the ingredients in and whizz them up. But I think he enjoys sampling his creations as much as he does making them.

Malteaser milkshake

When the clouds gather and it’s wet and miserable we like to curl up with a good book. As a family we’re quite big on reading, a book can transport you anywhere in the world, or beyond. His favourite book at the moment is Dear Zoo.

summer

There’s lots to do locally if we want a day out somewhere. Again to cut down costs we’ll take a picnic, but so far this summer we’ve been to Blackpool to see a show and go on the beach, CBeebies Land at Alton Towers, Brookside Miniature Railway as well as to the Foodies Festival and to various National Trust properties. We’ve used vouchers and membership cards where we could to help cut down on costs.

photo 3 (8)

Having fun can be hard work, so a quick juice and a biscuit break is essential. We like McVitie’s BN biscuits, they’ve got a cheeky smiley face which appeals to kids, the biscuits themselves are not too sweet, but they come in raspberry jam, chocolate and vanilla flavours. The boys loved the jammy raspberry ones and I like the chocolate. They’re a nice treat if you’re out and about, or if you’re just having a fun day at home.

summer

Hopefully we’ll be able to squeeze a few more days of sunshine and frugal fun out of this summer. We’ve got lots more adventures on the agenda before we have to pack his book bag ready for school in September and enter a new phase of childhood.

This post is an entry for 42 Days of Summer Linky Challenge sponsored by McVitie’s BN. Learn more by visiting their website