Category Archives: Travel

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

AD – Press Trip. Regular readers will know that I love a good glamp. I grew up holidaying under canvas, but times have changed and I like sleeping in a proper bed and not living in fear of the tent collapsing in the night (which seemed to happen with alarming regularity when I was a child). Over the weekend the boys and I headed an hour from home, to the comfort of Stanley Villa Farm Camping, just outside Blackpool.

Stanley Villa Farm Camping is a really sweet site. Located next to its own fishing lake, there are 24 pods on site. The pods are nicely spaced apart and are dotted around the edge of a field. Naturally all the children on site meet in the middle and all play together, which was brilliant for my only child. It never takes him long to make friends and before we’d unpacked the car he was running around with his new chums.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

We were met by Alex, the owner who showed us to our pod and made sure we had everything we needed. The pod itself contains two comfortable single beds. We brought our own air bed and if you move the beds there’s room for a double airbed. Plenty of room for two adults and two children. Each pod has its own outdoor fire pit and you can buy in optional extras, like camping chairs, or a firewood package, or fairy lights. They’ve thought of everything.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

On site there’s a games room overlooking the lake. It’s a wooden lodge which had a comfortable room to hang out and play games in. There’s also a kitchen area where you can make hot drinks and light snacks, tea and coffee are provided free of charge, which is nice. There are also several bathrooms with showers; they’re warm and clean and a welcome change from some of the campsite facilities I’ve been familiar with over the years.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

The fishing lake is a lovely thing to be near. The lake is well stocked with trout and we enjoyed evening strolls around it. There was lots of wildlife to be seen if you’re looking in the right places. We spotted swans and their cygnets, geese, ducks, moorhens and even a hedgehog. I went for a walk at dusk and I’m pretty sure I saw a couple of bats too!

The pod is basic, but it doesn’t feel like you are roughing it. You do need to take your own bedding and towels, and the other things you might need, like camping chairs. We took a cool box and couple of disposable BBQs and cooked sausages for our tea. The pods are light and bright, with big windows at the back. There are blinds too, so you can shut out the light. The fresh air and exercise meant we all slept like a dream.

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

We’ve glamped in lots of different places, this was our first pod and I was worried that it would be chilly at night. I had nothing to worry about; it was so cosy that I slept on top of my covers (even though there was wind and rain outside).

Besides the games room there’s lots for kids to do; there’s a Mini Play-Pod with an assortment of toys including footballs, swing balls; badminton rackets and a host of board games in the main lodge for when the weather isn’t so nice.

In terms of location, it’s 15 minutes drive from Blackpool and nestled in a really good spot for exploring Lancashire. While we were there we drove to Lytham St Annes for a look around the shops. It’s full of really good old fashioned shops, which I loved. We also drove over to the Forest of Bowland for a walk and lunch at the Inn at Whitewell; a real treat!

Glamping at Stanley Villa Farm Camping, Lancashire

It costs from £49 to hire a pod for a night and it’s a really chilled out place to stay. We thought it would be ideal if you’re visiting the bright lights of Blackpool but don’t fancy staying in a hotel or B&B. For us it was just a great spot to chill out. We didn’t have grand plans to go to the Pleasure Beach or stroll along the prom; just getting away from home for a couple of nights and switching off from everything at home did us the power of good.

We would absolutely stay at Stanley Villa Farm Camping again. Small but perfectly formed, with all the comforts of home and with the cosiest of cosy pods. The location was great and we had a very warm welcome and a great stay.

To find out more about Stanley Villa Farm Camping, visit their website.

stanley villa

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Stanley Villa Farm Camping, all images and opinions are our own.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

AD/Press Trip. Last year we well and truly discovered the joy of glamping. We trotted off to the Lake District for a weekend in a Yurt and we fell hard for the homely charms which glamping offered. Keen to have another lovely few days under canvas, over half term we stayed at Camp Katur in North Yorkshire for a couple of days.

Camp Katur is located on the Camp Hill Estate in Bedale, North Yorkshire. It’s home to Camp Hill House, an 18th century mansion house with a large estate. Nestled in a field tucked away in woodland is Camp Katur Glamping Village. Within the village there are a number of different glamping options; you can stay in bell tents, hobbit pods, a geodome, teepees, safari tents, amongst other options. We stayed in one of the larger safari tents which had its own private bathroom, which was nice.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Arriving at Camp Katur early afternoon, we checked in and walked through the woods and across a lovely meadowy field to our home for the next two nights. We were staying in Afia, a tent which came with a comfy sofa, a woodburner, gas stove, running water and beds for up to 8 people. There was also a private bathroom in a shed, a roomy veranda, a brick BBQ and peace. So much peace.

I really loved having our own en suite shed. It had a cute tin bucket sink, a proper toilet and a shower. It was clean and it was ours. I don’t mind shared facilities, but having your own really feels like a bit of luxury in the woods.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

There is no electricity; so the heating is from your woodburner and your lights are from torches, candles and little strings of battery powered fairy lights which are dotted around the place. There were plenty of candles supplied and once you’d lit all the lanterns it was really cosy.

The safari tent really was a little spot of luxury in the woods. There were three bedrooms, a kitchen area, dining table and chairs and a huge leather sofa. Lots of outdoor seating, and of course the en suite shed. It was everything you could want. Perfect for a big family or a group of friends. We loved it.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Although there are a number of tents and pods dotted around the place, there is plenty of room between them and honestly we didn’t hear a peep from anyone else the whole time we were there. There were other families there and most of the kids congregated in the long grass in the middle of the field, playing games and chasing each other, which was great for our boy who quickly made friends and disappeared for hours, only returning for juice and snacks.

The glamping village itself is well thought out. There’s a small shed shop with limited opening hours; though soon after we arrived one of the lovely wardens came over to check everything was ok and to ask if we needed anything from the shop –  we did, we got a couple of disposable barbecues.

Camp Katur also has a BBQ Grill Cabin you can hire and an Eco Spa which I walked past lustfully several times. Next time we visit, I am totally booking that out for a few hours. In the Eco Spa there’s a sauna, a hot tub, a little zen garden and some chairs to recline on. Elsewhere there’s a huge adventure playground for kids, a swing park and you can book yourself on quad biking sessions, a high ropes course, segway rides and footgolf. There’s so much going on, but it’s so peaceful you’d never know unless your sought it out.

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Our nights in the safari tent was really cosy. As the sun set we would move inside, light the woodburner, snuggle under blankets and read to each other by candlelight. The beds inside the tent were real beds, with proper memory-foam mattresses. We filled hot water bottles and snuggled down to sleep, and sleep we did. We occasionally heard the screech of an owl in the woods; but they were two of the best nights sleep I’d had in a long while.

Whilst there’s lots to do on site, we had plans to explore the area a bit. There are lots of local attractions and thing to do, but we fancied a walk and some scenery, so we visited Aysgarth Falls, about an hours drive away. It was well worth the drive, we took a picnic and had a good walk. We stopped in Bedale on the way home to buy some provisions for the night. Bedale is a really lovely market town which a great butchers, bakers, a couple of small supermarkets and a really good chip shop.

There’s plenty of civilisation nearby; but camped out on the edge of the woods, looking out over a meadowy field, you could well be in the middle of nowhere. Camp Katur is a magical site. There’s plenty to do, buckets of peace and quiet and the time and the space to rest and wind down for a few days. Wind down we did. We read books; walked, talked, breathed in the fresh air; we played cards, reconnected and fell back in love with our family again. Simplicity does that.

Find out more about Camp Katur by clicking here. For more information about glamping in the UK, visit the Campsites.co.uk website.

 

Glamping at Camp Katur, North Yorkshire

Disclosure: We were invited guests of Camp Katur, all images an opinions are our own. Camp Katur hosted our stay and Campsites.co.uk only helped to arrange the visit.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

AD/Complimentary stay. The Park Royal Hotel in Cheshire is a 4 star hotel and spa. It’s set in 2.5 acres of grounds at the edge of Stretton village, a short drive away from a whole host of family attractions. Over the Easter holidays we took the chance to have a night away as a family, to chill out and have a bit of fun together.

We had just returned from a self catering break; but as the person responsible for most of the catering, packing and organising, by the time we got back I needed a little break to get over the first one. The answer was a night at The Park Royal Hotel. Hotel stays are almost always a massive treat; having someone else cook dinner, do the washing up, make the beds and lay on a really good breakfast in the morning is just blissful.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We arrived mid-afternoon and as we checked, in the boy was given a treasure trail sheet to do while we were there. There are clues hidden throughout the hotel, find them all and you get a prize. It’s a small but brilliant thing and my son loved exploring.

We spotted two of the clues on our way to our family room –  a lovely comfortable room with everything we needed and really comfortable beds. The room had free WiFi, tea and coffee making facilities, cable TV and 24-hour room service.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a quick coffee in the room, but didn’t stay long as the pool has family swim times and we were all very keen to dive in. The Park Royal Hotel has a modern health club and spa with a high-tech gym. There is a 22-metre indoor swimming pool, with a sauna, steam room and hot tub. They also have a number of spa and beauty treatments available to book. 

My son was desperate to get in the pool and show off his swimming skills. There are family swim times every day, which is great if you’re staying with kids; or if you’re not and you want to avoid children you know when not to go for a swim.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

The pool is great. It’s big and there’s plenty of room for everyone. My husband and I both wanted to spend some quality time using the sauna and steam room, so we took it in turns to swim with the boy. We both loved the herbal steam room which was incredibly relaxing. We all had a brilliant couple of hours by the pool, so brilliant that we decided to go back in again the next day before we checked out.

After our swim we went back to our room to get ready for dinner. The Park Royal Hotel has a formal restaurant and a casual bar and grill; we had plans to go for dinner and then meet friends who live nearby for drinks afterwards.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

We had a delicious meal, I was really pleased that the restaurant had a children’s menu which had a good range of meals to choose from. The boy picked his favourite – fish and chips, which was a really good sized portion which he said was dee-licious. You could tell by his almost empty plate that it was good!

We  both had starters; I had curried vegetable soup which really hit the spot and my husband chose the ham hock terrine, both were beautifully presented and delicious. For our main courses, I chose the veggie butternut squash tart with a side of triple cooked chips; he had the braised beef which fell apart as soon as you touched it.

After a seriously good meal, we retired to the bar to meet our friends. The bar was pretty busy as there was football on, but as soon as the game finished the bar emptied pretty quickly. In an act of impeccable timing we managed to finish the kids treasure trail; so we went to reception and he was given his prize – a really good activity pack and some chocolate. This kept him happy and occupied while we chatted with friends, but he’d had a long and busy day, so I took him back to our room to go to sleep.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

When we got back to our room there was a plate of milk and cookies waiting for him. What a treat! It was so lovely to have a little something for him to nibble on once he’d got his PJs on. We got tucked up in bed and we all had a really long and restful sleep.

Morning came all too soon, but we were ready for breakfast. Despite my husbands determination to just have a light breakfast of fruit and yoghurt, the boy’s breakfast of sausages, eggs and bacon tempted him over to the dark side. I love a good hotel breakfast, there’s something for everyone, whatever they’re in the mood for. From the full English, to continental style pasties, fruit and yoghurt or cheese and salami. Breakfast was a real highlight for me.

A family stay at The Park Royal Hotel, Cheshire

Sadly our time at The Park Royal Hotel was coming to an end. We did have just enough time to pack our bags and grab a quick hour in the pool before we had to check out.

We’d had a fantastic stay. We all left feeling really chilled out. I felt so pampered because I’d had 24 hours of someone else doing the work. We’d all benefited from a good nights sleep and it was a really family friendly place to stay. The staff were all friendly and helpful and they were really engaging and chatty with the boy.

The Park Royal Hotel is a great base to explore Cheshire. It is just 11 miles from Tatton Park and about 15 miles from Chester Zoo. It’s near the Blue Planet Aquarium, Cheshire Oaks, Applejacks Farm and many, many more family attractions. It’s a great choice for families; close enough to all the fun things to do, but not in a noisy city centre where it’s hard to park.

We loved the little touches; like the milk and cookies at bedtime and the treasure trail. His most favourite things were his big breakfast and swimming in the pool. They might also have been my favourite things too. We were sad to leave, but really happy we’d taken some time out as a family to just hang out and have fun together. I wonder where we will end up next?

The Park Royal Hotel is a 4 star hotel and spa in Stretton near Warrington. It’s a great choice for families and you can find out more about the hotel by visiting their website.

Disclosure: We were given dinner, bed and breakfast in exchange for this blog post. All images and opinions are our own.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

The last few months have felt pretty hectic for our family. We’ve been here, there and everywhere; almost always in a rush and not spending enough time just enjoying being together. Over the weekend we packed up the car and headed off to Inside Out Camping in the small village of Seatoller in the Borrowdale valley. Seatoller is near Keswick in the Lake District and we were glamping for two nights, staying in a Yurt. There was no electricity, no WiFi, no phone signal; just us and the great outdoors and it was nothing short of wonderful.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

I’ve wanted to go glamping for a while. The idea of not having to put up or take down a tent and not having to carry every single thing we’d need for the weekend was very appealing. I also liked the idea of a little bit of luxury in the middle of nowhere; in this case, a woodburner and a comfy futon to sleep on. There’s something quite luxurious about just being able to turn up without a car full of camping gear which takes a few hours to set up. Glamping is still camping, but with more of the comforts of home.

We arrived at Seatoller near Keswick, and spotting some of the yurts from the main road, made our way down the track to the small campsite. There are six yurts available to book and space for other campers in their own tents too. The site runs alongside the River Derwent, which when we arrived was a gentle, shimmering river which babbled alongside the yurts.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

We walked down to our yurt at the far end of the site. It stood right next to the river. Outside was a wooden picnic table and two wooden steps to the door of the yurt. Inside was a clean and well-equipped space. There was one double futon and two single futons with clean, crisp bedding. There was a gas stove and a kitchen area, plus a woodburner with a bag of logs to get us started.

We unpacked, got settled in and did what all English people do; we made a cup of tea. The boy ran about exploring the site, he crossed the bridge several times and scrambled down the banks of the river. On a warmer (or braver) day we might have all gone for a paddle, but we didn’t. The site is like a fairy glen and although it’s small, there’s a lot to explore.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

You do need a torch when you’re walking through the campsite at night back to the yurt. The site is unlit and without electricity, though the yurts have solar-powered lights and fairy lights too.

At night the yurt is really cosy. The beds have feather duvets and pillows and I’d forgotten just how snuggly they were. Tucked up in bed with the woodburner flickering away in the corner; a mug of cocoa and the fairy lights on, it’s a little piece of heaven. After a busy day walking and exploring the Lake District, we’d all fall into bed, talking and laughing together until we drifted off to sleep. With the stars shimmering through the skylight, it was truly magical.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

Inside Out Camping is located on Seatoller Farm which is a sheep farm near Kewsick. The campsite is surrounded by fields of Herdwick sheep (my favourite breed of sheep, yes I have a favourite breed). You can walk up to the farm and buy Herdwick sausages and burgers to take home or cook in your yurt. We had a busy weekend planned and we didn’t end up making anything more adventurous than breakfast and endless cups of coffee.

Although the site feels like it’s really out in the sticks, it’s very well served by regular public transport from Keswick. Just over a mile up the road, the Langstrath Country Inn serves good food. There are more pubs dotted along the road to Keswick, and once in Keswick there are more places to eat and drink than you can shake a stick at!

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

I confess I did have a slight wobble on the first night about there being no internet. I had a word with myself and just embraced it. There’s no better place for me than being beside my 7 year old when he’s on an adventure; climbing trees, scrabbling over rocks, defending the bridge from imaginary marauding pirates. You don’t need the internet or electricity for that.

It’s a small site with a basic but clean toilet block. Showers are available at the farmhouse a ten minute walk up the road.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

The Inside Out Camping yurts are an absolutely ideal base for visiting the Lake District. Whether you’re on a walking holiday, or exploring with the family. The area was wild and rugged enough to feel like you’ve really stepped away from the hustle and bustle of life at home; but close enough to Keswick to not be too far from the home comforts a city girl appreciates (Booths. I mean Booths).

Seatoller is a magical place. The Borrowdale valley is very beautiful and with autumn beginning to make itself known, it was a valley of mists and mellow fruitfulness. We were sad to pack up and leave after our two days of yurt life. It hadn’t taken long to settle into a rhythm there. I liked the home comforts and the peace. The boys liked exploring and we all really liked just chilling out together. It’s unusual for us all to agree on something, but we all really enjoyed our taste of yurt life and beautiful Borrowdale has a way of getting under your skin.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

We all want to go glamping again, we all want to stay in a yurt too; and I think a return visit to Inside Out Camping will be on our list for next year.

Yurts at Inside Out Camping at Seatoller Farm start from £285 for a three night weekend stay. For more information about glamping in the UK, visit the Campsites.co.uk website.

Glamping at Inside Out Camping, Keswick

We were invited guests of Inside Out Camping. All our images and opinions are our own.

Our Cornish adventure with Sharp’s Brewery

Last month we jetted off to Cornwall for a “Sharp’s Adventure” weekend with Sharp’s Brewery. Alongside five other lucky couples, we were invited to join Sharp’s Brewery and Chef Nathan Outlaw for a food and drink adventure. The details were sketchy, but we knew not to have a big breakfast and to wear good stout shoes. Throw in a two night stay in a gorgeous 4 star hotel and the weekend had me written all over it!

We flew from Manchester to Newquay Airport on Friday morning, taking a taxi from the Airport to the hotel we had the chance to take in some of the lush Cornish countryside. We checked into the St Moritz Hotel, Trebetherick, Wadebridge, quickly unpacked and I headed to the spa for the afternoon. Himself took the complimentary Land Rover taxi down to Rock to explore, before joining me in the spa. It’s a hard life.

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

That night we had dinner and drinks in the very fine restaurant at the hotel, before retiring and having the best night sleep we’d had in a long time. The next morning we were up and ready for adventure, whatever that adventure was.

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

We met the other couples in the hotel reception and in small groups we were taken down to Rock for a tour of the Rock Shellfish Company. Luke Marshall whose family have farmed oysters of the Camel Estuary for years gave us a tour, showing us the oysters in their mesh nets on trestle tables out in the estuary. The Porthilly Oysters are delicious and they are in high demand, especially from local chefs. 

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Luke showed us around the building where the oysters are purified in tanks before being sold on to wholesalers and restaurants. We also got a chance to taste these delicious molluscs, a rare treat to be able to try an oyster so fresh and pure. It was not an experience everyone relished, with several members of the group declining the chance to give them a try.

We were then given the directions to The Mariners Public House in Rock for lunch. The Mariners is a pub run by both Sharp’s Brewery and Nathan Outlaw and they champion seasonal local food, as well as serving a wide and glorious selection of Sharp’s beers.

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Lunch was excellent, if a little rushed, we had a minibus waiting outside ready to take us on our next adventure. All of the plates were as pretty as a picture and each item on the menu was listed with a matched beer. Had I had the afternoon free to imbibe, I would have thoroughly explored this option.

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Starters at The Mariners included pea and ham hock soup and Cropwell Bishop blue cheese salad with chicory and walnut. The most popular main on the table was the breaded hake with tartare sauce and romaine salad – a thick fillet of hake served with bitter romaine offset with a zingy and well executed tartare. 

Pudding, not that we had much room left, was a choice between steamed treacle and ginger sponge with custard or St. Clements posset, granita and shortbread. I opted for the steamed sponge, I’m a slave to my school dinner cravings, but the pudding was as light and fluffy as it was possible to be. Comforting enough to induce a little nap on the minibus to our next destination.

From Rock, the minibus sped us an hour and a half down the coast to our next and final destination, a field somewhere on the Zennon Peninsula where chef Nathan Outlaw was busy with a barbecue, some tables had been beautifully set and ominously a row of hard hats and harnesses lay on the floor.  

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Regrettably my bad back meant I had to stay at the top of the hill drinking beer and watching Nathan Outlaw cook for us, but my intrepid husband donned a hard hat and had a go at abseiling with the rest of the group under the expert guidance of The Newquay Activity Centre. I was sad to miss out on that particular adventure, but up at the top of the hill we were having a bovine adventure of our own. 

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

As Nathan and the other chefs were preparing our meal, a herd of cows wandered into the field to check out what we were up to. They were pretty friendly cows and needed to be gently persuaded to leave our al fresco set up alone. Thankfully they did, and most of the cows had moved on by the time everyone was back up after their abseiling adventure.

Given that dinner was prepared almost entirely using two small barbecues and on a slightly wobbly table in a field, Nathan had prepared a real seafood feast for us all. Watching him grill flatbreads, pineapple, monkfish, prawns, scallops and an array of vegetables for our barbecue banquet was a bit of a privilege for a foodie like me. 

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Our seafood feast began with smoked mackerel and seaweed pate; seafood ceviche (barbecued brill, prawns, scallops and lobster) with tomato, red onion and coriander; and a barbecued octopus salad with tomatoes, watercress and cucumber, all served with flatbread. 

The main course was barbecued monkfish which had been marinaded in potted shrimp spice and served with crushed new potatoes, grilled fennel and capers. Dessert was barbecued pineapple with meringue, spiced rum syrup and lime cream. It was all delicious and it was a real privilege to be cooked such a personal and exceptional meal by Nathan. 

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Dinner was matched with beers from Sharp’s Brewery. Favourites included their biggest selling beer, Doom Bar, their new-ish Pilsner and my new favourite, Atlantic Pale Ale – a fruity ale packed with citrus flavours and sweet notes which worked exceptionally well with the seafood. 

Sadly our Sharp’s adventure was drawing to a close, all twelve of us clamoured onto the minibus back to the hotel, tired but very, very happy.

We’d eaten incredibly well, we’d drunk many excellent beers and discovered a few new ones, and we’d had a real Sharp’s adventure. Sharp’s Brewery had treated us to a once in a lifetime, money can’t buy experience, and I think we were all sad it was over. 

Sharp's Adventure - Our Cornish Adventure with Sharp's Brewery

Thank you to Sharp’s Brewery and the St Moritz Hotel, The Rock Shellfish Company, The Mariners Pub, The Newquay Activity Centre and Nathan Outlaw for showing us a good time and for making our Sharp’s Adventure an incredibly memorable one!

Holidays: Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

As a family we were confirmed holiday cottage enthusiasts. The thought of being subject to strict meal times and the rules of a hotel didn’t really appeal. We’ve always enjoyed our own space and the freedom a holiday cottage in the UK has allowed us. We never, ever thought we’d find ourselves on a plane heading to Majorca to stay in a hotel. But one week abroad has completely changed our pre-conceptions, and our holiday horizons have been well and truly broadened. 

Over the October half term we flew via Jet2 from Manchester to Majorca, for a week in the sun at the 4 star Sol Katmandu Hotel in Magaluf. On paper it was the polar opposite of every holiday we’ve ever had. But we discovered that sometimes doing something completely different is exactly the right thing to do.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The Sol Katmandu Hotel

We arrived at the Sol Katmandu after an early morning flight from Manchester. The hotel reception was busy but we checked in after a fashion and we found our way to our room.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The room was clean, well decorated, it had a little fridge, free WIFI, a TV with a couple of English kids TV channels and a rather lovely bathroom. What it didn’t have was a balcony you could sit out on, something we really wanted. Probably about two thirds of the rooms had balconies, so this would be something I’d make sure I had in future.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

The Sol Katmandu is set in an aquatic theme park and the amenities include a buffet restaurant, 2 bars, 3 outdoor pools and a sunbathing terrace. The hotel offers complimentary passes to the Katmandu Park’s amusement park, a kids’ club and nightly live entertainment. 

Food & Drink

We were staying on a half board basis, which meant we had breakfast and dinner in the hotel. Lunch and drinks were extra, but we found that half board suited us. We weren’t completely tied to the hotel and it mean’t we explored the local cafes and bars in the area.

For me breakfast was the highlight of my foodie day. There was a very extensive breakfast buffet including a wall of fruit, continental options, English breakfast, Spanish breakfast, yoghurt, unlimited tea, coffee and juice as well as a pancake and fried egg bar where you watched your pancakes being made.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

We all fell into our own pattern, the small boy would have scrambled eggs and sausages followed by a pancake with chocolate sauce. My husband would start with fruit and then go for a selection of English breakfast items and I would have a couple of slices of the most delicious tortilla I’ve ever had, usually with some grilled tomatoes, then I’d follow that with pancakes, because the pancakes were excellent.

Lunch was usually a casual affair, we’d pop to the nearby Aldi for bread and cheese, or go to a local cafe and have a sandwich or share a pizza. We never really felt like eating much after our big breakfast.

Dinner in the hotel was another buffet style feast. I’m a vegetarian and I did find my options were a bit limited, but there were always a few veggie dishes to choose from. They also had child friendly options such as fish fingers and chips, though the boy liked to choose his own and often went more exotic dishes. 

Hubs was in his element at dinner, there was a grill where chefs cooked to order fish and meat such as lamb chops and steak, and there was more often than not a paella available. 

The salad bar was excellent, I liked to fill up on salad and have a little plate of other bits and pieces before launching myself at the desserts. The dessert selection was excellent, there were individual tubs of ice cream and beautiful jewel coloured cakes and treats, as well as cheese and biscuits. 

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Being half board we had to pay extra for our drinks, but we were content to have a drink or two in the bar after dinner, so the drinks bill did not add up.

Tip: If you like sangria, the sangria in the pool bar is made from scratch and is delicious, whereas the sangria in the hotel bar inside is ready mixed and not quite as good.

Entertainment

The Sol Katmandu has a holiday club for little ones each day and they all seem to have a really good time. Lots of dressing up and doing fun activities. The boy went for a superhero morning and made his own cape. He had a great time. The kids club is included in the price of the hotel and it’s well worth looking at if you fancy a couple of peaceful hours to yourself.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

In the evenings there was entertainment, but we didn’t really go to this, we preferred to go back to our room, wind down and have an early night.

The Swimming pools 

The Sol Katmandu has three swimming pools. One small splash pool, one deeper round pool and one longer pool. None of them are heated, so it is a bit bracing if you dive in and you’re not expecting it. But after an afternoon in the sun, the cool water of the pool is exactly what you need to come back to a normal temperature.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

For us the pools were a big draw. Each day we’d ask the boy what he wanted to do, and all he wanted to do was play in the pool, so that’s more or less what we did. The local shops sell inflatables and water guns, and all the little boys seemed to have them, so their days were filled with water fights and lots of laughter. 

Like most hotels there was a big of a culture of claiming a sun lounger with a towel, which meant that most of the well positioned loungers were reserved for invisible people for large portions of the day. Despite this, we managed to spend most of our days lounging by the pool, relaxing and reading, going for a quick dip and just chilling out. It was bliss.

The sol katmandu park

One of the biggest selling points of this hotel is the amusement park attached to it. As a resident of the hotel you get a free play pass which gets you into the park and entry to the attractions (though terms and conditions apply etc). 

The Katmandu Park has two excellent crazy golf courses – probably the best I’ve seen, and most days we played a round of golf after breakfast before heading out for the day or settling down round the pool.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

There is the “Upside Down House” where everything is a crazy optical illusion. I would have liked to have spent longer exploring the house but the boy was a bit freaked out by it. So we rushed through it, which was a shame.

There’s also the Katlantis Splash Park which looked great, but was closed as October is the end of season for the resort. There is also a 4D cinema and various interactive games, rides and a soft play centre, most of which are indoors. There’s also a bar where you can grab a snack and a drink.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

During the week we were there, the park wasn’t too busy and we only had to queue a few minutes for things. I liked the park and would like to have explored it more and taken more time over things, but the small boy was a bit freaked out by the house (in fairness he was a bit poorly that day and out of sorts) so we just stuck to the crazy golf.

I think the Katmandu Park is great, and if you’ve got lively kids its a great way for them to burn off some excess energy. Quite a lot of the attractions are indoors, so if you’re wanting to shelter from the sun for an hour, then the park is a good option for that too.

#kathalloween

We were staying at the hotel during the October half term, the week before Halloween. The Sol Katmandu goes all out for Halloween and even has it’s own hashtag. The hotel and park were gloriously decorated, even the beds had a Halloween bedspread on them!

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

At dinner on the last night all the staff were dressed up with Halloween headgear and most of the desserts had wriggly jelly worms on them, or creepy spiders – the amount of effort they put in was well worth it. I loved it. The hotel has a Steampunk vibe anyway and lends itself to being decorated up for an occasion.

What we liked about the Sol katmandu

This was our first family holiday abroad and it smashed a lot of our preconceptions about that kind of holiday.

     ♥   We really liked being able to properly relax and have someone else cook and clean for us while we were away. 

     ♥   The pools were great. They were clean and a life guard was around at all times.

     ♥   The Katmandu Park is a great addition and we spent about an hour a day in the park. The play pass is free and there are some really fun things to do in the park.

     ♥   Going half board gave us the best of both worlds – we could eat breakfast and dinner in the hotel, but we could also go out, explore and have lunch.

     ♥  October was a great time to go abroad for us, it was still hot and sunny during the day, but it wasn’t uncomfortably hot. Magaluf was fairly quiet and felt like more of a family resort than a party destination at that time of the year.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

Our week at the Sol Katmandu was a real game changer for us. We now understand just how fantastically relaxing these kinds of holidays are. Whilst there’s still room in our lives for our self catering holiday cottage breaks, I think having a gloriously relaxing holiday where someone else cooks and cleans for you, where you can sit and relax for hours by the pool and everyone’s batteries recharge. 

We really liked the hotel. It was clean and comfortable, the facilities were great, the food was good and the pools were a huge hit. We came home with big smiles on our faces, we just need to decide where to go next.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

We were invited guests of The Sol Katmandu and Jet2 Holidays. All images and opinions are our own and this is a true reflection of our experience.

What we did on our holiday by Mr HodgePodgeDays

My husband is famously a man of few words, but he kindly volunteered to put pen to paper and write about what we did on our holiday this October Half Term. We stayed at the Sol Katmandu in Majorca, courtesy of Jet2 Holidays. It’s always interesting for me to see things from his point of view, but it looks like he had a good time…

Being self-employed has its ups and downs. I am my own boss and I answer to no-one, but on the flip side I am totally responsible for everything at work. If I ever think about taking a sickie, the boss knows about it straight away.

Because I work for myself, I’ve had to work some long hours recently to get things ship shape before our first family holiday abroad. Over the October Half Term we packed our bags and went on a family holiday to Majorca courtesy of Jet2. It was eagerly anticipated, especially by the little fella as it was going to be his first time on a plane.

On departure day we woke early at 4am as the flight was due to depart at 6.30am. We jumped in a taxi and headed off to the airport. The check in at the airport and passing through security was a doddle and soon we were relaxing in the departure lounge with a coffee and sausage butty.

We didn’t have long to wait before our flight was called and we made our way to the gate and boarded the plane. I did wonder at this point if the little fella would be a bit scared by it all, but he was happy as Larry and took it all in his stride. He loved the flight, especially the take off, and soon we were landing in Majorca which again put a big smile on his face.

Sol Katmandu Hotel, Majorca with Jet2Holidays

 

The transfer to the hotel was a breeze. We were staying at the 4* the Sol Kathmandu in Magaluf. The hotel was excellent, our only quibble was the lack of a balcony which we could sit out on, but I think everyone will always find something not to their satisfaction. 

After we’d unpacked in our room, the lad wanted to go exploring as he’d seen the three outdoor swimming pools on our way into the hotel and couldn’t wait to get in the water, and his dad couldn’t wait to get on a sun lounger.

What we did on our holiday

If you want to know what we did on our holiday, most of our days were spent relaxing by the pools; sometimes all of us splashing about in the water, sometimes Ben in the water with the new friends he’d made, while his parents topped up their tans, read their books and had a glass of sangria or two.

Twenty-four hours into the holiday, both my better half and I said that we definitely more relaxed in a hotel abroad than on our usual holidays in Devon. We usually go self-catering and in Devon we are the small boy’s only source of entertainment.

It was so nice to be away and to only have to think about when next to apply sun cream and not about the stresses of work, if only for a week. It was nice to spend time with my family, especially the missus, instead of rushing around badgering the boy to get dressed, or going back to work in the evenings to catch up with stuff.

What we did on our holiday

Here’s to our next holiday abroad, which hopefully won’t be too far away. Thank you to the Sol Katmandu for putting up with us and Jet2 for getting us there and back safely and efficiently.

-What we did on our holiday by Matthew, aged 41 and a half

Holiday Snaps – from Devon 2016

I’ve got this fancy newish camera which I’ve been trying to use and get used to. I had planned on taking it on holiday to Devon for a week to try and spend some time getting to know it a bit better, but I ended up with a fairly epic chest infection a couple of days before we went and I wasn’t really in the mood.

I decided instead to take my “old” camera, a Nikon Coolpix L820. It’s a bridge camera and whilst it really struggles indoors, outdoors it comes into its own.

Before we headed down the M6 towards the South West one of my friends challenged me to take 5 decent photos of Devon. I don’t think I’ve managed that, but I have chosen some pictures which will make me smile.

It wasn’t a particularly great holiday, we’d booked an especially skanky cottage and ended up having to leave after three days and go and stay elsewhere. It was a shame, after everything we’ve been through these past few months I just really needed a rest, a break from the norm and some time to reflect and recover. But maybe that’s something for another blog post. Back to the photos….

Day one of our holiday we got in the car and went for a drive to get our bearings. I’ve no idea where this place is, it’s somewhere in Exmoor, somewhere where we stopped for some air. There was purple heather everywhere, gorse in flower and the air was as clear as a bell. I love the colour and texture in this picture.

Devon

The first cottage we stayed in didn’t have much to recommend it, but it did have a huge buddleia outside the front door. It was teeming with butterflies and bees, so I snapped this little fella. Isn’t he lovely?

Devon

Day two, in an attempt to cheer ourselves up we headed to the familiar territory of Westward Ho! It was worth the drive of nearly an hour for the fresh air and the lift in our spirits. 

Devon

Although he will kill me for sharing this, I adore this photo of my boy running towards his Dad who had just been for a swim in the sea. Again this is Westward Ho!

Devon

It’s not an especially lovely photo, but this is the view from the cottage we stay at in Welcombe in North Devon. Waking up to see the church, the sky and a tiny handkerchief of the sea always makes me happy, rain or shine.

Devon

On our last night we drove to Bude and had dinner at Life’s a Beach, which by day is a beach cafe and by night a popular bistro. We had a delicious meal and then walked some of it off on the beach afterwards. Here’s the small boy at his cheeky best.

Devon

The last night again, this time the beach at Bude, a harbour of sorts. It’s not a great photo, but it is a photo of one of my happy places.

Devon

And lastly, on our way home we stopped at Westward Ho! (are you sensing a theme here?) and had fish and chips on the beach for tea. Whilst we waited for dad to come back I took this panorama and the boy played with his new sword and shield. The result is this rather moody shot of a knight which will probably always make me smile. 

Devon

A mixed holiday for us, some lovely moments, some disappointment, but lots of lovely cuddles with the boys. Looking back I didn’t take any or many decent photos, it’s probably reflective of our mood at the time. We did have fun, we did stick brave smiley faces on for the boy and we did our best to make the best of our holiday. I think he had a good time and that’s all that matters right now.

My tips for surviving family festivals in the UK

If you’re off on a day out, or you’ve got tickets to a family festival or event, it makes sense to plan ahead and prepare yourself for all eventualities. In the UK “all eventualities” essentially means prepare yourself for the weather, all of the weather.

We live in Manchester, which is not known as the rainy city for nothing (though it doesn’t actually rain as much as you’d think). We try to get out and about as much as we can, which often means standing in a muddy field getting rained on, but still managing to squeeze some fun out of our precious family time together. Here are my tips for surviving and enjoying outdoor events in the UK.

Check the weather forecast. This will give you a vague idea of what the weather is likely to do on the day of the event or festival. Although if it says it’ll be sunny I’d still stick a brolly in the car just in case.

Pack a Picnic. Regardless of whether the event has food on offer or not, I always pack some emergency provisions. At the very least a couple of bottles of water and enough snacks to tide a hungry tum over until a pulled pork burger can be foraged from the nearest street food vendor.

Plan your day. Check out what’s on, what time it’s on and where it is. If there’s something you especially want to see or do, then it helps to know where on the festival site it’s happening and when. It’s often worth printing out a little map of the site and an events listing, or taking a screenshot on your phone to refer to if you need to.

Take something to sit on. Festivals, events and days out can be a loooong day and you can guarantee there won’t be enough seating for everyone. Take something to sit on. A picnic blanket with a waterproof backing is invaluable, but if you don’t want to carry that around, a bin bag for each family member to sit on works just as well and is much lighter and easier to carry. I have a bad back so can’t sit on the floor, so I take a little camping chair to sit on and my son often climbs on my knee for a cuddle. I wouldn’t be without my chair.

Wear suitable clothing. Rain or shine if you get a couple of thousand people in a field you will need to wear wellies or good stout walking boots. If driving rain is predicted and you’re still going to the event, then pack a mac and wear waterproof clothing. Be prepared to get wet and have dry clothes waiting in the car.

surviving family festivals

Take a change of clothes. If you’re going in your car it’s easy to pack a change of clothing and leave that and a cosy blanket in the car. My son always snuggles under a blanket on the way home and we wouldn’t be without it. The thought of being able to change at the car if you need to can get you through an afternoon of dampness.

If you can’t take a change of clothes (including dry socks and shoes) to change into for the drive home, then I’d recommend packing a pair of dry socks sealed in a plastic bag. Dry feet can make the difference between abject misery and a tolerable bus ride home.

Bring a brolly. We keep a big golfing umbrella in the car as well as a small one to slip into my bag. When we arrive at the festival we make the choice which, if any to bring with us. If it’s raining then the golfing umbrella, especially when teamed with my camping chair makes a nice little shelter from the rain, and when it’s very sunny the brolly offers a little shade.

Use sun cream. Even if it’s cloudy in the UK, you can catch the sun by standing in a field all day. Slap on the factor 30 and top up regularly. Wear a sun hat and keep hydrated.

Bring some baby wipes. As a parent I’m never more than 2 metres away from a pack of baby wipes, they are an everyday essential and invaluable at events and festivals. From cleaning sticky fingers before lunch, dealing with the worst of the mud, for toilet times and for making yourself presentable for the journey home. We don’t leave home without them.

Take cash money. Festivals and events can very easily be done on a budget, but once you’re in you’ll have to buy everything you need and it probably comes at a premium. We tend to pack a picnic and then buy some treats like ice cream when we’re there. Just don’t turn up thinking you can pay for everything with your card, cash is king and most events don’t have ATMs on site.

If you’re prepared for the changeable and sometimes really miserable UK weather, you’ve thought about food, transport and you’ve planned your day then hopefully your family day out will go off without a hitch. Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I’ve started to have low expectations of what an event or festival will be like before I get there, that way I’m rarely disappointed and often surprised and enchanted by what happens on the day.

I have a bit of a go with the flow attitude to life and almost everything I do, which does mean that you can sometimes find me dancing in the rain. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you prepare to spend a day in that weather. Come rain or shine you will find us having fun in a field somewhere this summer and I hope you won’t let a little rain stop play either.

Do you have any top tips for surviving family festivals and events?

surviving family festivals

Why being disabled on holiday can be a real pain

As a slightly less able person (spinal injury, nerve damage, chronic pain), I need to pace myself and rest more often than I would normally. I have adapted my day to day life so that I’m able to manage myself properly, take my medication when I need to, rest and exercise appropriately and generally maximise my wellness. But holidays throw that tried and tested routine out of the window leaving me in more pain, more tired and out of my medication routine.

We are on holiday in North Devon. It’s one of our favourite places to visit and we come back year after year. But from Manchester it’s a minimum 5 hour journey. This time it took 6 hours, but it has taken 8 hours in bad traffic. Sitting in one position for 6-8 hours is bad for anyone, but with my ruined spine it gets very uncomfortable, then very painful and it takes days to recover from.

Once we get there, put me in an unfamiliar bed and I’m gobbling painkillers like they’re smarties. Combine that with a lack of routine, longer than usual walks which are usually on the beach on sand, shale or pebbles which are hard to walk on its all a bit ouchy. At home I can plan my week, if I’ve got an active day then I’ll make sure I’ve got a rest day after it. On holiday every day is an active day.

So what do my holidays look like? My holidays look like car parks. I often have to just sit in the car and rest while my painkillers kick in and the boys race off to do their thing. It makes me a bit sad that I can’t fully participate in holiday activities, but then I can’t always participate in normal life activities either. Stop moaning kid, these are the cards you’ve been dealt. Live with it.

Reading this back it makes me wonder why I bother going on a UK holiday at all. But it’s beautiful here and although I’m half cut on prescription painkillers most of the time, it’s nice to spend time with the boys, to get some sunshine and sea air and to take the boys out of their routine for a while. It’s hard enough being me and living with my limitations, it must be equally hard for them, so they deserve a holiday and a chance to relax and be free from my routine for a week or two.

Disabled on holiday

North Devon: so beautiful, but you can only access this beach via a cliff path.