Category: Little Trips/Travel

A Bluestone Adventure!

January is such a bleak month. What with the new year, Christmas decorations now gone, suddenly your house feels vacant devoid of any kind of cheer, not to mention the dreary cold weather. What’s there to like about this month? Nothing.

When we were kindly offered to stay in Bluestone Wales sometime in October of last year but had to cancel since my husband couldn’t get time off work, we thought of rescheduling it to the dreaded month of January and I’m so glad we did!

We left North Cornwall midday on Monday after dropping Doc off at the kennels. After stopping only once, we arrived in our destination before 6pm.

The Lodge:

This was our lovely home for four days.

We stayed at Ramsey lodge, which had an “upside-down-living space” which worked really well so you could view the surroundings early in the morning while sipping your first cup of coffee.

The lounge had an open plan with the kitchen fully equipped with everything you’ll ever need for your stay. It had a small fridge, a microwave, cooker/oven, and was pleasantly surprised that it had a dishwasher!

We came prepared and brought washing-up liquid with us which wasn’t even necessary since everything was provided from washing-up liquid, sponges to even 2 dishwasher tablets, which we quickly used up of course, but since we weren’t expecting the dishwasher, we just washed-up after our meals rather than get more.

There was also a big wardrobe complete with iron, ironing board, vacuum cleaner, clothes drier, and even a broom.

The Bedrooms:

We were really impressed with the bedrooms, both came with an en-suite (handy for bigger families). Again everything was provided, even a hair-dryer!

After settling in and having a quick dinner, we decided to go down the village and explore a bit in the dark. We ended up in the pub (as you do) and found ourselves in conversation with a lovely Welsh couple who gave us tips on what to do and where to visit in Wales.

First Day:

While we don’t don’t do new year’s resolutions, we however aim to try and do more outdoor activities like biking as a family, especially since T received a new bike from Father Christmas this year. With that in mind, we took her bike along with us, knowing that we could rent bikes for my husband and I for the duration of our stay.

And there’s little T standing proudly with her very own bike as we rented bikes for the whole of our stay.

If you’re an active family, I strongly recommend hiring bikes instead of a buggy to get around Bluestone. It’s cheaper and your kids will love it (T did!). Don’t worry about being not fit enough, I’m certainly not. And I wasn’t embarrassed to get off my bike when I had trouble cycling uphill. To see my daughter and husband have so much fun, was so worth it!

The first day was just spent cycling around the village, not really exploring yet but just getting our bearings.

In the afternoon, we excitedly cycled to the Blue Lagoon for some fun in the water.

Slides and flumes at Blue Lagoon seen from outside.

After cycling all day, we found what they called the “lazy river” really relaxing. It took you all the way out into the cold air (but it didn’t matter because the water was really nice and warm) and back into the indoor pool of the blue lagoon.

The pool also had the usual artificial waves and showers which came and went, all the kids loved it. T surprisingly opted to keep doing the lazy river than the slides. I guess after so much biking, she just wanted to relax.

Second Day:

Beautiful and colourful houses in Tenby.

We spent the next day in Tenby as recommended by the lovely Welsh couple we met in the village pub at Bluestone. And since we really enjoyed our visit at this lovely seaside Welsh town, I think it deserves a post of its own.

Third Day:

Since this was our last day, we planned to explore and bike as much as we could around the park. First stop was Camp Smokey.

We had to leave our bikes behind since they weren’t allowed inside the camp and besides, it is a bit of trek to the campsite.

Understandably Camp Smokey is closed during the winter months and will open after the half-term break in February. I can imagine though in the summer, this will be a really good place to just hang out and enjoy a barbecue.

For those who are not afraid of heights, you can book try out their tree-climbing and zip wire through the lovely forest.

We biked through their Archery and Clay shooting yard, where one can book if you’re into this kind of activities.

If you’re a really keen cyclist, they have different bike trails, depends on what kind you’re after. We of course, chose the easiest trail. And at this point, we were headed for the ruins of Castle Coch.

As usual, I feel behind again and T was way ahead of me.

Just when I thought I had lost both T and my husband because I was cycling really slow. I saw this…

There’s nothing much written about the story behind the ruins of Castle Coch. All I could find online was that it’s a manorial hall house built in the 14th century. That’s about it. But what really struck me was the stunning beds of snowdops infront and on the sides of the ruins.

The snowdrops made the ruins look magical and fairy-tale like.

T had so much fun taking her own photos!
T’s dad showing her where the second floor would’ve been.

It definitely was worth getting lost to see this forgotten ruin. Next stop was the lake!

T went round and round the lake…

One can book a canoe if you’re into canoeing or strolling around the lake is actually enjoyable too.

The Light Experience is definitely something to watch out for especially if you have young kids in tow. The attention to detail is just amazing, especially the Fairy Village where one can peek through the windows of each fairy house or shop and see miniature furniture fit for fairies! We came to see this at night after dinner and it was so worth it!

After cycling, we came down to the village to have a quick lunch.

We wanted something light so chose the lovely coffee shop which served amazing milkshakes!

Bubblegum flavoured milkshakes anyone?
Then T had a little play at the playground as you do when you’re a child.

After a quick rest back in the lodge, we went back to the Blue Lagoon to relax in the calming lazy river.

Did we like Bluestone?

I asked T and the husband whether they enjoyed Bluestone. T of course shouted YES! I NEVER WANT TO LEAVE BLUESTONE!

The husband who isn’t easily impressed also agreed with T. He said what really impressed him were how helpful and nice all the staff were.

As for me, I also gave a resounding YES just like T. Let me count how much…

1. I loved the lodge where we stayed and how well-quipped it was.

2. I loved cycling around even though at times it felt like I was going to have a heart attack.

3. I loved how there’s something for everyone whether you’re an active person or not.

4. I loved the little village with it’s shops and restaurants. I loved everything! Would we come back? Definitely!

My husband and I found this on the wall in the village and it sums up what Bluestone is all about:

We especially loved:

Bluestone believes that when you look at life through the eyes of a child it’s amazing just how much you can learn.

With a manifesto like that? How can one go wrong?

Have you been to Bluestone? If yes, did you love it as much as we did? If it’s a no, is this the kind of place you’d love to visit as a family?

Disclaimer: We were kindly offered accommodation to stay in Bluestone for 4 days for the purpose of this review. However, all views and photographs on this post is by yours truly and my little family.

Autumn in Canons Ashby

While Summer is by far my favourite season, Autumn is dear to me too.  As mentioned, I love the rich changes of the colours of the leaves.  It’s nature weaving out its magic in its finest, isn’t it?  What’s not to love about Autumn?  Yes, it’s definitely colder, but it’s also an excuse to wear lovely chunky knits, and warm over-sized coats!

We went over to Beds to see family during the half-term break.  It was also T’s grandfather’s 90th birthday.  We’re pleased to see him really well and strong in mind.  He has a youthfulness which I hope will always stay with him.

While over there, we also had the chance to visit Canons Ashby, a National Trust house in a small village with the same name as the property.  Built in the 16th century, it’s been home to the Dryden family for over 400 years.

Highlights from the visit – finding medieval doodles on the wall.

According to one of the guides there, in the 80s, when this particular bedroom was stripped off its rotting panels, they found lovely etchings that dates to medieval times.  If you peer at the photo above closely, you’ll see a child-like doodle of a girl obviously made by a child.  The next ones (as seen on photos below) were obviously done by someone older.

All on this wall:

T enjoyed poking about in the small rooms in the house.

While Canons Ashby doesn’t have a large garden like the other National Trust properties, it was still a joy to walk on, or in T’s case, skip about.

The vibrant autumn colours were in full boom in Canons Ashby.

We also visited the13th century Abbey nearby.

Like all National Trust properties, the place is steeped in history.  Our link to the past, or if you’re an 8-year-old little girl like T, a place to skip and jump about.

So far, I haven’t visited any National Trust or English Heritage property and was disappointed in the end…. Have you?  Do share.

Summer on the Beach …

… that’s the theme of our whole summer of 2018, although to be fair, that’s an ongoing theme in our family life since we live close by to the beach. You’ll find us there whether it’s summer, autumn, winter or spring.  This is a part two of what we’ve been up to in the warm months, you can click here if you want to check out part one.

We did think of going abroad, but with the “heat wave” a close friend said “Why go abroad when it’s as good as anywhere here when the weather is as warm as this?”.  And that’s exactly what we did!  We didn’t even go very far.  Just over the border, into Devon…

Lyme Regis

Charmouth Beach

We’ve been to Charmouth before, but I’ve never seen this much fossil hunters on the beach!

, Our friend was right, when the weather is great, spending summers here in England is as good as going abroad.

What about you?

Did you go abroad this summer?

A Country Mouse Roams the Streets of Bristol

I think Bristol is my favourite city here in the UK.  I like the way it doesn’t really feel like a city in some parts, and it somehow makes you feel that you also live in the countryside.  I love the restaurants and pubs, especially the Old Duke and of course, this is also the place where the Historian and I got married many moons ago.

Before T was born, we used to come here a lot, especially since once of our oldest friend lives there.  That didn’t change when she arrived.  But of course all that stopped, when she became of school age.  Occasionally, the Historian still has scheduled lectures for the OU in Bristol and when that happens, T and I usually tag along and that’s exactly what we did last weekend.  It was a chance for a brief city break for the country mice.

We left Cornwall right after picking up T from school and drove straight to Bristol.  That night, we had a lovely dinner with our friend and strolled a bit around The Old Duke before heading back to our hotel.  It was absolutely packed.  The next day, we strolled by the quayside and had a lovely breakfast at Mackenzie’s restaurant before my husband headed off to his lecture and T and I met with our friend.  We decided to visit the Bristol Aquarium.

And I’m glad we did.  T enjoyed it so much as well as the adults too.  The place isn’t too big, but we spent more than a couple of hours just watching and looking at the different species.  We were also in time for the feeding, which was really interesting to watch.

After a quick-lunch at the very busy Stables, we decided to mooch around the city just to kill time before it was time to meet T’s dad.

Since it was a Saturday, there were a lot of stalls in the streets and T had fun just looking at all of the knick knacks on the tables.  We went to our favourite St. Nicholas Market and just poked around the stalls not really buying anything, but just looking.  We also stopped at a bookshop and just looked around.

I think T is planning a holiday on her own 😉

Not long after this.  I received a text from the Historian saying that he was done and will meet us back in Mackenzie’s.  Let’s just say we were a tad bit late 😉

We did enjoy our trip and we’re hoping to be back soon.  This time with some family members in tow 🙂  What about you?  What’s your favourite city here or elsewhere?

An Afternoon with Dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum

Here’s a photo of Little T in the tube.  It was one of the few rides that wasn’t packed, so she had the chance to sit down.

There was a long queue waiting for us when we reached the museum in the afternoon.  It was the half-term break after all.

And as we went in, we were greeted by this rather amazing tunnel, and as you can see from the photo above, little T was mesmerized and walked towards it as if hypnotised.

As the escalator went through the tunnel, it really felt like we were stepping inside a mysterious world.  (Upsound: twilight zone theme).

Inside, it was packed with families and tourists, making it feel a little bit like a sauna.

“Look mummy, I can touch the world!”

The little one likes to pose.

Monkeying around …

And of course, a trip to a museum wouldn’t be complete without a visit and a spend in the gift-shop.  Thank goodness her grandparents gave her pocket pocketmoney!

Aside from the snapper (photo above), she chose another dinosaur she named “Stan” and bought two dinosaur books too.  Little T shares her meal with her new friend.

After a leisurely meal at the museum’s restaurant, we decided to brave the crowd again.  Thankfully by the time we got out, the queue to the dinosaur exhibit wasn’t as much as when we first came in.  But it was still a bit of a wait.  This time little T was showing signs of exhaustion.  That should have been our cue to head home, but we decided to see the exhibit instead.

Inside it was even warmer and since it was dark, I felt a little bit claustrophobic especially once we climbed the stairs up to the gallery which looked like an underground tunnel.  By then little T was an inch close to a melt-down, by some miracle, we managed to avoid that.  In the end though, while she absolutely loved it (for a few minutes, that is), at three, it’s just a little bit too much for her.  Perhaps, best to stick with books or avoid the maddening half-break crowd!

Little T fell asleep in her Dada’s arms and also stayed asleep in the very crowded and warm underground tube and finally woke up while we were waiting for our train in King’s Cross station, back to her grandparents in Woburn Sands.  What an exhausting day for a little country mouse!

And of course, Stan had his own special seat on the train.

As for little T, she was too busy waving and watching the other trains go by.

If your little one is into dinosaurs, this is their chance to see them life-like, as long as you avoid the holiday crowd, you’ll be absolutely fine.

So I guess it isn’t surprising what our word for this week is ….

Yep, it’s all about dinosaurs folks!  Little T still loves them (as mentioned in past posts).  Stan, the new dinosaur has made new friends with little T’s group of dinos.
I’ve linked-this post up with The Reading Residence’s
And also with #FamilyFridayFun
Have a lovely weekend guys!