Tag: Wales

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.

A Touch of Orange

As mentioned already, we went on holiday in Wales during the half-term break and stayed at Hay-on-Wye.  I love Wales, somehow it’s different from the landscape in England and reminds me a lot of Scotland.  On this particular short holiday, even though we knew the weather was going to be crap, we made it a point to at least visit the Brecon Beacons National Park which is known for its waterfalls, lovely forests and beautiful walks/hiking paths to name a few.  Of course though, with a little one, you can’t really do much walking, not to mention the bad weather.

When we arrived little T noticed the play-area right away and without any prodding headed there on her own.  I was struck with how lovely the carpet of orangey, golden autumn leaves looked on the ground.

 This play-area was actually for eight-year-olds and above, but she refused to go to the “little ones”.

And with the help of her dad, tried to do the climbing frames.

And she absolutely loved this!  Was a bit worried that she might let go, but she held on like a little monkey!  I love the look on her face 🙂

All that lovely orange was such a contrast against the grey-threatening clouds that hovered above us.  We were worried that the rain would come even before we could explore and at a least do the walk near the play-area.

After a bit of coaxing, we managed to pry off little T’s hands from the swing and did the shortest-trail, hoping that the rain wouldn’t come.

An archway made of trees.

Stopped by the bridge to play some pooh sticks, because that’s what kids do!

This area was just a small slice of what the Brecons has to offer, too bad we didn’t have the time, to explore more.

 By the time we left, the fog descended and you could hardly see the top of the beautiful mountains.

Would so love to visit again!

Have you explored the Brecon Beacons National Park?

 

 

 

Have a lovely weekend folks!

A Return: Hay-on-Wye, The Town of Bookshops

Hay-on-Wye is a little town in Wales, just right beside the English border. And you can find bookshops in literally ever corner, or every where you look, that’s why the place is often referred to as the “Town of Bookshops and of course, it’s also famous for its Hay-on-Wye Literature and Arts festival held every year, usually at the end of May till the first week of June.

The first time we visited, was about five years ago, before little T came along.  Since my husband couldn’t take much time off from work, we came here for our honeymoon and ever since, we’ve always wanted to go back and take little T with us, especially since she also seems to have the same love for books, we just hope she won’t out-grow this though.

This is little T in front of the Castle bookshop which is believed to have one of the oldest towers in Wales, dating back to 1121.  Today, it is a second-hand bookshop known for its antiquarian books. When we first came here years ago, you could still go inside the castle, but now it’s either being reconstructed or they’ve just closed-it off to visitors, because you’ll find the books at the side of the castle.  They’ve also added some little gift shops.  And of course, they still have their honesty bookshop on the castle-grounds.

And there she is, peering inside the castle which is empty now.

Inside Addyman bookshop where she bought a “Spooky Book”.

Browsing through the thousands of books at the Hay Cinema Bookshop.

And this is the Richard Booth bookshop.  He’s also known to be the “father” of Hay-on-Wye, the town of books and in 1977, he declared it an independent kingdom.

I love his bookshop.  There are loads of comfortable chairs you can just sit on and read a bit, or even just rest your weary feet as little T is doing in the above photo.  They’ve also added a lovely little cafe inside.

And upstairs, you will find shelves upon shelves of beautiful Folio books.  If you come and visit, this book-shop must be on the top of your list!

And for those who love Murder Mysteries,  this is your stop.

This is mine.  Had a lovely conversation with the bookseller at the Poetry bookshop about the poet Bernadette Mayer.

I love this little town of books, in spite feeling a bit disappointed with a couple of things. 1.  The Kilvert’s Inn where we stayed somehow felt a bit run-down.  The room was lovely though.  Weeks before our trip, we actually had to chase them-up to book our accommodation.  We couldn’t do it online, and every time we phoned, no one seemed to know anything.  As for the food, let’s just say every time we asked for something, they didn’t have it.

The room was lovely though.  It had the beautiful views of the Welsh countryside and the most enormous king-sized bed, the three of us actually fit in – comfortably too!

Little T reading her new book.

The lovely view outside our window.

And the other thing we didn’t like was that, some of the booksellers didn’t seem too keen to have little ones around their shops.  One even said, just as we paid and were about to step-out of her shop and reminded little T to use her umbrella because it started to rain outside – “Little girls always make that sound.  I find it really annoying”.   We just looked at her and left.  I was shocked and felt that it was a really rude thing to say to a costumer!

I know there really are some people who really can’t stand children.  That’s why there are holidays with the “no kids policy”, or some restaurants with the no children under 5 rule.  I hate that.  As if kids are vermin to be avoided at all cost.

Anyway, of course we won’t let this little incident cloud our love for Hay.  Would we come back?  Definitely, perhaps when little T is older!  Hopefully, by then that bookseller has retired.

Have you been to Hay-on-Wye?

Would you be interested to visit a town of books?

 

Have a lovely week folks!

Chepstow Castle, Wales

Those who have been following my blog will know that we had an American friend visit us last month and because of this, we had the lovely opportunity to turn into tourists, as we showed him parts of England (especially in Cornwall where we live), and some places we’ve never been before as mentioned on a couple of posts (here and here).  Then we drove up to Bristol to stay with another good friend which gave us a chance to show him the city which is very dear to our little family.  And most importantly, meet up with more good friends, it was like a mini-reunion for all of us who have met, volunteered and lived together in Ghana many years ago.

Our Bristol friend then took us to the land of the red dragon – Wales.

This is Chepstow Castle.

A short(ish) drive from Bristol is Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in the UK.  It is perched up above the banks of the river Wye. The castle was made in 1067 under instructions from the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern, a year after William The Conqueror was crowned King of England.  FitzOsbern was later made Earl of Hereford, apparently his was one of the first peerage titles in English Aristocracy.

The castle was further expanded in 1189-1300.

FitzOsbern’s Great Tower seen above.

Inside the great tower.

Amazing medieval carvings can still be seen on the corner walls, which makes one think If only these carvings could talk, imagine what they would say?  The history it would tell, stories of ancient battles, Lords and Mistresses who have resided in this castle over the centuries …

 Part of the arch built to separate the first floor room in the great tower in the 13th century.  The intricate details are still very much visible as seen on the photo above.

Little T had great fun exploring the medieval castle with her own red dragon bought by our Bristol friend and her little Grommit hanging by her belt.

The breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside as seen through an ancient window.

A medieval door was currently being restored when we visited.

A definite must-visit when in Wales!

Click here for more of Chepstow’s history and directions on how to visit this lovely Norman castle.

This post is linked with Coombe Mill’s country kids.