Day Out Review: Bluestone

Have you ever been to Bluestone?  I suppose it’s a little bit like Centre Parcs, just a bit on the smaller side!  And it’s really geared up for toddlers so if you have small children it might be one for your list.

I’d heard quite a bit about it before we went to Pembrokeshire from some friends and had initially considered it as a place to stay for our break, but being on a budget prices were a little expensive for what we wanted (although it’s still waaaay cheaper than Centre Parcs!)  Our holiday cottage worked out much cheaper so that’s the option we went with!

However, only being a few miles away from the resort we decided to head over to Bluestone for a few hours and use their waterpark facilities – The Blue Lagoon.  There are no charges for Bluestone guests as it’s included in the cost of your holiday but they allow the public to use the pool for a charge.  Tickets can be quite expensive in high-season, but as we were there out of season, it wasn’t too expensive.  It was around £7 each for adults, and £2.50 for under-4s, but this did include a swim nappy too, a nice touch, particularly as we hadn’t taken any with us on holiday.

Blue Lagoon

Your ticket gives you three hours of fun in the ‘waterpark’ – a term I use loosely, as to many people it won’t hold the excitement that some of the larger waterparks do, but for us it was ideal.  There’s a decent sized pool (although I imagine in high season it can get REALLY crowded), a lazy river which takes you around the pool and outside into the bracing air, two or three waterslides (we didn’t use them but they looked fun), and a couple of smaller pools at the side – one with a pirate galleon and water fountains, and the other a really shallow toddler pool – which we obviously spent most of our time in!

Oh, and by the way – if you lose your glasses in the lazy river (J had the unfortunate experience of a water cannon shooting him in the back of the head and firing his glasses into the pool!) the lovely lifeguards will turn off the flow and help you spot them under the water!  Thanfully we got them back and normal service was resumed!

We really enjoyed being in the main pool – it has a shallow end which gradually gets deeper (like a beach) and every 15-20 minutes a siren goes off, signalling the start of the waves.  At this point I usually descended into the deep end and relived my teenage Summers spent in Rhyl Sun Centre whilst E and her daddy sat on the beach letting the gentler waves break over them.  E loved it!  The toddler pool was brilliant too – it’s fenced off from the other areas, and has it’s own lifeguard (bless) and has various water features for the little ones to play with, including some cute little rock pools for them to explore.

Gruffalo Towel

There’s a poolside cafe too if you need refreshments but I can’t say whether or not it was good as we didn’t use it.  I found that three hours was probably the right amount of time for us – I probably could have stayed longer and I’m sure it may be hard to drag older kids away.  But then I guess that’s the beauty of staying on-site at Bluestone is that you can use the facilities as much as you like.

A tip for non-staying visitors like us:  Head to the Blue Lagoon on a Monday morning or Friday afternoon.  These are the main arrival/check-out times for guests so everyone staying at the resort will be pre-occupied either packing or unpacking, leaving the pool really quiet.

I don’t know how much we would have enjoyed it had it have been so busy, particularly with E being so small so I really appreciated how quiet it was!

Holiday Review: Pembrokeshire

Last month we spent a lovely week in Pembrokeshire.  Despite it being somewhere that I’ve always looked at and thought how beautiful it looked, it’s never really been on our radar as a holiday destination.  The main reason being that we already spend a LOT of time in Wales due to family living there and although it’s a different area – it has always seemed to close for a holiday.

However after an extremely stressful trip to the south coast last year and an epic 10 hour car journey with a teething baby, a holiday only a short distance away was sounding more and more like my cup of tea.

From home to holiday, it was around a three hour journey so perfectly acceptable travelling time with a little one on board.

We booked a lovely self-catering cottage just outside Haverfordwest.  It was located down a few windy country lanes so definitely one to avoid if you’re relying on public transport but as we had the car it was perfect.

We booked the cottage on looks, budget and of course whether or not it was family-friendly, we weren’t too bothered about the location but as it turned out it was ideal – it’s pretty much right in the heart of the county so everywhere we wanted to visit was never more than about 10-15 miles away, plus Haverfordwest itself had a decent range of shops including a giant Tesco, Aldi and an M&S for our holiday treats!

Weather-wise we couldn’t have picked a better week – probably the best week we had all Summer so we had a great time exploring many of the beaches in Pembrokeshire.  Although it was beautiful weather, there were occasions when we had the place pretty much to ourselves – the joys of having a child that’s not of school age and can go out of season!

The first beach we came across was Newgale – this seems to be a popular spot with surfers and has a campsite right next to the beach. The views as you come upon this beach were absolutely stunning as you can see below:

Newgale Beach

We were disappointed not to see some of the beaches – E isn’t quite walking yet and some of the more spectacular of beaches along the Pembrokeshire coast are only accessible by long walks or steep climbs – not ideal with a buggy.  We do have the sling of course, but she’s just getting a little bit too heavy for back-breaking treks!  Also, some of the beaches are managed by the National Trust and operate car parks with a £5 charge.  We wouldn’t resent paying if we were planning a day of it, but that’s not going to happen with the attention span of a 1 year old!

Instead we decided to save the beauty spots for another occasion when E is older – and more steady on her own two feet – and opted to go for the beaches with easy access and with free (or very cheap) parking!

Broad Haven was probably our favourite beach spot – not least because we were the only three people on it!  It was lovely – such a broad (obviously) expanse of sand, which was clean and flat with no shingles so you could walk all the way to the sea completely barefoot without uttering all the swear words under the sun.  E loved being on the beach – it was a shame she’s not walking as it would have been lovely to have her toddling on the sand here.  Instead she just treated it like a giant sand pit as well as consuming a good few mouthfuls of it.  She’ll eat anything this child.

Broad Haven beach

Just round the coast (at low tide you can walk here – just make sure you take note of the tide times before doing so) is Little Haven, a pretty little fishing village with a couple of pubs and a cafe – we stopped at one of the former for a wonderful lunch of fish and seafood, enjoying the charming little seating area outside.  E decided this would be a good time to poo all over her entire outfit – luckily the car was parked right next to the beer garden, so off daddy went to change her in the boot!  (This happened on our last holiday too, I’m hoping it’s not going to be a theme!)

We visited lots of other places during our stay – including St. Davids, Tenby, Folly Farm and Bluestone – they all deserve a post of their own so I’ll be writing about these over the next few days.  We always like to have quite a full itinerary on our holidays and Pembrokeshire certainly ticked all the boxes when it came to offering lots of interesting days out.

It’s definitely on our list of ‘places to go back to’ – although the thing with us, is that we’ve never been back to the same place twice.  When it was just the two of us we wanted to explore lots of different places while we had the chance, but now we have E our holidays are different and the focus is mostly on her enjoyment, as well as ours.

So the likelihood is that we will return here as it’s definitely a family-friendly destination and one that I think she’ll enjoy more and more in years to come.

 

 

Our first holiday

When we found out we were expecting E it was nothing short of a miracle and we couldn’t have been happier. I had one slight niggle – and it’s a really silly one – but my only regret was that I hadn’t had enough holidays!! The thing was we’d just come back from an absolutely lovely holiday and already had plans for a big trip this year (good job we hadn’t booked it) so finding out I was pregnant made me think of some of the things I may miss out on.

However I was soon excited about all the different types of holiday we’d be able to take – yes, we’d have to forego the luxury hotels but there was going to be plenty to look forward to and when I thought back to my childhood holidays I knew how much fun they would be!

After E was born hubby only had 2 weeks paternity so he was looking forward to another week off so we decided to make it our first family holiday and book ourselves a UK break. We were too scared to go abroad at such a young age – E was only 17 weeks – and also didn’t want to spend too long travelling in the car so we booked ourselves a cottage in Cumbria which is about a 3 hour drive away from home.

Here’s a pic of the cottage:

Horseshoe Cottage - Stackyard Holidays

It was so well equipped – we had all the home comforts that we needed including a travel cot for E and a high chair. She’s not weaning yet but she still had a go in it, she looked like she enjoyed it!

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It was lovely to get away – we didn’t do loads but it was nice just to be somewhere different and not be staring at the same old four walls.

It all went swimmingly

There were a few stressful moments such as forgetting to take any milk out with me on a day out and scrambling to find a supermarket that sold ready made milk (not so easy on the middle of the Lake District when you’re miles from anywhere) and a failed nappy incident at a Wildlife Park where E was up to her armpits in poo and we had to wipe her down in the boot of the car in scorching sunshine!   But there were plenty of great moments too, such as E getting to meet lots of animals at the zoo and we even took her swimming for the first time!

Her routine didn’t really get thrown off at all and it bodes well for the next time that we go away that it all went surprisingly well.

So I’m looking forward to getting away a few more times while E is still a baby (subject to how far the budget will stretch!) I know I’m not going to be jetting off to New York any time soon but I think a bucket and spade at the good old British seaside will be just fine!

Here’s a few other photos of our trip away!

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