A Family Staycation at The Vale Resort, South Wales

We’ve enjoyed staycations for quite a while now, usually travelling around 1-3 hours from home to enjoy a beautiful destination without enduring the stresses and hassles of flying. More recently I have decided to incorporate a few short stay staycations into our family trips, we live in such a beautiful part of the country it seems silly to travel too far away for a break, let’s be real, who really wants to be stuck in the car for hours on end with a two year old? Not me that’s for sure!

toddler pulling along peppa pig suitcase

For our most recent staycation we teamed up with The Vale Resort*, near Cardiff, South Wales for dinner, bed and breakfast. The Vale Resort is only half an hour away from us and is host to many a celeb, so I figured if it’s good enough for them then it is good enough for us, and so we went along on my birthday.

birthday celebrations at the vale resort near cardiff

We headed to The Vale Resort for our check in time of 3pm, upon checking in I was delighted to see that they left out birthday gifts and a card for me, this, along with several other little touches throughout our family room really made us feel special. They even left out an activity pack for Aria. The Vale Resort sure thought of everything.

review of the vale resort near cardiff south wales

With plenty to keep us entertained we decided to make the most of our comfortable surroundings and relax in our room before heading for dinner in the Vale Grill Restaurant. We had a wander around the beautiful grounds, which are home to a golf course and a castle. We decided that we wouldn’t take advantage of the spa and creche facilities as we were only there for a short while.

the vale resort grounds

The dinner was included in our package, and for this we could order three courses from a set menu, we also had the option to order from the full menu for an additional charge, but we were more than happy with the choices on the set menu so stuck to that. The food was delicious and the staff were superb and very friendly.

Following the meal we retired to our room to make the most of our lovely comfy bed, we had a brilliant night sleep and loved the thick black out blinds, although we did almost sleep through and miss breakfast because they make the room so dark! Breakfast was your standard buffet breakfast, busy buffets always make me anxious so Spencer picked mine for me while I sat at the table with Aria. Breakfast was served until 10am, and we were slightly disappointed that the pancake machine had been switched off when we went to use it at around two minutes to ten, that will teach us for sleeping in so late!

Watch my video to see our stay in more detail and for a tour of our lovely family room.

Find out more about The Vale Resort and book your break here.

*Disclosure -We received dinner, bed and breakfast at The Vale Resort in exchange for promotion*

Butlin’s Just For Tots Week Minehead 2017

As part of our ambassador role for Butlin’s we recently went along to their Minehead resort for a Just For Tots week*. We went last year when Aria was just one and not yet walking and I couldn’t wait to go again now that she is older, crazier and walking.

We stayed in the beautiful West Lakes Village again, you can see my review from last year or view this year’s chalet in my fancy video. The chalets and the location are stunning, as much as we love the fun hub of Butlin’s it is so nice to escape to the peaceful chalet and surrounding area for a break. These chalets come with housekeeping as standard so you can truly relax. They even load the dishwasher each day so that you don’t have to.

There is so much to do on a Just For Tots break at Butlin’s, so much that we didn’t get to do all of it. Our favourite things to do were to sit in the pavilion and take in the various shows (favourites being Teletubbies and The Skyline Gang), wander around the fair ground, play on the slot machines and join the singing and dancing sessions. You can see more of what we got up to in this short video.

Butlin’s Just For Tots truly was magical for us, Aria came away a different child. Her confidence came on leaps and bounds while we were there, she was playing independently and making new friends, saying hiya to children in the park, even chasing one little girl around and kissing her goodbye. Aria is usually very shy and keeps herself to herself, to see her come along so much in such a short space of time was incredible.

Spending money wise we spent less than £50. All we bought was a treat one day which was milkshakes for Spencer and I and a chocolate egg for Aria, rainbow the dog for Aria’s souvenir and we spent £20 on a fairy makeover. We could have easily came away without spending a penny. We had the premium dining plan which included a delicious choice of foods for breakfast and dinner. We snook out a few pastries and pieces of fruit from the breakfast for snacks and made sandwiches for our lunches. We bought a multi-pack of water and drinks for Aria and took plenty out with us each day. Be warned though, it is very commercialised so you do have to be prepared to either spend a lot of money or say no a lot.

Would I recommend a Just For Tots break at Butlin’s?Absolutely. Aria loved it, and so did we. Though parents be warned, you may want to book a relaxing break the following week to get over it. It is full on.

A blog review of Butlin's Just For Tots in Minehead West Lake Village Chalet

Aria loved it so much she didn’t want to go home.

*Disclosure – we are Butlin’s ambassadors and received a break and the dining plan in exchange for promotion* 

Peppa Pig World Through The Eyes of a Two Year Old

For Aria’s second birthday I decided that we absolutely needed to visit Peppa Pig World in Paulton’s Park and I am so glad that we did! She absolutely loved it, seeing her so happy and confident was just amazing. Even Spencer wants to go back and that is high praise indeed!

Aria is a very quiet and shy girl, she doesn’t like crowds and she doesn’t venture far from me, always looking to me for encouragement before proceeding with anything. Peppa Pig World changed all of this, as we walked in and we heard the music her excitement peeked, and then it happened, she saw the yellow ducks swimming and heard them quacking; and she ran, she let go of her daddy’s hand and she ran. We Were amazed, emotional and surprised. We instantly knew that we were going to have an amazing day.

Yellow quacking ducks at Peppa Pig World - Blog review of Peppa Pig World with a two year old

Aria’s birthday is in February and we specifically wanted to go around her Birthday, which resulted in us going along on a wet and miserable day. At first we moaned about this, until we realised that it was complete and utter genius. We didn’t have to queue for any rides, unless you count waiting for the two families in front to get belted up as a queue, and Aria could happily run around without us worrying about losing her.

Peppa Pig World is perfect for little human’s, Aria is a very petite two year old, currently wearing size 12-18 month clothing, and she was tall enough for all rides bar George’s Dinosaur Adventure, which I was selfishly disappointed about as I had been looking forward to that ride, but I wasn’t brave/stupid enough to go on there without Aria, I’m pretty sure a melt down would have commenced if I had!

All of the rides were very tame which was perfect for Aria. They also had a little park and an indoor soft play area.

The Peppa Pig theme is continued perfectly throughout the park, with theme music playing everywhere and no detail is forgotten, even the construction work is being carried out by Mr Bull (they are in the middle of extending the park, currently due to be completed in 2018).

We had an amazing day and made some fantastic memories. Two weeks on and Aria still loves to watch the vlog from the day which gets her super excited! Take a peek at the vlog to see Peppa Pig World through the eyes of a two year old…

Find out more and book your tickets here.

*Disclosure – We received complimentary tickets to Paulton’s Park in exchange for coverage*

Bluestone on a Budget

I’ve published several posts on this blog about our holidays to Bluestone and how much we love it there. I am often met with responses along the lines of “oh it looks lovely, I wish we could afford to go”. Well my friends, the beauty is, you CAN afford to go, it is very easy to go to Bluestone on a budget.

Top Tips for Holidaying in Bluestone on a Budget

Timing is key

rainbow and blue skies over Bluestone Wales

As with all holidays timing is everything. You’re holidaying in Wales; do you really need to book it for the middle of the Summer? Chances are it will be raining then, as it will be in January, but you will pay a premium for that Summer rain. If your children aren’t in school yet you can make even more savings by going during term time. Our mid-week stay in a four bedroom lodge commencing on 31st Jan 2017 came to a grand total of £249. If you split this with another couple you are looking at less than £125 each. You may even get to see a rainbow and blue skies – who needs Summer?!

Eating in/out

coffee and cake in the coffee shop in bluestone

Bluestone lodges are self catering and they provide absolutely everything that you need to cook three decent meals a day in your lodge (and more if you want!). The nearest supermarket is quite a while away but the village store is well packed and could easily provide you with the ingredients for healthy meals for a week. Yes, the store is a little more expensive than your average supermarket, but it isn’t ridiculously so.

You will also be pleased to know that eating out isn’t as expensive as you may think. For example, you can grab an adult’s pizza for £7.95 in the Oak Tree restaurant.

I know we’re talking budget, but if your children fall asleep in the pushchair it’s rude not to treat yourself to a coffee and a cake at Tŷ Coffi, right?

Free entertainment

free entertainment at bluestone buzbee character

While there is plenty of fantastic, bookable entertainment at Bluestone for the little ones there is also plenty of free entertainment. During our stay we met and danced with several characters, watched the light show and spent many a night relaxing in the lodge with the TV and free wifi. Evening entertainment includes pub quizzes, bingo and live music.

Free activities

circus zone free soft play at bluestone

Activities is one thing that Bluestone is not short of, both paid and free activities are aplenty. Swimming in the Blue Lagoon is quite possibly the most popular and is free throughout your whole stay. There is also a fab soft play area for the little ones, an outdoor park, the adventure centre which has crazy golf, slides, a bouncy castle and so much more! If you are fancying something a little more chilled out you could join one of the free guided walks and take in the beautiful surroundings.

Yes, Bluestone can be expensive, but Bluestone on a budget is definitely possible too!

happy toddler with big smile bluestone on a budget blog post

Aria loved Bluestone on a budget and I’m sure that you will too!

*Disclosure – we received a complimentary midweek stay at Bluestone in exchange for blog coverage*