Wales is full of fairytale destinations, we have castles in abundance, pretty scenery a-plenty and many gorgeous woodland settings. Inspired by Netflights, I decided to track down my own, local, fairytale destinations.
Known by locals as the fairytale castle and the Princess castle, Castell Coch is without a doubt my number one fairy tale destination in South Wales. This beautiful castle can be spotted from the motorway, and every time we passed it on our Summer trips to Barry Island as children we would excitedly announce that we had spotted the ‘fairy tale castle’. It’s a beautiful castle both outside and in and will alway feel magical to me.
The American Gardens, Pontypool, Torfaen
Another trip back to my childhood with The American Gardens in Pontypool. I went for a lot of walks through these gardens in my younger days, and while they aren’t a ‘tourist attraction’ the gardens are well known to the locals. As children we loved to walk through the gardens and discover the ‘alligator swamp’, the ‘troll bridge’ and, of course, the fairytale cottage.
Mountain View Ranch, Caerphilly
This particular fairytale destination is new to us, it’s one that Spencer and I have had the pleasure of introducing our own daughter to. A place where we saw her eyes come alive with magic as we took a walk through the fairy forest and spotted fairies a plenty dancing amongst the trees.
I look back now and I know that none of these places really are magical, but thanks to my parents imagination I will always see them as fairytale destinations. All it takes is a little imagination and a large sprinkling of fairy dust and you to can find fairytales right on your doorstep.
November 24 is mine and Spencer’s fifth Wedding anniversary. This means many things to me, including the fact that I have not been abroad for five years. That’s right, the last time I went abroad was for my honeymoon.
I remember it well, we weren’t sure where to go for our Honeymoon, after all, where is nice in November/December? We liked the idea of sunshine but we weren’t sure if that was possible. The honeymoon was booked for us as a surprise, we were so eager for our Wedding evening and the big reveal.
We were made to dance to ‘Dance Like An Egyptian’, it had been a long day and we were slightly tipsy so it took a little while, but eventually the penny dropped. We were going to Kusadasi in Egypt, a place that would be beautiful and warm, even in December. A place neither of us had never been before.
We left behind the cold and the ice and we landed in the soaring heat. We checked into our beautiful hotel and enjoyed meals out and the all inclusive cocktails (of course). We were young, in love and care free.
Just lately I’ve started to get itchy feet. Up until now I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out by not going abroad, we’ve had plenty of enjoyable UK based holidays and we’ve had a lot going on in our lives. I’m not sure if its the clocks going back and the resulting early evenings or something else, but I am very tempted to take advantage of the Winter sun deals from Holiday Gems and just jet off somewhere warm, take in some Winter sun, maybe re-visit Egypt.
Of course it wouldn’t be the same this time around, the cocktails wouldn’t flow quite as freely and it wouldn’t be nearly as care free as we would have an unruly toddler in tow; but it would still be beautiful and it would still be hot.
We made so many perfect memories in Egypt in the Winter of 2012, but we could make so many better memories in Egypt in the Winter with our daughter.
I’ll always remember many things about that holiday, not just the mosquito bites and hangovers. I’ll also always remember flying home, stepping outside and slipping on ice. I literally came back to reality with a bang.
Confession time, I have never travelled overseas with Aria. The sheer thought of travelling abroad with a baby or toddler sends shockwaves of panic through me and makes me quite content with good old Barrybados (Barry Island for those of you who aren’t from around here).
Airport security freaks me out anyway, but trying to clear it with a baby and all of their crap? No thank you! Can you imagine the excess luggage charges for all their toys, nappies and possibly even formula, not forgetting the pushchair too! Looking after a overtired, hot and bothered toddler just doesn’t sound like a fun holiday to me, so I took to my fellow bloggers to find out just how they deal with overseas travel as a parent.
Hannah suggests that you take a list of key medical phrases in the local language, along with your families info. For example things like ‘He/she has a temperature’ ‘He/she fell and hurt his/her head’ You never know when your little one will have an accident and whilst they’ll most likely be totally fine you just don’t need the added stress of trying to translate at the hospital/clinic.
This advice ties in perfectly with a recent survey carried out by Holiday Autos which revealed that, despite many of us Brits travelling to Spain, the average holidaymaker knows just eight Spanish words. We sure know where our priorities lie, only 1 in 10 of us are capable of uttering ‘I have an upset stomach’ yet over a third can competently ask for a beer. Unfortunately 27% of us simply don’t bother to learn the language as we just assume that everyone speaks English.
Beth is always sure to only drink bottled water as drinking tap water can upset little tummies – and she always take sickness and diarrhoea tablets just incase of a dodgy tum.
Nicola suggests ordering your sunscreen online via boots.com to pick up at the airport. That way you can take a full sized sunscreen and it doesn’t count towards your luggage weight, plus you’re already past security so the liquid size limits don’t matter. Same goes for nappies, formula and pouches/jars. Harriet takes this one step further and says that you can get Boots to deliver out to your hotel for a fee.
Sophia suggests that you make sure you use your hand luggage wisely. Pack the essentials you need for your little one and divide any liquids like milk between the family hand luggage. She says make sure you have an emergency kit of medicines; we took Calpol, teething liquid and powders etc in hand luggage just incase we had any unexpected illnesses on the flight! If you won’t use it on the plane, stick it in your suitcase so you have more room to pack toys and books to keep your little one entertained during the flight. Download their favourite TV programmes so you can watch them offline on aeroplane mode, the Netflix and BBC apps are particularly great for kids TV shows that you can download and keep your little one occupied during a restless flight.
One in ten have lost luggage on holiday and struggled to communicate with the necessary people, and so careful packing is a must. Maria suggests packing a change of clothes for everyone in your hand luggage, in case your main luggage is lost, and Kelly‘s biggest worry is losing the passports, so she suggests keeping a photocopy of them in a different place, just in case. Kelly also uses three suitcases and spreads their stuff across them all to ensure that they still have clothes if one goes missing; which it did on the way home from their last holiday, but as it had a mixture of all of their things in it, it didn’t feel quite so devastating.
Alex is sure to always pack plasters and talc. You just know your shoes will rub or someone will graze a knee. The talc is great at removing sand, drying after a swim, or helping with sweaty feet.
It seems that savvy packing and familiarising yourself with the local language are key to a more relaxed trip overseas with a baby or toddler. Two thirds of British adults are embarrassed that as a nation we make such little effort to learn foreign languages, so getting to grips with the local lingo really is a must, even if just to avoid the embarrassing situations shown in this video, as, despite 35% of us attempting to speak slower when trying to make themselves understood it really doesn’t help!
“Having confidence leads to happier holidays — something which Holiday Autos believes in wholeheartedly, as we provide book and go car hire and we are committed to find the best car at the best price for everyone’s holidays.”
What are your top tips for holidaying overseas with a baby or toddler?
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
Chances are if you’re on this blog you know that I am Welsh and proud, I love Wales, I love living in Wales and I love all things Welsh!
Whether you are interested in its history, stunning landscapes, world famous musical talents, or its gorgeous inhabitants (ok I may be a bit bias here…), Wales has so much to offer, and sometimes doesn’t quite get the recognition it deserves. The people of Wales are known to be fiercely proud of their home country, and with good reason! So here are just five of the many reasons why it’s great to call Wales your home.
We are quite proud of our sporting ability. While you have probably heard of Manchester United (even if you are less than knowledgeable on the subject of football), Cardiff is one of the most impressive sporting cities. The Millennium Stadium hosted football matches during the Olympics, and is home to football, rugby, and Moto X. As if that wasn’t enough, Cardiff has a cricket pavilion in the centre of town along with individual rugby and football stadiums.
Cost of Living
The cost of living in the Welsh capital of Cardiff is an incredible amount less than living in London. In fact, in 2014, Cardiff was ranked number one out of the UK’s 10 largest cities with the highest quality of life. Working in Wales’ capital provides a fantastic opportunity for all prospective employees. There are a lot of jobs in Cardiff available for any would-be job seeker. This makes it a pretty competitive place in the breadth of the entire country, and an ideal location for the many British youths, recently graduated, and looking to start their life in a new and beautiful spot.
Because it is not widely regarded as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, you may not have heard about the beautiful beaches Wales has to offer. However, the coastline around the Gower has some of the most stunning beaches in the world. In particular, Swansea Bay is an amazing destination for all, and can be enjoyed alongside some world class hiking nearby.
The Welsh are proud of their Celtic heritage, which includes hosting plenty of festivals. In fact, Wales is widely regarded as a cultural hub of festivals. Enjoy the Hay Festival if you are interested in culture, enjoy music, arts and performances at Green Man, and even underground electronica at Gottwood. There is so much diversity in Welshe festivals, it can go up against the entire world of culture. It even is home to a jazz festival, Brecon Jazz.
The list of benefits to living your life in the beautiful country of Wales could go on and on, with each resident of Wales having their own personal reason for loving this amazing country. You should come and see for yourself!